California Driving School FAQs

Q: How old do I have to be to take driver education in California?

A: The state of California does not have a minimum age requirement to begin a driver-education program. You can sign up and take the knowledge portion of our driver-education program (Online or Classroom) at any age. You must complete the knowledge portion of the training with a DMV-licensed professional driving school before taking the Learner's Permit test. You must bring the appropriate Completion Certificate to your Learner's Permit test based on the training that you have completed:

  • Form DL 400C, Pink Form, if you completed the Online training
  • Form DL 400B, Blue Form, if your completed the Classroom training
You are able to sit for the Learner's Permit test at age 15 years and 6 months.

Q: How old do I need to be to get a Learner's Permit in California?

A: You are able to sit for the Learner's Permit test at age 15 years and 6 months, but you must have already completed the knowledge-based training with an approved service provider and bring the Completion Certificate with you to the test (see above). You should study the California Driver Handbook and take several online practice tests (https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/pubs/interactive/tdrive/exam) before taking the written test at the DMV.

Q: What is the process to become fully licensed in the state of California (if under age 18)?

A: The state of California has created an online portal dedicated to understanding the teen licensing process. You may find the California Parent-Teen Training Guide helpful in understanding the entire process and for logging training hours and activities.

These are the steps to become fully-licensed in the state of California:

  1. Complete and pass the final test of the knowledge portion of the driver-education program (Online or Classroom).
  2. We mail your Certificate of Completion of Driver Education. For online training, this is Form DL 400C (Pink Form). For classroom training, this is Form DL 400B (Blue Form). Allow three business days for us to issue the certificate and five mailing days (eight business days total).
  3. Take your Completion Certificate to the state DMV, along with required documentation to prove identity and residence, and pass the Learner's Permit test. You should study the California Driver Handbook before taking the written test at the DMV.

If you are conducting your state-mandated behind-the-wheel training with us:

  1. Enter your Learner's Permit Number and Issue Date into your account profile (using the Edit Info link to your left). You must complete this step to unlock your Behind-the-Wheel sessions for scheduling. Important Note: Your Instructor will sign the back of your Learner's Permit after your first session, allowing you to conduct additional in-car training with us and an adult supervising driver.
  2. Complete your three required behind-the-wheel training sessions.
  3. We mail your Certificate of Completion of Behind-the-Wheel Training, Form OL 238 (Yellow Form). Allow three business days for us to issue the certificate and five mailing days (eight business days total).
  4. Once you have completed all required training (classroom or online training plus six hours of behind-the-wheel training) with a DMV-approved driving program, have logged 50 hours of supervised training (including 10 hours at night), and held the Learner's Permit for at least six months, you can take the behind-the-wheel driving test at the DMV.
Q: How old should my student be to start the State Driver Education Program, and what is the best way to progress through the training?

A: There is no minimum age requirement to begin the classroom training portion of our Driver Education Program. Since you must complete the knowledge-based portion of the Driver Education Program before you can take the Learner's Permit test, we advise that you time things so that the student will be able to sit for this test within a reasonable period of completing the Online or Classroom Training (so that the information is most fresh). In order to take the Learner's Permit test, the student must be at least age 15 years and 6 months. The student can then complete the behind-the-wheel portion of the training after the Learner's Permit is obtained. Important: The student must conduct the very first, two-hour lesson with a DMV-certified Driving School (such as I Drive Smart). The Instructor should sign the back of the Learner's Permit, allowing the student driver to train with a supervising adult driver, defined as anyone age 25 years or older with a valid California driver's license. It is best to stretch the training (with us as well as with the adult logging the supervised training) over a period of time to give each student the opportunity to absorb both the in-class and behind-the-wheel material.

Q: What if I miss a class or must change my schedule due to a conflict?

A: Students are permitted under DMV guidelines to make up a missed class within a reasonable amount of time. If you miss an in-class session, you can log into your account and schedule a make-up session (choosing a location, date, and time that works best for you). We appreciate if you try to schedule make-up sessions prior to the class starting so that the instructor has an accurate roster for the class being missed and to open the seat for another student.

You can reschedule into any class, as long as there is still seating capacity. Here are the steps to change or customize your class schedule: 
1.    Log into your account. 
2.    If you wish to change an entire schedule, you can do this prior to the first unit starting by clicking on the Change button that shows above the schedule grid and picking a new class schedule from the next screen. This button disappears once the session for which you are scheduled starts. 
3.    If you wish to change a single class, find the class unit you wish to reschedule and click on the Status/Reschedule icon in the column to the right labeled Status/Reschedule. 
a.    This takes you to a page showing all future class options. The system will block you from scheduling two units on the same date (in which case you will see the word “conflict”). 
4.    Pick the location, date, and time that work for you and choose “Select.” You are able to makeup at any open class. There is no charge for this change unless it is into a class that has a higher location fee than you originally paid, in which case there is a $5 fee. 
5.    Repeat, if necessary, to customize any class desired.


Q: How do I get my certification for the Driver's Skills Test?

A: In addition to completing and logging the required 50-hours of adult-supervised training, with at least 10 hours at night, you will need to complete the Behind-the-Wheel Program with a state-licensed professional driving school. Once you have completed the three, two-hour driving lessons, the driving school will issue to you a Certificate of Completion of Behind-the-Wheel Training, Form OL 238 (Yellow Form). You must bring this with you to the final DMV-administered driving test. It is prudent to once again review the California Driver Handbook before taking the final driving test at the DMV.

Q: How should I go about scheduling my in-car training? That is, what is the recommended approach?

A: We know that a student will get the most out of our program if he or she has time to practice between the sessions, implementing the suggestions provided by the instructor. For an inexperienced driver, our training should be in collaboration with private practice and guidance by the supervising driver. Providing some spacing between sessions allows the student time to integrate the coaching that we have provided with the guided instruction from a supervising driver (whether or not more time is needed for "logging" of hours). If you are working with us toward obtaining a license, please do not consider our training as something to "get out of the way." Rather, we advise clients to think of us as a partner in mastering a very complex skill where mistakes can be very dangerous and costly. For these reasons, while each client is unique, we generally recommend that clients spread out their lessons with us, allowing critical time in between for the student to practice. One approach that works well for many clients is to train relatively early in the process (for a strong foundation), train some more mid-way through your logging of hours, and train again closer to the time that you wish to conduct the DMV driving test. Important: The DMV driving test should NOT be scheduled closer than seven business days after completion of all training with us. We do not require any minimum training prior to the first in-car session, but we counsel clients to have at least some practice, ideally with some residential road experience, enabling the student to get more training in the first session than very basic training while on a parking lot. The Eligibility Date (six months after issuance of the learner's permit) determines the earliest date that someone can become fully licensed, so there is no advantage to speeding up the process of completion with us.

When it comes to scheduling training, we have the following general recommendations:
  • If you see a session that works well for you in a desired time frame, jump on it since it may disappear if someone else schedules it before you do. Keep in mind that you can cancel any time prior to 72 hours prior to the session start, but sessions become commitments that cannot be canceled once you are 72 hours prior to the session start time.
  • The sessions that book most quickly and are most desired tend to be:
    • Summer sessions and sessions during school breaks since this is the highest-demand period for training
    • Weekends because these tend to be the most-available times for busy parents and students
    • Afternoons just after school completes as many students like to train directly from their schools after the school day
    • Evenings since these sessions sometimes fit best for working families and for students with after-school activities
  • Be very careful not to schedule too many sessions too close together for an inexperienced driver. Since our sessions lock in at 72-hours prior to the session start, you do not want to schedule multiple sessions in multiple sequential days since the feedback might include a need for heavier practice before coming back for another session. The back-to-back scheduling may create a situation in which you are within the 72-hour window for one or more sessions, meaning that they cannot be canceled. It is much better to have a buffer of time between sessions for some practice.
  • Be mindful of the heavy seasonality we see in scheduling in-car training, in which demand for this training spikes in the first few weeks after school releases (June through early July) and also from roughly mid-August through the end of September. We annually see the number of sessions scheduled per active student increase four- or five-fold above normal levels during these periods that surround the school year. While we go to extremes to add extra sessions from our base of instructors, we cannot possibly expand training available by 4-5X from our established instructor base. This produces a predictable scarcity of sessions during these time periods, meaning that most of these sessions go to clients who book them 4-6 weeks prior to the training date. Please factor this reduced session inventory into your planning by trying to complete some of your sessions outside of these peak periods. If you wish to schedule during these heavy-demand periods, you will need to book sessions further in advance, be willing to drive further, and/or actively monitor "last-minute openings" that become available 1-2 days prior to the session.

Q. How do I cancel a scheduled behind-the-wheel session?

A: Students can cancel an in-car session at any point up until it is 72 hours prior to the session start time. For example, if you are scheduled for an in-car session on a Tuesday at 3:30 pm, you can cancel this session through Saturday 3:29 pm. Once the clock hits this 72-hour mark prior to the session start, the session is committed and cannot be canceled. We have this strict policy because our instructors have committed their own schedules and are required to be on-site for the session start. Because we have a stringent cancellation policy, please be very careful when scheduling your drive time. It is best to schedule each training session one session at a time rather than all at once. This will help to avoid missed sessions. We also send a courtesy reminder email five-days prior and one-day prior to the session date, but the best way to know your schedule is to visit your account which will always display your live schedule. Sessions do not expire, except that all sessions must be scheduled within two years of the purchase date.
Please Note: A client is able to cancel a session directly through his or her account 24 hours per day by clicking the "Unreserve" link and confirming the cancellation. A successful cancellation will be reflected immediately in the user account on the My Account page. If you still see the session showing on the My Account page, this means that the session is still live (not canceled). Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm EST. If you call or email outside of these hours to cancel a session, no action will be taken by us until our office is next open. This means that any effort to cancel a session with support from our office must occur during business hours and outside of the 72-hour window. An email sent to cancel on Friday at 4:35 pm EST will not result in action until Monday at 9:00 am EST. If Monday at 9:00 am EST falls within the 72-hour window, the session cannot be canceled even if the email or call had occurred outside of the 72-hour window. Our policy requires instructors to remain on-site for 30 minutes for a student who may be lost or late. We cannot wait longer as this can affect another student who is scheduled later. A late arrival may mean that the session will not qualify toward licensing requirements due to minimum training time requirements.


Q: What is the policy for inclement weather?

A: Our inclement weather policy starts with this basic premise: I Drive Smart will not put students into dangerous situations. If the weather conditions make it unsafe to drive, we will cancel the training. That said, we will not cancel training on the mere threat of bad weather or if there is a small amount of precipitation. We will only cancel if the conditions create a hazardous situation for training. 

Our decisions related to inclement weather can always be easily found from any page on our website using the button/link in the upper-left portion of the screen called "Inclement Weather Updates." We will update this page whenever weather conditions warrant, so it is the first place to look if you have any questions. After updating our Inclement Weather page, we will next blast emails to those affected, to the best of our abilities. However, since our office can sometimes be affected by the very weather creating the impact, please do not rely on personal emails or phone calls. Simply check out the Inclement Weather page if you ever have any questions about the status of training.

General Inclement Weather Policy


I Drive Smart will not put students into dangerous situations.

In-class training sessions follow the relevant public school system's policy (by city/county) for emergency closings and cancellations. If the location operates on an independent policy, we will follow that policy. If the location is closed (or closes early), classes after this point will be closed. If schools are delayed, we typically will hold our classes as long as the schools allow for this. Cancelled classes(s) will be re-scheduled by I Drive Smart within a reasonable amount of time, often by simply adding another day to the schedule according to the class sequence pattern (e.g., by adding a Monday to a Mon-Fri session or a Tuesday to a Tue-Thu session). Most often, if the class session has already started, we move the postponed class to occur prior to Unit 9, producing the least disruption for those doing makeup classes.

Behind-the-wheel sessions are generally held rain or shine. However, if weather conditions warrant (i.e., snow or ice that make training risky), we will cancel training for the safety of our clients. We will rarely cancel due to rain or winds, unless the conditions are very severe. We look at less-than-ideal weather as presenting an opportunity for the client to train in adverse conditions with the safety of a professional instructor and a second, safety brake.


Q: What is the Graduated Licensing Program?

A: The program requires novice drivers (those licensing under age 18) to gain more driving experience with a supervising driver and gradually move up through the licensing process until full license status is achieved. Under the graduated licensing system, non-commercial license applicants, who have never held a driver's license, must progress through four licensing levels with certain restrictions:

Level 1 = Knowledge-Based Training with a state-licensed program. You must pass the final test and bring the Completion Certificate to the DMV written test.
Level 2 = Learner's permit (15 years and 6 months) - after passing DMV written test; must hold for six months minimum.
Level 2 = Provisional license (After Driver Education) - after passing DMV final driving test; this status lasts a minimum of 12 months and until age 18.
Level 3 = Full license - achieve this status at age 18 or after holding the Provisional License for 12 months, whichever comes last.


Q: How does the Payment Plan work?

A: If you purchase with a Payment Plan (available for most of our "packages" of services), the services that you purchase will be released on a schedule related to your payments. The following examples illustrate most of the Payment Plan situations, but please call our office if you have any questions:

  • If you purchase a full licensing package that includes knowledge (online or classroom) plus in-car training (3 sessions in this example), the sessions release as follows:
    • First payment of four releases the knowledge-based training plus the first behind-the-wheel session.
    • Third payment of four releases the second behind-the-wheel session.
    • Fourth payment of four releases the third behind-the-wheel session.
  • If you purchase a package of three in-car training sessions, the sessions release as follows:
    • First payment of four releases the first behind-the-wheel session.
    • Third payment of four releases the second behind-the-wheel session.
    • Fourth payment of four releases the third behind-the-wheel session.
  • If you purchase a package of four in-car training sessions, the sessions release as follows:
    • First payment of four releases the first behind-the-wheel session.
    • Second payment of four releases the second behind-the-wheel session.
    • Third payment of four releases the third behind-the-wheel session.
    • Fourth payment of four releases the fourth behind-the-wheel session.
  • If you purchase a package of five in-car training sessions, the sessions release as follows:
    • First payment of four releases the first behind-the-wheel session.
    • Third payment of four releases the second and third behind-the-wheel sessions.
    • Fourth payment of four releases the fourth and fifth behind-the-wheel sessions.
  • If you purchase a package of seven in-car training sessions, the sessions release as follows:
    • First payment of four releases the first behind-the-wheel session.
    • Second payment of four releases the second and third behind-the-wheel sessions.
    • Third payment of four releases the fourth and fifth behind-the-wheel sessions.
    • Fourth payment of four releases the sixth and seventh behind-the-wheel sessions.
  • If you purchase a package of ten in-car training sessions, the sessions release as follows:
    • First payment of four releases the first and second behind-the-wheel session.
    • Second payment of four releases sessions three through five.
    • Third payment of four releases the sixth and seventh behind-the-wheel sessions.
    • Fourth payment of four releases sessions eight through ten.

Q: Where can I find the detailed terms that apply to the services offered by I Drive Smart, including key state-mandated regulations?

A: The general terms that govern your relationship with I Drive Smart, including the maximum period to complete training, our refund policy, and other relevant items, can be found on our global Terms page: https://www.idrivesmart.com/terms.cfm

Additional disclaimers and terms that relate to particular services, including state-mandated regulations which can vary from state to state, can be found via these links

  • California Behind-the-Wheel Training Terms
  • Note: A client must review and agree to the appicable terms as part of the purchase process, so the relevant page is displayed prior to confirming a purchase of services.

To learn more about the requirements and recommendations for new or experienced drivers in California, visit:
California DMV >>



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I Drive Smart Corporate Office:
30 Courthouse Square, Suite G-2
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Phone: 301.605.7761
Fax: (800) 783-1183