Whether it’s renewing a license, taking a behind-the-wheel exam, or simply changing a home address, the DMV is an invaluable resource that provides a countless number of services for virtually every US citizen. While often times a trip to the DMV can be like pulling teeth, it’s a necessary evil if you’re on the path to a California drivers license.
Find Your Local DMV Office
Your local California DMV branch is closer than you think. Finding your nearest branch is as easy as heading to the California DMV website. Some DMV branches operate on unique schedules, and others can be closed due to state budgetary restrictions, so make a note of that before planning a visit.
Making an Appointment for the DMV
To avoid long wait times and maximize convenience, it’s always highly recommended to set up an appointment for the DMV. This is especially important if you’re short on free time and plan on hitting the DMV during a lunch break or on borrowed time. Thanks to the DMV Appointment System, you can reserve a time to:
- Take behind-the-wheel driving tests.
- Apply for, replace, or renew a driver’s license, ID, or learner’s permit.
- Register or title a vehicle and order special license plates.
- Request driving records.
Or, if you prefer the telephone, you can also set an appointment by calling them at (800) 777-0133. Keep in mind that even if you do set up an appointment, wait times may still be long, especially if you’re there during the lunch rush. Read tips on how to expedite that time on our DMV Appointments page.
Forms You’ll Need
The DMV offers all the forms you’ll need, but it can be difficult to get an explanation of all your paperwork in the hustle and bustle of a busy branch office. At the California DMV Forms page, you can find an informative list of the forms most commonly used, including:
- Forms needed to apply for a California learners permit.
- The DL-44 application for a driver’s license or ID card.
- Forms required to register or title a vehicle.
- The California driver handbook.
Don’t forget to bring any and all documents relevant to your purpose of visit, such as alternate forms of ID, a Social Security Number, a proof of registration and auto insurance, or other vital records for verification.
Learn About the Points System
To make sure each California driver has accountability for his or her actions, the DMV uses a points system to rate and penalize driving records. Everyone starts with zero points on their record, and accrues points when they incur violations. Example of such infractions include:
- Minor traffic tickets (such as speeding tickets)
- Reckless driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
As you acquire points, you can lose your driver’s license privileges. For example, if you accumulate 4 points in a period of 12 months, the DMV has the right to suspend or revoke your driving privileges for a certain amount of time.
Having points on your record can also affect your auto insurance rates. If you have too many points, your insurance company can increase your rates or even be entirely rejected for coverage.
Learn more about on the Points System page.
Get a Copy of Your Driving Record
If you are curious about your driving history, you can request your driving record from the California DMV. Your record contains detailed information about traffic accidents, your driving points, traffic violations, and the status of your driver’s license.
Driving records are sometimes used for background checks during pre-employment screening processes, and are often referenced by auto insurance companies to adjust your rates and verify potential claims.
You can find more information about your driving record here, and order your California driving record online.
The DMV can be a tedious experience, but I Drive Safely is here to make it a seamless, painless time for everyone in need of their services!