Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How to Get a Driver’s License in the U.S.

By Xiao Lu
World Education Services

Benefits of a U.S. Driver’s License
Here’s a secret to making friends in the U.S.: Own a car! The U.S. is a country where people live in cars, and it will make your life a lot easier if you have one here in your new home. This is especially true for students whose schools are located in more remote areas. Waiting for a bus might be tiring, but a car can take you anywhere you want in seconds. Here’s how you can get a driver’s license in the U.S.: 

First, check your eligibility to apply for a driver’s license in the U.S. The residency requirement for obtaining a U.S. driver’s license is different in each state, so you need to check the requirements at your state’s department of motor vehicles, or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you are eligible to apply for a driver’s license, you can get a driver’s license only for the state you live in. Then, once you receive your driver’s license, you can travel anywhere in the U.S. Driving laws in each state differ, and it’s your responsibility to know and obey the laws.

Example: California
As an example, here's what you need to do in order to get a driver's license in California:

1. Make an appointment before visiting a DMV office.
2. Complete a DL 44 application form.
3. Give a thumb print.
4. Have your picture taken.
5. Provide your social security number. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are at the office.
6. Verify your birth date and legal presence. If your current name no longer matches the name on your birth certificate, see "True Full Name" and "How to Change Your Name" on the website for more information.
7. Pay the application fee ($33).
8. Pass a vision exam.
9. Pass a traffic laws and signs test. There are 36 questions on the test and you have three chances to pass. If you fail three times, you will have to submit a new application and repay the fee.

Please refer to California Department of Motor Vehicles website for more information.

What You Need to Prepare for a Driver’s License Test
1. Study for the written exam. You can get a driver’s manual from your state’s DMV, which will cover everything on both the written and actual driving tests. Make sure you go through the book from the very beginning to the end and understand every point.

2. Prepare for the practical test. If you had a driver’s license in your home country, or you have some driving experience, then the test will probably be easier for you. If you are totally new to driving, it will take training and practice. You can ask a friend with at least three years’ experience (with a driver’s license) to be your coach. If you are new to the states and don’t have friends with a driver’s license, there are many professional coaches available.

3. Passing the practical test. The process may be a bit different from what you would experience overseas. To attend a U.S. driving test, you need to bring your own vehicle. Either borrow one from a friend, or rent one for the test.

After completing all these steps – congratulations on receiving your driver license!

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