Expert Answers to Common DMV Questions
SACRAMENTO – Do you have questions about general driving related requirements like registration, licensing and insurance? Are you unclear about laws and restrictions related to driving? The California Department of Motor Vehicles has answers. "Save Time, Go Online," at www.dmv.ca.gov. You can submit any DMV-related questions at AskDMV@dmv.ca.gov
1. Q. Can I just show up at a DMV field office and take a drive test, or do I need to have an appointment?
A. No, DMV field offices require an appointment for a drive test. You can make a drive test appointment online at www.dmv.ca.gov or by calling 1–800–777–0133. When you arrive for your drive test you will need your permit, vehicle registration, and auto insurance. More information can be found about drive test requirements by checking the California Driver Handbook or online.
2. Q. I read that Governor Brown signed a law that will allow undocumented people to obtain a driver's license. Can you tell me when the law will take effect?
A. You are correct, in October of last year Governor Brown signed AB 60, which requires DMV to issue driver's licenses to undocumented drivers and becomes operative by January 1, 2015. In the meantime, DMV will adopt regulations that will detail how applicants can prove identity and California residency. DMV will also put into effect a plan to serve the approximate 1.4 million people who are estimated to apply for a license under the new law. DMV encourages future all applicants for a driver's license, to prepare for the written exam by studying the California Driver Handbook available on the DMV webpage at www.dmv.ca.gov. The website also features sample tests that could be useful for the applicants. The California Driver Handbook is available in 10 languages at all DMV field offices: English, Armenian, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
3. Q. I am going to start riding my bike to work and I know there are rules that apply to bicyclists. Where can I get information about bicycle rules and road safety?
A. Bicycles on public roads have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists and are subject to the same rules and regulations. Information about bicycle rules and important safety tips are available by visiting the Department of Motor Vehicles website at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffdl37.htm. Since we're on the topic of bicyclists, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1371, known as the Three Feet for Safety Act, which will require a motor vehicle driver passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction to pass with no less than 3 feet between any part of the vehicle and any part of the bicycle or driver. When three feet is not possible, the motor vehicle must slow to a reasonable and prudent speed and only pass when no danger is present to the bicyclist. Failing to do so can incur a fine, regardless of a collision or not. This law will take effect September 16, 2014.
4. Q. I just received my driver license renewal notice in the mail. Does it make any real difference if I mail my payment or renew online via the Internet?
A. Congratulations on being eligible to renew by mail, internet or telephone. In order to renew by mail, you must complete the renewal notice and send a check or money order only payable to DMV in the amount due $33. Print your driver license number on the back of your check/money order. Renew early in order to receive your new license before your current driver license expires. Renewing by mail or online is also convenient, and therefore, it's not necessary to visit a DMV office if you're eligible to renew by mail, internet or by telephone. No additional fee is charged for renewing your driver license or identification card online. If you renew via Internet, you may receive your license up to 3 to 4 days sooner than regular mail processing. In addition, paying online diminishes the customer's carbon footprint by going green, saving the cost of postage (as postage is going up to 49¢ for a First Class stamp, starting January 26th). Save Time, Go Online! Visit www.dmv.ca.gov or call 1-800-777-0133 for customer service.
5. Q. My father gave me his old car as a birthday present. Since it was a gift, do I still need to get a smog inspection?
A. It depends. If you acquire a vehicle that is currently registered in California from a spouse, domestic partner, sibling, child, parent, grandparent or grandchild, you are entitled to an exemption from the smog inspection due when transferring a vehicle, unless the vehicle is due for a biennial smog inspection because renewal fees are also due. Other family members or relations are not exempt and are required to obtain a smog inspection certification. For more information on the requirements of transferring a vehicle between family members, please visit www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/brochures/howto/htvr1.htm.
6. Q. I just bought a boat. How do I know if it needs to be registered?
A. In California, every sail powered vessel (boat) over eight feet in length and every motor driven vessel (regardless of length) that is not documented by the US Coast Guard and is used or on the waters of California are subject to be registered by the DMV. The vessel must be located in California. For detailed information on registering a vessel, please visit the following page on the California Department of Motor Vehicles web site: www.dmv.ca.gov/boatsinfo/boatreg.htm.
Save Time, Go Online! Doing business with the DMV has never been easier. The DMV offers an array of services to customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through its Website including online advance appointments for written and drive tests; vehicle registration and driver license renewals, selection of personalized license plates, changes of address and payment of fees via secure debit transactions. Customers can also effect transactions by calling DMV customer service at 1-800-777-0133. DMV is a department under the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA).