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How to Become a Driving Instructor in California

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A driving instructor teaches people, often teenagers, the basic skills needed to drive a vehicle. This can be in a classroom, such as basic driver's ed and defensive driving courses, or behind the wheel. They also offer instruction in safe driving habits and courteous driving. Whether they are introducing young people to the art of driving or teaching people to be better drivers after a receiving a ticket, driving instructors perform a vital service. In California a driving instructor must be licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Download and read the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) Driving School Instructor Plan (see Resources). This is a guide containing information on driving instructors and the requirements to become a licensed instructor. This and all other forms can also be obtained in person at a DMV office.

Take and complete a certified driving instructor course. In California the course includes 60 hours of classroom instruction and successful completion of an exam. As of 2010 this can cost up to $2,500.

Download and complete the DMV forms OL 16, DL 546A, OL 221A and OL 221M.

Have your fingerprints taken by a DOJ (Department of Justice) approved Live Scan electronic fingerprinting service. The California Attorney General’s website has a list of approved Live Scan providers and their phone numbers, addresses and fees. You can also contact law enforcement for information about Live Scan services.

Make a DMV appointment to file the forms and to take the driving school instructor's written test. There is a filing fee of $31. Include with the forms your certificate of course completion and proof of high school graduation or GED.

Request the form DMV 8016 at your appointment. Only an original form can be used so it cannot be downloaded.

Take the DMV driving instructor's written exam. Information on the exam and study aids are available at the DMV website (see Resources).


Lindley Himes began writing in 2003. His article, "The Death of William Rufus, King of England," was published in the "Welaebethan 2004 Journal of History." Himes presented his paper, "Logistics of the First Crusade," at the annual meeting of the Southwestern Social Science Association in 2003. He studies history at California State University, Fullerton.

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