Drivers License
State law requires that new residents must obtain a California driver’s license within 10 days. To apply for a drivers license, you must be at least 18 years of age. Those between the ages of 15-1/2 and 18 must apply for a provisional license and comply with all regulations and limitations. Making an appointment at the most convenient office for the Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV will ensure faster service. You will need to complete the application form, comply with thumb-print and photograph requirements, provide your social security number, and verify your birth date and legal presence. You must also prove financial responsibility in the form of vehicle insurance coverage. Newcomers must pass a vision exam and the test that covers traffic laws and road signs. For those holding a valid license from another state, the driving test is usually waived. Should the driving test be necessary, you will need an appointment. For further information or answers to specific questions, contact:

California Department of Motor Vehicles
All Areas

Vehicle Registration
Newcomers must register their out-of-state vehicles in California within 20 days of the date they accept employment or establish residency in California. If a resident of California acquires a vehicle from another state or country, fees become due the date the vehicle enters California and must be paid within 20 days to avoid late penalties. To avoid lengthy delays, making an appointment is suggested. Drive the vehicle you wish to register to the DMV for confirmation of the vehicle identification number. You will need to complete the application for registration, bring your out-of-state registration and title (if the title is in your possession), and odometer mileage certification (for vehicles less than 10 years old.) You must also present a California Smog Certification and prove financial responsibility. For further information on fees, taxes, and other issues relating to vehicle registration and titling, contact:

California Department of Motor Vehicles
All Areas

Regional DMV Offices

Chula Vista Office
30 N. Glover Avenue

Clairemont Office
4375 Derrick Drive

El Cajon Office
1450 Graves Avenue

Escondido Office
725 N. Escondido Boulevard

Oceanside Office
4005 Plaza Drive

Poway Office
13359 Poway Road

San Diego Office
3960 Normal Street

Spring Valley Office
9665 Campo Road

San Ysidro
3702 Del Sol Boulevard

Smog Certification
Emission testing is required for all vehicles except diesel powered vehicles, motorcycles, and models that are at least 30 years old. Hybrid vehicles that use both gasoline and electricity are exempt from smog certification until 2011. Vehicles that are four model years old or less are also exempt from biennial smog certification requirements. Smog certifications are valid for 90 days from the date of inspection. Should your vehicle fail to pass the smog inspection and you require technical advice, contact:

Department of Consumer Affairs
Smog Check

Financial Responsibility
California requires that drivers and vehicle owners prove financial responsibility before they can register a vehicle. Acceptable proof of the minimum limits of liability insurance can take the form of a current identification card issued by your insurance company. Your DMV office can offer more information on the alternative of posting a bond as proof of insurance. Evidence of financial responsibility must be in the vehicle at all times. Parents or guardians who sign for a minor to receive a driver’s license are accepting financial responsibility for that minor.

Boat Registration
As a rule, every sail-powered vessel over eight feet in length and every motor-driven boat not registered by the U.S. Coast Guard that will be on state waters is subject to DMV registration. Boats previously registered in other state must be registered in California within 120 days of arrival. You are required to register and pay applicable fees before placing your vessel in California waters. Required documentation includes a completed application and proof of ownership such as a bill of sale, certificate of origin, invoice, or out-of-state title. You can also submit a bond for the vessel value if proof of ownership cannot be provided and the vessel’s value is at least $2,000. Vessels can be registered at any DMV office of by mail:

Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 942869
Sacramento, CA 94269-0001
Attn: Vessel Section

Car Safety Laws
California law requires drivers and all passengers to use a safety restraint system while riding in a motor vehicle and has raised compliance to primary enforcement. This means that an officer can pull over and ticket a driver for non-compliance without another violation being in question. Children must be secured in an appropriate child passenger restraint (safety seat or booster seat) until they are at least 6 years old or weigh at least 60 pounds. The booster seat is used in conjunction with the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt, raising the child so that the vehicle lap and shoulder belt can be positioned properly and the child’s knees can bend naturally. The back seat is the safest place for all children to ride. Always secure an empty booster seat in place.

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