Driver’s License

Any steps concerning driving in the US will have to be done through the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). http://www.dmv.ca.gov

If you are a visitor in California over 18 and have a valid driver license from your home state or country, you may drive in this state without getting a California driver license as long as your home state license remains valid.

If you become a California resident, you must get a California driver license within 10 days. Residency is established by voting in a California election, paying resident tuition, filing for a homeowner’s property tax exemption, or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to non residents.

Two Steps to get your Californian driving license

 

Take the written examroad rules

Make an appointment (even if you can come without any appointment, we advise you to make one. It is convenient and you will save time). Click on the link below and choose the option “Office Visit Appointment”

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/foa/welcome.do?localeName=en

This exam is on traffic laws and sign test (if you can’t or do not want to take the exam in English then  you will have to take a specific exam on the traffic signs). There are 36 questions on the test. You have three chances to pass the exam. In case you failed 3 times in a row, you have to pay for another session.

Here are some links for some training : http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_wt.htm

You can now get a driving book in English directly online http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/dl600.pdf

Behind the Wheel Exam (Driving Test)

Make an appointment. Click on the link below and choose the option “Behind the Wheel Driving Test Appointment” http://www.dmv.ca.gov/foa/welcome.do?localeName=en

You will have to drive approximately 15 minutes with an instructor. DMV will not provide any car for this test. You have to come with a car and show a proof of insurance for the car you will be driven. Make sure your car is working properly (headlights, warnings, signals, stop …)

Buying a Car / Insurance

Car Insurance

All drivers and cars must be insured for at least third-party injury and damage. The way this is done varies tremendously — sometimes it’s the car (and any driver fitting certain profiles) that is insured, other times it’s the driver (and any car he or she is driving). Since injuries involving cars invariably result in huge law suits and years of lawyering, insurance is not just legally mandatory, it’s essential for your financial health. You can get extra insurance that covers your expenses if you are hit by an uninsured driver.

Most of the insurance companies will ask you for a driving track record from your country. Be ready to provide it when you are ready to insure your car!

What is an Umbrella Insurance?

When an insured is liable to someone, the insured’s primary insurance policies pay up to their limits, and any additional amount is paid by the umbrella policy (up to the limit of the umbrella policy).

Personal umbrella policies are typically covering over the limits of home and automobile insurances. Do not hesitate to ask your insaurnace more about this contrat.

Good to Know when buying a new car!

Volkswagen, Mercedes, Audi offer special packages for transffered people without credit history and driving track record in the US.

Used Cars

If you are looking for a used car, Carmax is the most famous provider of used car in the area.
http://www.carmax.com/

We encourage you to subscribe to AAA Automobile Club

Beyond the benefit of insurance and coverage in case of breakdown or accident, the membership offers you reductions in many type of businesses : hotels, leisure center, RV rentals, garage owner, check smog companies…. Always remember to ask if the business offers special rates for AAA members – http://www.aaa.com

Driving rules

There are a few points that might confuse or surprise the new arrived. Those aren’t official. In any case, please refer to the Californian Road book.

DUI

Driving under the influence of alcohol — is a serious offense in California, with criminal penalties and drastic consequences. The blood alcohol limit is 0.08%, but you can also be charged regardless of blood alcohol amount if the police can prove you were affected by the alcohol. (And remember, regardless of DUI offences, in the US the legal drinking age is 21).

Right turn on red

In most cases, it is legal to make a right turn at an intersection even against a red light. This is not universal, and exceptions are always signed — but note that the exception signs are often tiny things in hard-to-see places.

If you are turning right and the light is red, you are supposed to stop at the intersection before turning, then turn when you’re sure there’s no other traffic (through traffic, and traffic entering the intersection on green or yellow lights, have right of way). Many Californians don’t quite stop, but it’s still a good idea, particularly if you’re used to driving on the “wrong” side of the road.

Passing

It’s usually legal to pass (“overtake”) on the inside (i.e. to the right), as long as it’s safe and in a properly-marked lane (i.e. only do this on multi-lane freeways and highways). Passing on the inside is pretty essential given the lack of lane discipline in California.

Four-way stop signs

Many four-way intersections have stop signs on all sides of the intersection. This sounds like a recipe for deadlock, but the rules for who gives way to whom are pretty easy. In general, you take turns to go through the intersection in the order at which you got to the edge of the intersection. If two or more of you got there at the same time, the ordering is clock-wise (i.e. the driver to your right goes first).

U-turns

U-turns are generally allowed at intersections except where explicitly not allowed (usually with a big sign saying “U Turns Prohibited”). You make the u-turn from the normal left turn lane, if it exists; at intersections controlled by traffic lights, you will normally only be able to make u-turns on the green arrow or similar. U-turns on busy streets or in business areas are generally not allowed except at intersections; in most other cases, you can make a u-turn with appropriate care, unless the street has a solid yellow line down the middle, or visibility is obstructed by terrain or turns. U-turns are of course strictly forbidden on freeways and most highways.

School buses

Californian school buses are immediately recognizable — they’re the same as elsewhere in the US, i.e. special yellow buses clearly marked “School Bus” on the front and rear. The flashing red lights on the bus mean that children are getting on or off the bus and are likely to try to cross the road near the bus. When you come to a school bus stopped on either side of a road with the bus’s red lights flashing, you must stop, and remain stopped as long as the red lights are flashing.

Flashing traffic lights at intersections

At some intersections, especially late at night, the traffic lights are set to continuously flash either red or yellow, rather than cycling through the normal pattern.

This means that the lights are effectively off, and you should treat the intersection as though it were either a two-way or four-way stop sign intersection. Flashing red means you must stop; flashing yellow means you must slow down and exercise caution as you go through the intersection. Many intersections flash yellow along one road, red the other; no intersections flash yellow in all directions. It is usually pretty easy to tell which is which.

Blocking intersections

Don’t move into an intersection in such a way that you end up blocking it for other traffic. This is just common sense, but it’s also illegal to block an intersection, and you can be heavily fined whether or not you think you were directly at fault for not being able to get through. Some intersections have large “Keep Clear” signs painted on the road to remind you of this, others have smaller signs somewhere around the intersection; in any case, it’s always illegal to block an intersection, whether it’s explicitly marked or not.

Pedestrians

You must stop for pedestrians who have entered a crosswalk. Pedestrians have the right of way at uncontrolled pedestrian crosswalks (i.e. those without traffic lights), but (and this is somewhat new), pedestrians can not legally just cross whenever they want — they must wait for a safe time to try to cross.

Carpool lanes

Many urban freeways or roads have a lane reserved during rush hours for buses, motorcycles, and cars with more than one or two people in them(not only drivers are counted as one people, children and babies as well). These lanes are usually emptier and faster-moving than the others during rush hours, and sometimes offer other privileges such as free bridge tolls. There are usually well sign-posted with the relevant times and required minimum number of car occupants, and are marked with a large diamond in the lane itself every few hundred yards. There are fairly strict rules about driving in such a lane without at least the posted minimum number of people in your car (usually two or three) — if the CHP catches you, you’ll be heavily fined. Be aware that once you are in, you can not go out whenever you want. There are specific corridors to get in and out.

Accidents

If you are involved in an accident that causes any injury or death, or more than $750 worth of damage, you must file a traffic accident report with the California DMV within ten days of the accident. This report must be filed with the DMV, not the California Highway Patrol or other police departments; your insurance agent can also file this form for you.
Emergency vehicles (police, fire, etc.) have right of way when using sirens or flashing lights. You must pull over, stop and let them pass, regardless of the state of the traffic or traffic lights, etc.

Parking

There is a consistent state-wide color scheme for marking on-street parking areas in cities and town. You must always park facing the same direction as the traffic on that side of the road.

Gray – You are allowed to park for free (the time of stay will be precised) or you will have to pay at a parking meter.

Red – Parking and stopping is always prohibited

White – You are allowed to stop to pick someone up or drop them off without parking (the driver can’t get out of the car)

Yellow – You can stop for a short while to deliver something in a commercial vehicle.

Green – You can park for a short time only (usually something like from 15 to 30 minutes – the time limit will be indicated somewhere)

Blue – Parking spaces reserved for cars displaying an official DMV handicapped driver placard or license plates.

Car2Go

What is it about?

A car2go is a new form of mobility: just take it, drive it, park it. Simple and straightforward. You can always find a vehicle in your area. You can take any of the car2gos you find distributed around the spot or book online 30 minutes before you want to drive.

You open it with the member card you receive after signing up. You go from A to B, park your car2go again and that’s that. It’s fun, saves money and helps the environment.

What does it cost?

Car2go is always putting you in a good mood and the same goes for our pricing. Our calculations are fair and always in your favor. For starters, you only pay when you use it. No monthly fees or rental subscription packages. No reservations required. And our one-way model means there is no need to waste the time you’re paying for by returning the car to the same location that you began your trip.

How to become a member?

If you have an International Driver’s License, proceed with this registration form by filling out your driver’s license number and expiration date as is. Please keep the issuing State as the same State as the car2go location in which you are registering.

You will need to contact the licensing authorities of your Country for a current driving history (in English) of the past 3 years. You may email this to registration-support-US@car2go.com

Car2Go San diego