OC HIGH / STUDENT NEWS AND VIEWS : Getting There: The License

Before legally driving in California, several steps must be taken.

The first is to enroll in a driver's education program. Thirty hours of classroom education on traffic laws and road signs is required for those under 18. The classroom program costs around $69, according to K-1 Driving & Traffic School of El Toro and San Juan Capistrano.

The next step is to get a driving permit, which requires passing a written test on traffic laws and road signs. There is a $10 application fee that gives you three attempts to pass the permit test within a year. A driving permit allows a student to practice driving an automobile with a licensed California driver who is at least 25 years old.

Six hours of behind-the-wheel training with a certified instructor are also required for minors. Driver's training classes cost about $135, according to K-1 Driving & Traffic School.

Now it's time for the behind-the-wheel driving test given by the DMV. It includes more turns, parking and, for the first time, freeway driving. Proof of birth date and insurance and a car in good working order are required for the test.

All California drivers are required to be insured. Typical liability coverage for a 16-year-old male, who is not the primary driver of a 1990 Honda Civic driven in Orange County, would cost on average $1,000 to $1,250 per year. A female the same age and driving under the same conditions would be charged about $1,000 yearly, according to Solo Insurance of Lake Forest. Drivers under age 25 are considered a risk and have higher insurance rates. Some may receive good student discounts of 5% to 10% off their policies if a grade-point average of 3.0 is maintained. School verification of grades is necessary.

After all that is completed, the only step that remains is getting that first car.

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