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Old 06-12-2011, 12:14 PM
2 posts, read 3,734 times
Reputation: 10


Hi there,

I have a a few questions. I'm a very recent college grad moving out to LA in less than two weeks to start a job. I'm a native NY-er and had no idea how to drive before three weeks ago. I just passed my road test in NYC on thursday but might not receive the license in the mail until well after I've moved out west. Does anyone know if I'll be able to use my road test pass slip plus my NY permit (those two together count as the temporary license in NYC...) when I go to the DMV in California or will they only accept the photo ID? In addition, do I have to take the written California test, and if so, does anyone know how hard that is? Also I can't even think about buying a car in LA without having an California ID first, right?

Thanks in advance for any advice/help.

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Old 06-12-2011, 12:41 PM
1,800 posts, read 3,468,936 times
Reputation: 876
I recently went thru the same thing moving from Chicago. California is a very difficult state to deal with bureaucratically.

I can't speak to whether or not you will need your photo ID license, but my guess is yes. CA will not know what the permit slip or NY permit entitles you to do in NY. I base this off the fact that they wanted my passport or birth certificate in addition to my license to show I was lawfully present in the US, despite the fact that non citizens can use their Green Card.

CA requires all out of state license transfers to take the written test. It is never waived. It was one of the hardest tests I've taken even thru grad school. Back in Illinois, we studied for 10 minutes and easily passed the test. CA's questions are very specific.

Also get to the DMV as early as possible, like an hour before they open. The lines are astronomical. I got there an hour before they opened and there were already 50 people deep in line. Monday and Friday are the worst days to go (they aren't open weekends). Budget about 3-4 hours to get a new license once they open. Thus, definitely take care of this before you start work if possible.

My other suggestion is to avoid the Hollywood and Santa Monica locations. Not sure where you are living in LA, but go elsewhere unless they are real real close.

As for purchasing a car, if you pay cash, they don't care what state you are licensed in. If you don't pay cash and finance the vehicle, most of the dealerships don't care because the financing centers for each company are national. Leasing might be a bit different, though I still don't think it matters because people who work in 2 states might lease a car in each state for example.

Gas prices here are high and you will do a lot of driving. A lot of people are trading in Mercedes, BMWs, etc. for better mileage. That means two things. Either get a new car that gets 35-40 miles per gallon, or you can buy a used Mercedes/Bmw/etc for lower than usual.

Good luck!
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Old 06-12-2011, 01:12 PM
2 posts, read 3,734 times
Reputation: 10
Ugh--this written test sounds terrible. Sigh.

Also, I'm living/working in Santa Monica so this news about their DMV is a little unsettling. I guess I'll be there very very bright and early.

Anyways, thanks so very much!

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Old 06-12-2011, 01:34 PM
1,800 posts, read 3,468,936 times
Reputation: 876
Yea definitely get there at least an hour early. Good luck!
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Old 06-12-2011, 01:42 PM
Location: United States
199 posts, read 432,199 times
Reputation: 396
clairebrooksie, I didn't think the written test in CA was bad at all. My son was 20 when we moved out there. He read the driver's manual they give you and passed the test with no problem.

I also had no problem at all with the Santa Monica location of the DMV. In fact, I had first gone to the Burbank location and fled immediately! I think it just depends on the day. Use common sense. Don't go on the first or last day of the month. Okay, maybe Mondays and Fridays are bad, I don't know.

If I were you, I'd pick up a copy of the driver's manual/book thing, go over to the beach if you like and study the manual carefully, then go take the test the next day.

Since you're living and working in Santa Monica, you might want to use their bus system now and then. Welcome to the Big Blue Bus There are posters here who live in SM, and I'm sure if you need help with routes, etc., they will be knowledgeable.

As for buying a car, go here for more info: Vehicle Registration and Title Information Home Page
The only tip I have is to know about smog inspections. Don't know if they require those in NY, but it was new to me coming from VA.

Best of luck.

Also--VA just required my passport/birth certificate when I went to get a VA license so it's not just CA

Last edited by PeppermintChapstick; 06-12-2011 at 01:44 PM.. Reason: additional info
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Old 06-12-2011, 04:22 PM
Location: Santa Monica, CA
1,626 posts, read 3,396,046 times
Reputation: 734
Use the online reservation tool offered on the DMV website. You'll still wait but less than if you just walk in.
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