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California Driver’s License Renewal and eLearning Explained

ByThai Tim

Oct 17, 2023

I recently renewed my driver’s license, and I want to share my experience here because I couldn’t find detailed information about the eLearning part. The eLearning method is NOT THE BEST WAY FOR EVERYONE!

There are three methods to renew your driver’s license:

  1. Going to the DMV in person.
  2. Taking an online test and then visiting the DMV.
  3. Completing eLearning and then going to the DMV.

You have to visit the DMV in person for the final steps. Some people may be eligible to do it entirely online, but I’m not sure who qualifies.

At the DMV

You need to apply online, providing information such as your height, weight, eye color, address, organ donor preference, and the class of license you want. Then, you visit the DMV, either with or without an appointment, depending on how long you’re willing to wait. This method costs around $41. After you provide your confirmation code from the online application and verify that all the information is correct, you pay the fee in cash or by card and receive a receipt. Then, you proceed to have your photo taken and take the test. I attempted some sample tests online and failed twice due to the wording and tricky choices, like close numbers such as 15, 20, and 25, for example. However, if you carefully study the handbook, you should be fine. I decided to quit because I didn’t have the time to read the handbook and go to the DMV, primarily due to time constraints.

Online to DMV

If the first method doesn’t work for you, you can try taking the online test and then go to the DMV for information confirmation and a photo. I didn’t personally use this method, but I know that you apply online, select the online test option, pay around $41 as well, complete the protocol test on your desktop or laptop, and then go to the DMV. If anyone has more details, please share them in the comments.

eLearning to DMV

If you have an activated application, as I do, you need to visit the DMV to cancel your existing application; otherwise, you can’t apply for another renewal. After canceling the old one, you can apply for a new renewal. The process is similar to the other methods, where you fill out your information but choose the eLearning method. The cost is also around $41. You’ll receive an email with an eLearning link. After finishing the eLearning, you can go to the DMV to have your photo taken.

eLearning Explained

I didn’t search for detailed information online, so I want to share what I’ve learned here. There are several chapters (I can’t recall the exact number, but it’s around 7 or 8), with 5 to 6 sections in each chapter. Each chapter covers different aspects related to the classic test, and these chapters are connected to the handbook. You’ll learn the rules by watching short videos, each lasting 1 to 2 minutes. After completing a video, that section is marked with a checkmark. When you’ve marked all sections with a checkmark, you’ve finished eLearning. Each chapter includes a practice section and a quiz section. The practice section involves selecting the right choice or dragging the car to the correct location. The quiz section typically consists of around three questions, and you can continue until you select the correct answers with no limits. You won’t fail eLearning until you consistently choose the wrong answers. It takes approximately 2 hours to complete the eLearning, and you can quit at any time; your progress will be saved.

Once you finish eLearning, you can take a screenshot, although it’s not necessary. The DMV will receive your results for passing and then process your application.

Here’s why the eLearning method may not be the best option for everyone: If you aren’t familiar with the rules of the road, I recommend reading the handbook first. You need to understand the rules to avoid being pulled over when you’re driving.

If you believe you’re well-versed in the rules, such as using turn signals, yielding to emergency vehicles, not using high beams unnecessarily, stopping at stop signs for three seconds, or other rules you followed during your driving test, choosing eLearning can save you time at the DMV, as you only need to have your photo taken there.

I hope everyone who needs to renew driver’s license can have an easy and confident experience.

Credit: UncleGaygaygay