Subject to certain age restrictions, someone from out of state can legally drive in California as long as:
- The driver has a current, valid license from the state in which he/she resides, and
- The license is valid for the type of vehicle the person is driving in California (car, truck, motorcycle, etc.).
Age restrictions on out-of-state licenses
Drivers age 18 and over have no time restriction for using an out-of-state license in California. They may continue to drive as long as:
- They are not California residents, and
- Their license remains valid in their state of residence.
An out-of-state driver who is 16 or 17 may drive for a maximum of ten (10) days immediately following his/her entry into California.
But the time limit does not apply if:
- The minor holds a valid driver's license issued by his/her state of residence,
- The minor has in his/her immediate possession a nonresident minor's certificate issued by the California DMV, and
- In connection with such certificate, the minor has filed proof of financial responsibility.
What happens if a driver moves to California?
Someone who moves to California and wishes to drive must apply for a license from the California DMV:
- Within 10 days of becoming a California resident, or
- Immediately, if driving is part of their employment (for instance working as a delivery person or a Lyft or Uber driver).
Driving to and from a place of employment does not count as driving as part of employment.
If a person who moves to the state and fails to apply for a California license within 10 days, but continues to drive, he or she can be charged with "driving without a license" per Vehicle Code 12500 VC.
For purposes of obtaining a license to drive, a person may be considered a resident if he or she moves to California with the intention of staying.
But a person is definitively considered a resident of California if he or she:
- Registers to vote,
- Pays resident tuition,
- Files for a homeowner's property tax exemption, or
- Obtains any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents.