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What Happens If You Fail Your Driving Test 3 Times in California?

Failed Your Driving Test 3 Times? Here Are 8 Steps to Finally Pass in California


If you fail three times in the road test, you may feel defeated, but don’t give up, as it’s not the end of the world. 

Yes, it can be a challenging and disheartening experience, but it’s also an opportunity to reflect, learn, and eventually succeed. 

Here are 8 steps you can take if you find yourself in this situation in California.

1. Figure Out What Makes You Fail 3 Times

The first step towards overcoming repeated failures in your driving test is to understand the reasons behind them.

Several factors could contribute to your unsuccessful attempts. These could range from basic driving errors, lack of understanding of traffic laws, to issues with vehicle control and nervousness. 

Ask for feedback from your examiner; they can provide a breakdown of your specific weaknesses. Did you struggle with parallel parking, maintaining the correct speed, or were lane changes your downfall?

Perhaps it was a matter of not observing right-of-way rules or failing to yield to pedestrians. 

Identifying these patterns is vital as you can then take focused actions to improve in these areas.

2. Practice More

The adage ‘practice makes perfect’ is particularly apt when it comes to driving. More time behind the wheel, navigating through different traffic conditions and road layouts, can boost your proficiency and resilience. 

You should consider practicing areas that are specifically challenging for you. If merging into traffic is your weak spot, find a busy highway. If tight corners give you trouble, seek out winding roads. The key is to practice in a variety of settings: residential streets, bustling city centers, and freeways. 

With each session, your comfort level should increase, making you less likely to repeat the same mistakes.

3. Be Confident

Confidence can significantly influence your performance. Anxiety and nervousness often lead to mistakes, even if you know the correct procedures. 

Building confidence comes with increased practice, but you can also incorporate relaxation techniques before and during the test. 

Deep breathing, positive self-talk, and visualization strategies can calm your nerves and help you stay focused. Remember, it’s normal to feel nervous, but don’t let it control you.

4. Switch to a Different Instructor

If you’ve failed your driving test multiple times, it might be beneficial to consider changing your driving instructor. Different instructors have different teaching methods, and a fresh perspective might be what you need. 

If your current instructor’s style doesn’t resonate with you or you’re not getting the feedback you need, find someone who offers a teaching approach better suited to your learning style.

5. Practice With an Instructor

Practicing under the guidance of a seasoned driving instructor can bridge gaps in your driving skills. They can provide tailored advice, correct your mistakes in real-time, and help build your on-road awareness. 

Instructors can simulate test conditions, giving you a feel for the pressure you’ll experience and helping you learn to manage it. They can also take you on routes similar to those used by the DMV for testing, enhancing your readiness.

6. Retake Driver’s Education

Revisiting formal driver’s education can be a game-changer, especially if it’s been a while since your initial training. 

Driver’s ed programs are designed to cover everything from the basics to the nuances of driving in California. They provide a structured learning experience with a blend of theoretical knowledge and practical skills. 

Retaking this course can reinforce what you already know and bring new insights that might be pivotal for passing your test.

7. Practice On Different Roads

Road variety is an important factor in becoming a well-rounded driver. Take time to drive on different road types – hills, curves, city grids, and rural areas. Each road type presents unique challenges and learning to navigate them confidently can significantly improve your abilities. 

Practice in different weather conditions as well, if possible, as this will prepare you for the unexpected.

8. Reapply

When you’re ready to give it another go, you’ll need to reapply for your driving test. 

You can schedule your next driving test online by visiting the California DMV website at, or you can phone them at 1-800-777-0133 during normal business hours. 

You need to ensure that you’ve had enough practice and addressed the errors from your previous attempts before reapplying. Timing is everything – don’t rush into reapplying until you feel fully prepared.

In California, after failing your driving test three times, you’re required to begin a new application and pay the applicable fee again. This is an opportunity to double-check your application details, ensuring all your personal information is up to date and accurate.

Additionally, take this opportunity to gather your resources. This might include confirming that you’ll have access to a vehicle that meets all safety requirements for the test and scheduling your test for a time when you’re less likely to be rushed or stressed.


It’s common to fail your driving test 3 times, and it doesn’t mean you won’t be a good driver. Spend time thinking about what to improve, practice more, and get advice from driving instructors or experienced friends and family.

When you’re ready to try the test again, keep going, stay on track, and believe in yourself. Consider each attempt as one step closer to passing and becoming a licensed California driver.

 With hard work and determination, hope you’ll get your driver’s license soon. Good luck!

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