In Great Britain or Northern Ireland, even if you haven’t passed your driving test yet, in order to learn to drive or ride you will need to have a provisional driving licence. A provisional driving licence can also be used as a form of ID too and you can apply for one from when you are 15 years and 9 months old. From the age of 16, you can learn to drive a moped, but you have to wait till you are 17 years old to start learning to drive a car.
Accompanying Drivers If You Don’t Have Your Full Licence
If you want to practice your driving with someone other than your driving instructor, such as a parent or older relative, you need to make sure they are over the age of 21 and they have held, and still do have, a full driving licence in the same category vehicle you are driving for a minimum of 3 years.
For example, if your dad is 38 years old and holds a full driving licence for a manual car, which he has had for the last 10 years, he would be suitable to supervise you practising your driving in your manual car. If you mum is 36 years old, with a full driving licence for an automatic car, which she has held for 2 years, she could not supervise you practising in your manual car as she has the wrong category licence as well as not holding it for long enough.
L and D Plates
As a learner driver, you must have an L plate prominently displayed on the front and back of your vehicle and these need to be removed when the car is being used by someone who isn’t a learner driver. L or D plates can be displayed in Wales.
The requirements for your L or D plates are that:
- They must have a red L or D displayed on a white background
- Be the correct size, as shown in the image on the right.
- The size of the plate overall must be 178mm x 178mm
- The measurements for the L displayed on the plate can be found on the image, as well as the position of the L in relation to the edge of the plate.
If you fail to display an L or D plate, or if it is the incorrect size, you could get 3 to 6 penalty points.
You are not allowed to drive on motorways with a provisional driving licence. After passing your driving test, you can take Pass Plus to gain confidence and experience of motorway driving, if you wish.
Minimum Amount Of Hours Spent Driving
There is no required amount of practice-driving or lessons for you to complete before you can take your driving test. You just have to wait until you are ready, so it varies, person to person. You may find that after 5 driving lessons and 10 hours of practice-driving, you feel ready to sit your test, whereas other people might need to have 30 driving lessons and 50 hours of practice-driving.
Waiting For Your Full Driving Licence
When you pass your driving test, you will need to send your green provisional licence off and you will then be sent a pink, full driving licence. During the time you are waiting for your full driving licence to arrive, none of these rules apply, meaning that once you pass, you don’t need to display L plates and you can drive on the motorway, even though you haven’t yet received your full licence.
After passing your driving test, you can display ‘probationary’ P plates, to indicate that you have only passed your test recently and although you are up to the standard required to pass your test successfully, you may find that you need some extra time and space while driving, just in case of any mistakes.
It is not a legal requirement to display P plates, but if you aren’t feeling particularly confident as a new driver, you may find them useful. There is no time limit on how long you have to keep them on, this, again, varies depending on the person.
The only requirement to use a P plate is that you must have passed the practical element of your driving test.