Driving licence in Australia
A driver's licence (or driver licence) is required in Australia before a person is permitted to drive a motor vehicle of any description on a road in Australia. Driver's licensing laws vary between the states and territories of Australia; but the laws are similar, with a graduated licensing scheme in operation.
- 1 Classes of licences
- 2 Car licences - rules by jurisdiction
- 3 General
- 4 Interstate Travel
- 5 Moving states
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Classes of licences
A mostly uniform driver licence classification system has been adopted by all states and territories, although there are some differences in each state or territory, for example, the types of vehicle classes.
Class Type Description C Car licence Covers vehicles up to 4.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass (GVM). GVM is the maximum recommended weight a vehicle can be when loaded. The licence allows the holder to drive cars, utilities, vans, some light trucks, car-based motor tricycles, tractors and implements such as graders, vehicles that seat up to 12 adults, including the driver. R Rider licence Applies to motorcycle riders with any registrable motorcycle. RE Restricted Rider licence Covers motorcycles matching the LAMS (Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme) list of motorcycles of each state. Generally this means abiding by a power-to-weight ratio and a total engine size limit. Riders must hold this license for 12 months before being permitted to upgrade to a R class motorcycle license. LR Light Rigid licence Covers a rigid vehicle with a GVM of more than 4.5 tonnes up to 8 tonnes. Any towed trailer must not weigh more than 9 tonnes GVM. This class also includes vehicles with a GVM up to 8 tonnes which carry more than 12 adults including the driver. A holder of a LR licence is also permitted to drive vehicles in class C. MR Medium Rigid licence Covers a rigid vehicle with 2 axles and a GVM of more than 8 tonnes. Any towed trailer must not weigh more than 9 tonnes GVM. A holder of a MR licence is also permitted to drive vehicles in class LR and lower. HR Heavy Rigid licence Covers a rigid vehicle with 3 or more axles and a GVM of more than 8 tonnes. Any towed trailer must not weigh more than 9 tonnes GVM. This class also includes articulated buses. A holder of a HR licence is also permitted to drive vehicles in class MR and lower. HC Heavy Combination licence Covers heavy combination vehicles like a prime mover towing a semi-trailer, or rigid vehicles towing a trailer with a GVM of more than 9 tonnes. A holder of a HC licence is also permitted to drive vehicles in class HR and lower. MC Multi-Combination licence Covers multi-combination vehicles like Road Trains and B-Double Vehicles. A holder of a MC licence is also permitted to drive vehicles in class HC and lower.
The medical standards for drivers of commercial vehicles are set by the National Transport Commission and Austroads.
The driver of a vehicle carrying paying passengers (such as a school bus or tourist coach) is required to hold a driver licence depending on the size of the vehicle as well as a "Public Passenger Vehicle Driver Authority" which is issued by the state or territory Ministry of Transport.
Car licences - rules by jurisdiction
The holder of a car licence is permitted to drive Class C motor vehicles. These are vehicles up to 4.5 tonnes gross vehicle mass (GVM) including cars, utilities, vans, some light trucks, car-based motor tricycles, tractors and implements such as graders, and vehicles that seat up to 12 adults, including the driver.
Official nomenclature for car licences varies between the states and territories, between "driver's licence" and "driver licence", however the licence is most commonly referred to as a "driver's licence".
The official names of the learner permits also vary. They are called Learner Driver Licences in some states and Learner's Permits in others.
The minimum driving age varies between States and Territories. It is 18 years in Victoria, 16 years and 6 months in the Northern Territory and 17 years in the other states and territories. Learner drivers may drive, under qualified supervision, from 15 years and 9 months in the Australian Capital Territory and 16 years in the other states and territories.
Australian Capital Territory
The driving age in the Australian Capital Territory is 17 years. A learner can drive at the age of 15 years and 9 months under the supervision of a fully licensed driver. After obtaining a licence, a driver continues to be subject to restrictions during a 3 year probationary period.
Learner Driver Licence
The minimum age for a Learner Driver Licence is 15 years and 9 months. An applicant must complete the Road Ready course (road safety program, run in many secondary schools, or at a Road Ready Centre), and pass a computerised road rules test. A learner licence is valid for two years. Learner drivers must display black on yellow 'L Plates' and drive under the supervision of a full Australian licence holder.
An applicant for a provisional licence must be at least 17 years, held a learner licence for 6 months, and either completed a logbook with an accredited driving instructor, or passed a practical driving test. A provisional licence is valid for 3 years. Provisional drivers must display red on white 'P Plates' for three years, unless they take the Road Ready Plus course after six months, or are over 26 years and have held the licence for 6 months. Provisional holders who have taken the RRP course or are over 26 also get an additional 4 demerit point allowance. A provisional licence carrier has a zero blood-alcohol limit.
After holding the provisional licence for three years, it can be upgraded to an Open Licence.
For more information on driver's licenses in ACT, see ACT Department of Territory and Municipal Services - Driver Licence.
New South Wales
The driving age in New South Wales is 17 years. A learner can drive at the age of 16 (for cars), under the supervision of an unrestricted licensed driver, or 16 years and 9 months (for motorcycles). After obtaining a licence, a driver continues to be subject to restrictions during a 3 year probationary period.
Learner Driver Licence
The minimum age for a Learner Driver Permit is 16 years. Since the introduction of an enhanced graduated licensing scheme in 2000, new drivers must proceed through 3 different stages before gaining a full, unrestricted licence.
A learner driver licence is gained after passing a computerised knowledge test. Learner drivers are permitted to drive accompanied by a supervising unrestricted licence holder. Learner drivers and supervising drivers are subject to numerous restrictions. For learner a maximum speed of 80 km/h, a zero blood alcohol content limit, cannot tow a trailer, and must conspicuously display black-on-yellow 'L-plates' on the exterior of the vehicle while driving. As of July 1, 2007, learner drivers must complete at least 120 hours of on-road driving experience including at least 20 hours of night driving (verified by a log book completed by the supervising driver), and must hold the permit for at least 12 months, before they may apply for a provisional licence, stage 1. Since 16 December 2009, 1 hour with an instructor is equal to 3 hours of normal driving hours, until a total of 10 hours with an instructor. This equates to a maximum of 30 hours which can be accumulated at an advanced rate. Since 19 December 2009, learner drivers 25 years old and over have not been required to complete a learner driver log book. 
Provisional licence, stage 1 (P1 - red)
A Provisional P1 licence (commonly called Ps and Reds) is gained after a minimum twelve months of holding a Learner Licence, 120 hours of on-road driving experience, and successful completion of an on-road practical driving examination. The licence holder can drive unaccompanied, but is limited to a maximum speed of 90 km/h, towing trailers of up to 250 kg, and a zero alcohol content. They must display red-on-white 'P-plates' while driving. P1 drivers are limited to a total of four demerit points during the term of the licence, as compared to the 12-point limit on unrestricted licences. P1 drivers must hold the licence for one year before progressing to the next stage.
In New South Wales the minimum age to be eligible for a P1 Licence is 17. As of 1 July 2007, new laws for P1 drivers have been introduced, including a limit of one passenger under the age of 21 between 11pm and 5am, and instant suspension for 3 months for any speeding offence. Furthermore, it is also now a requirement that red 'P-plates' be displayed on the outside of the vehicle. The provisional license system is a topic of hot debate, with many road and traffic researchers concluding that it is outdated and does not have a place in modern day society, punishing young adults. Researchers agree that a period of 1 year would be more than sufficient, and that 3 years on the system is excessive.
Provisional licence, stage 2 (P2 - green)
A Provisional P2 licence (commonly known as Ps and Greens) is gained after one year and successful completion of a computerised hazard perception test. The driver is restricted to a speed limit of 100 km/h, a zero alcohol limit, and a maximum of seven demerit points; however, they are eligible to upgrade the class of their licence, such as those for heavier vehicles. P2 drivers must display a green-on-white 'P-plate' conspicuously on the exterior of the vehicle at all times. P2 drivers must hold the licence for two years before progressing to the next stage.
Full, Unrestricted Licence A full, unrestricted licence is gained after two years and successful completion of another computerised test. Unrestricted drivers licences are coloured gold
There are several common complaints about the NSW licensing scheme. The relatively high number of road accidents and traffic offences (such as speeding and drink-driving) involving P-plate drivers has prompted calls for further driving restrictions, such as curfews and passenger restrictions, as implemented in other countries. Also, the blanket speed restrictions on Learner and Provisional drivers can pose problems on country roads and freeways, where learner drivers are restricted to 80 km/h while other drivers may travel up to 110 km/h. Another common complaint is that it takes too long to progress to your full license. In Queensland and Victoria, this problem is avoided by not imposing speed restrictions on newly licensed drivers. There has been some criticism, especially amongst holders of provisional licenses, that the new laws punish the majority whilst it is only the minority that are the offenders.
The learner licence may be obtained at age 16. Learner drivers may not use a mobile phone and must be supervised by a full licence holder and may not drive faster than 80 km/h. After holding the learner licence for six months a provisional licence may be obtained.
The Queensland Government is replacing the current laminate Driver Licence & Heavy Vehicle Driver Licence with a more secure, durable & reliable licence. All licensing and personal information that is currently on the face of the laminated licence will remain on the face of the new card, and one's address will be shown on the back.
From July 2007, changes to licensing laws came into effect applying to drivers under the age of 25. These included decreasing the minimum age of learners from 16 years 6 months, to 16 years, but increasing the minimum length of time the learner's licence is held to 1 year instead of 6 months, and included a compulsory 100 logged driving hours, including 10 hours of night driving, however a logbook exemption can be applied for, meaning the learner will not need to submit a logbook with 100 hours of driving, but will need to hold their learner licence for a minimum of 2 years instead of 1 before going for their provisional licence. Learners over 25 years of age are not required to complete a log book of 100 logged driving hours, however may voluntarily wish to do so. Learners must display yellow L plates and are not speed restricted by the licence. Learners must be accompanied by an open licence holder who has held the relevant class open licence for at least 1 year. The drinking level must be 0.00 for a learner and instructor must be 0.05.
From July 2007 the provisional licence was divided into two stages.
P1 drivers must display red P plates. P1 licence holders may upgrade to P2 licenses after holding their P1 licences for one year and passing the hazard perception test. There are restrictions to the power of the vehicles and the number of passengers allowed in relation to P1 drivers. Drivers over 25 years of age who successfully pass their practical driving test are able to skip the P1 licence stage and progress directly to the P2 licence stage.
P2 drivers must display green P plates. P2 licence holders may upgrade to an open licence after holding their P2 licence for two years (one year for P2 licence holders over 25 years of age). As with P1 licences, there are restrictions to power and passengers but they are less restrictive than P1 licences.
From 2005, Queensland licences have been called a "Driver Licence" (as opposed to the traditional "Driver's Licence" or the variant "Driving Licence"), and no longer carry information about the holder's organ donor status. The Australian Organ Donor Register is now used for national registration of tissue donation status, due to criticism of the previous schemes.
Elderly drivers are required to have their licences renewed more often and are required to have compulsory eye tests, which does not include colour vision.
For more information on driver's licences in Queensland, see Department of Transport and Main Roads (Formally Queensland Transport) and click on Licensing.
A Queensland Driver charged with a drink driving offence may be entitled to apply for a work licence that if granted by a Magistrates Court would entitle the driver to drive for work purposes whilst their licence is suspended see 
UD Class Licence
Queensland has a special class UD licence which allows operation of heavy agricultural or purpose-built vehicles without an MC or HC licence. These licenses are mainly used in the sugar industry.
A person who is at least 16 may apply for a Learner's Permit (commonly called Ls) in South Australia. Applicants must pass a theory test to obtain a driving permit. A learner driver must always be accompanied by a Qualified Supervising Driver (that does not hold either a provisional or a probationary licence). Learners must display yellow L-plates, and may not have a blood alcohol content greater than zero and must not accumulate more than four demerit points. Learner drivers are allowed to travel at a maximum speed of 100 km/h, even where the posted speed limit is higher.
To get a Provisional Licence (also commonly called a probationary licence or Ps), you must have held a learner's permit for at least 12 months be at least 17 years of age or have an equivalent interstate or overseas driver's licence and be at least 17. If you had a learner's permit, you must also have a log book showing you have had at least 75 hours driving experience (including at least 15 hours of night-time driving) which must have all been signed by the Qualified Supervising Driver. All applicants must pass a practical driving test or be signed off on several points by a driving instructor in a competency-based training course. Drivers are then issued with a P1 licence. The main restrictions on P-platers are a maximum speed limit of 100 km/h (even where the posted speed limit is higher), a requirement that no alcohol or party drugs be in the system, and not being allowed to accrue more than 4 demerit points. They must also display red P plates (shown on left).
Drivers who obtain a P1 provisional licence on or after 4 September 2010 must not drive a high-powered vehicle if they are under the age of 25. High powered includes vehicles with engines of eight or more cylinders, vehicles with turbocharged or supercharged engines (excluding diesel powered vehicles), vehicles that have been modified to increase engine performance, and nominated high performance vehicles, including BMW M & M3, Honda NSX, Nissan 350Z & 370Z, all post 1994 Porsches and the Mercedes Benz SLK350. High-powered vehicle restrictions do not apply to drivers over 25 years of age.
A driver must have held a provisional licence (combined P1s and P2s) for at least 2 years and a P2 licence for at least 6 months before becoming a fully licensed driver. Fully licensed drivers have their restrictions on alcohol relaxed to 0.05 per cent blood alcohol concentration and may drive at the full speed limit (which is 110 km/h on many country roads).
A learner licence for cars may be obtained after reaching age 16. A person holding a learner licence may not exceed 80 km/h in speed or tow a trailer or boat, and may only drive with a BAC of zero. L plates must be displayed, and a supervisory driver with a full licence must sit in the front passenger seat. The supervisory driver must not have any periods of suspension or disqualification within the last two years. As of April 2009, there are separate L1 and L2 stages.
After 3 months a Learner can go for a practical driving test, this test proves in the driver can drive safely. This test can be undertaken in an automatic or manual vehicle, if the L2's test was undertaken in an automatic vehicle the learner can still go for their manual license when the undertake the P's test. (there is no plate change it still remains the yellow L plate) Once a Learner is on their L2's they begin logging their driving hours, a learner must complete 50hours of driving and must be of the age of 17 before they can take the practical driving test. this test contains several sections including the "I left something behind" task. If the learner fails the test he/she must wait 28 days before retaking the test.
A P1 licence may be issued after reaching age 17, logging 50 practice hours, holding an L2 licence for nine months, and passing a practical driving test. A P1 licence is issued for one year. P1 drivers must remain under 80 km/h, have a zero BAC while driving, and display P plates. Provisional drivers may tow other vehicles. After 12 months, the licence converts to a P2 licence. P2 drivers may drive above 80 km/h provided they don't exceed the speed limit, and do not have to display P plates. They must have a BAC limit of zero to drive and the licence will be suspended if 4 demerit points are accumulated, contrasted with 12 for full licence holders. Drivers must hold the P2 licence for between 12 months and two years, depending on their age, to be issued a full licence.
Note: there are no vehicle restrictions in Tasmania, so therefore if you want to you could drive a Bugatti Veyron on your L1's/L2's/P1's and P2's
The minimum driving age in Victoria is 18 years. A learner can drive at the age of 16 under the supervision of a fully licensed driver. After obtaining a licence, a driver continues to be subject to restrictions during a 4 year probationary period.
A Learner's Permit may be obtained by a person over 16 years. The applicant must pass a computerised Knowledge Test and an eyesight test. Learner drivers must not consume any alcohol before driving (i.e. the Blood alcohol content (BAC) must be zero), and must be accompanied by a driver who holds a full Driver Licence and has a BAC below 0.05%. A Victorian Learner's Permit is valid for 10 years from date of issue.
'L' plates must be displayed while driving, and must not tow a trailer. There are no special speed or vehicle restrictions.
P1 (Red) Probationary Licence
A P1 Probationary Driver Licence holder must be over 18 years of age and pass a computerised Hazard Perception Test, a practical driving test and an eyesight test. P1 drivers must display white-on-red 'P-plates'.
An applicant for a Driver Licence must have held a Learner's Permit for at least 12 months if the applicant is under 21 years at the time of applying; 6 months if the applicant is between 21 and 24 years; and 3 months for applicants aged over 25 years. If a driver obtained their Learner's Permit after July 1, 2007, and are under 21 years of age, they must have logged 120 hours of practice.
Probationary drivers must drive with a zero BAC, and are not permitted to drive 'high powered vehicles' (formerly those powered at more than 125 kW/tonne or 3.5 litres/tonne; now all petrol turbocharged and supercharged cars and any car of more than 6 cylinders, refer below). If the driver was tested in an automatic vehicle, then they must not drive a manual vehicle. There are no speed restrictions, however trailers may not be towed except for work purposes. P1 drivers have a peer passenger restriction which sees P1 drivers only able to carry no more than one passenger aged between 16–21 years old (excluding family members; exemptions may also be allowed by VicRoads for other reasons) at any time. They must not use any form of mobile phone including hands-free.
Since 1 July 2008, what is considered a high power vehicle has been redefined. P plate drivers are no longer allowed to drive cars with engines larger than a V6, cars that have a turbo or supercharger (unless it is a diesel). A shortlist has been produced of cars that comply with these restrictions but are still considered powerful and therefore banned. The list includes BMW M3 and Porsche 911. There have been many complaints about this new system as several slower cars have been banned, such as the Peugeot 308, but faster cars such as VW Golf R32 and BMW 130i are still permitted.
After 1 July 2008, those aged over 21 years when applying for a licence qualify as P2 drivers after passing the computerised Hazard Perception Test and a practical driving test, as well as an eyesight test.
P2 (Green) Probationary Licence
The P2 Probationary Driver Licence came into effect from 1 July 2008. For probationary drivers obtaining a P1 Probationary Licence after that date, they may upgrade their licence status if they have had a good driving record for at least 12 months while holding the P1 Licence.
The same P1 restrictions apply, except P2 drivers may tow trailers and use a handfree mobile phone. The peer passenger restriction does not apply to P2 drivers. They must display the white-on-green 'P-plates', rather than the red. If a person is over 21 when licenced they go straight onto the P2 licence for three years.
P2 licences last for 3 years, making the minimum age of receiving a full licence 22 years, up from 21 years for drivers who obtained their a Probationary Licence before 1 July 2008. The minimum age for obtaining a P2 Licence is 19 years. All drivers who obtained their Probationary Licence before 1 July 2008 qualify as P2 drivers and must display the green 'P' plates.
A full Driver Licence is obtained after the probation period. For drivers who got their P's after 1 July 2008, the minimum age at which they can obtain their full licence would be 22.
There are few restrictions on fully licensed drivers, other than not being able to drive while holding a mobile phone, and the need to have a BAC under 0.05%. Full licences are valid for ten years, but can be made available for three years if requested.
For more information on driver's licenses in Victoria, see Arrive Alive website.
Driver's licences in Western Australia are administered by the Department of Transport. The driving age in Western Australia is 17 years. A learner can drive at the age of 16 under the supervision of a fully licensed driver. After obtaining a licence, a driver continues to be subject to restrictions during a 2 year probationary period.
- Phase 1 Learner's Permit
- Blood alcohol content exceeding 0.00%. Learner's Permits expire after three years. After a recent bill passed through parliament, Phase 1 drivers are now permitted to drive on Perth freeways as well as other roads outside the boundaries of Kings Park.
- Phase 2 Learner's Permit
- Provisional Licence
Graduated Demerit Points
As of 1 December 2010, the Western Australian Government introduced a new Graduated Demerit Point system for Novice Drivers (which includes L- and P-plate drivers). Under this system, a driver may accrue less than 4 demerit points within the first year of their provisional licence, and less than 8 points within the second year, before losing their licence. These limits include demerit points accrued before these 1- and 2-year periods, such as any accrued while on a Learner's Permit.
Full Driver's Licence
The provisional licence automatically converts into a full driver's licence after the 2 year probationary period. Drivers with full driver's licences must drive with a blood alcohol content less than 0.05%, may accrue less than 12 demerit points before being disqualified, and may drive at up to 110 km/h (the maximum speed limit in the state). 'P' plate drivers may also drive up to 110 km /h, where permitted by the state.
Double or Nothing
Drivers who have accrued 12 or more demerit points can choose to continue driving on a 12 month Good Behaviour Period. If a more than two demerit points are accrued during the 12 month period (even on different fines), the license is lost for twice the original disqualification period; usually 6 months (3 months x 2).
Tourists and visitors staying less than three months (varies by state and territory) are permitted to drive using their home country licence. If the licence is not written in English, then an acceptable translation of the licence must be carried at all times. Visitors staying more than three months must apply for a licence in the state in which they reside.
Licences and Photo Cards are hologrammed, and contain a photograph, signature, and the holder's address. In some states, they also show organ donor status.
In Australia, where there is no national identity card in operation, driver's licences serve as the primary means of photo identification. 'Proof of age' cards are available for non-drivers. In New South Wales, these were replaced by the 'NSW Photo Card' in December 2005. Tasmania calls their equivalent card a 'personal information card'. These may be used for entry to venues which have age restrictions, such as alcohol selling premises.
- The Road and Traffic Authority of New South Wales
- Driver Knowledge Test (DKT) Online Practice for Learner Drivers
- A ‘Demonstration’ Driver Knowledge Test for Learner Drivers
- Road Users Handbook (PDF)
- ACT Learner and Provisional Driver Licensing Requirements
Interstate visitors are permitted to travel on their current Australian or New Zealand licence. They must obey the local road rules of that state. The differences in state laws have generated much confusion to visiting drivers, with many pushing for uniform federal road rules.
Drivers who move states must transfer their driver's licence to the new state's system within three months in most states - exceptions include Western Australia (12 months). Unless a driving test is required, there is no charge for a conversion from a current interstate licence. Usually, licences are converted in the same day, to the same or equivalent class or, in the case of the conversion of a non-GLS licence to a GLS system, a P1 or P2 licence is issued, depending on the length of time that the holder of the licence has been driving. The licence may need to be confirmed by obtaining a letter from the interstate licence issuing authority (on their letterhead) confirming the licence details (including first issue date) and status.
Drivers moving states may be eligible to upgrade their licence class, due to the varying age rules that apply in each state. For example, a Victorian learner driver who moves to NSW may be eligible to sit the driving test to obtain a P1 licence. However, drivers who are under 18 will not be able to obtain the same licence class in Victoria, where one must be at least 18 in order to do so. Another example is a Victorian over 25 moving to Tasmania, SA, QLD or WA will be able to obtain a full licence after having held their Ps for 12 months in Victoria despite the fact that the probationary period for over 21 year olds in Victoria is 3 years. If a driver is about to lose their licence in their home state, they may obtain a new licence in another state of Australia, provided that the demerit points have not already been deducted and the fine has not yet been paid, or in the case of immediate license disqualification, the actual disqualification period has not yet commenced (prior 28 days after offence).
- ^ Licence classes
- ^ http://www.transport.nt.gov.au/transport/mvr/licensing/publications/handbook/handbook.pdf
- ^ Organ Donor Register - Medicare Australia
- ^ http://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Licensing/Getting-a-licence/Classes-and-codes.aspx
- ^ a b c "My Licence - Pre Learner". Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure. Government of South Australia. 4 March 2010. http://www.mylicence.sa.gov.au/pre_learner. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
- ^ a b c "My Licence - L Plater". Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure. Government of South Australia. 4 March 2010. http://www.mylicence.sa.gov.au/l_plater. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
- ^ "Novice: Continue to Drive Safely and Legally". Department for Infrastructure, Energy and Resources. Government of Tasmania. 17 June 2009. http://www.transport.tas.gov.au/novice/p2/car__motorcycle/continue_drive_safely__and__legally. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
- ^ "Novice: General". Department for Infrastructure, Energy and Resources. Government of Tasmania. 8 December 2010. http://www.transport.tas.gov.au/novice/top_menu/faq/general. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
- ^ Department of Transport - Driver licences
- ^ Department of Transport - Graduated Demerit Points
- ^ NSW Interstate Learners
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