Driving without a licence
It is against the law to drive a car or ride a motorcycle if you do not have a valid licence. If you have never held a valid Australian driver’s licence before and you are repeatedly caught driving without a licence, the penalty is even harsher.
It is against the law to drive if you have been disqualified from holding or getting a licence, or if your licence has been cancelled or suspended (unless you have been granted a restricted licence). You could be fined up to $7,000 and even put in prison for up to six months if you have been disqualified from driving a vehicle and you are caught driving a vehicle.
Learner Licences (L’s)
How old do I have to be to get my L’s?
To apply for your learner licence to drive a car you need to be at least 15 years and 9 months old.To get your learner licence to ride a motorcycle you need to be at least 16 years and 9 months old.
To get your L’s you must also:
- do the Road Ready Learner License Course (either at School or your local Road Ready Centre);
- pass the online Road Rules Knowledge Test included in the course;
- successfully do an eye test; and
- have valid I.D (for eg. a passport, a birth certificate and a current medicare card).
What special rules apply to L-platers?
If you are driving a car…
- You must be supervised at all times by a person who has a full driver’s licence (gold in colour).
- You must display your L plates on the front and back of your car when driving. The L plate must not be hidden.
- You must have a zero blood alcohol limit.
- You must not tow a trailer exceeding 750kg GVM.
- You can drive to the posted speed limit in the ACT but if you are driving in NSW, Learner drivers must not drive faster than 80km/hr even if the posted speed limit is higher.
If you are riding a motorcycle...
- You must display your “L” plate on the back of your motorcycle.
- You must not carry a passenger.
- You must not ride a motorcycle with a power to weight ratio over 150 kilowatts per tonne.
- You must have a zero blood alcohol limit (so you can’t have any alcohol).
- You must not tow a trailer.
- You can drive to the posted speed limit in the ACT.
In addition to these special rules, you must also obey the rules that normally apply to people driving cars and riding motorcycles.
If you fail to meet any of the above requirements you are committing an offence and may face penalties.
Provisional Licences (P’S)
When can I get my P's?
To get your P’s for driving a car or motorcycle you must be at least 17 years old. Provisional licences are issued for three years.
To get your P’s for driving a car, you must have held your learner licence for at least six months. There are two ways you can get your P’s.
1) Pass a practical driving test with a government licence examiner or
2) Do the Competency Based Training and Assessment Scheme, with an Accredited Driving Instructor using the 'log book' system.
To get your P’s for riding a motorcycle, you must have held your learner licence for at least three months and successfully complete the pre-provisional course, including the pre-provisional rider assessment.
What special rules apply to P-platers?
If you are driving a car or riding a motorcycle…
- You must appropriately display the “P” plates on your vehicle or motorcycle. These requirements are the same as displaying “L” plates (see above).
- You must have a zero blood alcohol level. So you can’t have any alcohol if you plan to drive.
Again - If you fail to meet any of the above requirements you are committing an offence and may face penalties.
You will lose your licence if you accumulate 4 or more demerit points while you are on your P’s. You can reduce the length of time that you must display your ‘P’ plates to 6 months and increase your demerit points limit to 8 points if you complete an optional ‘Road Ready Plus’ course.
Full licences can be issued after a 3 year provisional period has been completed.
What if I'm from interstate or overseas?
If you're from another state or territory...
If you are visiting the ACT temporarily and you have a current licence from another state or territory, you can drive a car or ride a motorcycle in the ACT.
However, if you are moving to the ACT permanently, then you will need to get your licence transferred. You must do this within 3 months of moving to the ACT or you may face fines.
A current licence (other than a learner licence) from another state or territory can be exchanged for an ACT licence.
You cannot hold a licence in more than one Australian state or territory at one time, so the Road Transport Authority will tell the state or territory where your old licence was issued to cancel your old licence.
If you're from another country...
If you are visiting the ACT temporarily and you have a current licence from another country, or an international driving permit, you can continue to drive a motor vehicle in the ACT. This includes tourists, people visiting the ACT on business, and people studying temporarily in the ACT.
If you get stopped by the police, you will need to show your overseas licence (in English, or with an official English translation) or an international driving permit accompanied by your overseas licence, and you may need to prove that you are a genuine visitor and have no intention of living in the ACT.
You can also continue to learn to drive a car or ride a motorcycle in the ACT if you are visiting temporarily and you have a current learner's licence from another country. The same rules for learners in the ACT will apply to you, as well as any restrictions which are on your overseas learner’s licence.
If you are moving to the ACT permanently, you will have to get an ACT licence. You must do this within 3 months after arriving in Australia. You can continue to drive or ride in the ACT on a current overseas licence during those 3 months.
Demerit points are penalties for committing driving offences, such as going through a red light, not stopping at a stop sign, or speeding. They stay on your licence for 3 years after the date of the offence.
If you get 12 or more demerit points when you are on your Learner licence within any 3 year period your licence will be suspended.
If you get 4 or more demerit points when you are on your Provisional licence within any 3 year period your licence will be suspended.
If you have a full licence and you get 12 or more demerit points within any 3 year period your licence will be suspended.
If you have a full licence and you get too many demerit points, instead of having your licence suspended, you may be able to choose to start a 12 month Good Behaviour Period. If you get 2 or more demerit points during a Good Behaviour Period, your licence will be suspended for twice as long as it would have been suspended for if you hadn’t chosen the Good Behaviour Period Option.
For more information on licences
Contact your nearest Road Transport Authority office or check out the Road Transport Information Management website.
If you can't find the information you're looking for here or you want specific legal advice, please send us a Lawmail.
This page was last reviewed 1 November 2013.
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