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Licences


Driving without a licence

It is illegal to drive a car or ride a motorcycle if you do not have a licence.  The penalties for this range from having to pay a fine to jail time.   
It is also illegal for anyone to employ you or give you permission to drive or ride if you do not have a licence. This includes employers, parents and guardians. 

It is illegal to drive if your licence is suspended or if you have been disqualified from having a licence. You could be fined heavily and could go to jail for doing so.

How can I lose my licence?

You could have your licence taken away because you have collected 4 or more demerit points within a three-year period (if you are on your L or P1 plates) or 7 or more demerit points (if you are on your P2 plates) within a three-year period.

Learners (L'S)

How old do I have to be to get my L's?

To get your L’s for driving a car you need to be at least 16 years old. 

To get your L’s for riding a motorcycle you need to be at least 16 years and 9 months old. You must also complete a pre-learner licence rider training course no more than three months before you apply for a licence. You can book and attend this course when you are 16 years and 6 months of age.  You do not have to hold a drivers licence to get a motorcycle licence.  

To get your L’s for driving or riding you will also have to:  

  • pass an eye test 
  • prove your identity using certain types of identification
  • pass a knowledge test; and
  • pay a fee to take the knowledge test and for your learner licence.

What special rules apply to L-Platers? 

If you are driving a car: 

  • You must be supervised at all times by the holder of a full Australian driver licence;  
  • You must have L plates on the front and back of your car when driving. The letter L on the plate must not be hidden;  
  • You must not drive faster than 90 km per hour;  
  • You must have a zero blood alcohol limit; 
  • You must not use any functions of a mobile phone including hands-free devices while driving; 
  • You must not tow a trailer or any other vehicle. 

If you are riding a motorcycle: 

  • You must have an “L” plate on the back of your motorcycle. 
  • You must not ride faster than 90km per hour; 
  • You must not carry a passenger;
  • You must not ride a motorcycle with an engine capacity over 660ml, or with a power to weight ratio over 150 kilowatts per tonne. The motor cycle must also be on the ‘Approved motorcycles for novice riders’ list (published on the Roads and Maritime Services website); 
  • You must have a zero blood alcohol limit;
  • You must not use any functions of a mobile phone including hands-free devices while driving; 
  • You must not tow a trailer or any other vehicle.  

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 heavy penalties, including fines and loss of licence. 

Provisional (P's)

When can I go for my P's?

The New South Wales provisional driver’s licence system now has two levels that are compulsory for all “P” drivers. 

For car drivers, you can attempt a Driving Test to get your P1 (red) licence once you have turned 17  and (if you are under 25) you: 

  • have been on your L’s for at least 12 months;  and
  • have logged at least 120 hours driving time which includes 20 hours night-time driving. 

For car drivers you can achieve a P2 licence after you have been on your P1 licence for 12 months  and have passed the Hazard Perception Test.  

For motorcycle riders, you must hold the learner licence for at least 3 months before you can attempt the pre-provisional course to get your P1 licence. 

For motorcycle riders you can achieve a P2 licence after you have been on your P1 rider licence for a minimum of 12 months.   

What special rules apply to P-Platers?

If you are driving a car on a P1 licence: 

  • You must appropriately display the red and white “P” plates on your vehicle. These rules are the same for displaying “L” plates; 
  • You must have a zero blood alcohol level; 
  • You must not exceed a maximum speed limit of 90 km/h; 
  • You must not tow a trailer with an unloaded weight of more than 250 kg; 
  • You must not use any functions of a mobile phone including hands-free devices while driving;  
  • You must not supervise other learner drivers; 
  • If you are under 25, you may only carry 1 passenger under the age of 21 between 11pm and 5am; 
  • You must not drive certain prohibited vehicles, including some high performance vehicles;
  • You can only drive a manual car if you did your driving test in a manual car.

If you are driving a car on a P2 licence: 

  • You must appropriately display the green and white “P” plates on your vehicle.  These requirements are the same as displaying the “L” and “P1” plates.
  • You must have a zero blood alcohol level. 
  • You must not exceed a maximum speed limit of 100 km/h 
  • You must not supervise other learner drivers. 
  • You must not drive certain prohibited vehicles, including some high performance vehicles. 

If you are riding a motorcycle on a P1 licence: 

  • You must have a red and white “P” plate on the back of your motorcycle; 
  • You must not exceed a maximum speed limit of 90 km/h; 
  • You must not ride a motorcycle with an engine capacity over 660ml, or with a power to weight ratio over 150 kilowatts per tonne; 
  • The motor cycle must also be on the ‘Approved motorcycles for novice riders’ list (published on the Roads and Maritime Services website);   
  • You must not carry a passenger;
  • You must not tow a trailer or any other vehicle;
  • You must have a zero blood alcohol level; 
  • You must not use any functions of a mobile phone including hands-free devices while driving; 
  • You can only ride a manual motorcycle if you passed your test on one; 
  • You must not supervise a learner. 

If you are riding a motorcycle on a P2 licence: 

  • You must have a green and white “P” plate on the back of your motorcycle;  
  • You must have a zero blood alcohol level; 
  • You must not exceed a maximum speed limit of 100 km/h;
  • You must not ride a motorcycle with an engine capacity over 660ml, or with a power to weight ratio over 150 kilowatts per tonne; 
  • The motor cycle must also be on the ‘Approved motorcycles for novice riders’ list (published on the Roads and Maritime Services website). 

Full licence

You can get a full car licence after holding a P2 licence for a period of 24 months and by passing the Driver Qualification Test.   

You can get a full motorcycle licence after 24 months on a P2 rider’s licence.  There is no test requirement. 

From another state or territory

If you are visiting NSW temporarily and you have a current licence from another state or territory, you can drive a car or ride a motorcycle in NSW. If you are on a learner licence you must follow the rules that apply to NSW learners (even if the same rules don’t apply in your home state or territory).

However, if you are moving to NSW permanently, then you will need to get your licence changed/transferred.  You must do this within 3 months of moving to NSW. 

A current licence (or a licence that expired less than 5 years ago) from another state or territory, can be transferred to a NSW licence. 

You cannot hold a licence in more than one Australian state or territory at one time, so Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) (which used to be called the RTA) will make you hand over your license from another state or territory. 

If you have a current licence from another state or territory, you have to pass an eyesight test at a motor registry, prove your identity (as well as your interstate licence), have your photo taken and fill in a Licence Application form before you can get a NSW licence. 

From another country 

If you are visiting NSW temporarily and you have a current licence from another country, or an international driving permit, you can continue to drive a motor vehicle in NSW.  This includes tourists, people visiting NSW on business, and people studying temporarily in NSW.   

If you get stopped by the police, you will need to show your overseas licence or international driving permit, and you may need to prove that you are a genuine visitor and have no intention of living in NSW.   

You can also continue to learn to drive a car or ride a motorcycle in NSW if you are visiting temporarily and you have a current learner's licence from another country.  The same rules for learners in NSW will apply to you, as well as any restrictions which are on your overseas learner’s licence.   

If you are moving to NSW permanently, you will have to get a NSW licence.  You must do this within 3 months after arriving in Australia or getting a permanent resident visa (if relevant). You can continue to drive or ride in NSW on a current overseas licence during those 3 months. 

Demerit points  

Demerit points are penalties for committing driving offences, such as going through a red light, not stopping at a stop sign, or speeding.  

If you get 4 or more demerit points in three years when you are on your Learner licence, your license will be suspended or refused.  

If you get 4 or more demerit points in three years when you are on your P1 licence, your license will be suspended or refused. 

If you get 7 or more demerit points in 3 years when you are on your P2 licence, your license will be suspended or refused.   

If you have a full licence and you get 13 or more demerit points (14 for professional drivers such as taxi or truck drivers) in 3 years, your license will be suspended or refused. If you have a full license and you get too many demerit points, you can apply for a 12 month good behaviour period instead of having your license suspended.  

Contact your nearest Motor Registry or check out the RMS’s web site.

Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) (NSW)

The RMS (which used to be called the RTA) is responsible for promoting road safety and traffic management, driver licensing and vehicle registration.

Phone: 13 22 13

Address: Head Office 101 Miller Street North Sydney NSW 2060 

If you have a question that we haven't answered here please send us a Lawmail.

 

This page was last reviewed 12 March 2015.

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