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Licences

South Australia

The drivers licence laws in South Australia have changed. If you're not sure about how the changes will affect your licence please send us a Lawmail.


Driving without a licence

It is against the law to drive a car or ride a motorcycle if you do not have a licence.  The maximum penalty you can be charged for this offence is $2500. 

It is also 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.  You could be fined a maximum of $5000 or even face going to jail for up to 1 year.  

 

Learners (L’S)

How old do I have to be to get my L’S?

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

Other requirements

  • Pass a theory test on the SA road rules and road safety 
  • Bring evidence of your identity 
  • Pay a fee for the theory test  
  • Pay a fee for your learner’s permit 

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 100km per hour. 
  • You must have NO alcohol or drugs in your system 
  • You must not use any functions of a mobile phone (including hands-free devices Bluetooth technology, loudspeaker operation and text messaging) while driving. 
  • You must carry your learner’s permit at all times whilst driving. 

If you go over any speed limit by 10km/hr or more,  or break any of the special rules listed above, you could have your licence cancelled and be disqualified from holding, or getting a licence for 6 months. 

If you are riding a motorcycle:

  • You must have an “L” plate on the back of your motorcycle. 
  • You must not carry a passenger unless they are acting as a Qualified Supervising Driver who has held a current unconditional Class R licence for the preceding 2 years. 
  • You must ride a LAMS approved motorcycle. 
  • You must not ride a motorcycle with an engine capacity over 660ml, or with a power to weight ratio over 150 kilowatts per tonne. 
  • You must not drive between the hours of midnight and 5am unless carrying a passenger who is acting as a qualified supervising driver. 
  • You must have NO alcohol or drugs in your system 
  • You must wear an approved helmet. 
  • 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, orders to attend road safety lectures, and the loss of your licence.

If you go over any speed limit by 10km/hr or more, you could have your licence cancelled and be disqualified from holding or getting a licence for 6 months. 

 

Provisional (P’S)

When can I go for my P’S?

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

The rules for South Australian drivers have now changed for P plate drivers. The time you need to spend on a provisional licence has now increased from two to three years. This means you will need to drive for one year on a P1 licence and two years on a P2 licence. There have been other rules introduced affecting the amount of passengers that you can drive and the time of night that you can drive.

For car drivers:

To get your P’s you need to have held a learner’s permit for at least 12 months, have completed at least 75 hours of supervised driving (including 15 hours of night driving) and have passed the Hazard Perception Test. 

You can get your P1 licence by:  

Option 1: Passing a practical driving test called the Vehicle On-Road Test (VORT). You’ll need to book with a motor driving instructor who has a VORT licence at least three days ahead and pay a fee. 

or 

Option 2: Complete the competency based training course (CBT) in your Driving Companion. You’ll need to contact a motor driving instructor with a CBT licence who’ll assess you in a series of practical driving sessions.

If your P1 licence was issued before 28 July 2014 you can apply for a P2 licence after you have:

  • Held a P1 licence for a minimum of 12 months; and 
  • Passed a Hazard Perception Test.

If your P1 licence was issued after 28 July 2014 it will be automatically upgraded to a P2 licence when:

  • You are at least 18 years of age; and
  • You have held a P1 licence for a minimum of 1 year (demerit point free). 

For motorcycle riders:

To get your R-Date licence, you must: 

  • Be at least 17;
  • If you do not already hold a driver’s licence you must have held your learner’s permit for at least 12 months and you must have passed the Hazard Perception Test;
  • Have completed the RiderSafe Advanced Training course;
  • Have a South Australian driver’s licence endorsed with a motorbike class in order to ride a motorbike.

Motorcycle riders can apply for an unrestricted R class licence after:

  • You have ridden on a restricted R-Date licence for 12 months. 

An unrestricted licence allows you to ride a motorcycle of any power to weight ratio and does not restrict you to riding a learner approved motorcycle. But be aware that you can’t do this until you have applied for an unrestricted license and your driver’s licence has been endorsed with R class.

What special rules apply to P-platers? 

If you are driving a car on a P1 licence:

  • You must appropriately display “P” plates on your vehicle.  
  • You must have NO alcohol or drugs in your system 
  • You must not exceed a maximum speed limit of 100 km/h. 
  • You must not use any functions of a mobile phone (including hands-free devices Bluetooth technology, loudspeaker operation and text messaging) while driving.  
  • If you are under 25, you must not drive certain prohibited high powered vehicles. 
  • If you are under 25, you must not drive between the hours of midnight and 5am unless accompanied by a person acting as a qualified supervising driver.  
  • If you are under 25, you must not drive with more than one passenger aged 16-20 in the vehicle, unless you are accompanied by a person acting as a qualified supervising driver. 

If you go over any speed limit by 10km/hr or more, or break any of the special rules listed above, you could have your licence cancelled and be disqualified from holding or getting a licence for 6 months.  

If you are driving a car on a P2 licence:

  • You do NOT need to display “P” plates. 
  • You must have NO alcohol or drugs in your system 
  • You must not exceed a maximum speed limit of 100 km/h.  
  • You must not supervise learner drivers.
  • If you are under 25, you must not drive certain prohibited vehicles, including some high performance vehicles. 

If you go over any speed limit by 10km/hr or more, or break any of the special rules listed above, you could have your licence cancelled and disqualified from holding or getting a licence for 6 months.  

If you are riding a motorcycle

  • P1 riders must clearly display a P plate on the back of the motorcycle.  P2 riders do NOT have to display a P plate. 
  • P1 riders must not exceed a maximum speed limit of 100 km/h. 
  • You must not use any type of mobile phone function. 
  • For the first year on P1 you must ride a LAMS approved motorcycle and not ride a motorcycle with an engine capacity greater than 660ml, or with a power-to-weight ratio over 150 kilowatts per tonne. 
  • You must have a zero blood alcohol level concentration when riding and must not have cannabis, speed or ecstasy present in your blood or body fluid. 

If you go over any speed limit by 10km/hr or more,  or break any of the special rules listed above, you could have your licence cancelled and disqualified from holding or getting a licence for 6 months.  

If you hold an R-date motorcycle licence: 

  • You must only drive approved motorcycles. 
  • You must not use any type of mobile phone function. 

In addition to these special rules, you must also obey the rules that normally apply to people driving cars and riding motorcycles.

 

Full licence

You may get a full car licence after holding a provisional licence (P1 and P2) for three years so long as a driving offence has not been committed.  To apply for a full licence: 

  • You must have driven for a minimum of two years on P2 plates; 
  • You must be a minimum of 20 years of age.

You can progress to a full motorcycle licence after holding a restricted R-date licence for a period of 12 months.

 

What if I’m from interstate or another country?

Coming from another state or territory

If you are visiting SA temporarily and you have a current licence (including learners licence) from another state or territory, you can drive a car or ride a motorcycle in SA. However, if you are moving to SA permanently, then you will need to get your licence transferred. You must do this within 3 months of moving to SA. 

A current licence from another state or territory, including learner licences can be transferred to a SA licence.  You cannot hold a licence in more than one Australian state or territory at one time, so you will have to surrender your current licence before a SA licence is issued. 

Coming from another country

If you are visiting SA for under 3 months and you have a current licence from another country (and an official translation if your licence is not in English), and an international driving permit, you can continue to drive a motor vehicle in SA.  This includes tourists, people visiting SA on business and people studying temporarily in SA. 

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

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

If you have a learner’s licence from another country, you will need to pass the written Road Rules test and get a South Australian learner’s permit before you can continue to learn to drive in South Australia. 

If you are moving to SA permanently, you will need to get a SA licence. You must do this within 3 months after arriving in Australia.  You can continue to drive or ride in SA 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.  They stay on your licence for 3 years after the date of the offence. 

If you get 4 or more demerit points when you are on your Learner or Provisional driver or Rider licence, you may be fined and disqualified from driving for a period.  If you get any demerit points while under 19 you will not be able to get a full licence until after you are 20. 

If you have a full licence and you get 12 or more demerit points in 3 years, you will be disqualified from driving for a period (unless you successfully apply for a good behaviour period).  

 

For more information on licences

Contact your nearest SA customer service centre or check out the My Licence web site:

Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure

Phone: 08 8343 2222

Website: www.mylicence.sa.gov.au

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

This page was last updated 18 March 2015.

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