Learner Driver

From Driver Theory Test to tearing up your Novice Plates

Published: 04/20/2022

The logistics of getting your full driver’s license in Ireland

If you have been eyeing up some of the great cars on our forecourt and imagining yourself driving away in style, but you do not yet have an Irish driver’s license, don’t despair. We all went through it and taken step by step, you can to! Like most countries, Ireland has a process for earning a driver license. It can seem complicated and daunting but with a little work and some financial outlay, you can be behind the wheel and into the traffic safely and securely in a matter of months.

Driver Theory Test

The first port of call is the driver theory test. You will need to pass this theory test before a learner license is issued. While you do need to be 17 years old before you get that all important A and B class license, you can take the driver theory test once you are over 16 years of age. Ttranslator supported tests are available by special arrangement in certain test centres, English is not your first language. It’s a computer-based test on the rules of the road, risk assessment, good driving behaviour and road hazards.     You will need to do your homework and study for this test! Download the app and practice. If you want to make it interesting, you can quiz long time drivers on some of the more obscure questions. Its always amusing to see their reaction to ‘What effect does having the hazard light have on the brake lights?’ and ‘what effect does having an incorrectly adjusted seat have on your driving?’   To pass the driver theory test you need to get at least 35 out of 40and with practise, you can easily achieve that.  The test costs €45 for class A and B cars, at the time of writing and can be booked at the RSA  .  Make sure you use the official site as scammers were posing as theory test sites a few years ago. The test can be taken at centers or can even be taken at home now as a pilot scheme by the Road Traffic Authority allows for online participation. Your pass certificate is valid for 2 years.

Learning to Drive

Once you have the driver theory test completed you can apply for a learner drivers permit. It is a legal requirement to hold a learner driving permit before learning to drive a car or work vehicle on public roads in Ireland so don’t be tempted to take out the Mammy’s car for a spin without the paperwork. You might end up in trouble, before you have even started your driving career.  There are also strict rules for driving with a learner’s permit.

L Plates:   You must have L plates on display front and back, when driving.  These plates indicate that you are learning to drive, and you'll have to use them until you pass your driving test.  They allow other drivers to know that you are still learning and hopefully, be more cautious in their own driving and make allowances for any small errors that might occur  

 No Motorways:   It’s the more scenic route for learner drivers and legally they are not allowed to drive on motorways.

No towing caravans and trailers:  Learner permit holders driving cars, trucks or buses must not tow a trailer.  

Don’t carry passengers for payment. Learner drivers are not permitted to carry any passenger for payment or reward.  

Know the disqualification thresholds.  When you are driving under a learner permit, you would be well advised not to drink alcohol at all. There is a reduced drink driving limit applied to a learner permit holder driving any type of vehicle, there is a reduced legal limit for alcohol of 20mg of blood alcohol concentration as opposed to the 50 plus blood alcohol concentration for holders of full licences. This would be very difficult to monitor and self-police, so it would be best to abstain altogether.  The penalty point disqualification is also more difficult for the learner driver and Learner permit drivers are disqualified if they have 7 penalty points. This lower threshold also applies for the first 2 years of a driver's first full driving licence. A fully licensed driver is disqualified after 12 points. 

It is obvious why they used to refer to ‘provisional driver licence’.  You get to keep driving legally provided you prove yourself as able to keep the rules!

 Driving Test

Once you are driving, with a responsible adult and within then bonds of your learner permit, you can start to think about sitting your driving test and enjoying motoring without restrictions. Practice is the essential key as you move to gain experience prior to the sitting the test. The Graduated Driver Licensing GDL Scheme you must take at least twelve lessons with an approved driving instructor before applying for the test. There is no exact price for driving lessons and every instructor determines their own price. It costs €85 to sit the driving test.  Get lots of experience in all kinds of weather before you take the test. A good driving instructor will be able to take you around a practise test route and will let you know when you are ready for the test.  Its probably one of the most stressful days for many people.   But we all go through it and (eventually) we all pass.

Novice Plates

Congratulations all round! The L plates now come down but are replaced by ‘N’ or novice plates for the next two years. It is an offence not to display them and hefty fines and penalty points will be enforced if you are detected. The same restrictions regarding blood alcohol levels and penalty points as there were for learners permits still apply to novice drivers. The big advantage is that there is no longer a need to be chaperoned and can drive without the being accompanied by an approved driver.

The road to driving on a full license can be long, costly and a bit stressful, but in the end, it is worth it for the enjoyment of driving in freedom and independence. If you are taking the first tentative steps towards your first driver’s license and car ownership, feel free to drop into us at Peter Hanley Motors and chose your dream car for the journey ahead. Check out our blog on first time insurance here.

Peter Hanley Motors is a registered
member of The Society of the Irish
Motor Industry

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