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Learner drivers and the Law

It is important that you understand the law as it relates to learner drivers and your obligations under it.  Keeping within the limits of the law will enable you to enjoy your experience as a learner driver and set you off on the correct footing as you progress from being a novice driver through to an experienced driver.

The age at which you can learn to drive is 17.  You can apply for your provisional licence (see our section on applying for a provisional licence) no sooner than 3 months before your 17th birthday.

You must meet the minimum eyesight standard required for driving.  In good light you must be able to read an old style number plate from a distance of 20.5 metres and a new style number plate from a distance of 20 metres.

Getting behind the wheel
You can only start learning to drive once you have turned 17 and you have a valid provisional driving licence.  It is an offence to drive without having a provisional licence and can lead to penalty points being added to your licence when you eventually get it.

The vehicle
All cars that are driven on public roads in the UK must be fully insured, taxed and hold a valid MOT certificate (if the car is 3 years old or more).  This goes for vehicles used for the purposes of teaching a learner driver.  Always make sure you inspect your car every time you are taken out for a lesson.  Not only will this help you spot any illegal defects which require attention, it also gets you into an important routine of checking your car before every journey.  Remember, during your test your examiner may ask you where to fill up the engine oil or where to fill up the screen wash so getting into the habit of checking this regularly will help you prepare for this element of the driving test.

Tax and Insurance
As mentioned above, all cars driven on public roads in the UK must be taxed and insured.  This is less of an issue if you are receiving professional driving lessons from a professional driving instructor, however if you are using your own or a family member/friends car then it is your responsibility as much as your supervising driver’s to check the tax and insurance.   If you are using your own car for private lessons you will need to make sure it is insured in your name and that you add your supervising driver onto the policy if they intend to drive the vehicle at any point.  (see our section on supervising drivers).  Once you have insured your car and received your certificate of motor insurance you will be able to purchase your car tax.  To do this you will need to take your registration document (V5) to the post office along with a valid MOT certificate and your insurance certificate.  When your Car Tax is due for renewal you will receive a V11 form which is a reminder to tax your car.  When you have the V11 form you can tax your car online or over the phone. 
This can be done by visiting http://www.taxdisc.direct.gov.uk/EvlPortalApp/ for online applications or by calling
0300 123 432.

Displaying ‘L’ Plates
A learner driver must always display ‘L’ plates when they are learning to drive.  It is a legal requirement and an offence not to display them.  ‘L’ plates should be displayed on both front and rear bumpers.  You may wish to tie them on or alternatively you may wish to use magnetic ‘L’ plates which allow for easy removal when the vehicle is being driven by a fully licensed driver.  A note of caution however,  magnetic ‘L’ plates have a tendency to fall off so it is important to check periodically that they remain in place.

Learner drivers are strictly prohibited from driving on motorways even when under the supervision of a fully licensed driver.  You may only drive on a motorway when you have successfully passed your driving test.