Changes to the Irish learner driver system

The Irish Road Safety Authority have just revised Irish law as it relates to ‘learner drivers’, the 15% of drivers who haven’t yet passed a driving test. (This includes me — my US driving license doesn’t allow me to drive a manual-transmission car in Ireland, so I’m still a learner over here!)

They helpfully released the details as a rather broad PDF entitled ‘Road Safety Strategy 2007-2012‘, which covers the changes along with other plans and statistics; and a more focused document, ‘Learner Permit and Changes to the Driver Licensing System‘, dealing with just the learner-permit system.

Unfortunately, the latter was released as an MS Word document. Given the problems this raises — lack of searchability, integration with the web, etc. — I thought it’d be helpful for searchers if I put up the text in full here, so here it is.

Introduction of Learner Permit and Changes to the Driver Licensing System – Changes to the Driver Licensing System announced on 25 October 2007

In this document you will find information about changes to the driver licensing regime. These changes affect learner drivers and recognise the fact that learner drivers are a vulnerable group of road users. The changes also serve to emphasise the importance of the learning phase for drivers, one element of this is the replacement of provisional licences with learner permits. The changes also highlight the important role played by the driver who accompanies a learner driver.

Over time the intention is to expand the range of conditions applying to a learner permit and to develop a graduated licensing system where there will be a number of different restrictions/conditions applying at different stages. These restrictions will apply while driving with a learner permit and in the initial years of driving with a full driving licence.

Specific details about each of the current changes together with questions and answers on the impact of each change are set out below.

Provisional licences are being replaced by learner permits to emphasise the fact that the holder is a probationary driver and is learning to drive. Existing provisional licences will continue in force until their expiry date. On renewal the person will be issued with a learner permit.

Q: When will learner permits start to issue?

A: Learner permits will issue as and from 30 October 2007.

Q: Does the learner permit system apply to all driving licence categories?

A: Yes, the learner permit system will apply to all licence categories.

Q: Is there any change to the period of validity or the fee for a learner permit compared to that for a provisional licence?

A: No, the duration and fee remain the same as applied to provisional licences.

Q: Are there any changes to apply under the learner permit system?

A: A number of changes detailed below are being introduced for drivers with a learner permit. These are also being applied to drivers with a current provisional licence.

The holder of category B (Car) learner permit (provisional licence) must be accompanied by and under the supervision of a qualified person at all times. This change removes an exemption that, up to now, allowed a person on a second provisional licence to drive unaccompanied. To drive unaccompanied will be a penal offence and the person will be subject to prosecution.

Q: When does this new rule come into effect?

A: This is coming into effect as and from 30 October 2007.

Q: I am currently on a second (provisional licence) learner permit for driving a car, and was not required to be accompanied heretofore with this (provisional licence) learner permit. Must I now be accompanied?

A: Yes, you must be accompanied at all times when driving with a (provisional licence) learner permit for a car.

Q: I have passed the driving test in a vehicle with an automatic transmission and now hold a (provisional licence) learner permit for driving a car with a manual transmission, can I drive this car unaccompanied.

A: No, you must be accompanied by a qualified person until such time as you pass the driving test for a manual transmission car.

Q: In respect of which licence categories is a person who holds a (provisional licence) learner permit required to be accompanied by a qualified person?

A: Drivers with a (provisional licence) learner permit for vehicles of category B, C1, C, D1, D, EB, EC1, EC, ED1 or ED, (Cars, Trucks, Buses and Articulated Vehicles) must be accompanied by and under the supervision of a qualified person.

An accompanying qualified person must hold a full driving licence for the vehicle category for at least two years. It will be a penal offence for the driver not to be accompanied by a qualified person so licenced to drive.

Q. When is this change coming into effect?

A. This change will apply as and from 30 October 2007.

Q: If I am a learner driver driving a car and the accompanying person has held a driving licence for two years in respect of a motorcycle, or a tractor/work vehicle, can this person act as an accompanying qualified person?

A: No, the accompanying qualified person must hold a driving licence for two years for the category of vehicle you are driving.

Q: If a person has passed a driving test to drive the vehicle category, can this person act as an accompanying qualified person?

A: No.

Q: If a person has held a full driving licence for an automatic vehicle for two years, may this person act as the accompanying person?

A: Yes, but only if the learner driver is driving an automatic transmission vehicle in the same category. If s/he is driving a manual transmission vehicle, the accompanying qualified person has to hold a full driving licence for at least two years for a manual transmission vehicle.

Q: If I have a learner permit (provisional licence) in category C1 (small truck) can I be accompanied by a person who holds a full driving licence for category B for two years and for category C1 for one year?

A: No, the accompanying qualified person must hold a full driving licence for two years in respect of the vehicle category which you wish to drive, in this case category C1.

Q: If the accompanying driver has heId his / her driving licence since six years ago but has been disqualified for 2 of the last 3 years, may he /she act as an accompanying driver?

A: No, the accompanying qualified person, at the time you are driving, must hold a full driving licence for two years in respect of the vehicle category which you wish to drive. He/she must not have been disqualified for any period of the previous two years.

The carrying of a passenger by a motorcyclist with a (provisional licence) learner permit is a penal offence.

Q. When is this change coming into effect?

A. This change will apply as and from 30 October 2007.

Q: Can I carry a passenger on any motorcycle category for which I hold a learner permit (provisional licence) ?

A: No, you must have a full driving licence for the motorcycle in order to be able to carry a passenger.

Q: Can I carry a passenger on a category A motorcycle for which I hold a learner permit/ provisional licence if I have a full driving licence for category A1?

A: No.

Q: If I pass the motorcycle driving test, can I carry a passenger?

A: No, you must first exchange your certificate of competency (driving test pass certificate) for a full driving licence to be able to carry a passenger.

It is a penal offence for a holder of a category W (Tractor/Works vehicle) learner permit (provisional licence) to carry a passenger unless the vehicle is constructed or adapted to carry a passenger and the passenger is a qualified person, ie. a person who holds a full driving licence for the vehicle category for at least two years.

Q. When is this change coming into effect?

A. This change will apply as and from 30 October 2007.

Q: When can I carry a passenger?

A: When the passenger holds a driving licence for the vehicle category for at least two years, and where the vehicle is constructed or adapted to carry a passenger.

Q: Can I carry a passenger who is a qualified person if there is no passenger seat?

A: No, the vehicle must be constructed/ adapted for the carriage of a passenger.

It is a penal offence for the holder of a learner permit (provisional licence) in respect of any licence category to carry in the vehicle any passenger for reward.

Q. When is this change coming into effect?

A. This change will apply as and from 30 October 2007.

Q: Can I carry a passenger for reward in the course of my employment?

A: No, you may not do so while driving under a learner permit (provisional licence).

Q: If I have a category D1 learner permit (provisional licence) to drive a minibus, can I carry a passenger for reward?

A: No, you may not do so while driving under a learner permit (provisional licence).

It is a penal offence for the holder of a learner permit (provisional licence) for vehicles of category B, C1, C, D1, D, EB, EC1, EC, ED1 or ED, to drive such a vehicle unless there are displayed on the vehicle rectangular plates or signs bearing the letter ‘L’ not less than 15 centimetres high in red on a white ground, in clearly visible vertical positions to the front and rear of the vehicle.

Q. When is this change coming into effect?

A. This change will apply as and from 30 October 2007.

Q: If I have a category B full driving licence and a learner permit for category C (truck) or category D1 (minibus) must I display L plates?

A: Yes, you must display L plates on the truck or minibus if driving on a learner permit.

It will be a penal offence for the holder of a learner permit (provisional licence) for vehicles of category B, C1, C, D1 or D, to drive such a vehicle while the vehicle is drawing a trailer.

Q: If I have a category B driving licence and a learner permit for category C1 (small truck) can I draw a trailer?

A: No, you may not drive a truck while drawing a trailer if you hold a learner permit (provisional licence) for a truck. You must have the trailer entitlement for the category on the learner permit (provisional licence) in order to draw a trailer.

Learner Motorcyclist to display ‘L’ plates on a high visibility tabard.

Q: From what date will motorcyclists have to display L plates on a high visibility tabard?

A: It takes effect as and from 1 December 2007.

Q: Which learner motorcyclists are required to display L plates on a high visibility tabard?

A: All persons with a learner permit (provisional licence) for category A, A1, or M, must when driving such a vehicle display a yellow fluorescent tabard bearing the letter ‘L’ not less than 15 centimetres high in red on a white ground, in clearly visible vertical positions worn over the chest clothing. The ‘L’ plates are to be to the front and rear of the person’s torso. It will be a penal offence not to so display L plates.

A person who is a first time holder of a learner permit (provisional licence) cannot take a driving test for a six month period after the commencement date of the permit (provisional licence).

Q. When is this change coming into effect?

A. This change will apply to driving test applicants with an appointment date for a test on or after 1 December 2007 and who hold a learner permit (provisional licence) for less than six months. At this point driving tests are scheduled up to this date and the change will not affect existing appointment holders.

Q: Does the change apply to all licence categories?

A: Yes, It applies to all licence categories.

Q: Why is the six month limitation being applied?

A: The purpose of the provisional licence/learner permit is to allow a learner driver to gain experience of driving. Research shows that the longer a learner is supervised while driving, the less likely s/he is to be involved in an accident. For this reason the six months limitation is being applied.

Q: I hold a first learner permit (provisional licence ) for less than six months. I have an appointment already arranged for a driving test. Can I take the test?

A: Yes, the change is being introduced with effect from 1 December 2007 and should not affect existing appointments for driving tests.

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