Minimum ages and rules for learner drivers and riders
Before you learn to drive or ride a new vehicle make sure you know about the rules and restrictions that apply to you. Different vehicles have different minimum ages and restrictions.
Rules for learner drivers
Before you start to drive, you must:
It is important to learn safe driving practice from the beginning of your driving career because bad habits are hard to break.
It is unlikely that anyone except an approved driving instructor (ADI) would have the experience, knowledge and training to teach you properly. Learning safe driving habits from the start will improve the safety of yourself and other road users.
If you want to practise your driving with an accompanying driver, the accompanying driver must be over the age of 21 and must have held (and still hold) a full licence for three years.
As a learner driver you must display 'L' plates ('L' or 'D' plates in Wales) in a conspicuous position on the front and rear of the vehicle you are driving.
Minimum age you can take a test
You can take your theory test once your provisional licence becomes valid.
Normally, for car drivers, the earliest date your provisional licence can become valid is your 17th birthday, however you can apply for the licence up to three months before your 17th birthday.
So, if you apply for your provisional licence before you are 17 you will still have to wait until your birthday before you can take your theory test.
For more information about applying for a provisional licence, please click on the link below.
Disability living allowance
If you are receiving disability living allowance at the higher rate your provisional licence will come into effect when you are 16, but you can apply for it within three months of your 16th birthday.
Direct access scheme
Direct access is a scheme which allows a person over the age of 21 to avoid the two year/25 kW restriction by taking a test on a machine of at least 35 kW (46.6 bhp). A pass allows you to ride any size of bike. Any instruction given on a machine that exceeds the normal learner motorcycle specification must be supervised at all times by a certified motorcycle instructor who should be in radio contact. You should also wear fluorescent or reflective clothing and follow all other provisional licence restrictions.
Riders who reach the age of 21, while still within the two year period where they are restricted to maximum 25 kW (33 bhp) machines, but who wish to ride larger bikes need to pass a further test on a motorcycle of at least 35 kW (46.6 bhp). They may practise on bikes over 25 kW (33 bhp) under the same practice conditions for direct access riders. You will revert to learner status while practising (on a motorcycle greater than 25 kW (33 bhp)) although test failure will not affect your existing licence.
Mopeds and tractors
If you want to ride a moped you can take your theory test when you are 16, but again you must make sure you have a valid provisional licence.
If you are 16 and already have a provisional licence for an agricultural vehicle or a moped, this will give you provisional entitlement to drive a car when you are 17.