By: Simon B
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Getting a UK Driving License
On your 17th birthday onwards, you can apply for a driving licence. You have to pass the driving test, which is in two parts before you can have a full licence and drive unaccompanied on public roads. While you’re waiting for your test to come up and while you’re learning to drive, you must have a provisional licence to drive on public roads and also pass the road theory test. You can find the application form in the Post Office or take a look on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Web site at www.dvla.gov.uk.
With a provisional licence, you have to have ‘L’ plates on any car you drive, and you have to be accompanied by someone who has had a full drivers licence for at least three years and is at least 21 years old. Your provisional licence is valid until you are 70, but with luck and good teaching, you should pass your test before it expires.
Some people can’t apply for a licence, including those who
- Have epilepsy
- Have a severe mental health condition
- Experience giddiness that is disabling, or fainting
- Have such bad eyesight that they can’t read a car number plate at a distance of 20.5 metres in daylight while wearing their glasses
As soon as you have your provisional licence, you can take your driving test. If you’ve already learned to drive on private property, you can apply to sit for your test as soon as you have your provisional licence. You don’t need a licence to drive any vehicle on private property, and bicycles and horse-drawn vehicles don’t need a licence even on public roads. At 17, you can drive a moped or motorbike up to 125 cc on public roads, with a provisional licence, as long as you have done compulsory basic training in England, Scotland, and Wales.
After you’ve passed your driving test, you can drive on public roads. At 17, you can drive cars and motorbikes, but you have to be 18 before you can drive small lorries, and 21 before you can drive large lorries. A young driver’s scheme (not in Northern Ireland) allows you to get a full licence for large vehicles from age 18. You can get more details from Skills for Logistics (01908- 313-360 or www.skillsforlogistics.org).
Your full licence is valid until you’re 70 – unless you lose it for one of a variety of reasons explained in this category ‘driving and highway law’, or have to give it up for medical reasons. At 70, you have to apply to renew your licence every three years. You have to come clean about any disability or medical condition, and you may have to agree to a medical examination and to have your medical records read. Some drivers may have to renew their licences more frequently because of certain medical conditions.