P-plate and learner drivers

P-plate and learner drivers

You need to get a learners permit and then a probationary drivers licence to drive. Special laws apply to learner and probationary drivers, including:

  • you can’t drink any alcohol and drive
  • if you are caught with a blood alcohol concentration of .07 or more your licence or permit is immediately suspended
  • you can’t drive if you’re affected by drugs (even if your doctor has prescribed the drugs)
  • you must carry your permit or licence with you at all times
  • you must register your car with VicRoads
  • a tougher demerit point system.

Driving a car on your L-plates

You must be at least 16 to apply for a learner’s permit. When you’re on your L-plates you must always have an experienced licensed driver with you when you drive.

The amount of time you need to spend as a learner depends on how old you are.

If you are under 21 you must have your learner’s permit for at least 12 months before applying for a driver’s licence. You must also have a minimum of 120 hours of supervised driving experience, including a minimum of 10 hours night driving. Other rules apply for older learner drivers.

There are some exceptions that let people have a shorter learner’s permit period – for example, if the licence is essential for work and you live in a very isolated area. You have to apply to VicRoads to be exempted.

Go to the VicRoads website for full details about how to get your car learner permit.

When you get your learner's permit

You must carry your permit with you at all times and clearly display your L-plates whenever you are driving.

Driving a car on your P-plates

Probationary drivers under 21 have a two-stage four-year licence system. This means you will have:

  • a P1 licence (red P-plate) for the first 12 months
  • a P2 licence (green P-plate) for the next three years.

It will take longer to get to the next stage of licence if you have a bad driving record. Other rules apply for older drivers.

When you get your P-plates

You must display your P-plates whenever you drive. The plates should be visible from a distance of 20 metres.

P-plate drivers can’t use their mobile phone while driving. This includes using hands-free or handheld devices or do any text messaging of any kind. 

P1 drivers can’t have more than one ‘peer passenger’ in their car. A ‘peer passenger’ is someone aged 16 to under 22 years old. But if you have brothers and sisters in this age group you can have them as passengers even if there are more than one.

Other rules for P-platers

All drivers under 26 and all probationary drivers who have their licence cancelled for a drink driving offence will have to have their vehicles fitted with an alcohol interlock device if they want to get another licence.

Probationary drivers must not accumulate five or more demerit points in any twelve-month period or twelve or more demerit points in a three-year period.

There are restrictions on probationary licence holders driving high-powered vehicles.

Go to the VicRoads website for more information about probationary licence restrictions.

Riding a motorcycle

You can apply for a learner’s permit to ride a motorcycle when you are 18. Before you get a permit you will need to pass:

  • an eyesight test
  • a knowledge test
  • a practical skills assessment test.

You must have the permit for at least three months before you can apply for a licence. VicRoads has full details about how to get your motorcycle learner permit.

All L- and P-plate motorcyclists can only ride a motorcycle or motor scooter of a certain size and engine capacity. Riders will only be able to ride an automatic motorcycle if that is what they were tested on. See VicRoads’ list of approved motorcycles for novice riders.

Motorcyclists cannot carry a passenger on their bike or scooter when they are learners or during the first year of their probationary (P-plate) licence. You must wear an approved helmet.

People who apply for a motorcycle learner permit or probationary licence after 30 September 2014 will also have to:

  • keep their headlights on at all times while they are riding
  • wear a high visibility vest or jacket (L-plates only)
  • not use a mobile phone. 

You must display your L- or P-plates whenever you ride. 

Get help

Find out how you can get help with traffic offences.