Victoria Legal Aid

P-plate and learner drivers

Information about laws that affect people who have a learner permit or probationary licence but have never held a full drivers licence.

You need to get a learner 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 permit. When you’re on your L-plates you must always have an experienced licensed driver with you when you drive. You must also display your L-plates whenever 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 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 drivers aged 21 and over. These hours must be recorded and signed off by the person that was supervising you.

Go to the VicRoads website for more information about learner permit license restrictionsExternal Link .

There are some exceptions that let people have a shorter learner 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 permitExternal Link .

When you get your learner 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 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

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 restrictionsExternal Link .

Riding a motorcycle

You can apply for a learner 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 permitExternal Link .

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 ridersExternal Link .

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 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.

Other support

Find out how you can get other support for traffic offences.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

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Reviewed 11 April 2022

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