Driving Lessons and Learning to Drive
You can apply for a provisional driving licence when you’re 15 years and 9 months old.
You can start driving a car when you’re 17.
You can drive a car when you are 16 if you get, or have applied for, the enhanced rate of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Rules for learning to drive
You must have a provisional driving licence for Great Britain or Northern Ireland when you’re learning to drive or ride.
The car you learn in must display ‘L’ plates.
You can drive at any time, day and night.
You can only drive on motorways if all of the following apply:
- you’re driving in England, Scotland or Wales
- you’re with an approved driving instructor
- the car is fitted with dual controls
In England, Scotland and Wales the speed limits when driving with ‘L’ plates are the same as when you’ve passed your test.
In Northern Ireland the speed limit is 45 miles per hour when you’re learning to drive a car.
Taking driving lessons
Anyone you pay to teach you to drive must be either:
- a qualified and approved driving instructor (ADI)
- a trainee driving instructor
There are different rules in Northern Ireland for choosing an instructor.
Instructors set their own prices for driving lessons – there’s no minimum or maximum cost.
Check your instructor’s badge
Instructors have to display a badge in their windscreen to prove they’re registered with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). They display:
- a green badge if they’re a qualified driving instructor
- a pink badge if they’re a trainee
You can report someone to DVSA if they charge for driving lessons and are not a qualified driving instructor or trainee.
There’s no minimum number of lessons you must have or hours you must practise driving.
How many lessons you need will depend on how quickly you learn. You can download a form to record your progress with your instructor.
You can complain about a driving instructor if you’re not happy with their service or behaviour.
Practising with family or friends
You can practise driving with family or friends. Anyone you practise your driving with (without paying them) must:
- be over 21
- be qualified to drive the type of vehicle you want to learn in, for example they must have a manual car licence if they’re supervising you in a manual car
- have had their full driving licence for 3 years (from the UK, the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein)
You can be fined up to £1,000 and get up to 6 penalty points on your provisional licence if you drive without the right supervision.
It’s illegal for:
- your friend or family member to use a mobile phone while supervising you
- you to drive on the motorway when practising with family or friends
You need your own insurance as a learner driver if you’re practising in a car you own. Your family member or friend will usually be covered on this.
If you’re practising in someone else’s car, you need to either:
- make sure you’re covered by the car owner’s insurance policy as a learner driver
- take out your own insurance policy that covers you driving in the car as a learner driver
Some insurance companies require the person supervising you to be over 25 years old.
You can get an unlimited fine, be banned from driving and get up to 8 penalty points for driving without insurance.
Recording your practice
You can download a form to record any practice you do without your driving instructor.
Using ‘L’ and ‘P’ plates
You must put an L plate on the front and back of your vehicle so they can be seen easily.
In Wales, you can use a D plate instead.
An L plate or D plate must:
- have a red L or D on a white background
- be the right size
You can get up to 6 penalty points if you do not display an L plate or if it’s not the right size.
You should take L plates off your vehicle when it’s not being used by a learner.
You can display green ‘probationary’ P plates to show that you’ve just passed your driving test. You do not have to display them. You can leave them on your vehicle for as long as you like.
In Northern Ireland you must use ‘R’ plates (restricted driver plates) for one year after you pass your test.