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Changes to Learners permits and provisional licences

Since 28 July 2014, new rules have applied to the graduated licence scheme for new drivers.

Learner’s permits and provisional licences that were held prior to 28 July 2014 are also captured by the new provisions.

Previous rules that applied prior to 28 July 2014 but are no longer in effect include:

  • The licence regression scheme is now defunct. Drivers who serve a term of disqualification will return to the licence stage they were at when they committed the offence which resulted in them being liable for disqualification rather than regressing to the previous stage.
  • The driving curfew that applied to serious disqualification offences on re-instatement of licence no longer applies.

New provisions that have applied since 28 July 2014 include:

  • New provisions are in place for P1 drivers aged under 25:
    • Restrictions on the number of peer aged passengers (passengers aged 16 to 20 years) they can have in a car whilst driving during the 12 month period of their P1 licence. They cannot drive with more than 1 peer passenger unless they are accompanied by a qualified supervising driver. There is an exception where the peer passengers are immediate family members. Exemptions apply (see below).
    • Night time driving restrictions apply for the duration of the P1 licence. P1 licence holders cannot drive between the hours of midnight and 5 am. Exemptions apply (see below).
  • Learner Permit Motor cyclists are subject to the night time driving restrictions. Exemptions apply (see below).
  • It is a requirement that the Hazard Perception Test be passed before a P1 licence can be granted. If the P1 licence was issued before 28 July 2014, it is a requirement that a Hazard Perception Test be passed before a P2 licence can be granted.
  • The total time on a provisional licence has been extended from two to three years. This means one year on a P1 licence and two years on a P2 licence. The extended time on a provisional licence applies to all provisional licences issued on or after 28 July 2014.
  • Provisional licence holders are no longer required to apply to upgrade from a P1 licence to a P2 licence as the upgrade will be automatic.
  • Once a driver progresses to a P2 licence the restrictions with regard to peer passengers and night time driving are no longer in place. However, the conditions and restrictions for a P2 licence holder remain e.g. P2 licence holders continue to be prohibited from driving if they have any alcohol present in their blood or any illicit drug/drugs present in their oral fluid or blood. Provisional licence holders are also prohibited from exceeding the speed limit by 10 kilometres an hour or more and from driving high powered vehicles.
  • The minimum age by which a new driver can obtain a non-provisional licence is 20 years. A P1 licence must be held for a period of 12 months with a further 2 years served on a P2 licence.

Exemptions from night time driving and peer passenger restrictions:

An exemption from the night time driving restrictions is available for a range of purposes including employment, education/training, formal volunteer work, or to participate in sporting, artistic, scientific, charitable and/or religious activities. In each case, drivers must take the shortest practicable route between home and the activity for the exemption to apply.

An exemption from the peer passenger restriction is only available if a driver is required to carry more than one passenger aged 16 to 20 in the course of their employment.

Police and emergency service members (both paid and volunteer) are exempt from the night and peer passenger restrictions while on duty.

The onus is on the driver to prove to SAPOL at the roadside that they meet the exemption criteria. Drivers are encouraged to carry supporting documentation (e.g. a letter from their employer) whenever they are driving at night or with multiple peer passengers. For further information see the MyLicence websitewhich also contains a sample exemption form that can be downloaded for use by a P1 driver.

Changes to Learners permits and provisional licences  :  Last Revised: Wed Jul 30th 2014
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.