A learner permit is a licence issued to learner drivers. It enables them to learn to drive and to apply for a driving test at the same time. A learner permit is issued to enable the permit holder to learn to drive and is not valid in Northern Ireland or in any other country outside of Ireland.
The learner permit replaces the provisional licence, which is no longer issued.
Further important changes to the licensing regime came into force on 1 July 2008.
The most significant of these is that as a holder of a learner permit you must:
- Hold a licence for the category of vehicle you are driving and comply with the conditions attached to that licence when driving
- Be accompanied at all times by a person who holds a full driving licence in the same category for a continuous period of two years (this applies to categories B, BE, C1, C, D1, D, CE, C1E, DE & D1E)
From the 6th December 2010 all new first time learner permit holders for motorcycles are required to undertake mandatory initial basic training (IBT) with an approved driving instructor (ADI). The course is comprised of 16 hours training which is broken up into four modules. Once this course of lessons is complete the learner permit holder is issued with a certificate of satisfactory completion which must be kept with their learner permit. Motorcycle riders must complete the programme before driving on the road while a learner.
From the 4th April 2011 all new first time learner permit holders for cars will be required to undertake mandatory essential driver training (EDT) with an approved driving instructor (ADI). The course is made up of of 12 individual one hour lessons. The learner will be able to take the lessons at any point during the learning process and can practice with an accompanying driver during the time while taking lessons. Evidence of completing the lessons will be signed off in a learner's logbook by the Approved Driving Instructor. The logbook showing completion of the lessons may have to be presented before taking a driving test.
In addition, a number of penal offences have been introduced for learner drivers. These include driving unaccompanied (see above), not displaying 'L' plates when driving, and the carrying of a passenger by a learner motorcyclist.
These offences are punishable by a minimum €1,000 fine for a first offence.
There are legal restrictions on what types of vehicle you can drive at what age. For example, you have to be 16 to ride a moped, 17 to drive a standard car, 18 to drive a truck with Certificate of Professional Competency (CPC) or 21 without CPC and 21 to drive a bus with CPC and 24 without CPC.
- 'L' plates
All learner permit holders, with the exception of those who hold learner permits in category W(work vehicles/land tractors), must display 'L' plates while they are driving. Vehicles in categories B, C1, C, D1, D, BE, C1E, CE, D1E or DE must display L plates at all times. The letter L should be at least 15cm high and appear as red on a white background, in clearly visible vertical positions to the front and rear of the vehicle.
Drivers of vehicles in categories A, A2, A1 and AM must also display L plates at all times. The plates must be displayed on a yellow fluorescent tabard worn over the person's outside clothing. The letter L should be at least 15cm high and appear as red on a white background and in clearly visible vertical positions to the front and rear of the person's body.
All learner permit holders, with the exception of those who hold a learner permit in category A1, A2, A, or AM (Mopeds), must be accompanied by a qualified driver at all times while driving. A qualified driver is one who holds a full licence for a continuous period of two years in respect of the vehicle category being driven by the learner permit holder.
A person holding a category W(work vehicles/land tractors) learner permit is not permitted to carry a passenger unless the vehicle is constructed or adapted to carry a passenger and the passenger is a qualified driver – ie, a person who has held a full licence for the vehicle category for a continuous period of at least two years.
Description of licensing categories from 19th January 2013
(Previously known as "M") Mopeds and 3 wheeled vehicles with a maximum design speed of 45km/h as well as light quadricycles
|A1||Motorcycles up to 125cc, with a power rating not more than 11kW with a power to weight ratio no greater than 0.1kW/kg||16||------|
|A2||Motorcycles less than 35kW, with a power/weight ratio not greater than 0.2kW/kg and not derived from a vehicle more than double its power||18||18|
All motorcycles including those greater than 35kW
Vehicles in categories A, A2, A1 and AM (motorcyles and mopeds) cannot carry a passenger and are required at all times to display 'L' plates front and rear on a yellow fluorescent tabard.
A person who holds a learner permit in:
- Vehicle categories A1, A2, A and AM (motorcycles/mopeds) is not permitted to carry a passenger
- Any vehicle category is not allowed to carry any passenger for reward
- Vehicle category W (work vehicles/land tractors) shall not carry a passenger unless the vehicle is constructed to carry a passenger and the passenger is a full licence holder for a continuous period of two years
- Vehicle categories B, C1, C, D1 or D (cars, buses and trucks) shall not be driven while towing a trailer
Note: if you are granted a learner permit for vehicles in category A, A2, A1, AM, W, or B and have not held a learner permit in the five-year period prior to the granting of a permit in any of these categories you cannot sit a driving test within six months of your permit coming into force, although you may apply for a test within this period. The code 991 will be printed on your license opposite the vehicle category in the column headed 'restrictions/information.' Where you opt to take Progressive Access (where you have held the lower category for a minimum of 2 years) from category A1 to A2 or Category A2 to A and wish to take a driving test, you do not need to wait six months to sit the driving test.
There is no longer a requirement for a person who holds a learner permit in category BE to hold the permit for 6 months before sitting their driving test.
If you hold a full driving licence or permit in the category corresponding to the category on your learner permit which was issued by the competent authority of another jurisdiction and shows that you have had that entitlement for at least 6 months, then you do not need to wait 6 months before sitting a driving test.