About Driving

It is illegal to drive a vehicle without an appropriate, valid licence. Once you have passed your test, your licence remains valid until you are 70 (but it can be take away for driving offences or medical reasons).

A licence to drive one type of vehicle does not automatically allow you to drive another type of vehicle. So at what ages can you ride and drive different types of vehicles?

  • 14 – You can ride an electrically powered cycle.
  • 16 – You can ride a moped up to 50ccs, drive small tractors, mowing machines. or an invalid car. If you receive mobility allowance you are also allowed to drive a car.
  • 17 – You can drive a car with up to 8 passengers, a motorcycle, a large tractor and vans or lorries up to 3.5 tons.
  • 18 – You can drive vans or lorries up to 7.5 tons.
  • 21 – You can drive all vehicles, but remember that to hire a car, most companies have a minimum age of either 21 or 23.

Learning to drive a car

You must have a provisional licence before you can start learning to drive. You can get an D1 application form for a provisional licence from your local post office or you can apply online at www.direct.gov/motoring

When you have a provisional licence you must display ‘L plates’ whilst driving, and you must be accompanied by someone who has held a valid UK driving licence for at least 3 years and who is over 21 years old. You must not drive on a motorway until you have passed your test.

The driving test is split into two sections, a written theory test and a practical test. You have to pass your theory test before you take your practical. The theory test is made up of 50 multiple-choice questions and you have 40 minutes to take the test. You can sit the theory test in any of the 140 test centres in the UK.

You can also book your theory and practical tests at www.direct.gov/motoring.

Driving a motorbike

Like car drivers, motorcyclists have to take both a written theory test and a practical test to gain a full licence. Before you can learn to ride a motorcycle on public roads you must complete a Compulsory Basic Training Course.

Who can help?

Your local post office can give you the right form for the vehicle you want to drive and show you which sections you need to fill in.

The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) can confirm if you are eligible to apply for a particular licence. Visit their website at www.dvla.gov.uk/ or have a look at www.direct.gov/motoring

You can practise your driving theory test online for free at www.dsa.gov.uk/mockpaper/theoryintro.htm and you can practise the multiple choice part of the theory test at www.theory-tests.co.uk.

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