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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

The New Drivers Act

Under the New Drivers Act, you’ll lose your licence if you reach six penalty points within two years of passing your first driving test. Find out how the Act could affect you, how penalty points are calculated and how you get your licence back if you lose it.

What the New Drivers Act means for you

If you have just passed your first driving test, the New Drivers Act means you’re ‘on probation’ for two years. If you reach six or more penalty points in that time, you’ll lose your licence. Then, you’ll have to apply and pay for a new provisional licence. This means you’ll be a learner driver again.

Who’s affected by the New Drivers Act

The New Drivers Act applies to all new drivers who passed their first driving test in:

  • Great Britain
  • Northern Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Channel Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • the European Community and European Economic Area

If you have held a full driving licence for two years, the Act doesn’t apply. For example, there isn’t another probation period if you already have a full car licence and pass a test in another category, like lorry. But you need to have passed both tests in one of the countries listed above.

Foreign driving licences

The Act also applies if you exchange a foreign driving licence for a British licence and then pass a further driving test in Great Britain.

How you get penalty points

You get penalty points for all sorts of driving-related offences, like speeding or driving dangerously. The penalties for traffic offences are set out in the Highway Code.

Penalty points on your provisional licence

You can also get penalty points on your provisional licence before you pass your test. These points last for three years and will count under the Act. If you reach six points before you’ve taken your test, your provisional licence won’t be taken away. But if you get any more points within two years of passing your test, you will lose your licence.

What happens if you lose your lose your licence under the Act

If you lose your licence under the New Drivers Act, you must first apply for a provisional licence. A provisional licence means you must drive with:

  • L plates
  • a driver to accompany you who is at least 21 and has held a full licence for at least three years

You must not drive on any public road in Great Britain without a licence. If you drive without a valid licence, or disobey the conditions of a provisional licence, you face a penalty of up to £1,000.

If you don’t have a valid licence, your insurance won’t be valid. You’ll need to tell your insurance company immediately if you lose your licence under the Act.

How to get your full driving licence back

If you want to get your full driving licence back you must:

  • pass the theory and practical driving tests again in a previously held category
  • exchange your provisional driving licence for a full one, after passing your driving test

In some cases, you may be ordered by the court to take a re-test as part of your penalty for the offence. If you pass this test, you get your licence back. You don’t need to pass two re-tests.

Your driving entitlement for other vehicles

If you had any other entitlements, like lorry or bus, on your licence before you lost it, you’ll need to get these restored separately. This can only be done by your local traffic commissioner, who may request that you retake a driving test for those vehicles.

What happens after you have passed your re-test

The New Drivers Act only applies once. You won’t lose your licence again if you run up another six points. But if you get more than 12 points in three years, you’ll normally lose your licence for at least six months.

Appealing against having your driving licence taken away

You can’t appeal directly against having your licence taken away under the New Drivers Act.

You can appeal in court against the conviction that lead to you reach six penalty points. But you can’t appeal against a fixed penalty once you have accepted it.

If you do appeal against a conviction, your licence won’t be taken away before the court has reached a decision.

For advice on whether you can appeal and how to go about it, contact the convicting court.

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