Irish learner and novice drivers warned of lesser-known rule that could see them face six-month ban

Irish leaner and novice drivers are being warned of a lesser-known law that can see new drivers banned from the road for a minimum of six months.

Those driving with an ‘L’ or ‘N’ sticker on their vehicle are reminded that if they receive 7 penalty points in a 3-year period they face disqualification.

There is sometimes confusion over this rule because fully licensed drivers are subject to a higher threshold of 12 points in 3 years before they face a six-month disqualification.

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The Road Safety Authority and An Garda Siochana also warn that learner and novice drivers must display ‘L’ and ‘N’ plates at all times.

If they are caught by offices without one on display they will be issued two penalty points and a €60 fine.

Meanwhile, learner drivers detected driving unaccompanied not only face 2 penalty points and an €80 fine the vehicle can also be seized.

If the driver is not the owner, the car is liable to be seized, and the owner is also subject to a fine of up to €1000.

According to the latest statistics from Ireland’s Roads Policing Units, a total of 6,460 penalty points notices were issued to learner and novice drivers in 2021 relating to the non-display of ‘L’ and ‘N’ plates and for driving unaccompanied.

A learner driver while in their car
Irish learner and novice drivers warned of lesser-known rule that could see them face six-month ban

The most common penalty point offence for learners is driving unaccompanied – 4,047 notices were issued to learner drivers for this offence last year.

This is followed by the non-display of ‘L’ plates by drivers and motorcyclists of which 1,827 drivers were fined.

Sam Waide, CEO of Road Safety Authority, said: “If you are a learner or novice driver and you accumulate seven penalty points in a three-year period, you’ll face a 6-month driving ban which will have real consequences – no driving to college, work, sports training or social events with friends, coupled with risk of higher insurance costs.

“I want to remind learner drivers that a learner permit is not a licence. Learner drivers have not demonstrated they are competent drivers until they have passed a driving test.

“Therefore, as inexperienced and unqualified drivers, they must always display ‘L’ plates and be accompanied by a fully licenced driver, other than a novice driver.

“Once you pass the test you are still inexperienced and at risk, that is why you must display ‘N’ plates for two years and are still subject to a lower penalty point threshold of 7 points.”

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