Teenage girl in car after passing P Plates provisional licence test.
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    Driving regulations and requirements vary across Australia. In Western Australia, the driving age is 17 years. However, a learner driver who’s 16 years of age may drive while being supervised by a fully licenced driver. And even after passing a practical driving test and getting a licence, a newbie driver remains subject to specific restrictions in the course of their 2-year probationary period.

    In this post, we’ll focus our discussion on the provisional licence, including the requirements and applicable restrictions for P licence and P plate holders in Western Australia.

    Provisional licences – an overview

    A driver is granted a provisional licence if they meet the following conditions:

    • They are a learner driver aged 17 years or older.
    • They have been able to complete 50 hours (including the mandatory five hours of night driving) of driving in their log book. Consider learning and taking driving lessons with an experienced team of Perth driving instructors.
    • They passed a practical driving test or Practical Driving Assessment (PDA) while accompanied by a government examiner and passed a hazard perception test.

    Aside from the above requirements, you will have had your photo taken and paid the applicable fee to get your provisional licence. The provisional licence period is two years.

    At this stage, you’re considered a novice driver, which basically means you’re below 19 years of age and/or have not held a driver’s licence (in Australia or elsewhere) for over two years.

    Provisional licence holders are required to display their white-on-red P plates while out driving within the first 6 months of having been granted P driver status.

    P licence holders can drive unaccompanied or without the need for supervision. They are also not restricted to specific speed limits. In fact, they can drive up to the posted maximum speed limit on any gazetted road in Western Australia.

    However, they need to abide by certain red P plate rules:

    • They are not allowed to drive if they have a blood alcohol content of over 0.00%.
    • They are not allowed to drive between 12 am and 5 am unless driving to or from their place of work or study.

    During the last 18 months of their being provisionally licenced, novice drivers are required to display their white-on-green P plates. Also, they still cannot drive with a blood alcohol content of over 0.00%.

    Remember to display your P plates in a visible area on the front and back of your vehicle or motorcycle at all times. Doing so will help police officers and other drivers to identify if a driver is subject to night-time restrictions, so always display the correct coloured P plates that apply to your current status as a novice driver.

    P plate holders must adhere to these rules, as breaking them is considered an offence and may result in penalties and demerit points.

    Novice drivers and the graduated demerit point system

    A person remains classified as a novice driver unless they have already held a driver’s licence for more than two years. Provisional driver’s licence holders and first-time learner’s permit holders both fall under the general category of novice driver.

    However, there are two types of novice drivers:

    • Novice Driver Type 1

    People belonging to the novice driver type 1 group are those who are first issued a learner’s permit, and then are later given a provisional driver’s licence. These drivers remain categorised as novice driver type 1 for at least one year or periods that add up to one year. People with a provisional licence are allowed to have a total of three demerit points recorded against them until the end of their first year of holding a P licence. If they exceed their demerit-point limit, they will get disqualified for a minimum of three months. Moreover, any driver’s licence they hold will be subject to cancellation.

    • Novice Driver Type 2

    Those belonging to the novice driver type 2 category have held a driver’s licence for over one year but less than two years. Provisional licence holders belonging to this group can only have up to seven demerit points recorded against them in total, up until the end of their second year of holding a P licence. If they exceed the maximum allowed number of demerit points within that period, they will get disqualified for at least three months and whatever driver licence they may be holding would be cancelled.

    This practice of classifying provisional licence holders into novice driver types is aimed at ensuring newbie drivers accumulate a minimum of two years’ driving experience before they qualify for an unrestricted or full driver’s licence.

    Moreover, the Graduated Demerit Point System works to minimise or lower the crash risk of novice drivers by setting limits to their driving. This way, they are given opportunities to apply their skills in relatively safer, lower-risk conditions.

    The progressive lifting of driving restrictions applicable to novice drivers also reflects the range of experience they acquire as they move through successive stages of driving.

    Rules for novice drivers

    As a provisional driving licence holder allowed to drive solo or unsupervised, you are expected to abide by the restrictions that apply to both red P plates and green P plates. You are also required to follow general road safety guidelines:

    • Do not consume alcohol or take medication that can impair your ability to drive. Remember, there is zero alcohol tolerance for provisional licence holders in Western Australia.
    • Do not venture out driving on the road if you are sleepy or tired.
    • Avoid distractions while driving. This includes using your mobile phone, talking to a passenger, and eating while driving.
    • Always observe safe driving habits, such as keeping a safe distance between your car and the next vehicle, scanning the road for potential hazards and being mindful of traffic signs and signals.

    Getting a full licence

    As the end of your provisional period approaches, you will receive a renewal notice providing you the option to renew your licence. Once you have paid the renewal invoice, you will then be issued your full licence. This becomes effective upon the completion of your two-year probationary period. When this happens, all provisional restrictions are finally lifted and you’ll be considered a full-fledged driver.

    If you’re ready to apply for your driver’s licence, it would be worthwhile to get defensive driving lessons at a reputable school. This way, you’ll receive professional instruction and hone your driving skills with state guidelines in mind.

    Get in touch with Eclipse Driving School today!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Do nighttime restrictions apply to all P plate drivers?

    During the first 6 months of a provisional license – with red P plates – the restrictions from 12am to 5am apply. However, during the final 18 months – with green P plates – these restrictions no longer apply, meaning you can drive at any time of day.

    Can P plate drivers consume alcohol before driving?

    While the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for fully-licensed drivers is 0.05, this limit is a flat 0.00 for all provisional drivers – regardless of colour of P plate. Failing to adhere to these limits can incur very large penalties, so make sure to not consume any alcohol before driving.

    How many passengers can P plate drivers have in the car while driving?

    During the probationary period, P plate drivers can only have one passenger under the age of 21 in their car between 9pm and 5am. This was introduced in order to reduce the road toll for young provisional drivers.

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