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Young driver laws 

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Why do we have young drivers' laws?

The Queensland government has referred to road crash statistics that say young drivers, (those under 25) once they get their provisional licence, are “twice as likely to be involved in fatal crashes than drivers aged between 25-59” as the reason to introduce special laws covering young drivers.

Who do the young drivers’ laws apply to?

The laws started on 1 July 2007. So:

  • if you are under 25 AND
  • you are not on your open licence already OR your licence has been or is suspended or disqualified

then some or all of these new laws will apply to you.

I’m under 25 so I guess I’m a young driver – what’s changed?

You’ll probably think it’s good news that now you can apply for your learner’s at 16 - but the rest of the new laws all add extra things you have to do or can’t do – so you:

  • have to hold your learner’s for 12 months and get 100 hours of supervised driving experience shown in a logbook
  • can’t use a mobile phone at all while driving, not even with hands free, blue tooth or on loudspeaker
  • can’t have a supervisor or passenger using a mobile on loud speaker while you are driving
  • will need to have a car provisional licence for 12 months before you can get a motorbike licence
  • have to display L plates or P plates when you are driving
  • can only have one passenger under 21 from 11.00pm to 5.00am
  • can’t drive a high-powered vehicle.

Some of these restrictions stop applying once you are on a P2 provisional licence or you can get exemptions so they don’t apply to you. And other things are planned, (like a hazard perception test to get from P1 to P2).

I’m 16 next month – how soon can I get my learner’s and my P’s?

You can now apply for your learner’s once you turn 16 – it used to be 16 and 6 months; and you were not allowed to drive on your learner’s without a supervisor with an open licence who had that open licence for at least 12 months.

Now you can’t go for your test to get your P licence and drive by yourself until:

  • you’ve had your learner’s for at least 12 months
  • you’ve driven for 100 hours (supervised by an open licence holder), you’ve written each time you drive and for how long in a logbook and the person supervising has signed every entry you put in the logbook.

You must display your L plates (a black L on a yellow background) at all times when you are driving any vehicle at both the front and rear of the vehicle (but they must not get in the way of your vision).

As before, your blood alcohol concentration level must be zero.

What’s this about 100 hours of supervised driving in a logbook?

As well as driving with a supervisor for 100 hours (and at least 10 must be at night) in the three years immediately before you apply for your P1 licence test, you have to write down these hours in a logbook and the supervisor has to sign them. You have to do this each time you drive and have the supervisor sign each time, not just at the end. A supervisor is someone who holds an open licence for a "C" class vehicle and has had this open licence for at least a year. If you ask someone to supervise you, ask if you can check their licence first to make sure they are someone who counts as a supervisor.

If you use a professional driving instructor you can count the first ten hours at triple time so your first ten hours will actually count as 30 logbook hours. Also, you may be able to get credit for hours done interstate or overseas before you got your learner’s in Queensland.

What’s a logbook and where do I get it?

A logbook is the book where you fill in details of your hours and the supervisor. When you get your learner’s you should be given a logbook for free. If you lose your logbook you can contact the Department of Transport and Main Roads to get a replacement, the replacement will not be free.

Every time you drive some hours with a supervisor you need to fill in the logbook and get the supervisor to sign. If the supervisor signs any entry in your logbook knowing it’s not true they’re breaking the law. After you’ve recorded your hours of supervised driving and before you can go for your licence you have to give the logbook to the Department of Transport and Main Roads to check and approve the logbook. There is an example of a completed logbook page on the department’s website.

I’m on my learner’s, do I really have to keep a logbook?

Yes you do, unless the Department of Transport and Main Roads gives you an exemption. You can only apply to the department for an exemption under certain very limited circumstances. You can apply if you:

  • don’t have a car reasonably available to drive on the road
  • don’t have a supervisor reasonably available
  • live in an area with a limited road network AND won’t benefit from driving on the road network AND aren’t likely to move from the area or have an opportunity to drive in an area without a limited road network

and then the Department of Transport and Main Roads may (but doesn’t have to) give you an exemption so you don’t have to keep a logbook.

Remember these things about exemptions:

  • there is a set form to apply
  • there’s also a fee to apply and you don’t get the fee back (whether you get the exemption or not)
  • the Department of Transport and Main Roads will consider your traffic history
  • if you do get the exemption then you’ll need to hold your learner’s for 2 years instead of 1 year before you can apply for your P1 licence.

You can get an Information Sheet from the Department of Transport and Main Roads called “Exemption from logbook information sheet” which gives more details.

What’s the story on provisional licences? I’ve had my learner’s for a year and I’m about to go for my licence. I’ve heard I can’t even use my mobile on loudspeaker or drive my friends around after dark. Is that right? What else can’t I do?

The mobile bit is right and there have been lots of changes. There are now two stages for provisional licences, PI (red) and P2 (green). You must display your P plates at all times when you are driving any vehicle at both the front and rear of the vehicle but they must not get in the way of your vision. You are breaking the law if you display a P plate that you do not have, for example if you are still only on your red P1, you’re breaking the law if you display a green P2.

The new laws haven’t changed drink driving. As before, your blood alcohol concentration level must be zero.

If you are on a P1 provisional licence you must:

  • display red P plates for at least 12 months
  • carry only one passenger under 21 between 11pm and 5am (but this won't apply if they are immediate family members)
  • follow the restrictions that apply to you
    • (and to your passengers/ supervisor) for mobile phones
    • for high powered vehicles.

If you are on a P2 provisional licence and you are under 25 you must:

  • display green P plates for the rest of your provisional licence period
  • follow the restrictions that apply to you for high powered vehicles.

If you are on any kind of provisional licence a late night driving restriction stopping you from driving between 11.00pm and 5.00am for a year may apply to you.

All these restrictions and possible exemptions are explained in greater detail below

How long you stay on a P2 provisional licence depends on how old you are when you get your P2 licence. Check with the Department of Transport and Main Roads once you get your P2 licence.

If you’re an emergency service worker (Queensland Ambulance, Queensland Fire and Rescue and Queensland Police) on a P licence, these restrictions won’t apply to you while you’re driving for your job.

Use of mobile phones

All drivers are banned from using hand-held mobile phones while:

  • driving or
  • stationary (eg stopped at traffic lights) but not parked.

But there are extra restrictions if you are:

  • under 25 and on your learner licence
  • under 25 and on your P1 licence
  • any age, but on your P1 licence after being disqualified for an offence which happened when you were under 25

because then if you use mobile phones even if they are on:

  • hands-free
  • bluetooth
  • loudspeaker

then you are breaking the law.

Your passengers and supervisor are also banned from using mobile phones on loudspeaker, but they can use a hand-held or hands-free mobile phone where there is only a one-way conversation so that you, the driver, are not distracted.

If you are on a P2 licence, you do not have these extra restrictions, just the same rules as for people on an open licence.

Peer passenger restrictions late at night

A peer passenger restriction means that you are not allowed to drive with more than one passenger under 21 (except an immediate family member) between the hours of 11.00pm and 5.00am.

If you are:

  • under 25 and on your P1 licence
  • any age but on your P1 licence after being disqualified for an offence which happened when you were under 25

then it is against the law for you to drive between 11.00pm and 5.00am with more than one passenger under 21 who is not an immediate family member.

An immediate family member includes:

  • your spouse (or partner)
  • your child, step-child, foster child or ward
  • your step-parent
  • your grandparent or their spouse (or partner)
  • your brother or sister (including a step-brother or step-sister).

If you are pulled over by police you may be asked to explain your family relationship to the other passengers in your car especially if they are seen to be under 21. It is enough for a police officer to believe on reasonable grounds that an immediate family relationship does not exist and it is up to you to prove that it does, but the police officer should make reasonable enquiries of you and your passengers before forming their belief.

Late night driving restrictions

A late night driving restriction means that you are not allowed to drive between the hours of 11.00pm and 5.00am for one year.

If you are:

  • under 25 and on your P1 licence
  • any age but on your P1 licence after being disqualified for an offence which happened when you were under 25
  • under 25 and on either
    • your P2 licence or
    • your provisional licence you got before 1 July 2007
    and because of an offence after 30 June 2007
    • your licence is suspended (from too many points or driving more than 40 kms over the speed limit) or
    • you choose a 12 months good driving behaviour period

then a penalty of a late night driving restriction will apply to stop you from driving between 11.00pm and 5.00am for one year. The restriction starts when you return to driving after completing a disqualification or suspension period or on the start date of your good driving behaviour period.

I got my P licence before the new laws but then I got too many points so I had a 3 months’ suspension. Now my suspension is over but somehow I’m stuck with a late night driving restriction for 12 months. I’m a hospitality student and I often need to do placements late at night. Can I get a special licence so I can drive to and from those placements?

No, you can’t. You can only apply to the Department of Transport and Main Roads for an exemption from the late night driving restriction if:

  • you need to drive in those hours to get to and from work or for your job
  • it would cause you severe hardship if the exemption wasn’t granted.

There is no special licence or exemption you can get for your situation. It doesn't matter how much you need to drive during those hours, or how good your reasons are, because if it's not for work, there is no power for the Department of Transport and Main Roads or a court to give you an exemption.

High powered vehicle restrictions

A high powered vehicle restriction means that you are not allowed to drive what the law calls a “high powered vehicle” on a road.

If you are:

  • under 25 and on your P1 or P2 licence
  • any age but on your P1 licence after being disqualified for an offence which happened when you were under 25

then it is against the law for you to drive a high powered vehicle on a road.

The law says that a high powered vehicle includes:

  • an engine that has a power output of more that 200 kW
  • an engine with eight or more cylinders
  • a turbo charged or supercharged engine (but not diesel powered engines).

You can apply to the Department of Transport and Main Roads for a certificate of exemption if you need to drive the high powered vehicle for work, study, medical treatment etc.

If I don’t agree with what Queensland Transport says, can I appeal?

Yes, for some things. You can ask the Department of Transport and Main Roads to reconsider if the department won’t:

  • give you credit for supervised driving
  • give you an exemption from keeping a logbook
  • approve your logbook
  • give you an exemption from the late night driving restriction
  • give you an exemption from the high powered vehicle restrictions.

You have 28 days from finding out about the decision to ask for reconsideration and you must ask in writing. After that, if you’re still not happy you can appeal to a magistrates court.

Acknowledgement - Prepared using fact sheets which are copyright to the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

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Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if you:

  • have been charged with a driving or traffic offence
  • need to apply for a certiciate of exemption to a driving restriction, including late night driving or high powered vehicle restrictions
  • want to appeal a decision of the Department of Transport and Main Roads.
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Where can I get legal advice

Legal Aid Queensland may provide legal advice on laws about young drivers.

The following organisations may also be able to give legal advice on your matter.

Youth Advocacy Centre provides a community legal and social welfare service for young people under 17.

Lawmail is a legal advice service for young people that provides free legal advice to people under 18 via email.

Logan Youth Legal Service provides legal information and advice to young people aged under 17.

Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to see if they can help with your matter.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation.

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Who else can help?

These organisations may also be able to assist with your matter. They do not provide legal advice.

Department of Transport and Main Roads deals with complaints and enquiries about drivers licence, road safety, traffic fines, motor vehicle modifications, and more.

Queensland Traffic Offenders Program (QTOP) is an educational court diversion program for people who want to plead guilty to a traffic offence. Fees apply. 

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Last modified: 2 May 2013 1:44PM
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Young driver laws