Last updated 16 August 2016

Young driver laws

There are special rules for people aged under 25. These people are classed as young drivers. It has been specifically declared that it is not unlawful to discriminate on the basis of age and that the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) does not apply to these rules for young drivers.

The young driver laws are found in pt 4 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management—Driver Licensing) Regulation 2010 (Qld) (TORUM Regulation) and deal with:

  • testing and licensing of young drivers
  • fulfilling the mandatory 100 hours of practice prior to going for a provisional licence
  • prohibiting the use of hands-free mobile phone devices
  • prohibiting young drivers from driving high-powered vehicles
  • restricting the number of passengers under the age of 21 years they can carry late at night.

Learner licence

The age of eligibility for a learner licence is 16 years (reg 8 TORUM Regulation). Each phase of the licensing process has age requirements and time frames attached to it along with conditions for moving from one phase to the next, leading to an open licence.

Young people with a learner licence can apply for exemptions from the 100 practice hours in circumstances where they:

  • do not have a car reasonably available to drive on the road
  • do not have a supervisor reasonably available (a supervisor has to hold an open licence for a C class vehicle and has had this open licence for at least one year)
  • live in an area with a limited road network, will not benefit from driving on the road network, are not likely to move from the area or have an opportunity to drive in an area without a limited road network (reg 34 TORUM Regulation).

There is a set form to apply for an exemption. A fee applies and is forfeited whether or not the application is successful. The granting of the exemption will depend on relevant traffic history and is ultimately at the discretion of the Department of Transport and Main Roads. If granted, the young person will need to hold their learner licence for a two-year period. There are other exemptions that can be applied for under these laws, such as exemptions from late-night driving and high-powered vehicle restrictions. There are rights of appeal to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal within 28 days in relation to these applications once the applicant has gone through a process of seeking reconsideration of any refusal by the Department of Transport and Main Roads under s 65 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 (Qld).

Provisional licence

Pursuant to pt 3 of the TORUM Regulation, people under 25 years who are issued with a provisional licence are subject to a two-phased P1 and P2 provisional licence system.

A P1 provisional licence holder under 25 must:

  • display red P plates for a minimum of 12 months
  • carry only one passenger aged under 21 from 11 pm to 5 am (excluding immediate family members)
  • adhere to the relevant bans on using hands-free mobile phone devices, on passengers using a loud speaker function on their mobiles and vehicle power restrictions.

A P2 provisional licence holder under 25 must:

  • display green P plates for the rest of the provisional period (the length of time will depend on the person’s age)
  • adhere to vehicle power restrictions.

A late-night driving restriction between 11 pm and 5 am will only apply to a P2 licence holder as a penalty if other licence requirements are not observed.

If a person is 25 and over, they will bypass the P1 stage and go straight to the P2 stage, which they will be required to hold for one year.

The provisional licence is issued after an applicant passes a practical driving test, a test of knowledge of traffic law, and a sight and hearing test.

Licence suspension

The commission of traffic offences incurs demerit points for the driver. The number of points per offence depends on the nature of the offence. If a person on a learner licence incurs four or more demerit points within a 12-month period, they will be suspended for a period of three months. If a person on a provisional licence incurs four or more demerit points within a 12-month period, they must choose between either having their licence suspended for a period of at least three months or being put on a good driving behaviour period of one year.

If the driver then incurs a further two demerit points during that time, the driver licence will be suspended for a period twice as long as the original suspension would have been (six months).

A person who is under 25 and has a learner licence, probationary or provisional licence, or is driving without a licence commits an offence if they have any alcohol in their system that is capable of being discerned by police using testing equipment (see chapter on Traffic Offences).