To drive a car in the UK without a full driving licence, you are required the following by law:

  • Be 17 years of age or older.
  • Have a provisional UK driving licence.
  • Have someone with a full UK driving licence who is over 21 and has held a full UK driving licence for 3 years.
  • Display "L plates" on the front and rear of their vehicle.
You must obviously also be insured for the car you are driving, and the car must be taxed and MOTed.

L plates are white squares approximately 6 inches square with a large red capital letter L on them. They indicate to other drivers that the car is being driven by an inexperienced driver and to give them more room, etc. They come in a variety of types with different fastenings:

  • The classic string fastened plates have four holes which to loop string through for tying to the cars bumpers.
  • Sticky backed plates are designed for learners who own their own vehicle, as once they’re stuck, they’re there until you rip them off.
  • Magnetic backed plates are fantastic as you just whack them onto the vehicle, however they do have a habit of falling off while driving.
  • Static cling plates are easy to attach and remove and cling to the inside of your window without leaving a sticky mess. However they do obstruct your visibility (I don’t know if sticking them to the outside of your vehicles paintwork is a good idea or if they too fall off).
As for the law on learner drivers, the passenger taking the learner out takes full responsibility for the learner. If they learner breaks the law (speeding etc.) it is the passenger who is fined and the passengers license which receives the penalty points.

As mentioned above, it is illegal for a learner to drive without L plates, but it is also illegal for a non-learner to drive with L plates. Thus the need for them to be removable if the vehicle is going to be driven by a fully licensed driver.

As well as the official red L plates, there are a number of plates to identify a new driver. There are two types I know of, one is a green letter L with the words "new driver" underneath, the other a green letter P, both on the same 6 inch white square.

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