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My car licence

Learner's stage

pre learner

Got your L's? You can start learning to drive, but under special L-rules and conditions. Follow the rules and you're cool. Don't, and you'll get a fine, demerit points or lose your permit (be disqualified).

With your L's you'll get a book called The Driving Companion. It's all in there - compulsory driving hours, choosing a qualified supervising driver or a motor driving instructor, how to get your P1 licence... so get your head around the lot.

How you learn to drive is critical. The smart way? Getting heaps of practice with friends or family (who meet the requirements for a Qualified Supervising Driver) is a common approach.

Compulsory driving hours

You'll need to complete at least 75 hours of supervised driving including a minimum 15 hours at night.

You'll need driving experience in a variety of different conditions. Try driving in different;

  • Light conditions - day, night, dawn, dusk.
  • Weather conditions - rain, fog.
  • Traffic conditions - light, medium and heavy.
  • Types of roads - highways, gravel roads.
Heads up!

You'll need to complete at least 75 hours of supervised driving, including a minimum of 15 hours at night. Watch the video to learn how other learner drivers get their driving hours up.

Start practising on quiet streets and, as you get better, try harder conditions but, only when you're comfortable controlling your car. Try a new condition at a time, and take time to get used it.

Develop a system for each driving lesson. Car keys, L-plates on, learner's permit, and log book.

Qualified Supervising Drivers
Choosing your Qualified Supervising Driver is important as they'll supervise, instruct and teach you the skills and process needed - checking the vehicle, car control, observing, planning and defensive driving.

They also have to verify your driving hours in your log book in The Driving Companion, and may also be asked to confirm their supervision of your driving.

Qualified Supervising Drivers can be anyone like a parent, friend or relative, but they must meet these legal requirements:

  • Current full licence holder for the vehicle class being driven for the past two years.(learner's permit, provisional or probationary licence does not count).
  • No driving disqualifications in the past two years.
  • Not suspended from driving in the past two years.
  • No licence holders subject to good behaviour conditions*.
  • Seated right next you at all times while you're driving. This also applies to parking practice (even in car parks).

* A person who has previously been subject to a Good Behaviour Condition within the past two years can act as a Qualified Supervising Driver if they held a full licence during that time, as long as they are not currently subject to that condition.

A person who holds a foreign licence can be your qualified supervising driver, provided that they meet the above conditions, their licence is issued by a country recognised by South Australia and their licence is written in English or has an English translation.

Heads up!

It's an offence for a Qualified Supervising Driver to have a blood alcohol reading of 0.05 or more (or cannabis, speed or ecstasy) in their blood or saliva.

Motor driving instructors
Professional driving instructors (someone who charges you a fee) must have a driving instructor licence. They're trained, assessed and accredited, plus they're regularly re-assessed. A list of motor driving instructors is available in the Yellow Pages under 'Driving Schools'. Always check that they have a licence for the driver training you need.

Learning to drive safely
A driver's priority is to get there safely. So, get as much supervised driving practice as possible. But start slowly and gain experience gradually before trying new skills.

Drivers must watch what's happening around them and make lots of decisions. The more time you have to decide, and the more you practice, the more your driving will improve.

Driving defensively helps you anticipate trouble before it happens, so check out the competency-based training program in The Driving Companion.

Heads up!

Start practising on quiet streets and gradually work up to busier roads and higher speeds when your supervisor says you're ready.

Before you start the car, do this mental checklist:

  • Qualified supervising driver/ motor driving instructor next to you?
  • Got your log book?
  • Got your learner's permit with you?
  • Everyone's seatbelt on?
  • Mobile phones off?

Important driving rules you must know and follow.

Learner's permit conditions and laws
You are only allowed to drive the class of vehicle stated on the learner's permit under the following conditions:

  • You must not drive a motor vehicle with any concentration of alcohol in your blood or the presence of THC (the active component in cannabis), Methylamphetamine (also known as speed, ice or crystal meth) or MDMA (ecstasy) in your blood or oral saliva
  • If you commit a speeding offence, you will also commit a breach of your learner's permit conditions if you exceed the speed limit by 10km/h or more.
  • You must drive with a qualified supervising driver in the seat next to the driver.
  • When riding a motor bike you must not carry a passenger on the motor bike, or in a sidecar attached to the motor bike, unless that person is a qualified supervising driver.

Other laws

  • You must display the prescribed L-plates so that they are clearly visible from the front and the rear of the vehicle. (rear only for motorcycles)
  • You must carry your current learner's permit at all times whilst driving.
  • You must not exceed the 100km/h speed limit at any time.
  • You must not accumulate four or more demerit points during the learner's permit period.
  • You must not use any function of a mobile phone.
  • From 28 July 2014, if you hold a learner's permit for a motorcycle and do not hold a P2 or full licence for another class of vehicle you must not ride between midnight and 5AM unless a Qualified Supervising Driver is present or you have an exemption.

Learner’s permit holders can learn to drive in a High-powered Vehicle because they are required to be supervised by a Qualified Supervising Driver at all times.

Breaking the rules

If you do not comply with these rules and conditions you may be fined, incur demerit points, be disqualified from driving, have your permit cancelled and hold a learner's permit for a longer period.


A  learner or Provisional 1 driver is permitted to use a Navigational System (GPS), provided:

  • It is an original component of the vehicle being driven and has been built as part of the vehicle design; or
  • It is a standalone GPS that is secured in a mounting unit that has been commercially designed for the purpose of holding a GPS and is affixed to the vehicle as per the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the mounting unit.

If the navigational system does not meet either of these requirements then it cannot be used whilst driving.

Read more: Driving laws, offences and penalties

Heads up!

New laws were introduced on 28 July 2014. Read more

The Driving Companion booklet contains the log book to record your compulsory driving hours and you'll get a copy with your learner's permit.

The Driving Companion includes:

  • Driving. Controlling your car and responding to what's happening around you. Plus checking your vehicle, observing, planning and defensive driving strategies.
  • Log book. To record your compulsory driving hours each time you drive.
  • Vehicle-On-Road Test (VORT) and Competency Based Training and Assessment (CBT&A). Two ways to qualify for your P1 Provisional Licence. Pass a practical driving test (VORT) or gradually complete Competency Based Training and Assessment (CBT&A). The Driving Companion contains the competency standards for both options.

Using the log book
Every time you drive, record the details on the green forms in The Driving Companion. There are 10 forms to record your day driving...and 2 forms for night driving.

If you have evidence you've held an interstate learner's permit your Qualified Supervising Driver may include that previous driving experience in your log book.

When you apply for your Provisional Licence your log book hours must be handed to Service SA staff along with your Certificate of Competency.  If you choose the Competency Based Training and Assessment method you will also have to hand in your Task Assessment Sheets.  Heavy penalties apply for deliberately providing false information, so please complete your Driving Companion correctly.

If you lose your Driving Companion, grab another from a Service SA customer service centre. A $5 fee applies for replacement books.

Want your previous experience recorded in your replacement log book? Your qualified supervising driver will have to re-enter it and sign it.

Electronic learner log book apps

Information for learner drivers

You may choose to utilise a phone app to record your logged driving hours instead of manually recording these in your Driving Companion. To ensure that electronically logged hours are accepted you should check that the app you are using offers a print out which includes the same information recorded in the paper version.

Any printouts of logged hours which do not include the following cannot be accepted:

  • Learner driver's name
  • Learner driver's permit number
  • Date
  • Start time
  • Finish time
  • Duration of drive
  • Location (suburb) from
  • Location (suburb) to
  • Road conditions
  • Weather conditions
  • Traffic conditions
  • Learner’s signature
  • Qualified Supervising Driver name, licence number and signature

The printouts should also separate daytime driving hours and night time driving hours.

If the app you use does not allow you to print off a declaration such as the one found in the Driving Companion then you will need to complete this page from the driving companion and present it with your printout of your logged hours.

It should be noted that any apps which do log a person’s driving hours are not developed or endorsed by the Registrar and are utilised at the risk of the user.

You should be aware of any privacy policies or terms and conditions of your chosen app as the Registrar is not responsible for what an app developer chooses to do with any personal information required to be entered in to the app.

Information for app developers

If you have developed an app or are in the process of developing one which allows a learner driver to record their driving hours electronically through their phone you must ensure that it is clear there is no association between your app, or company and the Department in any way. You are not permitted to reference the Department nor are you permitted to use any department or government logos i.e. the Piping Shrike.

In order for the hours logged through your app to be accepted by the Registrar your app will need to have capabilities to print out the users logged hours which at a minimum must include the following:

  • Learner driver's name
  • Learner driver's permit number
  • Date
  • Start time
  • Finish time
  • Duration of drive
  • Location (suburb) from
  • Location (suburb) to
  • Road conditions
  • Weather conditions
  • Traffic conditions
  • Learner’s signature
  • Qualified Supervising Driver name, licence number and signature

The printouts should also separate daytime driving hours and night time driving hours.

We also ask that you include privacy policies and terms and conditions, where you clearly communicate how you will use the information entered into the app by the learner driver and who may have access to that information.  You should also mention any back up features your app has for data which may be lost by the learner driver due to app crashes, updates to the app, changing phones etc.

Driving with a learner's permit means you need L-plates on the vehicle so drivers know you are an inexperienced driver. L-plates must meet the following requirements;

  • The minimum size is shown here. L-plates must have the letter L printed in black on a yellow background.
  • L-plates must be clearly visible from the front and rear of the vehicle (rear only for motorbikes).
  • No L-plates should be displayed on the vehicle when the driver is not a learner driver (except when a licensed driving instructor is driving to or from a lesson).

L plate

You can buy L-plates at Service SA customer service centres, the Service SA online shop or various retail outlets.

Heads up!

Penalties apply for not displaying L-plates.

Before you can  get your P1 licence you'll need to:

  • hold a learner's permit for at least 12 months or six months If you're 25 or over;
  • complete at least 75 hours of supervised driving (including 15 at night);
  • pass the Hazard Perception Test.

You can get your P1 licence by:

Option 1 : Passing a practical driving test called the Vehicle On Road Test (VORT). You'll need to book with a motor driving instructor who has a VORT licence at least three days ahead and pay their fee.
Option 2 : Complete the competency based training course (CBT) in your Driving Companion. You'll need to contact a motor driving instructor with a CBT licence who'll assess you in a series of practical driving sessions.

Heads up!

Check your driving instructor's licence to ensure they're CBT or VORT approved.

Both options are explained in The Driving Companion. After you've chosen which option suits you, completed the requirements and gained your certificate of competency, you can apply for your P1 provisional licence.

Passed? You can to go to a Service SA customer service centre, with your:

  • Certificate of competency.
  • Learner's permit.
  • Driving Companion with your completed declaration showing completion of the compulsory driving hours.
  • Passed Hazard Perception Test report.
  • Fee for your P1 provisional licence.

We'll give you a temporary P1 provisional driver's licence, valid for one month while your photo card is being produced. Your P1 photo licence will be posted to you and is issued for three years.  The licence will automatically convert to a P2 licence after 12 months, provided you don't breach your provisional licence conditions.

Heads up!

Looking to buy your own car:Use the My First Car Checklist to ensure you buy the safest car for your budget.

Programs to help get your P’s

  • keys2drive is an Australian Government funded program that provides learner drivers and their parents/supervisors a free lesson with a keys2drive accredited driving instructor.

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