New regulation sees five-year learner license limit

New Zealand stops "hazards to the roads" by forcing full

A new law will see a limit imposed on the length of time individuals can hold learner and restricted licences in New Zealand. The new regulation, announced on Wednesday, will be enforced from 1 December this year. Individuals who do not move onto the next stage of the Graduated Driver Licensing System (GDLS) will be required to take another Learner Licence theory test to regain their licence. The rule will also apply to those who hold a New Zealand motorcycle licence.

Critic spoke to Senior Sargent Phil McDouall of the Dunedin Police, who said “40–45 per cent of New Zealanders don’t move on [to the next stage of licensing] after their learners.” McDouall com- mented that is not uncommon for individuals to be caught breaching their learner or restricted
licences on Dunedin roads, causing a great deal of hazard to other drivers.

“When they stay on it [a learner or restricted licence] too long, they don’t get the full driving ability that full licence drivers have,” commented McDouall. “With a learner licence they can only drive with a supervisor, because they haven’t been yet proven fit to drive alone. So those who remain on a learner licence for long periods of time don’t learn to drive as safely as those who are up to their full.” This issue is of great concern to police. McDouall said that those who remain on a learner or restricted licence and breach their conditions by driving with passengers are “a great hazard to the roads.”

McDouall said that it is extremely common for individuals to be pressured to breach the conditions of their licence, stating that it is “most common in high school age drivers.”

“A lot of people breach their license by taking orthodox passengers. Friends who may not have a licence themselves will often pressure friends to take them.” McDouall urges students to not give in to such demands. These passengers “can also be fined for aiding and abetting a criminal.” He said this is rather common in the Dunedin region.

In New Zealand, every driving ticket you receive will give you demerit points. When individuals gain 100 demerit points within two years their licence is lost automatically. When it comes to breaching learner and restricted licences, demerit points “vary between 20 and 30 when caught,” said McDouall. “You don’t need to be caught many times in order to lose your license.”
This article first appeared in Issue 19, 2014.
Posted 9:16pm Sunday 10th August 2014 by Laura Munro.