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Changes to rules for NI learner drivers confirmed

New rules in respect of learner drivers in Northern Ireland have been announced by Environment Minister Alex Attwood. The new measures show a combined approach of starting the learning process earlier, while at the same time changing the restrictions imposed on newly qualified drivers with a view to improving their readiness on the road.

The most notable changes are as follows:

  • age to obtain a provisional licence lowered to 16-and-a-half
  • 45mph restriction for new drivers scrapped
  • minimum 12 month learning period for provisional licence holders
  • learner drivers can now take lessons on motorways if accompanied by a fully qualified driving instructor in a dual-controlled vehicle
  • ‘R’ plate indicating 45mph restriction for new drivers to be replaced with an ‘N’ plate
  • New drivers can only have immediate family as passengers in the first six months after passing the test (this restriction only applies to drivers aged 24 or under)

Mr Attwood believes the changes will improve road safety and reduce insurance premiums in Northern Ireland. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has welcomed the changes and has pledged to review insurance premiums. However, safety charity Brake considers that the lowering of the age you can obtain a provisional license is a mistake, with spokesperson Gerry Lee saying that the risk of a crash increases the younger the driver is.

Legislation containing the new rules is expected to be implemented by the end of the year. 

If you have been accused of a motoring offence, received a notice of intention to prosecute or a fixed penalty notice Wilson Nesbitt can assist you in evaluating your option and providing representation in Court. Contact one of our specialist driving offences solicitors by calling freephone number 0800 840 0546

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