Harder to Get, Harder to Keep

Those of us who have had their unrestricted licence for a while tend to get a bit down on the L and P Plate drivers, but it’s important to remember that they have it pretty tough.

If you are under 25 it’s 120 gruelling hours of practice to get your L’s, and the added paperwork of a log book.  L and P platers also have lower maximum speed limits than the rest of us and are prohibited from driving certain high performance vehicles. Throw into the mix having to deal with nervous parents and passing traffic with drivers shaking their fists at you and it’s all a bit stressful.

For some things are about to get even tougher.  Those with an L or P1 licence are already prohibited from using a mobile phone at all (even if in a cradle, etc).  From 1 December 2016 P2 licence holders will also be forbidden to use any functions of a mobile phone at all whilst driving or stationary but not parked.

The rationale is to further increase road safety.  It’s a worthy goal, and one that’s pretty hard to quarrel with, but one can’t help but think sometimes we push things too far.  For example it’s hard to see how a phone, secured in a cradle, being used as a GPS is any more or less dangerous than a Navman or equivalent.  There are any number of (legal) distractions in a car, so perhaps we need to be focussing more on education rather than regulation.

Another change from November 2017 is that for each period of licence suspension a P2 licence holder will have to stay on their P2 licence for a further six months before they can move to an unrestricted licence.

Rightly or wrongly, it’s already very easy to lose your provisional licence, and these changes continue the trend.  Particularly in regional areas licences are often essential for young people both for social reasons and importantly employment.

Bearing in mind that a Local Court Magistrate has no ability to prevent demerit points being recorded if an offence is recorded, we predict a future rise in the number of young people choosing to contest offences, only to plead guilty before the Court and ask for no conviction to be recorded under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing and Procedure) Act.

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