How P-plate restrictions are different around Australia

Nothing beats getting your licence for the first time.

As the crisp red P-plates are handed over, excitement and freedom course through you at the thought of driving and travelling whenever and wherever you’d like.

But while the experience is unforgettable, it comes with more rules and regulations than a fully licensed driver.

Here are six driving behaviours that are illegal for provisional drivers.

Note: Provisional encompasses both P1 (red-plates) and P2 (green-plates) across Australia.

Zero blood alcohol content

Just because you’re off your learners permit, doesn’t meaning you’re a fully licensed driver.

To every fully licensed driver and the police, provisional drivers are still learners, independently honing their driving skills.

Because of this, inhibitions like alcohol and drugs are strictly prohibited while you’re a provisional driver.

Such substances will hinder your ability to focus on the road and perform with the vehicle.

If you are pulled over with BAC of anything above 0.0 you will be charged with a drink-driving offence and your licence is at risk depending on where you’re licensed – the suspension timeframe is different per Australian state.

Note: The following information is for first offences, of the lowest BAC range only. Check your state government website for penalties for greater offences.

State Fine Prison Disqualification Interlock Other
NSW $603 (penalty notice fine)

$2200 (court-imposed fine)

No imprisonment 3 months (minimum, immediate suspension) No interlock N/A
Victoria Penalty notice fine (undisclosed amount) No imprisonment 3 months
6 months
Zero BAC requirement for three years

Must complete a Drink Driver Behaviour Change Program

Queensland $2012 (maximum) 3 months (maximum) 3 – 9 months No interlock N/A
ACT 5 penalty points
(1 penalty unit = $160)
No imprisonment 1 month (minimum)
3 months (default)
No interlock N/A
NT 5 penalty points (court-ordered) 3 months (maximum) 3 months (mandatory) No interlock N/A
WA $200 – $750
(deemed by court)
No imprisonment N/A No interlock N/A
SA $824 expiation fee (on-the-spot). or $1100 No imprisonment 3 months (minimum)

(If on-the-spot fine is paid, no disqualification applies)

No interlock N/A
Tasmania 2 – 10 penalty units 3 months (minimum) 3 – 12 months No interlock N/A

Different speed limits

Even if you’re a fully licensed driver, speeding is against the law. But there are different speed limits for different licence categories, and you need to be across them.

In Australia, each state has their own rules regarding speed limits for provisional drivers:

State P1 limit P2 limit
New South Wales 90km/h 100km/h
Victoria Posted limit Posted limit
Queensland Posted limit Posted limit
Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Posted limit Posted limit
Northern Territory 100km/h 100km/h
Western Australia Posted limit Posted limit
South Australia 100km/h 100km/h
Tasmania 90km/h in 100 zone, 100km/h in 110 zone Same as P1

Check out our article on speed limits for provisional drivers for more information.

Phone restrictions

While you might be confident in your driving and multi-tasking skills and think a hands-free mobile device won’t distract you, chances are it will.

In most states, it’s illegal for both P1 (red-plate) and P2 (green-plate) drivers to use their mobile phones while driving or as hands-free device.

This includes playing music and taking calls using Bluetooth or Apple CarPlay.

State Mobile Restriction
New South Wales No phone usage
Queensland P1: No phone usage
P2: Hands-free only
Victoria No phone usage
South Australia P1: No phone usage
P2: Same as full licence
Australian Capital Territory (ACT) No phone usage
Northern Territory No phone usage
Tasmania P1: No phone usage
P2: Same as full licence
Western Australia Make, receive, or end calls and in a cradle mounted to the car

For those living in New South Wales, Victoria, ACT, and the Northern Territory, if you are caught physically using your phone or have it connected your vehicle you will be fined.

You will also be fined if a mobile-phone detection camera catches you using your device while driving – so save yourself the offence and pack it away.

Passenger restrictions, and curfews

In some states, you’re not allowed to carry a full carload of people until you’re close to having your full licence.

Several states have rules and regulations regarding a provisional driver’s ability to carry passengers after certain times of the day.

State Restrictions
New South Wales P1 drivers (under 25) can’t carry more than one non-family passenger under 21, between 11pm and 5am
Victoria P1 drivers can’t carry more than one non-family passenger aged 16 to 22
Queensland P1 drivers (under 25) can’t carry more than one non-family passenger under 21, between 11pm and 5am
Australian Capital Territory (ACT) P1 and P2 drivers can’t drive with more than one non-family passenger aged 16 to 22, between 11pm and 5am (excluding for work)
Western Australia Can’t drive between midnight and 5am for the first six months of your provisional licence (excluding study or work purposes)
South Australia P1 drivers can’t drive between midnight and 5am
Tasmania P1 drivers (under 25) can’t carry more than one non-family passenger aged 16 to 21 (excluding work purposes)
Northern Territory No restrictions

There are exemptions to these rules. Our best advice is to check with your state government website if these exemptions apply for you:

  • Your employment requires to travel passengers between 11pm and 5am
  • You can prove that you need to drive a family member/members between the designated hours
  • You’re committed to community service that requires you to transport passengers between those hours

High performance vehicles

High-performance vehicles are prohibited for provisional drivers in several Australian states.

Provisional drivers in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and South Australia must drive provision-approved vehicles. The remaining states can drive any type of car, including high-performance vehicles.

If you live in one of the following states, check if you can apply for an exemption to this restriction:

New South Wales:

All visional drivers are banned from driving any kind of high-performance vehicle, no matter the circumstance.

Before purchasing, check that your preferred vehicle has a tow to tare mass ratio of less than 130kW per tonne on the NSW Transport website. Additionally, modified vehicles must be approved by an engineer before they’re driven.

South Australia:

In South Australia, high powered vehicles cannot be driven by provisional licence holders under the age of 25. This restriction does not apply to those older than 25, have an exemption certificate or hold a full licence under 25.

If you are caught driving a high-performance vehicle without an exemption or full licence, you will pay an expiation fine or incur demerit points. Visit the South Australian government site to apply for an exemption and more information.


P1 and P2 licence holders cannot drive a high performance vehicle in Victoria unless one of the following exemptions applies to them:

  • They are a member of the police force and driving on duty,
  • Driving a vehicle for work, as requested by their employer,
  • Driving for their business, or to and from the work place of that business – there must be an active ABN,
  • Learning to drive a heavy vehicle with a fully licensed driver sitting next to you,
  • Received a granted exemption from this restriction by VicRoads.

The Victorian government considers high-performance cars, prohibited vehicles: a vehicle with a power to mass ratio greater than 130kW per tonne or a modified engine to increase performance.

You can find out more by viewing their probationary vehicle database.


Provisional drivers can drive high-powered vehicles if they hold a P1 or P2 licence with an automatic licence condition, and are learning to drive with manual transmission, with a qualified supervisor.

In order to drive a high-performance vehicle, you need to apply for an exemption and prove that one of the following circumstances applies to you.

You must travel in a high-performance vehicle:

  • To or from your place of employment
  • As part of your employment
  • To or from your education institution
  • To get medical treatment for yourself or a family member
  • If there is no other appropriate form of transportation around you
  • Refusal to issue a certificate of exemption will result in severe hardship to you or your family.

If you are approved for a certificate of exemption, you must carry it every time you drive a high-performance vehicle.

For more information or to view Queensland’s database of high-performance vehicles, click here.

Towing restrictions

In some states, towing restrictions apply to provisional drivers.

State Towing restriction
NSW P1 licence drivers can tow up to 250kg
Queensland No towing restrictions
Victoria P1 drivers are not permitted to tow. Standard laws apply to P2 licence drivers
WA Must display p-plates on both the towing vehicle and trailer
SA No towing restrictions
ACT Provisional drivers cannot tow more than 750kg and must use a trailer
NT No towing restrictions
Tasmania No towing restrictions

Learner drivers are not allowed to tow any kind of trailer – so count yourself lucky.

MORE: Is it illegal to change the colour of your car?

Source link