As a driving instructor, I am asked all manner of questions by my students on aspects of the Traffic Act, otherwise known as Traffic Regulation 1962.One of the favourite questions is
How long must I hold a Learner’s License, and can I get an exemption from having to maintain a logbook during that period?
There seem to be quite a few myths around regarding exemptions from the need to sustain the minimum period for a Learner’s License, and just how one goes about obtaining an exemption from both the time period, and the need to maintain a logbook of driving hours. Let’s take a look at the Act:
Section 106 of the Act states:
Restrictions on issue of driver’s licences
(1) This section and sections 107, 108 and 109 shall apply so that no provision of the sections shall authorise or be deemed to authorise the issue of a driver’s licence to any person at any time when that person is disqualified by the Act or by an order made under the Act or under any other Act or law or law of any other State or Territory or any other country from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence.
(2) A superintendent must not issue a provisional or open licence to a person who has not turned 17 years.
(2A) The chief executive or Commissioner may issue a driver’s licence to a person who has not turned 17 years if the chief executive or Commissioner is satisfied that, if the driver’s licence were not issued—
(a) the person would suffer severe hardship; or
(b) the person’s family would suffer severe hardship because the person has undertaken a role of special responsibility in relation to the person’s family.
(4) A driver’s licence shall not be issued to any person—
(a) who in the opinion of the superintendent—
(i) has failed to pass any test prescribed in section 107; or
(ii) has any mental or physical disability likely to affect that person’s ability to drive safely; or
(b) who is otherwise disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence; or
(c) who is not a permanent resident of Queensland; or
(d) who has not been the holder of a learner’s permit for the time period prescribed in section 108; or
(e) who holds a driver’s licence issued under the law of another State or Territory unless the person, when making the application for the driver’s licence, delivers to the superintendent
(i) the driver’s licence issued under that other law; and
(ii) a written request for cancellation of that driver’s licence addressed to the person or body that issued it.
(5) Nothing in this section shall limit or otherwise affect any liability, obligation or requirement for any person to be the holder of a valid certificate issued under any other Act or law.
(6) The requirements of subsection (4) also apply to the renewal of a driver’s licence.
Subsequent Section 107 states:
Testing applicant’s fitness to hold driver’s licence
(1) On receiving an application for the issue or renewal of a provisional or open licence, a superintendent may cause the applicant to be tested as to the applicant’s ability to drive a motor vehicle of the class for which that licence is required by the applicant.
(2) Such tests shall include the following—
(a) sight and hearing tests;
(b) tests in knowledge of traffic law;
(c) practical driving tests which shall be carried out upon the particular class of vehicle in respect of which the applicant has applied for a driver’s licence and shall, if practicable, include amongst other things—
(i) the driving of the motor vehicle in a forward and reverse direction;
(ii) the driving of the motor vehicle into or through a restricted space in a forward and reverse direction;
(iii) the stopping of the motor vehicle (with the engine running and the gears disengaged) during the ascent of a steep hill and the re-starting of the motor vehicle in a forward direction;
(iv) the stopping of the motor vehicle in a reasonable distance by the application of the foot and hand brakes and each of them separately; and, if necessary, the driving of the motor vehicle while such vehicle is carrying loading as directed by the superintendent.
The key section 108 states:
Eligibility conditional on period of holding learner’s permit
(1) A provisional or open licence must not be issued to a person who has not held a learner’s permit for at least 6 months during the period of 2 years before applying for the licence.
(2) The 6 month period may be 1 continuous period or calculated over more than 1 period during which the person held a learner’s permit.
(3) Subsection (1) does not apply to an applicant—
(a) who produces satisfactory evidence that the applicant previously held a driver’s licence—
(i) if the application is for a motorcycle licence—for a motorcycle; and
(ii) if the application is for another class of driver’s licence—for a motor car; or
(b) who has been granted an exemption by a superintendent under section 108AA; or
(c) who is issued a driver’s licence under section 106(2A).
˙Exemption from condition of learner’s permit period
(1) A superintendent may exempt from section 108(1) any applicant who the superintendent considers has a special need for a driver’s licence on the grounds—
(a) that the applicant is required to drive a motor vehicle—
(i) to or from the applicant’s place of employment; or
(ii) in the course of the applicant’s employment; or
(iii) to or from an educational institution that the applicant attends; or
(iv) for the purpose of obtaining medical treatment for the applicant or a member of the applicant’s family; and
(b) there is no other means of transport reasonably available to the applicant.
(2) An applicant may lodge a request for the exemption with a superintendent in the approved form.
(3) The application must be supported by a signed statement from—
(a) if the application is made on a ground mentioned in subsection (1)(a)(i) or (ii)—the applicant’s employer; or
(b) if the application is made on a ground mentioned in subsection (1)(a)(iii)—the principal, registrar or other person in charge of the educational institution; or
(c) if the application is made on a ground mentioned in subsection (1)(a)(iv)—a medical practitioner.
(4) In deciding whether the applicant should be granted the exemption, a superintendent must have regard to—
(a) in relation to a reason for travel mentioned in subsection (1)(a)—
(i) the time of day at which the person must travel; and
(ii) how often the person must travel; and
(iii) the distance to be travelled; and
(b) the hardship to the person if the driver’s licence is not issued; and
(c) the driving history of the applicant.
Now, having trawled through all that legalese, it seems plain to me that anyone between the ages of 16 years and 23 years may apply for, and subject to medical and mental fitness, as well as the qualification of correctly answering the written, online examination, be granted a Learner’s License for a period not exceeding five (5) years. During that period, that person must continue to hold and presumably utilise that Learner’s License in the process of becoming a proficient and safe driver, without contravening the road rules and incurring the associated penalties, for a minimum period of 6 contiguous months over a minimum two (2) year period. The maintaining of a logbook recording a minimum of 100 hours of supervised driving is subject to separate concession at the behest of the Superintendent of Traffic, who is also the Queensland Police Commissioner.
Application for exemption from the necessity to maintain the 100 hour logbook can be found here. For any further clarification, holders of a Queensland Learner’s License should contact the Department of Transport and Main Roads.