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'N' For Novice

A new law has been passed which means that newly qualified drivers will have to display 'N' for 'Novice' plates on their cars for two years under new rules coming into force from next month. If caught driving unaccompanied or not displaying 'N' or 'L' plates from August 1st, novice drivers and those on learner permits can expect to be hit with a €60 fine.

Another point to take note of is that learners and novices will also be disqualified from driving for six months if they receive seven penalty points, instead of the normal 12 that applies to fully qualified drivers. The number of penalty points is also going to increase from two to three for speeding, not wearing a seatbelt and using a mobile phone while driving.

All of the announced changes can be found in the Road Traffic (No 2) Act 2013 and are designed to reduce the number of accidents on our roads.

Road safety bosses are increasingly concerned at the mounting death toll on our roads. Last year, the number of people who died on our roads rose for the first time since 2005. So far this year, 94 people have died. This is an increase of three people on the same period in 2013.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) says motorists are inexperienced until they have driven 100,000km in all weather and traffic conditions. This is the equivalent of driving around the Earth’s equator two and a half times.

However, to gain this experience, it takes an average of seven years of driving on the road.

Young Driver Car Insurance

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said the changes will help improve behaviour among inexperienced drivers.

"The new category of novice driver is an important road safety measure, which has been applied successfully in several other jurisdictions, including Northern Ireland," Mr Varadkar said.

"It's a proven and effective way to improve driver behaviour among newly qualified motorists."

The following are the main points to the changes that will be happening on August 1st:

  • People who pass their test on or after August 1st will be required to display an N plate.
  • Novice drivers will also have a restricted number of penalty points they can accumulate in a three-year period before being put off the road – a total of seven rather than 12.
  • Failure to display an 'N' plate or 'L' plate will carry two penalty points on payment of a fixed charge of €60, or four on conviction.
  • There will be an increase in penalty points from two to three for speeding, failure to wear a seatbelt and use of a mobile phone while driving.
  • Learner drivers will also be hit with fines if they are caught driving unaccompanied by a fully qualified driver.

The rule will only apply to motorists who acquire their first full licence after August 1st. It will not apply to drivers who recently passed their full drivers licence test, or to individuals holding a full licence for one category of vehicle but are seeking a permit for another.

There were six fatalities on Irish roads last weekend, including four in one single crash in the midlands. It is hoped that these new laws will help prevent something like this happening.

With the announcement of these laws there comes the question of how car insurance rates and premiums will be affected. At the moment, no insurer has indicated any changes/or new rates based on the new ‘N’ plate law. With regard to the increase to penalty points, the car insurance companies will be looking at these in the same light as before, i.e. the more points you have the higher your car insurance premium will be.

If you are sitting your full drivers licence test before the start of the new laws, get in contact with us for the best deals on your car insurance. We are the young driver car insurance specialists and can take all the hard work out of car insurance for you. Even if you are sitting your full drivers licence test after the 1st of August, our team are specially trained to help you get the most out of your insurance for the lowest cost. Call them today on 012319310 or fill out our quick quote form online for the best car insurance rates.