DRIVING is a major aspect in many teenagers lives as it marks the beginning of them getting some freedom.
Most teens cannot wait to learn to drive but how old do you have to be before you can pass your driving test.
How old do you have to be to drive in Britain?
You can apply for a provisional licence from the age of 15 years and nine months.
But you have to wait until you turn 16 before riding a moped or light quad bike and 17 before driving a car on a public road in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
You also have to wait until 17 years old before booking a theory test and practical driving test for cars.
When you have a provisional licence and meet the minimum age you can drive with L-plates on all roads except motorways.
Since 2018, learners have been able to have lessons on motorways but they must be in a dual control car.
Learners driving on non-motorway routes must be supervised by an instructor or another qualified driver (eg a family member or friend), who must be at least 21 and have held a full licence for at least three years.
You must also have insurance cover if practising in your own car or with a family member or friend.
Disabled teens can start driving at 16 if they receive or have applied for the enhanced rate of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
When can you get a full driving licence?
Learners have to pass a theory test on their knowledge of the Highway Code before booking a practical driving test.
Then an examiner will put the rookie through a series of manoeuvres such as reversing into a parking bay and ask the learner to negotiate traffic independently.
If they pass, they are allowed to drive on their own even before the full licence arrives in the post.
From December 2016, the driving tests changed to make it more "realistic" in the biggest shake-up since the theory test was introduced in 1996.
Reversing round corners was axed in favour of reversing out of a parking bay.
Learners are also asked to follow directions from a satnav rather than road signs, although now you cannot use a touchscreen while driving.
Even before passing your test, you can receive points on your license.
Learners can accumulate up to 11 penalty points and still take their driving test.
These are carried over and if you get more than 12 points within the first three years of passing the test, the license will be revoked.
If you fail your test, you may have to wait a while as tests are backed up due to the pandemic, although the DVSA is hoping changes will improve that.
With long waits for retakes too, make sure you are totally prepared for your test.
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How old do you have to be to hire a car in the UK?
Rental firms have their own rules on minimum age and experience.
Most companies will not hire a car or van to anyone under the age of 21, and drivers usually also need to have held a full licence for at least one year.
A learner can also carry passengers in the car as long as one is over 21 and has been driving for at least three years.
Higher fees apply to drivers aged under 25 as they are seen as more risky.
Some insurers will not provide a policy for those under 25, so be certain you are insured to prevent fines and points.
For instance, Sixt charges a young driver surcharge of £36 a day.
Zipcar lets people join at 19 if joining with an affiliated business or university, but they must have held a full licence for two years with no convictions or accidents.
Can you be too old to drive in the UK?
If you’re over 70 and want to keep on driving you have to renew your driving licence but you do not have to re-take your test.
Your licence expires at 70 and you have to renew it every three years after that to stay on the road.
Sometimes insurers will not pay out for drivers over 75-years-old.
If your licence expires and you don't apply for a new one, you won't legally be allowed to drive.
The DVLA will send you a D46P application form 90 days before your 70th birthday.
To renew, fill in the form and return it to the DVLA with your current driving licence photocard.
You may also need to include a new passport-type photo – the form will tell you if you need to do this. If you apply by post it can take up to three weeks.
You can also renew your licence using the GOV.UK website which will give a step-by-step guide.
If the DVLA doesn’t send you an application form call them on 0300 790 6801.
You can drive while your licence is being renewed as long as your license has not been revoked for medical reasons – or that you have been disqualified.
If you've developed a medical condition or disability that could affect your driving, you must tell the DVLA.
Conditions could include dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, any chronic neurological condition and any condition that affects both eyes.
Unfortunately, the DVLA can tell you to stop driving, if you’re not fit to drive.
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