You’ve passed your driving test – congratulations! All those lessons and hard work paid off! Once the initial excitement wears off, you might find yourself thinking “now what?”
Here’s what you will need to consider before getting back behind the wheel as a qualified driver:
Your Driving Licence
When you passed your test, your examiner will have taken your provisional driving licence photocard and sent it to the DVSA, where it will be updated to a full driving licence. This should arrive in the post within 3 weeks, but don’t worry, you do not need to wait for it to come before you can drive.
If you needed to change the address or photo on your licence, the examiner will have given your provisional driving licence photocard back to you so you could send it off yourself to be updated with this new information. If this is the case, it’s important to remember to exchange your provisional driving licence photocard for a full driving licence photocard within two years of passing your test, otherwise you’ll have to take your test again!
Finding a Car
If you aren’t lucky enough to already have a car waiting for you, you will probably want to consider buying one. When purchasing your first car, it is a good idea to choose one that will help keep costs down. Smaller cars are good options for new drivers because they are typically cheaper to tax and insure and are more economic on fuel.
Now that you’ve passed your test, any learner driver insurance you previously had will no longer cover you to drive as a qualified driver. You must contact your insurance company to arrange new cover, or find another insurance company to take out a policy with before you drive again. There are insurance companies out there who have special policies for new drivers to help keep costs down.
An MOT (Ministry of Transport) test is an annual requirement for most vehicles over three years old to check for vehicle safety, roadworthiness, and exhaust emissions. Since this only needs to be done once a year, if you are buying a car or are have use of a car that belongs to someone else, it may already have a valid MOT certificate, but it is best to check when this runs out as you will need to have it tested before again before then.
Just like car insurance, vehicle tax is a legal requirement. The quickest and easiest way to tax your car is online at gov.uk. The car you wish to tax will need to be insured and have a valid MOT certificate, but this will be checked by gov.uk online so you do not need these documents with you. You can also tax your car by phoning the DVLA vehicle tax service or by visiting your local Post Office. You may be required to take some documents with you if you tax your car at a Post Office. Visit gov.uk/vehicle-tax for further information.
Your First Drive
Although it is exciting, it can also feel a little daunting heading out for your first solo drive after passing your test. Consider replacing your L-plates with P-plates to let other drivers know you are new on the roads. Drive a route that you are familiar with and avoid distractions such as your phone and loud music. Although it will be tempting to take your friends for a drive straight away, wait until you feel confident and comfortable as they might reduce your concentration.
Penalty points can be given for all sorts of driving-related offences, such as speeding or driving dangerously. It’s important to remember that if you get six or more penalty points on your licence within two years of passing your practical test, you’ll lose your licence and you’ll have to reapply for your provisional licence. You’ll be a learner driver again and you’ll have to retake your theory and practical tests – undoing all your hard work!