What is the Purpose of Your Driving Test?

The driving test is designed to establish whether you:

  • know the Rules of the Road;
  • have the knowledge and skill to drive competently in accordance with those rules;
  • drive with due regard for the safety and convenience of other road users.

Preparing for Your Driving Test

You should:
  • study carefully the Rules of the Road booklet;
  • seek the assistance of a good driving instructor;
  • practise driving as much as possible on all types of road and in all types of traffic situations, including driving at night;
  • build up your driving experience and confidence before applying for your test.

  • unnecessarily obstructing traffic or causing annoyance to other road users;
  • practising on driving test routes for the most part; congestion on these routes causes inconvenience to residents and test applicants alike.
  • Special Circumstances

You should notify the Driver Testing Section in advance if you:
  • have a severe hearing problem;
  • are restricted in your movements or have any disability which could affect your driving;
  • drive an adapted vehicle.
  • This will eliminate delay on the day of your test.

If you cannot speak English or are deaf, you are permitted to have an interpreter with you. This person must not be your driving instructor, and may not accompany you on the practical test.

Your Appointment:

Appointments for driving tests are arranged in the order in which applicationsare received. It is the Department's aim to have a national average waiting time for a driving test of 10 weeks. Our ability to meet this target depends on the number of applications received. Accordingly, the average waiting time in certain driving test centres may vary above or below this 10 week figure. Current waiting times for each centre is available on the website www.drivingtest.ie.
You will normally be given an appointment notice four to five weeks in advance of your test. This will indicate the time, date and venue for the test together with conditions which must be met. Please read this notice carefully as it may help avoid problems on the day of the test.
It will also set out the arrangements for cancelling your appointment should this prove necessary.

Day of the Test

You should be present in the test centre before the appointed time of your test. If you are late, the test cannot be conducted and the fee will be forfeited.

The driver tester will check your provisional licence to establish that it:

  • relates to you;
  • is current;
  • is for the correct category of vehicle.
  • You will be asked to read and sign a statement confirming that:
  • the vehicle insurance cover is in place and is adequate.
  • your vehicle is in roadworthy condition - further information in relation to vehicle roadworthiness will be provided with your appointment letter.

The Test

The driving test is straightforward. For cars it will last about 40 minutes and will include:

  • questions on the Rules of the Road (including identifying road signs); demonstrating hand signals;
  • reversing round a corner;
  • a turnabout in the road;
  • a hill start;
  • driving approximately five miles under a variety of road and traffic conditions.

Your driving will be assessed in the following situations:

  • moving off;
  • driving in traffic;
  • stopping;
  • reversing round a corner;
  • turning about to face in the opposite direction;
  • starting on a hill;
  • parking.

Aspects of your driving assessed will include:

  • road positioning;
  • overtaking and passing;
  • anticipation and observation;
  • use of mirrors and signals;
  • progress;
  • speed;
  • compliance with traffic lights, road signs and markings;
  • use of the vehicle controls (accelerator, clutch, gears, brakes and steering).
  • use of secondary controls such as wipers, demisters, etc.

Recent enhancements to the test mean that you should ensure that:

  • you know how to operate the secondary controls, such as windscreen wipers and washers, demisters, rear window heater, lights and air-conditioning where fitted. You must also know how to adjust the seat, seat-belt and mirrors and ensure the doors are closed;
  • in the case of a motorcycle test, you must be able to remove the machine from its stand. You must also know how to adjust the helmet;
  • in the case of a vehicle and trailer, you must know how to uncouple and recouple the trailer from/to the drawing vehicle;
  • in the case of a heavy vehicle test, you must know how to check the power-assisted braking and steering systems, and how to use any retarder or exhaust brake as fitted to the vehicle;
  • In the case of a bus test, you must also know how to operate the fuel shut-off valve, the main power switch, and how to manually open and close any powered doors as fitted to the vehicle.
  • Passengers other than the driver tester and/or Department officers are not permitted to accompany you in the vehicle during the practical test. The tester may be accompanied on test for training/supervisory purposes. While the accompanying officer may take notes, s/he has no input into the conduct or outcome of the test.

Useful information to help you:

  • the driver tester will realise that you may be nervous and will try to put you at ease;
  • unlike your instructor, the driver tester will not offer you encouragement or advice. You should not be put off by this formal approach which is designed to ensure fairness to all applicants;
  • while you will be given clear directions throughout the test, should you not understand a particular direction, ask the tester to repeat or clarify it;
  • if you make a mistake, do not worry unduly. It may not be as serious as it appears and may not mean you have failed;
  • a supervisory tester may accompany the tester - this is quite normal.

Common Faults Contributing to Test Failure:

The following are the most common faults which give rise to candidates failing the driving test:

  • inadequate observation moving off, at junctions, at roundabouts and when changing lanes;
  • failure to anticipate the actions of other drivers;
  • incorrect road position on the straight, on bends, turning left, turning right, at roundabouts, and when overtaking.
  • inadequate progress at junctions, roundabouts, on the straight, and when overtaking;
  • incorrect or inadequate use of mirrors and signals;
  • non-compliance with traffic controls, e.g. road signs and markings and traffic lights;
  • incorrect inadequate or inappropriate use of vehicle controls, including gears, clutch; accelerator, steering, handbrake, footbrake, and secondary controls;
  • excessive speed for the road or traffic conditions;
  • failure to yield the right of way to others;
  • lack of competence in the reverse and turnabout manoeuvres.

If you pass:

  • You will receive a certificate of competency to drive. This enables you to apply to your local Motor Taxation Office for a full driving licence. The certificate is valid for two years. You should take out a full licence within that period or you will be obliged to pass the driving test again in order to obtain a full licence.
  • Remember, passing the driving test is not the end of the learning process; so continue to drive carefully and build up your experience in different traffic, weather, lighting and road conditions.

If you fail:

  • You will receive a detailed report on the faults which occurred during the test. Pay particular attention to these when preparing for your next test without, of course, neglecting other aspects of your driving.
  • A person aggrieved by a decision of a driving test may appeal to the appropriate District Court under Section 33 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961. The District Court may either refuse the appeal or if satisfied that the test was not properly conducted, direct that the applicant be given a further test without payment of another fee.

Requirements/limitations on your driving with a provisional licence:


You are required to be accompanied by a person holding a full driving licence for the category of vehicle being driven. The only exceptions to this are when:

  • driving a car on the basis of a second provisional licence;
  • driving a work vehicle, e.g. agricultural tractor;
  • riding a motorcycle;
  • you hold a current certificate of competency to drive for the category of vehicle being driven.
  • You may not act as an accompanying driver, i.e. holder of a full licence, for a person driving with a provisional licence. It is not sufficient to have a certificate of competency to drive.

"L" Plates:
Your vehicle (unless it is a work vehicle or motorcycle) must display an "L" plate front and rear. The plate should be a red "L" on a white background.

You may not drive on a motorway on the basis of a provisional licence even if you possess a certificate of competency.

If you are provisionally licensed to drive vehicles of categories B, C1, C, D1 or D you may not drive any such vehicle when drawing a trailer.

Carrying a Passenger:
you may not carry for reward any passenger; if a motorcyclist, you may not carry a pillion passenger; if driving a category "W" vehicle (e.g. work vehicle and land tractor), you may not carry a passenger, unless the vehicle is constructed to carry a passenger and the passenger holds a full driving licence for category W.

Further Provisional Licence:
Eligibility for a third or subsequent Provisional Licence for any category of vehicle is dependent on you having undergone a driving test within the previous two years or providing medical evidence for not having undertaken it or providing evidence of a forthcoming driving test appointment in respect of the vehicle category in question. In the case of the latter, when applying for a driving test, applicants should submit a written request from their local Motor Taxation Office indicating the need for an early driving test appointment. If you have any doubt about your eligibility for a Provisional Licence you should enquire immediately with your local Motor Taxation Office. The telephone numbers of Motor Taxation Offices can be located under the "Local Authorities" heading of the Telephone Directory"

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This is intended as a guide only and is not an interpretation of the law.