Getting your full licence - how it works
If you have a restricted licence, you can start getting ready for your full.
The main thing is to remember you’re still learning. Drive within your limits and ask for help or advice if you need it. If you have a close call, talk it through with an experienced driver so you’re confident you can do the right thing next time.
What you’re allowed to do
The law is very clear about what you can and can’t do on a restricted licence. If you break any of the conditions you could get demerit points and a fine. Here are the main points to help keep you safe and legal:
- You must have your restricted licence with you whenever you are driving
- You can drive on your own, but not between 10pm and 5am. During these times you must have a supervisor with you
- A supervisor must:
- sit in the front passenger seat
- have a full licence, which they've held for at least two years
- be in the car if you are carrying passengers
- The only passengers you can carry without a supervisor are:
- your spouse
- children who live with you under your care
- your parent or guardian
- relatives who live with you and who are beneficiaries
- someone you look after as their primary caregiver
- If you sat the restricted test in an automatic, you're only allowed to drive automatic vehicles, unless you have a supervisor with you
- Adhere to alcohol limits:
- If you are under 20 years of age, there is a zero alcohol limit. That means if you drive after drinking alcohol you can be charged with drink driving, which could result in losing your licence
- If you’re 20 or older, you must be within the adult alcohol limit
Apart from getting as much experience as you can and regularly reviewing the road code, it’s a good idea to drive with a practice supervisor from time to time so they can spot anything you could improve. You could also brush up with an occasional AA driving lesson.
If you took up our AA Ignition special offer (three free driving lessons), now’s a good time to book a defensive driving course. It’s a great investment in skills and safety, plus it will let you sit your full licence earlier (see below).
During the test you’ll be expected to name and respond appropriately to road hazards without any hints from the testing officer. Hazards include things like other vehicles, children playing on the footpath, pedestrians, animals not on a leash and cyclists.
Practise describing the hazards you see and your response, out loud. It is also a good idea to ask an experienced driver to help with this. Ask the person to sit in the front passenger seat and let you know about any hazards they saw but you didn’t mention out loud.
When you can sit
To sit this test, you must be at least 18 years old and have held your restricted licence for 18 months, or six months if you are aged 25 or more.
However, if you complete the AA Defensive Driving Course you can sit six months early at 17½ years old, or three months early if you are aged 25 or more.
Booking your restricted test
When you’re ready to book your full licence driving test, come and see us. Like your learner and restricted licence bookings, it’s not a phone or email thing. You just need to meet the age requirements and restricted licence period mentioned above.
Here’s what to do:
- Find suitable ID, such as your restricted licence or passport
- Find proof of your address, such as your bank statement
- Bring your ID and proof of address to your nearest AA Centre
- Pay $111.70 ($50.00 application fee + $61.70 test fee)
- Pass an eyesight check, we do them onsite
- Have your photo taken by us
- Book a time and place to do your in-car test
Not all AA Centres are suitable for full licence tests, so you may need to do your test at a different place. If so, we'll help you find one when you book or you can check the service details now for your local AA Centre.
Eyesight screening check
When anyone applies for a driver licence, renews one or adds an endorsement they have to show their eyesight is up to the required standard. To make this easy, our AA Centres have the equipment to give you a basic eyesight screening check, provided you have vision in both eyes. If you wear glasses or contact lenses when driving, you can wear them for the test and your licence will show you need them to drive.
Almost 97% of people pass the screening test. If you don’t pass, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem with your eyes. It just means you’ll have to get an eyesight certificate from your doctor or optometrist. If you need an eyesight certificate, and are an AA Member, you are entitled to one free eye examination at Specsavers every two years.
Read more about the eyesight screening check on the NZTA website.
Doing your test
The full licence practical test is done in your car and will take about 30 minutes. This includes time to check your car, do the test and give you feedback at the end.
Your car must have a current warrant of fitness, registration, and working brake and indicator lights. Remember to bring your restricted licence, because you’re not allowed to drive if you don’t have it with you.
During the test you’ll be expected to demonstrate safe driving in a wide range of situations. You’ll be asked to do a number of tasks and describe the hazards you see as you do each task (see getting ready above).
You’ll be marked on how well you do the task, plus how well the hazards you describe compare to those seen by the testing officer. All tasks will take place in busy built-up areas in a city, town or suburb.
The test will end and you will not pass, if you:
- Drive recklessly, dangerously or inconsiderately
- Are involved in a crash for which you are wholly or partly responsible
- Can’t carry out the testing officer’s instructions because you lack driving ability
- Drive faster than the speed limit
- Don’t obey give way rules or give way signs
- Don’t obey traffic signals or stop signs
At the end of your test the officer will tell you whether you’ve passed. They’ll also explain any errors you made, so you can continue learning.
If you don’t pass, the officer will give back your restricted licence, so you can continue practising. When you’re ready to re-sit, come and see us with photo ID to make a booking. You’ll need to pay another test fee of $61.70.
If you pass, we’ll be the first to say ‘good work!’. We’ll also give you a 21-day temporary full licence to use until your photo licence arrives in the mail. Congratulations! You can now drive at any time and with passengers in the car.
Learning to drive doesn’t stop with your full licence. You can keep adding to your skills, get other licences or even make driving your profession. See Driving beyond the tests.
While you’re driving on your restricted, it’s a good idea to continue regular sessions with your practice supervisor. This ensures you have support available before you start driving on your own in higher risk situations, such at night, in the wet, on dirt roads and in fast moving heavy traffic. Our free Going Solo guide will help you plan the transition to solo driving. Booking an AA Defensive Driving Course is a great investment in skills and safety, plus it will let you sit your full licence earlier. Finally, the occasional lesson with an AA driving instructor will identify any errors that might have crept in and let you know whether you’re ready to sit your full licence test.
If you have questions about driver licensing rules or restrictions, please call the NZTA Driver Licensing helpline on 0800 822 422.