L plates or Learner plates display a large single red letter ‘L’ on the front a rear of a vehicle to show other vehicles and pedestrians that a learner driver is in control of the vehicle.
This is especially important on the approach to junctions and roundabouts where excessive and unpredictable braking may occur.
L plate rules
L plate rules vary from penalty points to a simple piece of advice given by a police officer if stopped. This depends on the situation and the police officer involved. Below outlines the L plate rules that driver should follow.
Displaying L plates
Any driver in the UK that is in possession of a provisional driving licence and that does not have any other full drivers licence that allows them to drive unsupervised on UK public roads must by law display L plates on the front and rear of their vehicle. In Wales, ‘L’ or ‘D’ plates must be displayed. You are permitted to display more than one set of L plates if you feel this may enhance safety.
Not displaying L plates
It is important not only for safety reasons but for legal reasons to display L plates and to ensure they are securely fitted. Not displaying L plates is an offence and may result in the licence offence LC20 being displayed on your provisional drivers licence. This offence will also place 3 to 6 penalty points on your licence plus a £60 fine.
Removing L plates
As a qualified driver, you should remove L plates from the vehicle when you are not teaching a learner driver. Although this isn’t a legal requirement and no penalty points or fines can be issued, a solitary driver displaying L plates is likely to attract the attention of the police and you may find yourself being stopped.
The police will likely check your details and the vehicle details and advise you to remove the L plates when not teaching. The only persons permitted to drive whilst not teaching a learner driver and to display L plates are licensed driving instructors.
Where to put L plates
There are no laws or rules on where to put L plates. The Highway Code allows for a degree of common sense in this matter by simply stating that they ‘must be placed in a conspicuous position on the front and rear of the vehicle’. The word ‘must’ indicates that this is obligatory and not advisory. Failure to do so may result in offence LC20 – Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence; being similar to not displaying L plates at all.
L plates should be kept clean and made highly visible by placing one on the car body at the rear of the car in a similar horizontal location to the brake lights – which is often the most visible area that following vehicles can see. L plates at the front of the vehicle should be mounted onto the vehicles bonnet.
It is not advised to display L plates on the front and rear windscreen as this decreases visibility for the driver and instructing passenger. Placing the L plates on low bumpers may be difficult for other road user to see. Placing L plates on the front grill of a vehicle may reduce air-flow into the engine and if the plate becomes displaced, it could go into the engine compartment.
L plates and the driving test
If taking a driving test in a private vehicle with L plates (not an instructors car), L plates must be clean and clearly displayed. A driving test examiner can, if they feel they have sufficient reason to do so, refuse a driving test. Among other things, a lack of, poorly maintained or poorly placed L-plates may provide the examiner with a suitable reason.
L plate size
An L plate size must comply with UK regulations and should follow the dimensions on the diagram as detailed. L plates over time can become torn or bent. especially on motorbikes and it may seem logical to simply trim the edges to tidy it up. The L plate size would then not comply with UK regulation and if stopped by the police, may result in a fixed penalty of £60 along with 3 penalty points on your licence. If your L plates become defaced, faded or torn, purchase new ones to eliminate a possible penalty.
L plates falling off
As previously mentioned, a learner driving a vehicle without L plates is illegal and when they keep falling off, it’s not only a potential police issue, but a costly one. Buying the correct L plates for the surface they are to be placed on makes a difference.
Buying L plates
L plates tend to fall off in harsh wind or when you reach high speeds in your vehicle. There are generally 3 different types of L plates you can buy:
- Magnetic strips at the top and bottom
- Magnet covering the entire rear of the plate
- Sticky back L plates
The sticky back L plates are usually quite successful in not falling off although the glue used on these plates is not particularly strong so to not cause damage to the vehicles paint work. For this reason sticky plates can still fall off, plus some people don’t like to use them for fear of paint work damage.
This would then leave the magnetic L plates. Which type of magnetic L plate depends on where you are going to place them. If both front and rear plates are to be placed on totally flat surfaces, the plates that cover the entire rear of the plates are likely to be most successful. If however the plate is to be placed on a curved surface, the plates with a magnetic strip at the top and bottom are likely to be better.
Whichever plates you decide on, ensure the vehicles surface is clean of dirt, dust and grease before placing them on. This sounds obvious, but a lack of sufficient cleaning is often the reason for L plates falling off.
Advice and guides related to L plates
It is perfectly legal to print your own L plates and display them on your car if you wish to do so. Follow the page below to print out the correct legal sized L plates.