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03rd April 2023

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Understanding Different Types of Driver's Licenses: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding Different Types of Driver's Licences: A Comprehensive Guide

A driving licence is an official document that certifies an individual's ability to operate a motor vehicle on public roads (1). It is an essential legal requirement that ensures road safety and compliance with traffic regulations. Without a valid driving licence, an individual is not authorised to drive on the roads, and if caught, may face legal consequences.

In India, there are various types of driver's licences issued by the government, depending on the type of vehicle and purpose of use. The most common types of licences include (2):

  1. Learner's licence - This is a licence type that is issued to individuals who are learning to drive a vehicle. It is valid for six months and can be renewed for another six months.

  1. Permanent Driving licence - This licence is the licence which licence is required for car drivers and those who have completed their learner's licence period and passed the driving test. It is valid for 20 years from the date of issuance. 

  1. Commercial Driving Licence - This licence is issued to individuals who intend to drive commercial vehicles such as buses, taxis, and trucks. It is mandatory to have this licence to drive any commercial vehicle on public roads.

  1. International Driving Licence - This licence is issued to Indian citizens who wish to drive in foreign countries. It is valid for one year and can be renewed.

In addition to these, there are also specialised driving licence categories for specific purposes, such as transport vehicles, hazardous materials, and heavy vehicles. Obtaining a valid driving licence is important for every individual who intends to drive on public roads in India to avoid legal consequences and ensure road safety. Let us explore in deep about types of licences in India.

Learner's Licence 

A learner's licence is a temporary type of driving licence issued by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) that permits an individual to learn to drive a motor vehicle on public roads, subject to certain restrictions and conditions.

Eligibility criteria for learner’s license: 

  1. The applicant must be at least 16 years of age for a two-wheeler with an engine capacity of up to 50 ccs, and 18 years of age for other vehicles.

  2. The applicant must have a valid proof of age and address, such as a passport, PAN card, or Aadhaar card. The applicant must be  citizen for India.

  3. The applicant must pass a written test conducted by the RTO on traffic rules, road signs, and driving regulations.

  4. In order to drive a vehicle, the candidate must be in good physical and mental health.

Also Read: Number plates rule in India

Application Process For Learner Licence

  1. To apply for a Learner's licence, you can start by searching online for the website of your state's transport department or the RTO website

  2. Check if the website allows you to apply for a Learner's licence online. If it does, carefully follow the instructions provided, which may require you to enter personal information such as the name of your father, address proof, Aadhaar card number, district, and postal code. You may also need to upload scanned copies of your age and address proof documents before submitting the application form.

  3. Several state RTOs might let you choose when to take the learner's licence exam and pay online; alternatively, you might get a receipt in the mail that you have to show at the test location.

  4. Additionally, some websites may allow you to download the application form, which you will need to bring with you to the RTO when you go for the test. Remember to also bring the original copies of any required documents when you go to the RTO for the test.

  5. Finally, be present at the RTO or Learner's licence test facility at the designated time slot you have chosen to take the test.

A learner's licence in India is valid for six months from the date of issuance. It can be renewed for another six months if necessary.

While holding a learner's licence, an individual must follow the following restrictions:

  1. The learner's licence holder must always be accompanied by a person who holds a valid driving licence and has at least three years of driving experience.

  2. The learner's licence holder is not allowed to drive alone or carry passengers.

  3. The learner's licence holder must display the 'L' sign on the vehicle to indicate that they are a learner driver.

  4. The learner's licence holder is not allowed to drive on highways or expressways. They are also not allowed to drive at night.

  5. Prohibited from driving vehicles that are not under the licence’s agreement.

Permanent Driving Licence

A permanent driving license is a legal document issued by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) that attests to an individual's competence to operate a motor vehicle on public roads. It is valid for a specified period, subject to renewal, and is required to operate a motor vehicle on public roads in India.

Eligibility Criteria For Permanent Driving License:

  1. The applicant must hold a valid learner's license for at least 30 days from the date of issuance.

  2. The applicant must have completed a driving training course from a recognized driving school, or have adequate driving experience.

  3. Provide the required paperwork, such as identification, residence, and age verification, along with passport-sized photos.

  4. Meet the licensing authority's requirements for medical fitness.

  5. Pay off all unpaid penalties and traffic infractions.

  6. The applicant must pass a driving test conducted by the RTO on a vehicle of the same class for which the license is sought.

  7. The applicant must be at least 18 years of age for a private vehicle and 20 years of age for a commercial vehicle.

To apply for permanent driving license in India, an individual must follow these steps:

  1. Obtain a permanent driving license application form from the RTO or download it from the website of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).

  2. Fill in the application form with the necessary details, including personal information, educational qualifications, driving experience, and the type of vehicle for which the license is sought. Always having original proof of the documents and collecting them before hand is necessary. 

  3. Submit the application form along with the required documents, such as proof of age and address, learner's license, driving training certificate, and the prescribed fee at the nearest RTO.

  4. Schedule a driving test date and time, and appear for the test at the designated RTO. Attend the planned driving test, showcase your driving competence, and display your understanding of traffic laws.

  5.  Observe traffic laws and display responsible driving skills to pass the driving test.

  6. If the applicant passes the test, the permanent driving license will be issued on the same day or within a few days.

The validity of private driving license will be valid for 20 years from the day you got it, or until you turn 40, whichever happens first. Once you turn 40, your driving license will be given to you for 10 years. After that, it will be renewed every 5 years.

To renew a permanent driving license in India, an individual must follow these steps:

  1. Visit the nearest RTO and fill in the renewal application form.

  2. Submit the form along with the required documents, such as proof of age and address, original driving license, and the prescribed fee.

  3. Appear for a driving test if required by the RTO.

  4. If the renewal application is approved, the renewed permanent driving license will be issued on the same day or within a few days.

Commercial Driving Licence

A commercial driving license (CDL) is a legal document issued by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) that allows an individual to drive commercial vehicles for hire or reward, such as buses, trucks, and taxis, on public roads.

Eligibility criteria for commercial driving license:

  1. The applicant must hold a valid learner's license for at least 30 days from the date of issuance.

  2. The applicant must be at least 18 years of age.

  3. The applicant must have completed a driving training course from a recognised driving school, or have adequate driving experience.

  4. The applicant must pass a driving test conducted by the RTO on a vehicle of the same class for which the license is sought.

  5. The applicant must have a minimum educational qualification of the 8th standard for certain categories of vehicles.

  6. Depending on the kind of commercial vehicle, additional documentation can be required. Further testing and certification can be required for transporting individuals from challenging terrain or carrying hazardous cargo.

A commercial driving license covers the following categories of vehicles:

  1. Goods vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of more than 7,500 kg. They are also called Heavy Good vehicles ((HGV).

  2. Passenger vehicles with a seating capacity of more than 8 persons, including the driver. These are also called Heavy Passenger Vehicles (HPV. usually buses, big coaches, army vehicles and manyu more. 

  3. Transport vehicles carrying hazardous goods.

  4. Tractors with trailers.

The validity of a commercial driving license in India is for three years from the date of issuance, subject to renewal.

Application process for commercial driving license: 

  1. To apply for a commercial driving license, you will need to log in to the portal of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. 

  2. Once logged in, download form no. 4 for a commercial driving license. 

  3. Fill in the form with your personal details and upload it along with necessary documents like identity and address proof (such as passport, voter ID, or Aadhaar card).

  4. You will also need to upload Form 1A for a medical certificate and Form 5 provided by the training centre.

  5.  After filling in the forms and uploading the documents, pay the required fees and submit the application.

What is from no. 4?

The official application form for a commercial driving licence in India is Form No. 4, which has been prescribed by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. It has sections where you can enter personal information about yourself, like your name, address, birthdate, and identifying characteristics. Furthermore, the application may ask candidates to identify the kind of commercial vehicle they plan to drive. Form No. 4 must be filled out and submitted in order to complete the process of getting a commercial driver's licence.

Upon successful submission, you will receive a serial number on your registered mobile number. Remember to go to the training centre on the allotted date to appear for the driving test.

International Driving Permit

International Driving Permit (IDP) is a legal document that allows an individual to drive a vehicle in a foreign country. It serves as a translation of the driver's license into different languages and is recognized by over 150 countries worldwide.

Eligibility criteria for an international driving permit:

  1. To be eligible for an IDP, the applicant must be at least 18 years old 

  2. Posses a valid driver's license from their country of origin. 

  3. Additionally, the driver's license must be valid for at least six months from the date of the IDP application.

  4. The applicant should asl make sure that their countries licence is recognised internationally, i.e. it is a signatory of the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic 

Application Process For International Driving Permit:

To get an International Driving Permit, you need to have a valid Indian driving license and live in India. You can apply for it by filling out Form 4A or writing a letter to the Regional Transport Office (RTO) that covers the area where you live. In your application, you must mention the countries you plan to visit and how long you will be staying there.(3)

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is valid for one year from the date of issue or until the expiry of the original driving license, whichever is earlier. In other words, if the original driving license expires before the IDP, the IDP will also be considered invalid.

Restrictions:

  1. the type of vehicle that can be driven and the age of the driver. 

  2. The IDP does not allow the driver to drive in countries where their original license is not recognized or in countries where the driver is not eligible to drive based on their age or the type of vehicle

  3. However, there is a provision where learner licenses and provisional licenses are not accepted by the Geneva Convention laws and the applicant must hold a full valid license.

The countries where an IDP is applicable vary, and it is essential to check with the country's embassy or the authorized organization in the applicant's country of origin for a complete list of countries where an IDP is recognized.

Driving Licence Renewal (4)

Renewing a driving licence is important as it ensures that the license holder has the necessary skills and knowledge to continue driving safely on the roads. 

The process for renewing a driving licence varies depending on the type of licence. For a standard driving licence, the renewal process typically involves filling out a renewal form and providing proof of identity and residency. In some cases, a medical examination or eyesight test may also be required.

For commercial driving licences, the renewal process is more rigorous and may include additional tests, such as a driving test, depending on the type of licence. The renewal process for commercial driving licences usually involves submitting a renewal form along with a medical certificate and proof of identity and residency.

Driving with an expired licence can result in consequences such as fines or penalties, and it may also affect the driver's insurance policy. It is essential to renew the driving licence before it expires to avoid any legal or financial repercussions. Additionally, if involved in an accident with an expired licence, the driver may be held liable for any damages or injuries caused.

Conclusion

In India, there are multiple categories of driving licences, such as commercial, permanent, and learner's licences. Each licence has its own requirements for eligibility and procedure for renewal.

It is essential to follow traffic rules and regulations while driving to ensure the safety of oneself and others on the road. Traffic rules and regulations are in place to prevent accidents and ensure smooth traffic flow. Ignoring, violating, and overlooking these guidelines may result in penalties, legal repercussions, and even catastrophes.

Obtaining and maintaining a valid driving licence is crucial for anyone who wants to drive legally in India. It is important to renew the driving licence as and when required

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