My partner is learning to drive. She's brought a car ready for when she passes her test, hopefully in a couple weeks. Her insurance is aware that she -- the main driver -- has a provisional licence, and I am a named driver on her policy with a full licence.

She is having lessons with a professional instructor, but I have been supervising her on occasion as I meet the requirements:

  • I am older than 21.
  • Have a licence for that category of vehicle.
  • Had that licence for more than 3 years.

We have L plates shown on her car. She wanted to drive to her work, with me supervising, and then I drive the car home alone.

My question is: Would I be committing an offence by driving her car back home, by myself, with the L plates still showing?

As far as I can tell, it's at the very least advisable to remove them, but not illegal. I do not wish to waste police time, but I would expect an officer to pull me over and investigate why I'm driving alone with L plates.

Sadly I can't just remove the L plates since they're stickers. They won't go back on if I pull them off. Hence my question.

As a side note: I will not be using a motorway when driving alone. Obviously we cannot use the motorway when I am supervising her.

1 Answer 1


The Highway Code said:

Vehicles. Any vehicle driven by a learner MUST display red L plates. In Wales, either red D plates, red L plates, or both, can be used. Plates MUST conform to legal specifications and MUST be clearly visible to others from in front of the vehicle and from behind. Plates should be removed or covered when not being driven by a learner (except on driving school vehicles). [Law MV(DL)R reg 16 & sched 4]

The good old Highway Code "Must" vs "Should". "Must" means that it is a legal issue, anything that is "Should" is only advisory

  • Perfect. My logic was that I've not seen professional instructors remove their L plates when driving to their next student. But I wasn't sure if they were exempt.
    – DJH
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 12:48
  • I think "should" is slightly more than advisory: it means that although not doing it would not be a criminal offence, it might still be against your interests. For example a police officer might reasonably stop you for driving with L plates and no supervising passenger to ask to see your driving licence and other documents, in circumstances where otherwise an arbitrary stop would be unreasonable.
    – Henry
    Commented May 23 at 22:08

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