DVLA specifies minimum age requirements driving different types of vehicle. Confusion often reigns - particularly in reltion to motorbikes and larger vehicles, so here we attempt to clarify the rules for you.
The rules are different if you passed your driving test before January 1997, but since you if you did so, you will have reached the minimum age requirements anyway, we will focus on the regulations for those who passed obtained a licence after January 1997.
Mopeds and Motorbikes
You can drive a moped with an engine size of no more than 50cc at age sixteen but this can only be done once you have acquired your provisional driving licence and have also undertaken a CBT course. CBT - Compulsory Basic Training - is designed to familiarise you with the rules of the road for motorcycles and mopeds and must be completed before you can legally ride.
You can ride: a light motorcycle up to 125 cc and maximum power output of 14.6 bhp; a medium-sized motorbike up to 33 bhp and a power to weight ratio of up to 0.16 kW/kg or a motorbike with sidecar and a maximum power to weight ratio of 0.16 kW/kg.
Again you must complete CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) and be in possession of your driver's licence.
You can ride any size motorbike with or without a sidecar but you need to have completed the large motorcycle Direct Access Scheme first.
There are two types of motorbike licence based on the size of the bike: with the light motorcycle licence (A1), your are restricted to any bike up to 125 cc and a maximum power output of 14.7 bhp; with the standard motorcycle licence (A), your practical test must be taken on a bike of between 120 cc and 125 cc and capable of at least 100 kilometres per hour (km/h per hour).
Once you've passed the standard motorcycle practical test, will only be able to ride a bike of up to 34 bhp for the following two years, after which you can ride a bike of any size.
Cars and Light Vans, Buses and Minibuses
You can apply for your provisional driver's licence to drive a car or light van on or shortly before your seventeenth birthday. If you receive your provisional licence before your seventeenth birthday you will not be able to begin driving on public roads until after the date of that birthday.
You can drive a medium sized vehicle of between 3,500 kg and 7,500 kg with/without a trailer of maximum weight 750kg (age 17 if you are an armed services member).
As above but with a trailer weighing more than 750 kg and the total weight of vehicle and trailer weighing no more than 12,000 kg. You can also drive buses and minibuses.You can drive the above at the age of 18 if you have passed your Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC).
Disability Living Allowance
You can apply for your driver's licence at the age of sixteen if you are in receipt of DLA (Disability Living Allowance) which carries with it the ability to claim for aid with mobility. In this circumstance you may qualify for help in purchasing a motor vehicle through the government's Mobility scheme and if so a driving licence can be applied for earlier if there are sufficient grounds for the aid of a motor vehicle to achieve mobility. This is more likely if the person receiving DLA (Disability Living Allowance) is physical impaired and cannot rely on public transport in the same way an able bodied individual would.
Whichever vehicle you are interested in driving it is important to adhere to the laws and rules laid down by the DSA (Driving Standards Agency) and the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency). Failure to comply with the rules may result revocation of a driving licence as well as a potential driving ban - this could have an impact on both your insurance premiums and employment opportunities.
If you are in any doubt as to the legal age limits set for driving any vehicle then you should contact the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) or visit their website at www.dvla.gov.uk for more information.