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Encyclopedia > Driver's license

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Driver's license

A driver's license (British: driving licence; California: driver license) is an official document which states that a person has the necessary qualifications to drive a motorised vehicle (most often a motorcycle or a car).

In most European countries one has to be at least 17 or 18 years old to drive a car.

In the United States, the driving age is determined by the state and is usually 16. Most states also have restricted driver's licenses (also called learner's permits), which allow a person to drive provided they are accompanied by a licensed driver. There has also been a trend toward "graduated driver's licenses", in which new (especially young) drivers are gradually allowed more driving privileges instead of being given complete driving privilege all at once. Learner's permits are granted by some states to drivers as young as 14.

In the United Kingdom, the driving age for a car or van is 17, whilst a moped or restricted-power motorcycle can be ridden at 16. Until a driving test[?] has been passed (which consists of two sections: a theory-based test and a supervised driving examination) a driver will hold a Provisional License, and must display 'learner plates' ( a large red L on a white background) on the front and back of the vehicle. They must also be accompanied by a person holding a full driving license.

In the United States, persons who drive commercially (especially truckers and taxi drivers) are required to have special licenses, sometimes called chauffer's licenses. In the United Kingdom, one must hold a Passenger Service Vehicle (PSV) license to drive a 'bus carrying more than 8 passengers, or a Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) license to drive a lorry (truck) licensed to carry a weight greater than 3500 Kg. The cost of taking the series of tests and examinations to obtain these licenses usually means that that the employer subsidises his or her drivers.

The holder of a licence from any EU member country can drive in any other EU country. Most countries worldwide will also recognise the licences of citizens of foreign states wishing to drive as visitors.

Because the United States has no national identification card and because of the widespread use of cars, drivers' licenses are typically used in the United States as a form of identification. Most driver's license bureaus also issue identification cards for nondrivers.

Many European countries require drivers to carry ID cards as well as their licence. Citizens of the UK, which has no national ID card may have to carry their passports instead when travelling in these countries.

Under the US Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, the various states are encouraged to set up programs through which licensed drivers can make organ donations for the purpose of transplant by a notation on their license.

For information on driving and especially on safe driving see Driving.



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