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I’ll be able to take the “L” off my car and replace it with an “N” soon.

This morning I cycled up to the NDLS Centre (National Driver License Service) in Clare Hall. I cycled, because although I passed my road test last week, there were couple more steps for me to take before I receive my license. Those steps are now done, and probably next week sometime my Irish Driver’s License will show up in the post.

As you might know this is the second time I have gone through the process of getting a license. It was a bit easier (and cheaper) back in 1984.

  • On my 16th birthday I was studying for final exams, when my dad came up and said we needed to go get my permit. I was planning on waiting until after exams, but we drove to the Dunkirk DMV, I took my theory test and was handed a permit. I drove part of the way home. (I think this was one of the only times I drove with my dad where I didn’t say, “But Mr. Matteson says…”)
  • Over the summer I had to attend Driver’s Ed with Mr. Matteson. We’s show up at school, watch a video of some horrific car crash and then twice a week our group (which ended up being me and some girl I don’t think was from my school) would go out and drive for an hour or so. If you messed up, Mr. Matteson would smack you in the back of the head. No, seriously.
  • Within two months I was taking my road test. I failed. I still remember the exact spot by Washington Park where I made the manoeuvre that caused my examiner to start writing like crazy.
  • For the next few weeks I drove mainly with my dad. I was not allowed to mention Mr. Matteson.
  • I do not remember taking the exam again, but I did at the end of August and I passed.
  • That whole process took about 2 months.

Flash forward to now.

If I had a drivers license from an EU country, I could have exchanged my old license for an Irish one. Actually if I grew up 80 minutes up the road in Ontario, Canada, I could have exchanged my Ontario license for a Irish one. Sadly there is no agreement between Ireland and the US to exchange licenses. Because of that, we all get treated like people who have never driven. Oh well.

So, in the summer of 2014 I went to purchase a copy of the Official Driver Theory Test Questions and Answers book. However, a new edition was coming soon so I had to wait, and in the Autumn of 2014 I purchased the book. [Cost of book: €17.99]

I began looking through the book, then I’d put it aside, pick it up…take it on a car trip while Liz drove…but not making much progress at all. Finally, I decided that I’d just register for my theory test, knowing once I had a date set I’d be more motivated to get it done. [Cost to register for test: €45]

But…to take the test, you needed to bring 2 passport photos [Cost of photos at local pharmacy: €10]

So on April 8, 2015, I took the DART to the test centre, (right next to Google HQ) and took the test. They gave me my test results, and certificate, which I would need to turn in when I applied for my permit.

Due to a few things going on in our lives, I didn’t actually apply for my permit until September.

Now, in addition to my test certificate, I needed to have an eye examiner fill out a form stating that my vision (corrected of course) is okay to drive. [Cost of the exam: €20]

Once I had my eye exam, I cycled to the NDLS in Clare Hall, gave them tons of information and applied for my permit, which was mailed to me within the week. [Cost of permit €35]

Recently a law was passed in Ireland that states that a person must wait 6 months after acquiring their permit before they can take their road test. That goes with another relatively recent law that requires everyone taking a road test to take 12 hours of driving lessons. I decided to spread mine out over the 6 months, one every other week. [Cost of lessons : €349]

Here’s the challenge, once I had a permit, I could no longer drive in Ireland unless there was a person in the car who has had an Irish License for at least 2 full years. So, I could drive with my instructor, but I could not drive with Liz in the car. In fact the way it currently stands, although Liz and 3 of the kids are all eligible to get their licenses, they don’t have easy access to a person with an Irish license for at least two years. That’s something we are trying to figure out.

Anyways, at the end of my lessons, I booked my road test. [Cost of the road test : €85]. My instructor also suggested one last lesson before the exam just to make sure you’re ready. [Cost of extra lesson €30 (optional)]

Of course, if you fail, or showed up to your exam late, you had to re-register, and pay the €85 fee again. Thankfully, I passed…so I doubt I will ever have to back around a corner again! One interestesting thing, instead of writing like way back when, the examiner checked boxes on an iPad.

Now, back in 1984 for me…and it was the same for Hannah in 2011, you passed the road test and you received your New York Drivers License. When I passed my road test here, I received a certificate of competency. And while it is always nice to hear that you are competent, it isn’t a license. But, you can take your certificate of competency, an application for a drivers license, and one last fee [Cost of License : €55], and get a license.

So the time from taking the theory test to getting my license was about a year…but part of that were delays on my part. The total cost (not counting train or bus transport) was €646.99.

Now, the lessons were actually helpful. Any of us who’ve been driving for a while have probably picked up a bad habit or two that should be corrected, and there are a number of things that they do differently…beyond driving on the left. (Although maybe 4 hours instead of 12:-)

Anyways, that’s done, and since having to take another road test is the thing I’ve dreaded most since I got here, I’m quite glad it’s over.

Oh, and Liz…your turn!


Also published on Medium.

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About author / bob

I am a church planter living on Dublin's Northside. I also serve as Director of Marketing for Communitas International. I write about various topics that happen to be going through my brain.

2 comments
  1. David L Fisher says:

    does the L or N put limits on your speed, passengers, etc.?

    1. Bob Wilson says:

      The main limits for an L- plate is that you must have a licenced driver with you at all times. And licensed driver must hold irish license for two years. And you can’t drive on motorways with L-plates.
      For an N, you can’t be the accompanying driver for someone with L-plates.
      Final thing which applies to both is a lower threshold of penalty points (7) before losing you license.

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