Driving tests

When can’t you drive?

Some circumstances mean you are not allowed to drive at all, you’re not allowed to drive a specific vehicle or you’re not allowed to drive in a place where you usually can drive. You can drive when and where you like on private land with the permission of the landowner, but not necessarily on a public road or public area. Here are 10 reasons you may not be allowed to drive:

  1. Incorrect licence: we have 6 classes of licence including class 1 (car), class 2-5 (heavy vehicles) and class 6 (motorbikes). You can’t drive a heavy vehicle with a class 1 or 6 licenceĀ and you can’t ride a motorbike with a class 1-5 licence
  2. Disqualified or suspended: if you’ve been suspended from driving for a period of time you have to wait until the suspension is lifted; if you’ve been disqualified you have to wait to gain your licence again
  3. Court orders: a court may order you to stay in one place (e.g. house arrest) or may impose restrictions on your movement at certain times of the day or using certain types of transport
  4. Police orders: police may stop you from driving for a number of reasons, for example, if you can’t prove you have a licence and/or they suspect you don’t have a licence or your licence is invalid, if you failed a breath alcohol test and you’re waiting for an evidential blood alcohol test, or if your vehicle is impounded because you committed an offence on the road such as street racing or burnouts. Police also may cordon off an area that is a crime scene or where there is danger, e.g. a sinkhole, or where there is a multistorey car park in danger of collapse (for example the James Smith car park in Wellington after the earthquake of 2016)
  5. Doctor’s orders: a doctor might temporarily declare you unfit to drive. This can happen after an injury (particularly a head injury), a bout of epilepsy, a Caesarian section and many other scenarios. A doctor might make this permanent driving suspension on medical grounds if your condition is serious
  6. Medication: a doctor might give you medication that affects your driving; this also applies to some over-the-counter medication
  7. Vehicle roadworthiness: if your vehicle is not roadworthy or it has no WoF or registration then you should not drive it on the road or in publicly accessible areas.
  8. Type of vehicle: roads and bridges are sometimes made temporarily off-limits to certain types of vehicles (usually heavy vehicles); other types of vehicles such as mopeds and tractors are not allowed on motorways
  9. State of emergency: in extreme weather conditions drivers may be strongly advised not to drive and certain roads may be cordoned off. Curfews and restrictions are sometimes put in place meaning that you can’t drive in that area during the curfew. This might be because a natural disaster has made the road impassable, such as State Highway 1 on the east coast of the South Island after the Kaikoura earthquake
  10. Road sharing initiatives: while we haven’t explored this in New Zealand, road sharing initiatives are common worldwide. They are when certain vehicles are not allowed on the road on certain days. This usually works by vehicle registration number and/or type, for example, cars with a registration plate ending in 1 or 2 are not allowed on the roads on Mondays, cars with 3 and 4 are not allowed on Tuesdays and so on. This reduces the traffic approximately 20%


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Darren has written over 3000 articles about driving and vehicles, plus almost 500 vehicle reviews and numerous driving courses. Connect with him on LinkedIn by clicking the name above

Posted in Advice