New laws around driver licences come into force today, tightening the rules around gaining a licence.
Changes to the 'evidence of identity' requirements for licence applications are being brought in at the same time as the introduction of a new five-year time limit for new learner and restricted car and motorcycling licences as part of changes to the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Rule.
From today those applying for a new driver licence will be required to show photographic ID, or a recent photograph verified by a referee - in a process similar to first-time passport applications.
The move will bring New Zealand laws up-to-date and in line with other countries, in a bid to reduce the risk of identity fraud. The previous requirement to provide two documents without photographs to establish identity when applying for a new licence is considered out-of-date and goes against guidance in the Department of Internal Affairs' Evidence of Identity Standard.
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) said the new law was "aimed at reducing the risk of driver licences being obtained fraudulently".
At the same time, those who obtain or renew their learner or restricted licence from today will have to progress to the next licence stage within five years or face sitting another theory test to renew their licence again.
NZTA road safety director Ernst Zollner said the changes will encourage novice drivers and motorcyclists to gain their full licence within a reasonable timeframe.
"The purpose of the Graduated Driver Licensing System is for novice drivers and riders to progress from a learner to a full licence by gradually gaining the skills and experience needed to drive safely - and to demonstrate that they have gained those skills by passing a practical driving test on the way to gaining a full licence," he said.
"The restrictions that apply to learner and restricted licences are there to ensure that novice drivers gain experience and skills under low-risk conditions. Drivers who stay at one licence stage indefinitely aren't demonstrating that they've gained the skills and competence to drive safely.
"Many offences for breaching licence conditions are committed by drivers who have held a learner or restricted licence for an extended time."
The changes are part of the Government's broader Safer Journeys strategy, which aims to significantly reduce deaths and injuries on New Zealand's roads.
The new time limit comes as other recent measures to improve the safety of young drivers have been introduced, including raising the minimum licensing age from 15 to 16, the introduction of a zero alcohol limit for teen drivers and the rollout of more challenging practical driver tests to gain restricted and full licences.
* Further details on all of the changes can be found on the NZTA website at www.nzta.govt.nz