A correspondent from WA wants to know:

… are drivers of emergency vehicles required to display P-plates if they would otherwise be required to do so? I see that you’ve previously addressed this question in regards to the rules in New South Wales and Victoria, however I don’t believe you’ve specifically addressed the regulations in Western Australia.

You’ve noted before that there are significant differences between the, supposedly harmonised, road rules between different states, and so I’m wary to extrapolate from what you’ve written about NSW and Vic. I also tried to work out the answer myself, but was disappointed at how hard it was to access and interpret the laws and regulations (and the right versions of these) online.

Specifically I’m interested in vehicles operated by St John Ambulance WA (some of which do not have red/blue lights but which I’m told are still considered ’emergency vehicles’), but it would be interesting to know if there are differences which apply to fire fighting appliances and SES vehicles. In addition, does the answer depend on the activities being undertaken in the vehicle (e.g. refuelling vs responding to patient, responding under lights/sirens vs responding without lights/sirens).

Indeed I have discussed that issue for NSW and Victoria – see

So now to WA.  The ‘harmonised road rules’ relate the rules about driving.  The Australian Road Rules are incorporated in WA law by the Road Traffic Code 2000 (WA).  These rules, however, do not include the rules about ‘P plates’ (equally the Road Rules 2014 (NSW) and the Road Safety Road Rules 2009 (Vic) do not contain relevant rules regarding a driver’s licence).   In WA, the relevant rules are found in the Road Traffic (Authorisation to Drive) Regulations 2014 (WA).  Regulation 36 says:

  1. The holder of a provisional licence who drives a motor vehicle on a road must display on the vehicle 2 plates conforming with subregulations (3) and (4), one of which is readily visible from the front of the vehicle and the other of which is readily visible from the rear of the vehicle.
  2. Subregulation (1) does not apply if the licence holder is a police officer driving in the course of duty.

Regulations (3) and (4) deal with the colour and size of P Plates.

There is no other exemption in WA.  So in WA the holder of a provisional licence is required to display their ‘P’ plates whether they are driving their private car or a vehicle operated by St John Ambulance or QFES.  It is only an ‘on duty’ police officer who is exempt from the requirement to display ‘P plates’.