Ireland’s Guide To Money And Living

What’s the price of freedom?

Driving freedom

By Tiernan Cannon

We all know that the costs of running a car are notoriously expensive – what with tax, insurance, fuel costs and general upkeep – but the financial strains begin even before you get behind the wheel. The expenses involved in obtaining your driving license are significant and, unfortunately, unavoidable. Here, we lay out these costs and offer several tips to help shave a few euros off the monstrous sums involved.

Theory test

Before you go anywhere near the driver’s seat, you have to first sit your theory test. This alone will set you back €45 – with an additional €15 charge to resit should you fail at your first attempt. Furthermore, in order to study for the test, you will need to consult the Driver Theory Test Question and Answers book or CD ROM (they still exist), with prices starting at around €18 at Easons.

These are hefty charges considering you haven’t gone near the wheel yet, so why not borrow the book from your local library, or ask friends or family that have gone through the process if they have a spare copy lying around.

Eye tests

One of the (quite reasonable) conditions for receiving a driving license is that you must demonstrate that your eyes are in a suitable condition for driving by taking an eye test. It’s recommended that you get your eyes tested every two years anyway, but it is a further cost to the already expensive process of becoming a fully-fledged motorist.

Shop around for the cheapest eye tests – Specsavers, for example, is offering half price eye tests before March 31st.


Now we’re getting into the real expenses. By law, you are required to complete 12 driving lessons before undertaking your test. Prices vary, so shop around to ensure you find the best deal, and consider purchasing the 12 lessons in one go if you can – individual lessons tend to work out more expensive than buying them in bulk. For example, a single lesson from the Irish School of Motoring costs €35, but twelve lessons cost €369, which works out at just over €30 per session.

Furthermore, in order to ensure you don’t pay for more lessons than is totally necessary, practice your driving as much as possible. Get a legal supervisor to take you out on the road to ensure you get the practice and confidence required to pass your test. Or, if you’ve got a private driveway, start practicing smooth take-offs, hill starts, and reversing around corners.


The dreaded car insurance. Unfortunately, it is a reality that will have to be faced if you are to get out on the road, and that is a particularly miserable fact of life for a young, first-time motorist. Again, you will have to shop around for the best prices, and you should maybe even consult a broker to arrange the best deal for you (be aware that brokers won’t always have the best prices). Certain insurance companies, such as Aviva, offer package deals that include both lessons and insurance.

The test

You’ve spent an awful lot of money already, but you’re not there just yet. All that spending and preparation was leading up to this – the final test. The actual driving test will set you back €55, so as previously mentioned, be sure to get in as much practice as you can to ensure you don’t have to resit the thing and pay again. You’ve spent enough already!

If you pass the test, congratulations! Enjoy the jubilation while you can, because you’ll soon discover reality setting in, introducing you to the real costs of running a car. But don’t worry – we’ve got a guide for cutting the costs of running a car too.

When not writing about all things personal finance, You & Your Money's editor Conor Forrest enjoys reading, football and getting lost in an ocean of Wikipedia articles.