Drivers of high-powered vehicles in South Australia will be required to obtain a new ‘U class’ licence from December onwards, or run the risk of a $2500 fine or even a jail term.

    From December 1, 2024, all drivers of an ultra high-powered vehicle (UHPV) – classified as those with a power-to-weight ratio of 276kW per tonne or higher – must hold a U class licence which can be obtained by passing an online course.

    The course, launched this week at a cost of $61, is designed to educate drivers about the safe operation of UHPVs, the risks associated with driving them, and the safety features equipped to such vehicles, however there is no practical driving element to it.

    Drivers will only be granted a U class licence if they pass a test at the end of the 30-45 minute long course.

    As well as forking out $61 for the course, U class licence holders will need to pay a one-off $20 fee for their standard licence to be replaced.

    The maximum penalty for driving a UHPV without holding a U class licence is $2500 for a first offence, with subsequent offences resulting in a potential one-year imprisonment.

    Hundreds of vehicles in the Australian market fit criteria of being above the power-to-weight limit, from the supercharged Ford Mustang R-Spec at the lower end of the price spectrum to all Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren models at the top end.

    Modified vehicles are also considered UHPVs if they have a power to weight ratio of 276kW/tonne or more. According to the South Australian Government, it’s the responsibility of the driver to know whether they’re driving a UHPV.

    While regular C class licence holders are permitted to test drive a UPHV through a car dealer, that exemption doesn’t apply to private sales. Supercar experiences and rentals are also subject to the U licence requirements.

    In addition to the new licence requirements, South Australia brought new driving laws came into effect on January 1, preventing drivers of UHPVs from disabling certain safety systems.

    If a UHPV driver disables its anti-lock braking, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), electronic stability control (ESC) or traction control systems, they face fines of up to $5000.

    The changes to South Australia’s road safety laws follow the death of teenage pedestrian Sophia Naismith, who passed away in 2019 after being hit by a Lamborghini Huracan outside a restaurant at Glengowrie.

    The Lamborghini’s driver, Alexander Campbell, was acquitted of causing death by dangerous driving.

    MORE: Why a special licence for high-powered sports cars is a great idea

    Josh Nevett

    Josh Nevett is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Josh studied journalism at The University of Melbourne and has a passion for performance cars, especially those of the 2000s. Away from the office you will either find him on the cricket field or at the MCG cheering on his beloved Melbourne Demons.

    Buy and Lease
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers