Anyone who grew up in the 70’s, 80’s, and even 90’s in Canada will tell you that getting a drivers license was easy. You took a quick learner’s test at age 14 or 15, did a road test with an instructor from the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and viola, you have a license.
Times have definitely changed. Now most provinces have a two-step process young drivers have to make their way through in order to drive on their own, and it can take 20 months to complete. It’s called ‘Graduated Licensing’, and it was designed to reduce teen crash fatalities due to inexperience behind the wheel.
Graduated licensing works by having the new driver apply for a license. Take Ontario for example – in order to apply for a driver’s license you must be at least 16 years old, pass an eye test, and pass a written test about the rules of the road. If you pass the requirements, you’ll receive a G1 license.
A G1 license allows young drivers to drive standard vehicles with a fully licensed driver who has at least 4 years of experience behind the wheel. In Ontario, the G1 license period lasts for 12 months, and during that time the driver must:
- Maintain a zero blood alcohol level
- May not drive between 12 am and 5 am
- Ensure every passenger is wearing a seat belt
- Not drive on any 400-series highway or expressway
- Only drive with a fully licensed driver who has a blood alcohol level of .05
- Have the driver with you the only other person in the front seat
Once a young Ontario driver finishes the 12-month period, they’ll be able to take a G1 road test. The exam will test the basic driving skills including turns, stopping, and parking. If passed, the driver will receive the G2 license.
During the 12 months the driver has an Ontario G2 license, they can:
- Drive on their own without an experienced driver in the vehicle
- Drive on all roads in Ontario
- Drive at any time of the day
But there are still restrictions. The driver must:
- Have a zero blood alcohol level
- Ensure passengers are wearing seat belts
- Only have one passenger under the age of 19 if they’re driving between the 12 am and 5 am
The G2 license test can be taken after 12 months and is a more experienced test of skill. Once passed, the Ontario driver will have a full G license that follows the provincial blood alcohol laws of .08.
With a graduated licensing system in place, Ontario aims to keep young drivers safe and potential young drinking drivers off the roads.