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Graduated licensing in Ontario

July 05, 2006 @ 18:57 By: gordon Category: General

Like most people I know, I obtained my driver’s license prior to the implementation of graduated licensing in the province of Ontario. This meant that from the moment I received my license, I was able to drive on 400 series highways at 2am on my own. However, since April 1, 1994, newly licensed drivers have not been able to legally do this because of the graduated licensing system.

Under the graduated licensing scheme, new drivers start a two-step process that takes at least 20 months to complete and must be completed within five years. The system “lets new drivers get driving experience and skills gradually”, according to the MTO. Assuming you’re at least 16 years old, pass a vision test and a knowledge test of the rules of the road and signs, you will receive a Class G1 license.

A Class G1 license allows the holder to drive a vehicle provided that they have no alcohol in their bloodstream, are accompanied by a reasonably sober (less than 0.05%) fully licensed driver who is the only other person in the front seat, but doesn’t allow them on 400-series highways or highspeed expressways such as the QEW, Don Valley, Gardner or a couple of others I’ve never heard of. And, they cannot drive the vehicle between midnight and 5am. If the person sitting next to you is a driving instructor licensed in the province of Ontario, you are allowed to drive on the “prohibited” roads.

You have to hold a G1 license for at least 12 months, unless you’ve passed an approved course in which case you can reduce this to 8 months. After this 8 or 12 month period has passed, you get to try a G1 road test. If you pass it, you get a Class G2 license.

A Class G2 license allows the holder to drive on any road in Ontario without a “co-pilot” provided that they have no alcohol in their bloodstream and do not have more passengers in the vehicle than working seatbelts, which is also a condition for the G1. As of September 1, 2005, there are limits on the number of “young passengers” (19 years old or under) a G2 driver 19 years or under can carry between midnight and 5am. G2 drivers who are 19 years or under who have had a G2 for less than six months can only carry one young passenger. Once they’ve had their G2 for more than six months or turn 20, they can carry three young passengers. There’s an exception to this rule if the passengers are immediate family members or if there’s a fully licensed G driver onboard.

Once you’ve had a G2 for at least a year, you can try a G2 road test, which will give you a full G license if you pass.

You’re probably asking yourself “so what?”.

Well, I’ve noticed over the last few years that the number of drivers on the Queensway who travel along at 80 to 90 km/h has markedly increased since I got my license under the old system in the mid- to late-80’s. I have been speculating that this is a result of the graduated licensing system. Drivers who have been driving on a G1 for a year or two probably haven’t had a whole lot of experience driving at speeds in excess of 80 km/h. When they finally graduate to a G2 license, they are able to drive on roads with speed limits 25% higher than they’re used to. Consequently, they tend to drive in their comfort zone, rather than at the 100 km/h speed limit found on 400 series highways and highspeed expressways. I don’t have any empirical data to support this, of course, just a gut feeling based on a steadily increasing incidence of drivers travelling below the speed limit, primarily on the 417 in Ottawa, when 100 km/h is appropriate to the road and weather conditions.

The Ministry of Transportation’s website claims that the graduated licensing system has been a “resounding success” and reduced death and injury among new drivers. Their research also shows a link between the number of teenage passengers onboard and the likelihood of a serious or even fatal collision, with new teenage drivers being nearly three times as likely to experience such a collision. That’s why the G2 has restrictions on when and how many young passengers a G2 driver can carry.

I have no doubts that the graduated licensing system has indeed had an impact on the accident rates for new drivers. But at the same time, I believe it’s producing drivers who are less confident in driving at 400 series/expressway speeds, which has potentially significant ramifications to other drivers on these roads. Drivers who drive below the speed the rest of the traffic is moving at are just as dangerous as those who weave in and out of traffic. They lead to other drivers having to break unexpectedly for no reason other than they’re travelling too slowly.

What I’d like to see are some statistics correlating driving speed on a 400 series/expressway, license class and years that class has been held. I think the real story would emerge then. Perhaps some sort of voluntary black-box vehicle tracking system which was excluded from being used against the driver if they did get stopped for some moving violation, would allow statistics to be gathered on driving habits and new drivers.

If the statistics on young drivers and teenage passengers are true, then I would have no problems with restrictions similar to those in the G2 license being in force if the graduated system were scrapped. At most, it would inconvenience new young drivers for a couple of years.

168 Responses to “Graduated licensing in Ontario”


  1. Here's how you do it... says:

    Of course you stand by your original advice. We all have our competing interests.

    I disagree that it is not a viable option. Consider that you only take two trips which are months apart.

    Planning ahead, you could take the express train to Manitoba and rent a car for a day for testing. Saves on fuel and it is also much faster than the GDL program where there is a high chance of failure (all MTO offices have failure quotas to meet).

    You are quite right that she ought to consider an instructor if she wants to alleviate any concerns with respect to highway driving. However, using the Manitoba method, she can break out of the loop and not worry about being tangled up in the GDL money grab program. Driving instructors do not require their students to be licensed provided they accompany them in the car as understand it.

    Again, this entirely depends on whether or not she can wait out the 2 year period or not.

  2. gordon says:

    The problem with what you’re suggesting is that it will result in a driver being on the road who isn’t qualified to be on the road. It doesn’t address the issue, which is driving on highways. A licensed driver should be able to drive on any road they may encounter, even if they’re only planning on driving on city streets.

    The other problem with your plan is that it won’t work. She would have to provide supporting documents that establish her birth date, signature, photograph, Manitoba residence and entitlement to be in Canada.

    The first four are probably not a big deal, but she would not be able to show that she is a resident of Manitoba because the list of documents that can be used to do this is not very long and consists of things like an affidavit, mortgage document, personal income tax document with the address and social assistance benefit confirmation. To try to obtain a Manitoba drivers license when you don’t live in Manitoba is almost certainly illegal and recommending someone do something like this is really no better.

    She should save the money it would cost to even attempt this scheme and spend it on a driving instructor.

  3. Here\'s how you do it... says:

    It is not a requirement that you be a Manitoba resident; only that you are a permanent Canadian resident.

    Also, I am not suggesting that she should not improve her driving abilities. If she has difficulty with Torontonian roads, then by all means, go ahead and sign up for driving courses from a reputable company.

    The only thing she loses out with the above method is becoming a victim of the cash grab scheme that is the GDL program. It costs on average $225 (compared to $35 in Manitoba) to get a driver\’s license in ontario due to high failure rates which have been exacerbated by failure quotas required of a British company to whom the Ontario Government is outsourcing the driver examination job to.

  4. toota says:

    i got hit parked vehicle while i was taking test with Examiner. I was driving school car.

    Will it effect my insurance in the future?

  5. gordon says:

    Here’s how you do it said:

    It is not a requirement that you be a Manitoba resident; only that you are a permanent Canadian resident.

    Actually, Manitoba residency is a requirement according to the identity requirements for getting a Manitoba driver’s license:

    • Birth Date
    • Legal Name
    • Signature
    • Photograph
    • Manitoba Residence
    • Entitlement to be in Canada

    Hopefully no one is thinking of following your advice because they will likely be very disappointed.

  6. gordon says:

    Toota,

    Ugh… that sucks. The only one who could tell you for certain is your insurance agent. Was there a lot of damage?

  7. toota says:

    the damage was light. bumper cracked

  8. gordon says:

    I’m glad that’s all that happened and that no one was hurt! 🙂

    My guess is that it should have little impact on your rates, but one can never tell. If the damage was only to the driving school’s car, then it might have no effect. Let us know what you find out from your insurance agent because I’m sure others would like to know.

    Good luck!

  9. Here\'s how you do it... says:

    I was never asked for my Manitoba residency when I applied. Actually, you can tell them you’re in the midst of moving to Manitoba and that will be acceptable for most. If the desk clerk is too anal, go to another examination center.

    I understand your reasoning for discouraging others from circumventing the money grab that is the ontario GDL. Particularly if you are an employee operating under that system.

    By the way, it might behoove you to know that residents of British Columbia and doing the same thing by getting their license in Washington state. These are mostly students though who live there as an exchange student or visitor. They wait out the 2 year period.

  10. gordon says:

    I don’t know when you got your license, but their requirements may have changed. Did they ask you for your address? Did you have to explain why you didn’t have a Manitoba address?

    If you tell them you’re “in the midst of moving to Manitoba” then you are lying and thus obtaining it fraudulently.

    I understand your reasoning for discouraging others from circumventing the money grab that is the ontario GDL. Particularly if you are an employee operating under that system.

    I am not an employee of the provincial government or any of its agencies, nor do I have anything to do with the graduated licensing system.

  11. jonathon says:

    DOes anyone know

    I had a g license before graduated licence come into being for 7 years.

    In the 90 ‘s i stopped driving and didnt notice my licence had expired. In the graduated licence requirements it says the graduated licence is for people with less than two years experience. however they expect me to do the graduated licence….is this correct?? or should i be just retaking final stage

    thanks

    jt

  12. gordon says:

    Hi…

    I found the following at http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/dandv/driver/renewal.shtml under the heading “Drivers In Ontario (Classes A, B, C, D, E, F, G, M and M with condition “L”)”.

    If your licence has been invalid for over three years but not more than 10 years, you have to reapply under Graduated Licensing at a DriveTest centre — the mandatory waiting periods are waived. If your licence has been invalid for over ten years, you have to reapply under graduated licensing at a DriveTest centre and serve all the mandatory waiting periods.

    Based on the above, unless your license expired in February 1999 or later, you’ve been without a valid license for over ten years and thus have to go through the graduated system as a “new” driver.

    Of course, you should confirm this interpretation with the Ministry of Transportation, which it sounds like you have.

  13. Cole says:

    All right. My g2 license is set to expire monday. My birthday was friday, and now, saturday, when i try to book it online, it tells me i must call their automated line. When i do that, i am informed that my license has already expired. I’ve spoken to a person in toronto (im in ottawa) saying that they could book it if i came in (my parents would not allow me to borrow the car for an eight hour day-long road trip) and a person at the local MTO said i had to go into to walkley monday.
    so my questions are:
    1. what do you think the chances of me being able to fight this, in that i should be able to book the appointment but am unable to because of an error, and on monday get an extension
    2. if i cannot get an extension, the wording of the site has me confused, as my g2 expires, i must therefore go and retake the knowledge test for the g1, wait 8 months (i’ve already passed driver’s ed.) and then redo the g1 exit test?

    In my defense, this is because after saving the money to take the test, i had noticed beforehand that it had seemed like often spots were opening up during the week, and so i was waiting to see if one would open up before my license expired, so if i failed, i would still be a g2 driver. Then this happened.

  14. gordon says:

    Hi Cole…

    I suspect that the chances of getting an extension will be quite low because they’ll say that you’ve known for months when your G2 expired and had lots of opportunities to book your test before it expired. That having been said, you might be granted a short extension because of the problem you had trying to book the test. Please post a reply to let us know how it goes.

    If you can’t get an extension, I expect you would have to go through the graduated system again. Check with the MTO to find out how long you would have to wait to exit the G1.

    And if you have to re-start the graduated system be sure to plan ahead so this doesn’t happen again.

    Good luck!

  15. tan says:

    I had my g2 about 6 or 7 years ago I m currently in my 30’s and have a job I would like to be able to drive to. I at first figured I would be able to go and pass my g1 and be able to book my road test right away.But I was very disappointed to find out this was the case. I now have to go through graduated licensing all over again is there any way for graduated licensing to be waived for people who had previously gone through the program.I would be happy to at least be able to get my g2.

  16. Connor says:

    i dont care if your from canada or the US, graduated licensing must die. its restricting freedoms and its taking away the ability of parents to well, parent their children. im from pennsylvania and i cant stand the laws we got for driving. when you get you liscense under 18, you get a “cinderella license, which makes you only be able to stay out until 11 0clock which makes absolutely no sense. i got pulled over at 11:03 for being out too late although my house was just around the corner. they are thinking of limiting the number of people who can be in a car at once for a cinderella license, although me and my friends dont have much of a way to get around exept by our own driving skills. the world isnt right. what the hell ever happened to the mindset 30-40 years ago that my parents have told me so much about? why did it change?


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  1. gordon.dewis.ca | Why must they drive so slowly on the Queensway??? (March 11, 2010 @ 16:57)

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