- The current cost to take the written knowledge G1 Ontario licence test is $159.75.
- A driver with a G1 licence cannot drive on a 400-series highway, between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., and must maintain a zero blood-alcohol level.
- A G1 driver does not need their own insurance policy, but it’s a good idea for them to be listed on someone else’s as a secondary driver while they learn.
As a driver with a G1 licence in Ontario, you’re limited in terms of what you can and can’t do. And becoming a fully licensed driver in the province can take a while — even more so due to the pandemic.
Here’s an overview of Ontario’s graduated licensing program, what’s required to get a G1 licence, and what you’re allowed to do once you have it.
How the graduated licensing program works
To get a G-class licence in Ontario, there are two levels (G1 and G2) you need to complete. Once you pass two driving tests, you’re then able to become fully licensed. The process to become fully licensed usually takes between 20 and 24 months.
However, you have up to five years to get a G-class licence. If you don’t become fully licensed within that period of time, you have to start the process from scratch.
Requirements for getting G1 licence
First, you should purchase and study the Official Ministry of Transportation (MTO) Driver’s Handbook. In order to get a G1 licence, there are a few requirements. Besides being at least 16 years old, you also must do the following:
- Bring identification — You need to provide identification that includes your date of birth, legal name, and signature. This may be a passport, Canadian citizenship card, or permanent or temporary immigration documents. If these don’t have all the information required, you may need to bring additional documents, such as a birth certificate, Ontario health card, or an identity card.
- Pay fees — Getting a licence isn’t free. You have to pay a fee, which includes the cost of the written knowledge test, the road test to get a G2, and a five-year licensing fee. The current cost is $159.75. There are additional costs for the second road test (to become fully licensed) and any retests if you don’t pass.
- Pass the vision test — This is a simple test you’re required to take when you apply. If you have glasses or contact lenses, it’s highly recommended that you wear them to the test or you could fail.
- Pass the knowledge test — This test is multiple choice and takes only about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. You must get a score of 80% or higher in order to pass. You can take the test as many times as you like if you don’t pass, but it will cost you $16 for each additional attempt.
To take the written test, you can go to any DriveTest centre in Ontario or the ServiceOntario at the intersection of Bay Street and College Street in Toronto.
What you can and can’t do with a G1 licence
There are a number of restrictions that come with a G1 licence compared to drivers who are fully licensed. Under the law, you must:
- Not drive between midnight and 5 a.m.
- Not drive on a 400-series highway (such as the 400, 401, and 416) or expressways (such as the Gardiner Expressway, Don Valley Parkway, Conestoga Parkway, or Queen Elizabeth Way)
- Ensure all passengers in your vehicle are wearing a seatbelt that works properly
- Have a zero-blood alcohol level
- Drive with a fully licensed driver who has four or more years of driving experience and maintains a blood alcohol level of less than 0.05% (or a blood alcohol level of zero if the driver is under the age of 21)
The accompanying driver must be in the front seat. If you’re driving with an instructor certified in Ontario, you’re allowed to drive on highways and expressways.
Do I need car insurance if I have my G1?
You can’t be listed on an insurance policy as the primary driver if you only have your G1. You won’t be able to get your own vehicle insured under your name until you have a G2. In the meantime, while you’re using someone else’s car to learn, like your parents’ for instance, have them list you as a secondary/occasional driver. There usually aren’t any additional costs to add a G1 driver to a car insurance policy.
Graduating to G2 and becoming fully licensed
It takes up to 12 months to get your G2 licence. If you attend a ministry-approved driving school, you can reduce the amount of time you spend at the G1 level to just eight months instead of 12. It may also lead to lower car insurance rates.
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Once you get your G2, you must spend 12 months at that level before you can attempt to become fully licensed.
How the pandemic is affecting licensing in Ontario
Before you can write your G1 test, prepare to wait. Many new drivers have complained of waiting in long line-ups for hours at DriveTest centres due to the backlog the pandemic has created.
For those wanting to get their G2 or become fully licensed, the wait is often much longer. There have been more than 400,000 road tests cancelled since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. And at the beginning of August 2021, there were nearly 700,000 people waiting to take the road test.
To help clear up the backlog, the province announced last month that it would hire 167 temporary examiners and open six temporary road test centres where demand is highest.
Getting a G1 may take a little longer than normal right now, but you can try to speed up the process of becoming a fully licensed driver if you take a driving course. You’ll be better prepared as a driver, and you could even get a break on your insurance costs.