This article has been updated from a previous version
The journey to becoming a fully licensed driver in Ontario starts with a written test. Once you pass that, you get what’s known as a G1 license, the province’s version of a learner’s permit. As a driver with a G1 licence, 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 few years.
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.
After you’ve received your G1 license, you won’t be eligible to take your G2 driving test for 12 months — though, if you opt to take a government-approved driver training course, that cuts the waiting period down to eight months, (Another benefit of taking a driver’s training course? You’ll be able to save money on auto insurance.).
Once you receive your G2 license, you’ll have another 12 months to practice for your full G license. The process to become fully licensed usually takes between 20 to 24 months.
However, you have up to five years to get a full 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. Besides being at least 16 years old, here are a few other requirements that you need to meet:
- Bring identification — You need to provide identification that includes your date of birth, legal name, and signature. This can be your passport, Canadian citizenship card, or permanent or temporary immigration documents. You may also need to bring in additional documents, such as your birth certificate or Ontario health card.
- Pay fees — The current cost to get your G1 is $159.75. It includes the cost of the written knowledge test, the road test to get a G2, and a five-year licensing fee. 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 — 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 about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. You must get a score of 80% or higher in order to pass. If you don’t pass, you can take the test as many times as you like, 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.
Restrictions on a G1 licence
When compared to a full licence, a G1 comes with certain restrictions.
Under the law, you:
- Cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m.
- Cannot 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)
- Must ensure all passengers in your vehicle are wearing a seatbelt at all times.
- Must have a zero-blood alcohol level.
- Must 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 passenger 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?
If you only have your G1, you can’t be listed on an insurance policy as the primary driver. Until you have a G2, you won’t be able to get your own vehicle insured under your name. While you’re using your parents’ car or someone else’s to learn, have them list you as a secondary or occasional driver.
Getting yourself listed as a secondary driver will also help build your driving record. So, by the time you are a fully licenced driver with a car insured under your own name, you will have some driving experience to demonstrate to the insurance company. While auto insurance premiums might still be high for young drivers, this is one way to get started on reducing car insurance premiums.
There usually aren’t any additional costs to add a G1 driver to a car insurance policy.
Graduating to G2 and becoming fully licensed
As mentioned, 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. It may also lead to lower car insurance rates.
Once you get your G2, you’ll be granted more freedom — you won’t need to drive with another fully licensed driver in the car, for example; and you’ll be able to drive on all Ontario roads, including highways and expressways.
Getting a full license to drive in Ontario takes a long time — in some cases, up to five years, or even longer, depending on whether you’re able to pass the test. However, all that preparation and training will help you become a safer driver. And, if you take a driver’s training course and get experience as a secondary driver, you’ll also be able to spend less money on your auto insurance when you finally do get a car.
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