If you are at least 16 years old, you can apply for driver’s licence in Ontario. As a new driver, you will need to practice driving and gain experience over time. For most people, the two-step process takes about 20 months to finish. Here’s how you get a driver’s licence
Graduated Licensing System for Passenger Vehicles
- Learner’s permit (G1): Available at the age of 16 with successful completion of a multiple-choice road theory test and an eye vision test. The G1 licence allows the learning driver to drive on roads accompanied by a full G licence driver with four years of driving experience whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is less than 0.05. Proof of four years’ experience is indicated on a licence with four dots. The driver must not drive between 12 AM and 5 AM, and must not drive with a BAC above zero. Furthermore, a G1 driver may not drive on any of the following unless accompanied by a licensed instructor:
- 400-series highways with posted speeds of over 80 km/h.
- Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW)
- Don Valley Parkway
- Gardiner Expressway in the Greater Toronto Area
- E.C. Row Expressway in Windsor
- Conestoga Parkway in Kitchener-Waterloo
- Probationary licence (G2): Available after having held a G1 licence for 1 year, or eight months if the driver has graduated from a ministry-approved driver education course. After successfully completing a basic road test, a G2 driver may drive without an accompanying driver at any time and on all Ontario roads and highways. The driver must still maintain a BAC of zero and restrict passengers to the number of working seatbelts. As of September 2005, teenage drivers with a G2 licence are restricted in the number of passengers under 19 that they can carry at night. Like the G1 licence, the G2 licence cannot be renewed, forcing progression towards a G licence.
- Full licence (G): After 1 year of driving with a G2 licence, a driver must take an additional road test that includes driving on a highway. With successful completion, they will obtain a full licence, which carries no restrictions. No further tests are required until the age of 80, provided they renew their licence every five years. Drivers 21 and under must still have a BAC of zero, even with a full G licence. Drivers aged 22 and over are permitted to drive with a maximum of 0.08 BAC, though roadside suspensions may be enforced above 0.05 BAC. Drivers 80 and over must complete a vision and knowledge test and participate in a 90-minute group education session to renew their licence, every two years.
Graduated Licensing System for Motorcycles
- Class M1: Motorcycles, including a limited-speed motorcycle (motor scooter) and a motor-assisted bicycle (moped). Level 1 of graduated licensing. Holders may drive a motorcycle under certain conditions, which are: blood alcohol content (BAC) must be zero, riders can only ride during daylight hours (half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset), cannot ride on any highway with speeds of greater than 80 km/h except Highways 11, 17, 61, 69, 71, 101, 102, 144 and 655 and no passengers. The M1 allows drivers to drive alone, unlike G1 (which requires an eligible person accompanying). Cannot be renewed.
- Class M2: Motorcycles, including a limited-speed motorcycle (motor scooter) and a motor-assisted bicycle (moped). Level 2 of graduated licensing. Holders may drive a motorcycle but only with a zero blood alcohol level. Holders may also drive a Class G vehicle under the conditions that apply to a class G1 licence holder. Cannot be renewed.
- Class M2 with Condition L: Limited-speed motorcycle (LSM) or moped only. Holders may also drive a Class G vehicle under the conditions that apply to a Class G1 licence holder. Cannot be renewed.
- Class M2 with Condition M: Three-wheeled motorcycles only. Holders may also drive a Class G vehicle under the conditions that apply to a Class G1 licence holder.
- Class M: Motorcycles, including a limited-speed motorcycle (motor scooter) and a motor-assisted bicycle (moped). Holders may also drive a Class G vehicle under the conditions that apply to a class G1 licence holder
- Class M with Condition L: Limited-speed motorcycle (LSM) or mopeds only. Limited-speed motorcycles are motorcycles with a maximum speed of 70 km/h. If manufactured after 1988 they are identified by a label on the vehicle that indicates it to be a “LSM/MVL”. Holders may also drive a Class G vehicle under the conditions that apply to a Class G1 licence holder.
- Class M with Condition M: Three-wheeled motorcycles only. Holders may also drive a Class G vehicle under the conditions that apply to a Class G1 licence holder.
Additional Licensing Types for Ontario
- Class F: Regular bus maximum of 24 passenger capacity and ambulances. Can also operate vehicles in Class ‘G’
- Class E: School purposes bus – maximum of 24 passenger capacity. Can also operate vehicles in Class ‘F’ and ‘G’
- Class D: Any truck or motor vehicle combination exceeding 11,000 kg provided the towed vehicle is not over 4,600 kg. Can also operate vehicles in Class ‘G’
- Class C: Any regular bus with designed seating capacity for more than 24 passengers. Can also operate vehicles in Class ‘D’, ‘F’ and ‘G’
- Class B: Any school purposes bus with designed seating capacity for more than 24 passengers. Can also operate vehicles in Class ‘C’, ‘D’, ‘E’, ‘F’ and ‘G’
- Class A with Condition R: Drivers with a restricted Class A licence condition would be prevented from operating a motor vehicle pulling double trailers or a motor vehicle pulling a trailer with air-brake. Can also operate vehicles in Class ‘D’ and ‘G’
- Class A: Any tractor-trailer or combination of motor vehicle and towed vehicles where the towed vehicles exceed a total gross weight of 4,600 kilograms. Can also operate vehicles in Class ‘A with Condition R’, ‘D’ and ‘G’
All licences in Ontario can carry any of the following restrictions/endorsements excluding some which are vehicle class specific. Some are related to health or to law enforcement penalty.
- Condition A: Special hand controls required
- Condition B: Special foot controls required
- Condition C: Special controls for hand and foot required
- Condition D: Hearing device required
- Condition E: Visual device required
- Condition F: Driver training conditions
- Condition G: Restricted class
- Condition I: Ignition interlock required
- Condition J: Special name/address requirements exist
- Condition K: Special controls required
- Condition L: Can only drive limited-speed motorcycles and motor assisted bicycle
- Condition M: May only drive motor-tricycle motorcycles
- Condition N: Hearing device required when operating Class A or D vehicle in United States
- Condition R: Class A vehicle restriction (cannot tow two trailers or a trailer equipped with air brakes)
- Condition S: For test use only
- Condition V: Valid for rehab evaluation only
- Condition W: Can only drive a commercial vehicle in Canada only
- Condition X: Must have corrective lenses
- Condition Z: Is required for operation of any and all vehicles equipped with air brakes.
- Condition 2(HC): Hand controls
- Condition +: Indicates more conditions/restrictions of lesser priority exist, requires system check.
Ontario has used a graduated licensing system since 1994. A driver can take as little as 20 months to get a full licence; however, a driver must have a full (G) licence within five years of obtaining a learner’s permit (G1).
In 2006, Ontario passed legislation that would allow a court to suspend the licence of high school dropout until they turn 18. The act did not receive royal assent until December 2009, but is now in effect.
Traffic violation convictions usually come with demerit points against a person’s licence. While the demerit points have no official impact on insurance rates, most insurance providers will increase the rate charged to a driver in response to demerit points. The demerit points are used by the Ministry of Transportation to determine licence suspensions due to repeated traffic violations (effects on Ontario insurance rates and eligibility are typically measured by the number of tickets received in recent years, rather than the associated points).
Drivers from out of province must obtain an Ontario driver’s licence if staying more than 90 days. New residents of Ontario may only apply after residing in the province for 60 days.
Starting June 2009, Ontario began issuing enhanced drivers licences (EDLs) as an option to residents upon request. These licence while almost visually identical to regular drivers licences contained two distinct differences. The first being a machine readable code printed on the back of the card (visually similar to the same coding on a Canadian passport). The second: an embedded RFID microchip. These changes were made in response to the heightened security precautions at US land border crossings. The changes allowed for quicker procedures at a border crossing as well as a cheaper alternative to a passport ($40 vs. $100).
The enhanced driver’s licence program has been discontinued.