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Osama Siddique

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Getting a driver’s licence is a liberating experience for many and a rite of passage for everyone. Thankfully, Ontario’s Graduated Licensing System makes the process pretty straightforward while also ensuring that our roads are safe. New drivers in Ontario that are looking to get behind the wheel (or the handle – if you’re getting a motorcycle licence) will need to get plenty of practical experience before they drive independently with minimal restrictions. 

The entire process takes at least 24 months to complete (two 12 month practice periods); however, new drivers could shave 4 months off of that timeline by completing a Beginner Driver Education (BDE) course

Snapshot: 

  • Be at least 16 years old 
  • Pass a vision test 
  • G1: Pass the G1 knowledge test at a DriveTest centre, which contains two multiple choice sections – Rules of the Road and Traffic Signs 
    • Get driving experience with an instructor or fully licenced driver before taking the G2 road test (minimum wait period of 12 months unless you go through driving school
  • G2: Pass your G2 road test at a DriveTest centre 
    • Practice driving on your own (and potentially take a few lessons with a certified instructor) before taking the G road test (minimum wait period of 12 months)
  • G: Pass the G road test at a DriveTest centre 

 

Graduated Licensing Fee Structure:

SERVICE FEE (not incl. tax)
G1 knowledge test        $16.00
Class G2 road test $53.75
Five-year licence $90.00
Class G road test  $91.25
Total  $251.00

Note: When you first apply, you may need to pay for the G1 knowledge test, G2 road test, and five-year license all at once ($159.75). 

 

G1 Licence

In Ontario, the G1 license is the equivalent of getting a learner’s permit. This class is the first of three to complete the Graduated Licensing System. 

To obtain a G1 licence, novice drivers must: 

  • Be 16 years old 
  • Pass a vision test 
  • Pass the G1 knowledge test at a DriveTest centre (no appointments, walk-in only)  

The G1 knowledge test 

The G1 test includes 40 multiple choice questions that are split equally between two sections – Rules of the Road and Traffic Signs. You need to get at least an 80% (16/20) on each section to pass the G1 knowledge test. This test takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. 

The test is available in many languages, including English and French. If you aren’t able to take the written exam in one of these languages, you can schedule an appointment, bring an interpreter, and take an oral exam at the office.

Many DriveTest Centres also have audio versions of the test. If you have difficulty with reading or writing, this may be a better option. You also have the choice of scheduling an appointment to take the test verbally with an employee at the DriveTest Centre.

What should I bring to the G1 knowledge test? 

  • Two pieces of identification (e.g., passport, health card, birth certificate) 
  • Money for test fees – cash, debit or credit card
  • Glasses or contact lenses (if you need to wear them to drive)

What happens if I fail the G1 knowledge test?

If you fail your first attempt, you can retake the test as many times as you need to. However, the cost of retaking the test is $16.00 for each additional attempt. 

G1 Licence – Rules and Restrictions 

As a G1 licence holder, you’ll face the most restrictions on the road as you learn to drive. This includes the following:  

  • You can only drive if you are accompanied by a valid Full G licence holder. The accompanying driver must have at least four years of driving experience, a blood-alcohol level of less than 0.05%, and be sitting in the front passenger seat when accompanying you
  • Each passenger in the vehicle must be wearing a seat belt 
  • You are not permitted to drive between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m
  • You must not drive if you have been drinking alcohol or consuming cannabis 
  • You are not permitted to drive on 400-series highways or expressways (e.g., Gardiner Expressway, Don Valley Parkway (DVP), and the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW)) unless you’re with a driving instructor

How long do I need to wait before getting my G2 license? 

G1 license holders must wait 12 months before taking their G2 road test (also known as the G1 exit test). However, new drivers are highly encouraged to go through a Beginner Driver Education (BDE) course at an MTO-approved driving school, which also reduces the wait time to 8 months instead of 12. 

BDE courses are important for teaching new drivers about the rules of the road and how to navigate complex situations they may encounter. Plus, most auto insurance companies offer discounts or reduced premiums to new drivers that successfully complete the BDE course! 

The BDE course includes:

  • Digital or in-person classroom instruction (20 hours)
  • Hands-on, in-vehicle training with a driving instructor (10 hours)
    • You cannot complete more than 2 hours of in-vehicle training per day. After 5 hours of classroom instruction, you must not receive more than 1 hour of in-vehicle training in the same day.
  • Flexible instruction (10 hours)
    • This could include additional vehicle and/or classroom instruction, driving simulation instruction, computer-based instruction, and/or HomeLink (programming the vehicle to control garage doors or gates)

 

G2 Licence

As a G2 licence holder, you’ll be allowed to drive on your own for the first time!

To obtain a G2 licence, new drivers must pass the G1 exit test. You could book a G2 road test via phone, online, or at a local DriveTest Centre. 

The G2 road test 

This road test is approximately 20 minutes long and is designed to test your basic driving abilities on city streets (does not include any 400-series highways). During the road test, the examiner will give you directions and assess your ability to complete them. There are no set number of mistakes allowed on this test – it’s up to the discretion of the examiner to pass or fail the student based on the severity and volume of errors. Some of the maneuvers that an examiner could test include:

  • Parallel parking
  • Roadside stops
  • 3-point turns
  • Left and right turns 
  • Lane merging 

What should I bring to the G2 road test? 

  • An accompanying driver with a valid G driving license and 4 years of driving experience 
  • A vehicle in good driving condition
  • Money for test fees (if applicable)
  • Glasses or contact lenses (if you need to wear them to drive)

What if I fail the G2 road test?

If you fail the G2 road test on your first attempt, you may retake the road test as many times as needed as long as your G1 licence has not expired. The fee to retake the G2 road test is $53.75 for each additional attempt. 

G2 Licence – Rules & Restrictions

As a G2 license holder, you are given more freedom on the road due to your driving experience. However, you are still under the following restrictions while you prepare for your Full G license: 

  • Each person in the vehicle must be wearing a seatbelt 
  • You must not drive if you’ve been drinking alcohol or consuming cannabis 
  • For the first six months, if you’re 19 or younger, you’re only permitted to carry one passenger who is 19 or younger between 12 a.m and 5 a.m. 
  • You can carry up to three passengers aged 19 or under between 12 a.m and 5 a.m. after six months with your G2 licence and until you obtain your Full G licence or turn 20.

Note that the passenger restrictions no longer apply if you’re accompanied by a Full G license holder in the front passenger seat, or if your passengers are members of your immediate family. 

How long do I need to wait before getting my Full G license? 

G2 licence holders will need to wait at least 12 months before taking their Full G road test (also known as the G2 exit test). During this time, they’re encouraged to practice driving as much as possible and (ideally) in different weather conditions. 

They must also get experience driving on highways with speed limits of at least 80km/h. Not only will they need to drive on a highway for the Full G road test, but they will also need to sign a Declaration of Highway Driving Experience form before taking the test. This form will outline the highway driving experience they’ve amassed over the 12+ months as a G2 license holder. In order to take the G road test, G2 license holders must have driven on the highway at least 5 times within the last 3 months. 

 

Full G Licence

The G licence is the last stage of Ontario’s Graduated Licensing System. With a Full G license, you face even fewer restrictions as a driver in Ontario. You can obtain your Full G licence by passing the G road test. Before you can take the G road test, you must have had your G2 license for at least 12 months.

The G road test 

This road test is approximately 30-40 minutes long and is designed to test advanced driving abilities on city streets and highways. Similar to the G2 road test, the examiner will give you directions and assess your ability to complete them. Remember, it’s up to the discretion of the examiner to pass or fail the student based on the severity and volume of errors. Some maneuvers that an examiner could test include:

  • Driving on major streets and highways
  • Merging and getting on and off highway ramps 
  • Turns, curves and lane changes
  • Navigating intersections
  • Any maneuvers done in the G2 road test 

What should I bring to the G road test? 

  • A vehicle in good driving condition
  • Money for test fees (if applicable)
  • Glasses or contact lenses (if you need to wear them to drive)

Full G licence – Rules & Restrictions 

A Full G licence removes the majority of driving restrictions faced by G1 and G2 license holders. However, Full G license holders should be aware of the following restrictions:

  • You can only drive G class vehicles in Ontario. G class vehicles include cars, minivans and small trucks
  • If you are aged 21 years or younger, you must have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of zero 
  • If you are over the age of 21, you cannot have a BAC of more than 0.08% (80mg)

What if you fail the Full G Road Test?

If you fail your Full G road test you can retake it as many times as needed, as long as your G2 license has not expired. You must wait 10 days between attempts and pay $91.25 for each additional attempt. 

 

Exchanging a Foreign Driver’s License 

If you’re new to Ontario and have a valid driver’s license from another province or country, you’ll be able to drive stress-free with that license for 60 days. However, if you want to continue driving after 60 days, you’ll need to get an Ontario driver’s license. 

Jurisdictions with a reciprocal arrangement 

The province of Ontario allows drivers from the following jurisdictions to exchange their foreign license for a Full G driver’s license (as long as the foreign license is of an equivalent class): 

  • All Canadian provinces and territories 
  • Australia 
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • France
  • Germany
  • Great Britain 
  • Ireland
  • The Isle of Man
  • Japan 
  • New Zealand 
  • Northern Ireland 
  • Republic of Korea 
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United States 

However, if you’re a newcomer with fewer than 2 years of driving experience, you may instead receive a G2 license. Once you have at least 2 years of driving experience, you can take the G road test for full license privileges. 

Checklist to exchange your foreign license: 

  • Pass a vision test 
  • Bring an acceptable piece of ID that shows your legal name, date of birth and signature
  • Bring your foreign driver’s licence
  • Bring any proof of your foreign driving experience
  • Fill out the application form
  • Pay the $90 fee 

Jurisdictions without a reciprocal arrangement 

If you’re new to Ontario and your jurisdiction does not have a license-exchange agreement with Ontario, you may still be able to expedite the process to obtain an Ontario driver’s license. Although you would still need to complete all three steps of the Ontario graduated licensing system, your driving experience could reduce your waiting time. 

Less than 12 months of foreign driving experience:

  • You can self-declare this experience to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) at the time of the exchange 
  • You’ll only need to wait the difference between your foreign driving experience and 12 months to take the G2 road test (e.g., 10 months of foreign driving experience means only 2 months of waiting time) 
  • You’re eligible to get a wait time reduction through taking a Beginner Driver Education (BDE) course with a certified driving school

12 months of foreign driving experience: 

  • You can self-declare this experience to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) at the time of the exchange 
  • You can take the G2 road test immediately after completing the G1 knowledge test

More than 12 months’ of foreign driving experience: 

  • You must provide an authenticated letter from your embassy, consulate, or licensing agency in English or French 
  • You can take the G2 road test immediately after completing the G1 knowledge test
  • You’ll only need to wait the difference between your foreign driving experience and 24 month to take the G road test (e.g., 22 months of foreign driving experience means only 2 months of waiting time) 
  • You’re eligible to get a wait time reduction through taking a Beginner Driver Education (BDE) course with a certified driving school

You can visit any DriveTest centre or the ServiceOntario at Bay and College in downtown Toronto to get the process started.

Note: Only driving experience within the past three years will be credited.

 

Passing your licensing tests in the first try 

Although pass rates for Ontario’s G2 and G tests vary significantly based on the DriveTest centre, your best bet is to go through driving school and learn with a certified instructor. Driving instructors are very familiar with the structure and topics covered in both the G2 and G road tests. However, instructors alone won’t get you the pass; remember, practice makes perfect – so be sure to practice as much as you can before booking your tests! 

For your G1 knowledge test, the MTO Driver’s Handbook is the best resource available. You can also find tons of free practice tests online! 

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