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Everything Novice Driver’s in Ontario Need to Know

One of the most exciting things in life is getting your first driver’s licence.  The new found freedom to go and do as you please behind the wheel of your first car.  A new driver can go to visit friends, attend concerts and events, or travel for work or leisure.  Anywhere you can drive to, you can go.

However, like all freedoms there also comes responsibility.  In this specific case:  legal responsibility.  Just as there are new drivers on Ontario’s roads, there are also city police and Ontario provincial police patrolling our roadways to make sure that laws are obeyed and people are kept safe.  So.  What makes a novice driver different from an experienced driver and what do they need to know to avoid running afoul of the law?

Let’s take a look!

Who Is A Novice Driver?

Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation defines a “novice driver” as:

You are considered a novice driver if you have a G1, G2, M1, M2, M2-L or M2-M licence

You can also be considered a “young driver” if you are 21 years of age or younger.

How Do Demerit Points Work For Novice Drivers?

Drivers in Ontario start out with a clean driving record and gain demerit points if they are convicted of an offence that carries demerit points.  Regular drivers with a full licence have the largest potential pool of demerit points as follows:

2 to 8 points:
You will be sent a warning letter.

9 to 14 points:
Your licence could be suspended. You may have to attend an interview to discuss your driving record. At this meeting, you will need to provide reasons why your licence should not be suspended.

If you have to attend an interview, you will get a letter (Notice of Interview) to notify you of the time, date and location of the meeting. If you do not attend, your licence could be suspended.

The fee for a demerit point interview is $50 and must be paid in person at any ServiceOntario Centre. You can pay the fee when you receive the Notice of Interview or within 10 business days of attending the interview. Failure to pay the interview fee will result in the cancellation of your driver’s licence.

15+ points:
Your licence will be 
suspended for 30 days.

When your licence is suspended, you will get a letter from the Ministry of Transportation. It will tell you the date your suspension takes effect and that you need to surrender your licence.

If you do not surrender your licence, you can lose your licence for up to two years.

However, novice drivers such as those with a G1, G2, M1, M2, M2-L or M2-M licence have a much smaller potential pool of demerit points as follows:

2 to 5 points:
You will be sent a warning letter.

6 to 8 points:
Your licence could be suspended. You may have to attend an interview to discuss your driving record. At this meeting, you will need to provide reasons why your licence should not be suspended.

If you have to attend an interview, you will get a letter (Notice of Interview) to notify you of the time, date and location of the meeting. If you do not attend, your licence could be suspended.

The fee for a demerit point interview is $50 and must be paid in person at any ServiceOntario Centre. You can pay the fee when you receive the Notice of Interview or within 10 business days of attending the interview. Failure to pay the interview fee will result in the cancellation of your driver’s licence.

9 or more points:
Your licence will be
 suspended for 60 days.

When your licence is suspended, you will get a letter from the Ministry of Transportation. It will tell you the date your suspension takes effect and that you need to surrender your licence.

If you do not surrender your licence, you can lose your licence for up to two years.

Novice drivers have a significantly smaller pool of demerit points than fully licenced drivers.  As such, they can much more quickly find themselves receiving a warning letter, facing an MTO interview, or even having their licence automatically suspended.

What Are Novice Driver Escalated Sanctions Penalties?

Beyond having a much smaller pool of potential demerit points compared to a fully licenced driver, novice drivers may also be subject to escalated sanctions penalties.  These penalties are in addition to any other court or MTO penalties and can occur under the following conditions:

  • convicted of breaking graduated licensing rules
  • convicted of a Highway Traffic Act offence that results in four or more demerit points (e.g., street racing, careless driving)
  • subject to a court-ordered suspension for a Highway Traffic Act offence that would have otherwise resulted in four or more demerit points

Escalating sanctions for hybrid drivers would apply if there is any combination of repeat violations of their novice licence (G1/G2/M1/M2) conditions within a five-year period.

Escalated sanctions penalties can also be incurred for conviction of a specific offence such as Drive With Hand-held Communication Device under HTA section 78.1 (1).

What Penalties Can I Face Under Escalated Sanctions Penalties?

The penalties issued under escalated sanctions are on top of the other court, licencing, and insurance consequences of a conviction.  The exact penalty issued by the MTO depends on whether the conviction is a first, second, or later offence that has triggered escalated sanctions.  Penalties issued by the MTO are:

  • 30-day licence suspension for the first occurrence
  • 90-day licence suspension for the second occurrence
  • Licence cancellation and a requirement to re-apply for a G1/M1 after the third occurrence. Any fees paid, credit received for time spent in the program or BDE credit would be forfeited when the licence is cancelled. Please note that in the case of a hybrid driver, only the novice-class licence is cancelled on the third occasion; their full-class licence is maintained.

Is There An Exemption To Escalated Sanctions?

Yes.  The following exemption is provided by the MTO;

Escalating sanctions do not apply in situations where a driver is convicted of an offence resulting in four or more demerit points (or receives a court-ordered suspension for an offence that would have resulted in four or more demerit points) and has one of the following hybrid licence combinations:

(a) A G1 or G2 with a Class M licence

(b) An M1 or M2 with a Class A, B, C, D, E, F or G licence

If I Get Escalated Sanctions Penalties Do I Also Get Demerit Points?

No.  If there is any small upside to receiving escalated sanctions penalties, it is this:

If you are a novice driver and are convicted of violating any novice condition, an offence that is associated with 4 or more demerit points or receive a court-ordered suspension for an offence that would have resulted in 4 or more demerit points, you will receive the appropriate penalty and novice driver escalating sanction licence suspension. However, the demerit points will be recorded as zero on your record, and will not be counted towards the accumulated demerit point system.

What Happens If I Paid For A Driver Examination But Lose My Licence?

Unfortunately, if you have already paid a fee for a driver examination test, that fee will be lost:

If you prepaid any examination fees and are convicted for a third occurrence under escalating sanctions all your pre-paid fees will be lost. You will be required to pay all fees once you re-enter into the GLS program.

Can I Have Alcohol or Cannabis As A Novice or Young Driver?

No.  Both novice and young drivers must have zero alcohol or cannabis in their body.  This is generally referred to as a “zero-BAC” or a “zero-tolerance” rule.  Maintaining a zero-BAC for alcohol is regulated under HTA section 44.1 as follows:

Novice drivers

44.1 (1) It is a condition of the driver’s licence of every novice driver that his or her blood alcohol concentration level be zero while he or she is driving a motor vehicle on a highway.  2009, c. 5, s. 14.

Young drivers

(2) It is a condition of the driver’s licence of every young driver that his or her blood alcohol concentration level be zero while he or she is driving a motor vehicle on a highway.  2009, c. 5, s. 14.

The same is true under HTA section 44.2 for cannabis use:

Novice drivers

44.2 (1) It is a condition of the driver’s licence of every novice driver that there be no drug in his or her body, as indicated by approved drug screening equipment, while he or she is driving a motor vehicle on a highway. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 5.

Young drivers

(2) It is a condition of the driver’s licence of every young driver that there be no drug in his or her body, as indicated by approved drug screening equipment, while he or she is driving a motor vehicle on a highway. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 5.

The penalties for being convicted of a non-zero BAC for alcohol or cannabis use are as follows:

  • a fine of not less than $60 and not more than $500
  • escalated sanctions imposed for novice drivers
  • mandatory 30 day licence suspension for young drivers

Is There A Medical Exemption For Cannabis Use For Young/Novice Drivers?

Yes.  As far as being charged under the Highway Traffic Act sections 44.2 (1) and (2), the following exemption is available:

Exception

44.2 (3) Subsection (1) or (2), as the case may be, does not apply where a police officer is satisfied that the driver is legally authorized to use a drug or drugs for medical purposes, and has that drug or drugs in his or her body, as indicated by approved drug screening equipment. 2017, c. 26, Sched. 4, s. 5.

Is Insurance Different For A Novice Driver?

The best source of information on the insurance impact of being a novice driver is a licenced insurance broker.  They will be able to provide you with specific information regarding risk assessment and impact to insurance costs.  Generally, insurance companies may look at novice drivers who have not yet established a safe and responsible driving record as being higher-risk or high-risk when calculating the cost for automobile insurance.  The more convictions that are incurred on your driving history, the more that risk assessment would generally be anticipated to also increase insurance costs.

What Can I Do If I’m Charged By The Police?

The first, best thing to do is to contact our office.  You’re going to have a lot of important questions and you’re going to need basic information to decide what you’re going to do.  The Internet is full of incorrect or partial information.  Even the police make regular mistakes at roadside when they try to be helpful in providing information to the person that they have just charged.  It is unfortunate when someone calls our office having just received a letter of driver’s licence suspension from the MTO having had no idea that paying their ticket would cause this to happen.  At this point, legal options are generally more limited and more expensive.  When it comes to the law, it is important to get things right the first time as you may only have one reasonable chance to provide your defence.

The staff at OTD Legal are here to help you.  Our friendly staff provide a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation to go through your case details and history with you.  If you have been charged by the police, you can contact our office via our toll-free number 1-844-647-6869, by email at info@otdlegal.ca, or by text at 226-240-2480.  You can also submit an online consultation request any time of day or night and one of our staff will contact you during regular business hours to assist you.

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