Who is a novice driver?
A novice driver is any driver who has a class 1 or class 2 licence. This could be a G1, G2, M1, or M2 licence. Even a fully licenced driver can fall into a novice driver status by having a hybrid novice driver’s licence such as a GM1, GM2, G1M, G2M, AZM1, etc. Having a novice driver designation will incur restrictions on how and when the driver may operate a motor vehicle. Contravening those conditions can result in series penalties should you be stopped and charged by the police.
What are the novice driver limitations?
Graduated licencing allows novice drivers to gradually gain experience before being allowed to drive on their own without any limitations beyond those would normally be placed on a fully licenced driver. This graduated approach however comes with restrictions on what the novice driver may do when behind the wheel of a vehicle. Failure to obey these restrictions can lead to serious consequences, including suspension of driver’s licence.
A G1 licence holder must:
- Maintain a 0 BAC (blood alcohol concentration)
- Ensure all passengers in their vehicle are properly seatbelted
- Not drive between midnight and 5:00am
- Not drive on any 400-series highway (such has Highway 400, 401, 403, etc.)
- Drive with a fully licenced passenger who has at least four years of driving experience and has a BAC of less than .05 (excepting if the person is under the age of 21, whereupon their BAC must be 0)
A G2 licence holder no longer requires a fully licenced passenger to be present, has no limitation on the time of day during which they can drive, and may drive on 400-series highways. However, they are still restricted to:
-Maintain a 0 BAC
-Travel with only as many passengers as there are there seatbelts available for in the vehicle
G2 drivers who are also 19 years of age or younger are limited to carrying only one passenger between the hours of midnight and 5:00am if that passenger is also 19 years of age or younger. This restriction remains in effect for the first 6 months of the G2 licence, at which time up to three passengers of age 19 or younger may be in the vehicle. This passenger limitation does not effect a novice G2 driver if there is either a fully licenced passenger in the vehicle, or if the passengers are all immediate family members (such as brother, sister, mother, or father).
The non-zero BAC requirement may seem very straight forward: if you have had any alcohol, do not drive. However, over the years I have seen novice drivers who have acted responsibly by staying overnight at a friend’s house after drinking and then driving home the next morning only to be stopped and charged by the police on their way home. What happened? The alcohol consume the previous night was still in their body and registered a non-zero BAC at roadside. It is important to be mindful that evening a solid night’s sleep may leave alcohol in your body sufficient for you to be charged the next day. It is also worth noting that even if you have obtained a full G licence, you are prohibited from having a non-zero BAC if you are 21 years of age or younger.
If you are stopped for a non-zero BAC restriction, you will likely face an immediate 24 hour roadside suspension of your driver’s licence. If convicted at court, you may face a fine of up to $500 and a further mandatory 30 day suspension of your licence. Beyond these immediate penalties, the costs incurred due to increased insurance rates can lead into the thousands of dollars.
Unfortunately sometimes we make a poor decision and end up on the wrong side of the law. If you’ve been charged under the Highway Traffic Act in Ontario for having contravened one of the novice driver restrictions, it is important to understand your rights, what penalties you are facing should you be convicted, and what potential outcomes are likely should you protect your interests by contesting your offence at court. Most paralegal companies, such as OTD Legal, will review your case and provide you with this critical initial information without cost in deciding whether to proceed or not in a legal defence of your charge.
Generally, it is more cost effective to protect your interests at court rather than simply entering a plea of guilt and accepting the consequences of the charge you were issued. Our team of experienced paralegals are licenced under the Law Society of Ontario and will act on your behalf at court, often times without requiring you to ever step foot in a court house. We’ll be able to review the evidence of the Prosecutor’s Office in advance of trial to determine whether an agreement can simply be reached to withdraw the charge(s) without the need for trial. If there is no outright legal argument by which to have the case against you withdrawn, most charges can be negotiated with the Prosecutor to reduce the number or nature of the charges, or the penalties tied to the charges during a negotiated plea deal.
Know your rights and protect your interests. Rash decisions without proper legal knowledge and guidance can have lifelong repercussions on your ability to work, your insurance costs, and your ability to drive in meeting your basic day-to-day family and life obligations.