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Understanding Escalated Sanctions In Ontario

Getting your first licence is an exciting time of life.  The ability to drive when and where you want to.  Freedom.  A greater access to a wide array of jobs that require you to have a valid licence.  Getting your first driver’s licence opens up an exciting part of the world to explore and enjoy.  However, your first licence comes with some limitations and conditions, and contravening those conditions can have some serious consequences.  Let’s take a look…

WHO IS A NOVICE DRIVER?

Ontario uses a graduated licencing system.  This is a two-step licencing process that allows new drivers to gain experience under a limited driver’s licence as they work towards a full driver’s licence over a period of at least 20 months.  To get your first driver’s licence you need to be at least 16 years old, pass a vision test, and pass a written test to demonstrate your knowledge of the rules of the road and traffic signs.

As new driver you are classified as a ‘novice driver.’  To become a fully licenced driver, you must pass two road tests.  Completion of the first test will let you move to a class 2 (G2) licence.  Completion of the second road test will allow you to graduate to a full licence.  While classified as a novice driver, you are subject to driving restrictions and violating those restrictions can result in ‘escalated sanctions.’

CLASS 1 LICENCE (G1)

A class 1 licence is the first stage of obtaining a full licence.  This initial licence lasts for a period of 12 months and is subject to the following driving restrictions:

  • You must not drive if you have been drinking alcohol. Your blood-alcohol level must be zero.
  • You must not drive alone; an accompanying driver must sit in the front passenger seat. This is the only person who can be in the front seat with you while you drive. The accompanying driver must have a valid Class G (or higher) licence, at least four years of driving experience and a blood-alcohol level of less than .05 per cent when accompanying you. Time spent at the Class G2 level, as long as the G2 licence was valid (not suspended), does count toward the accompanying driver’s four years of experience. The accompanying driver’s licence may have demerit points, but it cannot be suspended.
  • Each person in the vehicle must have a working seatbelt.
  • You must not drive on 400-series highways with a posted speed limit over 80km/h. Also, you must not drive on certain high-speed roads including the Queen Elizabeth Way, Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway in the Greater Toronto Area, the E.C. Row Expressway in Windsor and the Conestoga Parkway in Kitchener-Waterloo. However, if your accompanying driver is a driving instructor, you may drive on any road.
  • You must not drive between midnight and 5 a.m.

CLASS 2 LICENCE (G2)

A class 2 licence lasts for 12 months.  While some of the driving restrictions are removed, a class 2 licence is still subject to the following restrictions:

  • You must not drive if you have been drinking alcohol. Your blood-alcohol level must be zero.
  • Each person in the vehicle must have a working seatbelt.

In addition, the following restrictions apply between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. to G2 drivers aged 19 years and under.

  • In the first six months after receiving your G2 licence, you are allowed to carry only one passenger aged 19 or under.
  • After six months with your G2 licence and until you obtain your full G licence or turn 20, you are allowed to carry up to three passengers aged 19 or under.

Exemptions: The passenger restrictions for G2 drivers aged 19 and under do not apply if you are accompanied by a fully–licensed driver in the front passenger seat, or if the passengers are members of your immediate family (a guardian or those related to you by blood, marriage, common–law relationship or adoption).

ESCALATED SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS 

Violating the restrictions of a novice driver’s licence will result in ‘escalated sanctions penalties.’  These additional penalties are applied if any of the following occur within a 5 year period:

  • Any combination of repeat violations of G1/G2/M1/M2 restrictions
  • Convictions for individual HTA offences carrying four or more demerit points
  • Court-ordered licence suspensions for HTA convictions that would have otherwise resulted in four or more demerit points

Escalated sanctions also apply if you have a hybrid licence which contains a full licence classification but also a class 1 or class 2 additional licence classification such as a M1 or M2.  Escalated sanctions penalties are applied in this situation if any combination of repeat novice driver violations from the above list occur within 5 years.

NOVICE DRIVER’S AND ZERO BAC

As a novice driver you are required to have a 0% blood alcohol concentration(BAC).  Not only are you required to maintain a zero BAC as a novice driver, but this limitation remains in place for all drivers up to and included the age of 21.  If you are found to be driving with a non-zero BAC under either condition, you will have your licence either suspended or revoked under escalated sanctions penalties.

NOVICE DRIVER’S AND CELL PHONE USE

Cell phone charges are issued under section 78.1 of the Highway Traffic Actunder the wording “Drive With Handheld Communication Device.”  As of September 1, 2015, if you are convicted of cell phone use while driving with a novice licence you will be subject to escalated sanctions penalties.

ESCALATED SANCTIONS PENALTIES

The penalties issued against your licence under escalated sanctions are as follows:

  • 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.

GUARDING YOUR LICENCE AND INSURANCE

If you are charged by the police, it is important to know your rights and the consequences of being convicted.  This is especially important if you are a novice driver.  Pleading guilty or being unnecessarily convicted of an offence that results in the loss of your licence, may greatly limit your legal options in seeking to properly protect your interests after the fact.  The time to gather the information that you need to make educated decisions is immediately after being charged by the police.

If you have been charged by the police, we offer a no-cost, no obligation consultation.  Generally most consultations will take as little as 5 to 10 minutes and can be completed by telephone.  Our friendly staff are here to assist you and can be reached by toll-free telephone at 1-844-647-6869 or info@otdlegal.ca.

Posted under Demerit Points, Traffic Ticket Defence

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