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Ontario “Learner” System for New Drivers

    Ontario is one of the provinces that uses a “learner” system for new drivers. After passing a written driver test, the new driver is issued a G1 permit that has several restrictions attached until the driver qualifies for a regular permit:

    • A G1 driver cannot drive alone or with only another G1 driver. They must be accompanied by a driver with an unrestricted license who has had that license for at least four years and is over 18 years old. In Ontario this would be considered a G2 driver and they must be sober (less than .05% blood alcohol) in case they must take the wheel. The G2 driver must be in the front passenger seat.
    • The G1 driver is restricted from driving between midnight and 5 AM since the time between these hours is considered the most dangerous for new drivers.
    • All passengers in the car must be wearing a seatbelt and there cannot be more passengers than available seatbelts (also required for unrestricted drivers).
    • A G1 driver is restricted from driving on any 400 series highway unless a certified driving instructor is in the passenger seat next to them.
    • The G1 driver cannot have a blood alcohol level above 0% even if they are old enough to drink legally.

    A G1 driver is eligible to take the G2 licensing test after 12 months provided they have not violated any of the G1 restrictions. The wait can be reduced to 6 months if the G1 driver takes and passes an approved Ontario driver education course.

    Liability of the G1 Driver

    When a G1 driver operates another person’s vehicle with permission, that person’s vehicle insurance covers the liability of the G1 driver. If the G1 driver is ticketed for an at-fault accident, the vehicle owner’s insurance may be surcharged because of the at-fault accident. The violation can however, be transferred to the G1’s insurance when they purchase a vehicle and the required insurance.

    Auto Liability Requirements in Canada

    In comparison with the US, Canada’s liability limits are much higher and more realistic. The minimum limits in the US are set by the state and in most cases are far lower than they should be. For example, Florida minimum limits are $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident which is not going to be enough when an accident happens and results in significant injuries. For this reason, many US state courts are backlogged with auto injury cases and the resulting cost to taxpayers is significant.

    In Canada, the minimum limit for third party liability insurance is $200,000 except in Quebec where it is $50,000. These limits are much more adequate to sufficiently pay benefits to an injured party after an accident. Also, most accidents with injuries have more than one party involved. There are just as many multi-occupant vehicles on the road as there are single occupant vehicles. When the result of an accident ends up with multiple people injured, at-fault drivers need higher limits or they will be liable for a lawsuit.

    The same line of thinking applies to property damage liability: the part of your insurance that pays for damage caused to another person’s vehicle or property in the event of an at-fault accident. The insurance policy should contain sufficient property damage limits to pay for one or more vehicles in an accident and any other type of property damage.

    At fault accidents may involve one or many vehicles as well as other property damage. News reports frequently report drivers who have lost control of their vehicle and driven into a store or restaurant, or hit a signpost. Sometimes, one collision in traffic will cause a chain reaction of several vehicle accidents that the at-fault driver may be responsible for.

    When purchasing auto insurance, it makes financial sense to compare rates but it does not make sense to reduce coverage to save a few dollars leaving a driver under insured. This cost cutting decision could be financially devastating if in a serious accident.


    Christopher - BSc, MBA

    With over two decades of combined Big 5 Banking and Agency experience, Christopher launched Underbanked® to cut through the noise and complexity of financial information. Christopher has an MBA degree from McMaster University and BSc. from Western University in Canada.

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