Journey to G – an Ontario driver’s guide to becoming fully licensed

Jessica Ho
by Jessica Ho June 11, 2021 / No Comments

Whether you’ve just turned 16, or you’ve finally decided it’s time to get your license (like me), Ontario’s driver’s license class system can be quite daunting. Each class level has a different set of rules and restrictions, and that’s on top of preparing, taking, and passing the tests. I hope this guide will give you a full overview to start your journey in getting a G class license.

What are the driver’s license classes in Ontario? 

In Ontario, there are three different levels of driver’s license classes: G1, G2, and G. To obtain a G class, or a full license, you first need to get your G1 and then your G2. This guide will walk you through each class in chronological order. Let’s start with your G1 license. 

How to get your G1 license in Ontario

In Ontario, to get your G1 license, or learner’s permit, you’ll need to pass a vision test, pass a knowledge test, and pay a fee. Of course, you’ll also need to be at least 16 years old. 

You can complete your vision test and knowledge test at any DriveTest centre in Ontario. Recently, because of a high volume of test-takers, Ontario offers an online booking system to take the test, so book your appointment ahead of time to confirm a slot. You’ll be able to complete both vision and knowledge tests together, and if you fail the first time, you can also retake them on the same day. When I took my G1 test, I was nervous at first, but preparing myself with the details in advance gave me a lot more confidence going in. 

At the testing centre, you’ll be asked to show a form of identification. The ID must include your:

  • Full name
  • Signature
  • Picture
  • Date of birth 

You can also show multiple IDs if you don’t have one that checks off all the requirements. Ontario has a list of accepted IDs for Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and temporary residents. 

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Taking the G1 knowledge test in Ontario

The knowledge test comes in two separate parts: road rules and road signs. Each section has 20 questions (totaling 40) and you need to get at least 16 questions on each section correct to pass. But it doesn’t mean you pass with a score of 32/40. If you answer all your road sign questions correctly but get 5 questions incorrect on the road rules section, you would have to retake that one section again. 

Studying for the G1 knowledge test

All answers to the knowledge test can be found in the MTO Driver’s Handbook, so studying that would be your best bet on succeeding. I also made use of the G1 testing app on my phone and the Ontario G1 Practice Test online as a method of active studying, instead of just passively reading the handbook. Many of the questions that show up on your knowledge test actually overlap with the ones on the app and website.

How much does the G1 test cost?

The vision test and knowledge test are combined into a one-time flat fee of $159.75. If you don’t meet the requirements of the vision test, you probably just need glasses or contacts. The examiner will give you a form to take to a vision specialist, and once you’re ready, you can go back to the testing centre and try again. If you need to retake your knowledge test, it’ll cost an additional $16 each time you retry it. 

G1 driving rules and restrictions in Ontario

After you pass your tests, you can start driving in Ontario so long as you have the supervision of an experienced driver. You won’t be able to start racing on the 401 however, as there are a few restrictions to your learner’s permit:

  • You must be accompanied by a G class driver with at least 4 years of fully licensed experience
  • You must have a blood alcohol level and THC of zero
  • You can’t drive on 400-series highways and high-speed expressways unless you’re accompanied by a certified driving instructor
  • You can’t drive between midnight and 5 AM
  • All passengers must wear a seatbelt

Know that the fully licensed driver must sit in the passenger seat beside you, and their blood alcohol level can’t be over 0.5. If they’re 21 or younger, they can’t have their blood alcohol level over zero or any cannabis in their system. 

Do you need auto insurance as a G1 driver in Ontario?

As a G1 driver, you’ll be driving someone else’s car since you can’t be listed as a primary driver for an auto insurance policy. Most insurance companies won’t require parents to add their kids to their policy because a licensed adult is required to supervise anyways. The car owner’s insurance should cover you as a G1 driver, but some insurance companies will raise their premiums due to the higher risk of a new driver. Regardless, inform your insurer about the situation to ensure everyone is on the same page. In my situation, my parents are not adding me to their insurance policy just yet as I’ll be mostly practicing with my instructor’s car. 

How to get your G2 license in Ontario

After 12 months with your G1 license, you can take the class G2 road test to move up to a G2 driving class. This waiting period, however, can be shortened to 8 months if you take a certified driving course. 

Should you take a driving course?

Although the law doesn’t require drivers to take a driving course, it’s a good idea to do so after obtaining your G1 license. Receiving the course certificate will allow you to get your G2 four months ahead of schedule (8 months after your G1 test) and you’ll be able to save money on young drivers car insurance. Know that car insurance companies check your driving record when determining your insurance premiums, and the completed course lessens your risk factors so you can get cheaper insurance. But, the in-vehicle lessons not only make you a better driver ーthey also prepare you for the G2 road test. 

A certified driving course in Ontario has two parts of in-class learning and in-vehicle driving; the in-class component is a minimum of 20 hours while you’ll be driving at least 10 hours with a qualified instructor. Because of the pandemic, many driving schools have moved their in-class component online and you can complete them on your own time. This is great for anyone currently in school or working that can’t attend driving class during the scheduled times. I’m taking one right now and it’s been a breeze so far. 

How much does a driving course cost in Ontario?

The average cost for a driving course in Ontario is approximately $600, but this varies depending on your chosen school. You might pay up to $1,000 if you need to use the instructor’s car for the G1 road test and in-vehicle learning. So be sure to shop around and understand exactly what you need. 

NOTE: When choosing a driving school, make sure you select a government-approved program. You wouldn’t want to complete all the in-class learning and pay a large fee, only to find out the program was unlicensed and have to start all over. Here is Ontario’s list of schools whose licenses have been revoked. 

Taking the G2 road test in Ontario

Completing the class G2 road test, or what the Ontario government calls the G1 road test and sometimes the G1 exit test, is the next step to getting your G2 driver’s license. You can take the test 12 months after getting your G1 or 8 months after if completing a certified driving course. 

You need to book the road test in advance, either online on DriveTest or on the phone at 647-776-0331 (if you’re in the GTA) or 1-888-570-6110. You can also go to a DriveTest centre in person and book it there. You’ll need to provide a few details, including your driver’s license number, your preferred test dates, and your preferred DriveTest centre location. The date you’re offered will be at least 42 days within of booking, but most people are able to get tested sooner than that. 

In preparation, make sure you know what car you’ll be using during the G2 road test. I’m using my instructor’s car, but it doesn’t matter which car you choose as long as you’re most comfortable with it. Also, make sure that the registration, plates, and insurance are up-to-date and you’re wearing any visual aids (such as contacts or glasses) you need. DriveTest centres advise everyone to arrive at least 30 minutes in advance, but you’ll want to anyway to settle the nerves. 

During the test, expect to drive without the use of electronic driving aids such as a parallel-parking system or a back-end camera, so be sure you’ve practiced your parking skills without relying on the screen. This bugs me as it’s a feature designed to help you drive, but I guess if you need to borrow or rent a car that doesn’t have one, it’s important to be able to actually park it. 

What’s involved in the G2 road test?

The G2 road test lasts for about 20 minutes and can cover multiple aspects of driving. You won’t be asked to drive on the freeway, but you’ll be expected to cover multiple aspects of driving, including:

  • Starting
  • Stopping
  • Turning
  • Obeying traffic signs and lights
  • Passing vehicles and bicycles
  • Driving in passing lanes
  • Driving through controlled and uncontrolled intersections
  • Reversing
  • Parallel parking
  • Being ready for hazardous conditions
  • Other practices for safe driving 

Each examiner could ask for a different set of requirements. For example, you might not be asked to parallel park at all, but it’s best to be ready for any and all requirements to ensure success. 

After the test, your examiner will give you a pass or fail, as well as feedback and a report of any mistakes made. Unlike the G1 knowledge test, there isn’t a set number of mistakes you are allowed to pass, so it is up to the examiner’s judgment of your safe driving. One big mistake like ignoring a stop sign would likely lead to a failure while you could still pass if you had trouble parallel parking. 

An estimated 30-45% of drivers don’t pass the G2 road test on their first attempt, so if you need to retake the test, you can rebook it and wait at least 10 days from your most recent attempt. Otherwise, if unsuccessful, the same G1 restrictions will apply and you’ll need someone else like a parent or driving instructor to give you a lift home. Or you can always drive under licensed supervision.

How much does the G2 road test cost?

The G2 test costs $53.75 each time you take it. If you pass, you’ll also need to pay an extra $90 as a licensing fee. 

Do you need auto insurance as a G2 driver in Ontario?

As a G2 class driver, you need Ontario auto insurance if you want your own car. If you live with another licensed driver and are planning on using their car, they must add you as an occasional driver to their insurance policy. However, if you aren’t living with anyone that operates a vehicle, and you don’t have one yourself, you can drive a borrowed vehicle occasionally, whether it’s your friend’s or family’s, without being added to their policy. I’m planning on using my dad’s car most of the time, so adding myself to my parent’s insurance plan will save me a lot more money than having an auto insurance policy of my own.    

READ: Occasional driver auto insurance: risks and costs

G2 driving rules and restrictions in Ontario

As a level two driver in Ontario, you’ll face fewer restrictions than a G1 driver – the most prominent difference being you can now drive unaccompanied. However, there are still several Ontario G2 license restrictions to know when driving:

  • You must have a blood alcohol level and THC of zero
  • If you’re 19 years old or younger and driving unaccompanied: 
    • In the first 6 months of getting your G2, you can only carry one person 19 or younger from midnight to 5 AM
    • After the first 6 months of getting your G2, you can only carry three people 19 or younger from midnight to 5 AM

As a 19-year-old or younger, you can carry more than the maximum number of young passengers past midnight if you’re accompanied by a 4-year fully-licensed driver. The rule also doesn’t apply to immediate family members, so picking up your younger siblings after midnight is fine as a G2 driver. 

How to get your G license in Ontario

The last step in the process of becoming fully licensed in Ontario is obtaining your G class. To get a G license, you need to pass your class G test, or what the Ontario government calls the G2 road test and sometimes the G2 exit test, which is taken at least 12 months after the date of receiving your G2 class.

Taking the G road test in Ontario

Like the G2 test, you’ll need to book your road test through DriveTest online, on the phone at 647-776-0331 (if you’re in the GTA) or 1-888-570-6110, or in-person at any DriveTest centre, You’ll be asked for the same details, including your driver’s license number, your preferred test dates, and your preferred DriveTest center location. Again, your test date will be a maximum of 42 days after your booking date, it’ll likely take place sooner than that. 

Make sure to once again arrive 30 minutes in advance and check your vehicle’s registration, plates, and insurance. Before taking the road test, you must complete another vision test, so wear your glasses or contacts. Lastly, you’ll need to read and sign the Declaration of Highway Driving Experience, to validate that you’ve driven on highways that have a speed limit of 80km/h or above at least 5 times. For safety reasons, make sure you’ve actually done so and you’re comfortable with freeways before taking your class G road test. 

The G test will take longer than the G2 test, so expect to be driving between 30 to 40 minutes. The same requirements will be tested, but you are also expected to check off a few more advanced concepts. The biggest difference between the G test and the G2 test is the highway component. On top of the list of G2 test driving aspects to prepare for, be sure to add entering, driving, and exiting on a freeway. 

Just like the G2 test, your examiner will provide you with feedback and a report of mistakes made, along with whether you passed or failed right after the exam. Remember, there isn’t a set number of mistakes that determines if you pass or fail. If you need to retake the G test, you can only do so 10 days after your most recent attempt, and you’ll need to rebook the test. You’ll still be allowed to operate with your G2 license, and you can drive yourself home. 

How much does the G road test cost?

The G test costs $91.25 each time you take the test, so be sure to only take the test when you feel ready to avoid having to double or triple your cost. 

G driving rules and restrictions in Ontario

As a fully licensed driver in Ontario, you won’t be limited to the restrictions of a G1 or G2 driver. You can drive unaccompanied at any time of the day, but you still need to watch your blood alcohol levels. If you are under 21, you are still expected to have a blood alcohol and THC level of zero. If you are older than 21, having blood alcohol levels between 0.05 and 0.08 can still result in serious penalties while anything over 0.08 is a criminal offense. Insurance premiums can also increase between $5,000 to $8,000 annually if you’re convicted of a DUI, so if you’re going to drink, don’t driveーit’s not worth the risk. You’re also expected not to drive if you’re impaired by drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medicine. 

License class expirations

Did you know you only have 5 years to get your G license from the day you complete your G1? If you haven’t received our G class after 5 years, you’ll need to retake the tests all over again, starting from your G1. If your G2 license is about to expire, you can however retake the G2 road test and get an extra 5 years to obtain your full license. So be sure to plan your schedule accordingly to make sure you aren’t wasting your own time, effort, or money. 

Canceling your road test

You can cancel or reschedule your G2 or G driving tests online on DriveTest, on the phone at 647-776-0331 (if you’re in the GTA) or 1-888-570-6110, or in-person at any DriveTest centre. To avoid any cancellation fees, make sure you cancel at least 48 hours ahead of your appointment time. 

The bottom line

The Ontario license class system may seem complicated, but you now have all the information to take it one step at a time. Remember, each license class has its own rules and restrictions so be sure to follow them to prevent any penalties and to stay safe. And above all else, make sure to show up prepared for every knowledge and road test to graduate from Ontario’s license class system as smoothly as possible. 

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