Accident rates among new drivers are higher than all other classes of drivers. To help new drivers acquire more training and experience before they have full driving privileges, every province has some form of graduated licensing program.
British Columbia has one of the most comprehensive Graduated Licensing Programs (“GLP”) in Canada. DBM is a firm believer in the GLP because it has reduced the number of accidents and along with it, the number of injuries and fatalities.
Here are four key facts about BC’s GLP which is administered by ICBC:
In British Columbia, it takes three years to go from a Leaner’s license to a Novice license to a Class 5 unrestricted license.
Anyone 16 years or older can apply to take the test to receive a Learner’s license, although if you are under 19, you must have a parent or legal guardian go with you to ICBC to sign the application.
After passing a knowledge test, you will be given a Learner’s license. During this period, you should be attending a driving school or be receiving instruction from someone you trust, over the age of 25, with a valid Class 5 license.
At the end of one year, you are eligible to take the first road test to earn your Novice license. You must hold your Novice license for a period of two years before you are able to take the second road test. Once you take and pass the second road test, you receive your full unrestricted Class 5 license.
It is very important to note that both the Learner and the Novice licenses have firm restrictions which you must follow or risk stiff penalties.
Both Learners and Novices must display either an “L” or “N” sign on their vehicles. There is a strict zero tolerance for alcohol. And there are rules that dictate who and how many people can be in your vehicle. The complete set of restrictions can be found here or on ICBC’s website.
First, you lose three demerit points on your license and pay a $167.00 fine if you break the sign and passenger rules. Second, if you consume any alcohol at all while driving, your license is suspended immediately.
Of particular importance to Novice drivers, if you break even one traffic rule you may be hit with a driving suspension for up to six months. Plus, if you are an “N” driver, it is possible to receive tickets for violating several rules all at the same time. The more rules you have violated, the longer the potential prohibition on your license. If you are hit with too many demerits in one incident, it is possible you will be prohibited from driving for as long as 18 months.
If your license is suspended, the two-year clock on holding an “N” is reset, so you are back to square one. Both “L” and “N”, but especially “N” drivers are watched very closely.
Since you have committed violations, you will be fined, lose demerit points and quite possibly have your licensed suspended. You may also be deemed to be at fault regardless of what caused the accident due to the fact you are in violation of the restrictions. This could result in higher insurance rates and other possible financial repercussions.
These rules and restrictions are NOT just placed for young people. All new drivers face them, irrespective of age. In fact, new research shows that inexperience is a greater factor in accidents than age.
If you, or someone close to you, are the situation as described above, we strongly recommend you contact a lawyer specializing in new drivers and personal injury. There may be other factors at play and you need to know what your rights and your responsibilities are.
No matter what license you hold or how many years of driving experience you have, please follow the rules of the road. The majority of accidents can be avoided.
Contact DBM if you have any questions. We’re here to help.