Changes to the graduated driver’s licence (GDL) program announced by the Government of Alberta in September of last year are now in effect.
Provided they have had their licence for at least 24 months and have had no demerits within the last 12 months – including zero tolerance for any alcohol or drug consumption – drivers no longer have to take the advanced driver’s test and pay a $154 fee to exit the GDL program to obtain a full Class 5 or 6 driver’s licence.
The transition was made to address critics of the program, who pointed out that there are 700,000 drivers in Alberta choosing to stick with their Stage 2 GDL licence rather than pay to take the advanced driver’s test. More than 65% of drivers and 99% of motorcycle riders did not take the test to earn a full Class 5 or Class 6 licence, making the cost nothing more than a financial barrier.
About 500,000 drivers out of the 700,000 will soon receive a letter notifying them they have been upgraded. It’s not necessary to go to a registry and change licences right away, as drivers can get their new card the next time they go to renew. In the meantime, police are able to identify GDL and non-GDL drivers through the Canadian Police Information Centre.
If planning to drive outside of the province, those who have been upgraded should carry the letter they received from the Alberta government with them. Law enforcement outside of Alberta may not have access to the correct data.
Difference between a GDL and a non-GDL licence
Those who have a Stage 1 GDL licence, which must be held for at least one year, are required to have a fully licenced driver who is at least 18 years old accompany them at all times in the vehicle. No driving is allowed from midnight to 5 a.m.
Once the Stage 1 driver is at least 16 years old and passes a basic Alberta road test, they can move on to Stage 2.
Stage 2 GDL licences must be held for at least two years and drivers cannot be a supervisory driver to someone with a Stage 1 licence. Only non-GDL drivers may be supervisory drivers.
There is zero tolerance for alcohol or drugs for both Stage 1 and 2 GDL drivers. In addition, only eight demerit points can be issued within two years before their licence will be suspended.
Probationary periods may be extended an additional year if drivers exhibit poor driving behaviour and earn demerits.
By taking an approved driver training course, drivers may be allowed to reduce their probationary period by up to six months. When completed, they will receive a Notice of Driver Education Course Completion form, which can also be used to access car insurance at discounted rates.
Non-GDL drivers face provincial impaired driving penalties if their blood alcohol level is between 0.05 and 0.079, and serious federal penalties if their level is 0.08 or more.
Drivers with a non-GDL licence can receive up to 15 demerit points within two years before their licence is suspended.
Changes to the Class 4 drivers licence program
A Class 4 drivers licence is mandatory to transport passengers in taxis, ride-sharing vehicles, limousines, small buses and ambulances. The Government of Alberta has also removed the additional road test requirement for a Class 4 licence, but has retained the enhanced knowledge test, driver medical, and vision test requirements. There are hopes that this change will attract more competition to the ride-sharing industry.
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Always remember that you have options when it comes to your car insurance and motorcycle insurance coverage. Shopping around during your car insurance renewal period is a great way to see what kinds of savings are out there for you. Changes to your circumstances, such as driving less, a more secure parking spot, and even a change of address, can make a difference to your rates. Contact us at our Calgary, Edmonton and Banff offices to learn more.