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Registry of Motor Vehicles - Graduated Drivers Licence System

Introduction

On October 1, 1994, Nova Scotia implemented the Graduated Driver Licence system. This means that any new driver, regardless of age, who applies for a Learners licence after October 1, 1994, will operate under the graduated system.

The Graduated Driver Licence system consists of three separate phases.  In each phase, the new driver is subject to driving restrictions and conditions.  To graduate to the next phase, the driver must successfully complete a series of milestones.  This allows a new driver to gain experience and build skills gradually over time, rather than being exposed to the full range of driving challenges and situations all at once.

The three phases of Graduated Driver Licence system are:

  • The Learner’s Licence phase.
  • The Newly Licenced phase.
  • The Restricted Individual phase.

Once a new driver has successfully completed all three stages, all the restrictions associated with Graduated Driver Licensing are removed and the driver is considered a fully experienced driver.

Passenger Vehicle Drivers

Learner’s Licence Phase

Operating conditions at this stage include:

  • No passengers, except a supervising driver who is not enrolled in the Graduated Driver Licence system.
  • Zero blood alcohol level for the learning driver.

To progress to the next phase the driver must complete the minimum practice period and successfully pass a driving test. 

The minimum practice periods are currently 3 months if a recognized driver education or training program is taken, 6 months if not.  Suspensions will delay graduation to the newly licensed driver stage by a period of time equal to the minimum practice period. 

As of April 1, 2016, the minimum time requirement will be 12 months, nine months if an approved driver training program is completed.

Once a road test has been successfully completed, the learner becomes a Newly Licensed driver for a minimum of two years.

Newly Licensed Driver Phase

Operating conditions include:

  • Zero blood alcohol level for the newly licensed driver.
  • Only one front seat passenger and rear seat passengers limited to the number of available seat belts.
  • No upgrade beyond a Class 5 driver's licence.
  • No driving between midnight and 5:00AM, unless exempted from the nightly curfew for employment purposes or the newly licenced driver is accompanied by a supervising driver.

A newly licensed driver may apply for an exemption from the night time driving curfew for employment purposes. The driver must take the most direct route to and from work and is not permitted to have any passengers in the vehicle.  A Form APP33 Application for Exemption from Nightime Driving Curfew must be properly completed, signed and submitted to the Registry of Motor Vehicles office with the applicable fee. 

To graduate from the newly licensed driver stage, the driver must successfully complete a 6 hour Defensive Driving course or complete a recognized driver training course (25 hours theory, 10 hours driving time).  A copy of the graduation certificate must be provided, in person or by mail, to any Registry of Motor Vehicles office for recording purposes.  If a graduation certificate is not provided to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, the driver will remain in the newly licensed phase indefinitely.    

Licence suspensions will delay graduation to the restricted individual stage by 2 years from the date the licence is reinstated.

A demerit point system will remain in effect for newly licensed drivers.  These drivers will be subject to driver improvement action much earlier than is the case for experienced drivers.

Restricted Individual Stage

While in the restricted individual stage, the driver is subject to a special driving restricted called “condition 47”.

Operating conditions include:

  • Zero blood alcohol level for the restricted individual.
  • The restricted individual cannot be a supervising driver for another driver.

The driver will remain in the restricted individual stage for 2 years.  At the end of the two year driving period, all restrictions associated with the Graduated Driver Licence system are removed and the driver is considered a fully experienced driver.

Motorcycle Drivers

Motorcycle Learner’s Licence Phase

To obtain a motorcycle learner's licence, the new driver must:

  • Obtain a learner's (Class 7) driver's licence or Class 8.
  • Successfully complete a motorcycle rules test.
  • Successfully complete a practical skills test.

Operating conditions include:

  • No passengers.
  • Driving only during daylight hours (one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset).
  • Zero blood alcohol content.

To progress to the next phase the driver must complete the minimum practice period and successfully pass a practical skills test. 

The minimum practice periods are 3 months if an approved motorcycle course is taken, 6 months if not.  Suspensions will delay graduation to the newly licensed driver stage by a period of time equal to the minimum practice period.

Newly Licensed Motorcycle Driver Phase

Operating conditions include:

  • Zero blood alcohol level for the newly licensed driver.
  • No upgrade beyond a Class 5A driver's licence.
  • No driving between midnight and 5:00AM, unless exempted from the nightly curfew for employment purposes.

A newly licensed driver may apply for an exemption from the night time driving curfew for employment purposes. The driver must take the most direct route to and from work.  A Form APP33 Application for Exemption from Nightime Driving Curfew must be properly completed, signed and submitted to a Registry of Motor Vehicles office with the applicable fee. 

To graduate from the newly licensed driver stage, the driver must successfully complete a recognized motorcycle training program or a 6 hour Defensive Driving course.  A copy of the graduation certificate must be provided, in person or by mail, to any Registry of Motor Vehicles office for recording purposes.  If a graduation certificate is not provided to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, the driver will remain in the newly licensed phase indefinitely.   

Licence suspensions will delay graduation to the restricted individual stage by 2 years from the date the licence is reinstated.

A demerit point system will remain in effect for newly licensed drivers. These drivers will be subject to driver improvement action much earlier than is the case for experienced drivers.

Restricted Individual Stage

While in the restricted individual stage, the motorcycle driver is subject to a special driving restricted called “condition 47”.

Operating conditions include:

  • Zero blood alcohol level for the restricted individual.
  • The restricted individual cannot be a supervising driver for another driver.

The driver will remain in the restricted individual stage for 2 years.  At the end of the two year driving period, all restrictions associated with the Graduated Driver Licence system are removed and the driver is considered a fully experienced driver.

Upgrade to a Motorcycle Driver's Licence for Regular Class Licence Holders:

Motorcycle licence Endorsement:

For regular class licence holders who are not subject to the Graduated Driver Licence system, the driver with a valid licence (Class 1-5) may obtain a motorcycle learner's licence by successfully completing a rules test and practical skills test.  Upon successful completion of the required tests, a paper learner motorcycle licence is issued which must be carried with your photo ID Licence. 

Operating conditions are the same as they are for a motorcycle learner licence (Initial licence). 

Upgrade to Motorcycle Endorsement on Driver's licence:

  • The driver may upgrade to a motorcycle endorsement on a valid driver's licence (Class 1-5) after 3 months and successfully completing an advanced skills test, or 1 month if an approved motorcycle course has been successfully completed.

Related Information

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