How Do You Get a Licence as a Teenager in British Columbia?

For many youths, earning a licence to drive is a rite of passage. For parents, supporting a child’s foray into greater independence is an exciting time, but it can also be fraught with anxiety. Fortunately, British Columbia uses a graduated licensing system designed to minimize risks and provide new drivers with the training they need to succeed. Continue reading to learn more about the B.C. driving system from a knowledgeable ICBC personal injury lawyer.

What Documents Are Needed to Get a Learner’s Licence? 

When applying for a learner’s licence, new drivers will need to provide ONE PRIMARY form of identification:

  • C. driver’s licence with photo (accepted up to three years after expiry date)
  • Immigrant documentation and licence (a student, work, visitor, temporary-resident or refugee permit)
  • C. services card with photo (accepted up to three years after expiry date)
  • C. identification card
  • Birth certificate
  • Canadian citizenship card
  • Canadian passport (must be currently valid)
  • Permanent resident card (must be currently valid)
  • Student, work, visitor, or temporary resident permit

They will also need ONE SECONDARY form of ID:

  • Bank card (with imprinted name and signature)
  • Birth certificate from a foreign country
  • Canadian Forces ID
  • Correctional service conditional release card
  • Credit card (with imprinted name and signature)
  • Department of National Defence 404 driver’s licence
  • Driver’s licence (Canadian or U.S.)
  • Employee ID card with photo
  • Foreign Affairs Canada or consular ID
  • Canadian health card
  • Native Status card

This is just a partial list– other forms are also acceptable, however, only the original form of these documents will be accepted– not emails or photocopies. All but the passport may be expired. 

How the B.C. Licensing System Works 

Here’s how the system works: 

  • Get Your L – Children 16 years of age or older may visit the nearest ICBC driver licensing office with a parent or legal guardian to take the written knowledge test, vision test, pay a $15 fee, and submit a parental consent form. (At age 19, no parental consent is required.) Forty out of 50 questions correct constitutes as passing. Before taking the test, students should prepare by studying the Learn to Drive Smart manual.

The “L” stage lasts for 12 to 24 months. Drivers must have another licensed adult at least 25 years of age present while behind the wheel and adhere to the restrictions printed on the licence. For instance, drivers must display a red “L” sign in the back window of the vehicle, drive with no more than one additional passenger besides the supervisor, and refrain from driving between midnight and 5 a.m

  • Get Your N – After one year of practicing with a supervisor, L drivers can take a road test with an ICBC instructor to become novices. N hopefuls will need $35 for the road test and $75 for the licence. Upon approval, these drivers must display a green “N” sign on the vehicle. A supervisor need not always be present, and there are no time restrictions. Passengers are still limited to no more than one non-immediate family member in the car unless a supervisor is present.
  • Get Your Full Licence – After two years of safe driving with an N and passing the 45-minute Class 5 road test ($50), the driver may apply for a full licence ($75) without restrictions. A driver can obtain a full licence in as little as 18 months by taking an ICBC-approved driver training course in the L stage and maintaining a safe driving record. The licence is good for up to five years, at which time another $75 will be necessary for renewal.

Why Are There So Many New Driver Restrictions? 

The system can be frustrating for youngsters who want the freedom of driving right away. However, the top causes of automobile accidents remain distracted driving, speeding, and impairment. For these reasons, there is a zero-tolerance policy on using handheld devices (even with hands-free technology) or driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Limiting the hours at which a teenager may drive and the number of peers in the vehicle further reduces the likelihood of carloads of partying kids on the roadways. 

Once Your Child is on the Road, Familiarize Yourself with ICBC Lawyers 

The last thing any parent wants to imagine is one’s teen involved in a motor vehicle accident. However, according to ICBC, one in six young drivers will be in a crash, and 25 percent of those individuals will suffer an injury. In 2015, there were 8,200 injuries and 28 fatalities involving drivers from 16-21.

It’s always good to have Vancouver ICBC lawyers listed on your phone in the event of a fender-bender.  We assist in preparing ICBC files, advocating for the injured, providing legal advice, and filing lawsuits for negligence or recklessness when necessary. It costs nothing upfront to work with an ICBC law firm. We get paid through the ICBC negotiating process. Preszler Law Firm serves all of Vancouver through offices in Abbotsford, Burnaby, Kelowna, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, and Victoria.

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