Changes to Alberta’s driver’s licence program that were announced in September are now in effect.
Starting Sunday, drivers no longer have to take a drivers test and pay a $154 fee to exit the graduated driver’s licence (GDL) program if they have a clean driving record.
GDL drivers who 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 – will receive a letter if they have been upgraded to a non-GDL driver, the government said in a news release.
If you are automatically upgraded, you don’t have to get a new licence card, and can get a new one the next time you renew your driver’s licence, the province said.
If a driver gets pulled over, police in Alberta will have information about the driver’s licence in the Canadian Police Information Centre and will be able to know if it is GDL or non-GDL.
However, the province said if you’re driving outside of Alberta, you are required to keep the letter with you or update your physical licence, as law enforcement outside of Alberta may not have access to Alberta’s data.
The province said about 500,000 drivers are eligible for the automatic upgrade as of April 1.
In the past five years, 65 per cent of GDL drivers didn’t bother taking the advanced road test and upgrading their licence, the province said when the changes were announced in September.
The GDL program has been in effect since 2003.
- Younger and older Canadians crunched by housing, retirement, debt: experts
- Jewish community in Moncton, N.B. ‘hurt profoundly’ as Menorah won’t be displayed at city hall
- Canada begins consultations on alert system for missing Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people
- Jewish Canadians to celebrate Hanukkah publicly, despite rise in antisemitism
GDL vs. non-GDL
There are a few main differences between the two driver programs.
With a GDL, drivers must have zero alcohol or drugs in their system. Meanwhile, those with a non-GDL will face provincial impaired driving penalties if their blood alcohol level is between 0.05 and 0.079, and “severe” federal penalties if their level is 0.08 or more, according to the province.
Non-GDL drivers are permitted to be a supervising driver for someone with their learner’s licence, while those with a GDL are not allowed.
A driver with a non-GDL licence can get up to 15 demerit points within two years before their licence is suspended, but a GDL driver can get only eight demerit points in two years.
A non-GDL is required to upgrade to a Class 1, 2, 3 or 4 licence, which are needed to drive commercial vehicles.