Alberta driver licensing follows a two-stage graduated licensing system that all new drivers regardless of their age must go through in order to become a fully licensed driver. Alberta drivers start with a Class 7 learner’s permit that allows them to practice driving skills and prepare for the road test. Passing the road test earns a Class 5-GDL license that is probationary for two years before the advanced road test for the full Class 5 license.
The Class 7 License
Alberta’s learner’s permit is the Class 7 license. In order to obtain this license you must be at least 14 years old. A written knowledge test is required to obtain the Class 7. A vision test is also required to get a Class 7 license. All drivers are required to hold the Class 7 for at least one year before they can take the road test for the Class 5-GDL, but can hold it for up to two years as you must be 16 to take the road test. Class 7 drivers must follow a set of restrictions at all times.
- They can only drive when a fully licensed driver over the age of 18 is in the passenger seat.
- They can’t drive between midnight and 5 a.m.
- Can not carry more passengers than there are seat belts
- Have a 0% blood alcohol level
- Can have only 8 demerit points before facing suspension
The Class 7 license is designed to allow new drivers to practice their skills and prepare for the road test.
The Class 5-GDL
The next stage in the process of getting your full license is the Class 5-GDL. This is the probationary version of the Class 5 license that allows you to drive without most of the restrictions of the Class 7. You will need to pass a road test in order to get the Class 5-GDL and you must be 16 years of age to take the test.
The Class 5- GDL license allows you to drive without a fully licensed driver in the passenger seat. You must still maintain a blood alcohol level of 0% and continue to ensure there are no more passengers than available seat belts. Class 5-GDL drivers can drive at any hour but can’t serve as a second driver to a Class 7 driver.
The probationary period lasts for 2 years. As long as you maintain a clear driving record without any suspensions for that time period, you can take the advanced road test.
The Full Class 5 License
After you pass the advanced road test you will obtain the full class 5 Alberta driver’s license. There are no further restrictions at this point and you can be the second driver for a Class 7 driver as long as you are over the age of 18.
The entire process of getting your full Class 5 license takes between 3 and 4 years depending on when you get your Class 7 learner’s permit.
Getting an Alberta License When You Move
If you are moving to Alberta from another province or country, the process of getting your Alberta license is slightly different. If you already hold a full driver’s license from another Canadian province, you can exchange it for a Class 5 Alberta driver’s license without having to take any tests. However, if you hold a learner’s permit on par with the Class 7 license, you will have to go through the Alberta graduated licensing program from the start in order to obtain a full Class 5 license.
If you are from another country, whether or not you can exchange your license for a Class 5 Alberta license depends on what country you are coming from. Some countries have equivalency agreements, while others do not. In some cases you will have to take the tests to get your Alberta license.
The process of obtaining a full Alberta license for new drivers, regardless of age, takes several years. The graduated licensing system is in place to ensure that everyone who holds a Class 5 license has taken the time to learn how to drive safely and smoothly and has learned all of the rules of the road. Three tests, one written and two road tests, ensure that drivers have all of the skills necessary to handle driving in multiple situations.