When Are Novice Drivers Considered to be Driving at Unlawful Hours?

It Is Unlawful for Class G1 or M1 Novice Drivers to Operate a Motor Vehicle on a Highway Between Midnight and 5:00 a.m.


In Ontario, the Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, sets out the rules and regulations applicable to drivers in Ontario.  Novice drivers are also subject to additional restrictions and regulations under the Graduated Licensing System and Ontario Regulation 340/94.  One such restriction is a prohibition from driving at unlawful hours.  Under the Highway Traffic Act, it is an offence for Class G1 and Class M1 licence holders to drive at an unlawful hour.  Driving at an unlawful hour is defined as driving a motor vehicle on a highway between midnight and 5:00AM.  Class G2 drivers are permitted to drive with passengers between midnight and 5:00AM provided all other novice driver licensing conditions are satisfied.

The Law

Under the Highway Traffic Act, it is an offence for Class G1 drivers to operate a motor vehicle on a highway during unlawful hours.  The offence is outlined in Section 5 of O. Reg. 340/94 wherein it is stated:


Novice Licence Conditions

5(1) The holder of a Class G1 driver’s licence may drive a Class G1 motor vehicle on a highway if a holder of a Class A, B, C, D, E, F or G driver’s licence or its equivalent authorizing the holder to drive the motor vehicle, who qualifies as an accompanying driver, occupies the seat beside the driver for the purpose of giving him or her instruction in driving the motor vehicle and the following additional conditions are met:

6. The motor vehicle may not be driven by the novice driver between midnight and 5 a.m. O. Reg. 340/94, s. 5 (1); O. Reg. 205/10, s. 2 (1).


Novice Licence Conditions

7. The holder of a Class M1 driver’s licence may drive a motorcycle on a highway subject to the following conditions:

2. The motorcycle may only be driven from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Potential Penalties

Monetary Fine

What is the potential fine associated with a conviction for driving at unlawful hours?

The consequences of a conviction for driving at unlawful hours can be severe and far-reaching.  If convicted, a novice driver could face a fine ranging from $60 up to $500 plus court costs and victim fine surcharges.

Escalating Sanctions Penalties

What are the penalties associated with a conviction for driving at an unlawful hour?

In addition to a monetary fine upon conviction, the novice driver will be subject to the applicable escalating sanctions penalties as follows:

  • for a first occurrence the novice driver’s licence will be suspended for 30 days.
  • for a second occurrence, the novice driver’s licence will be suspended for 90 days.
  • for a third occurrence, the novice driver’s licence will be cancelled.

A licence suspension can affect a person’s ability to drive to work, school, or other important activities.

Insurance Consequences

What are the insurance consequences associated with a conviction for driving at an unlawful hour? 

A conviction will also lead to significantly increased insurance premiums and/or policy cancellation and referral to a high-risk insurance provider.

Employment Consequences

What are the potential employment consequences to individuals requiring a valid driver's licence to maintain employment?

A conviction may affect a person’s ability to find or maintain employment depending on the nature of the employment.

Summary Comment

In conclusion, driving at an unlawful hour is a serious offence which can result in serious penalties and long-lasting consequences for those convicted.  It is important for novice drivers to understand and comply with the rules and regulations applicable to novice drivers to avoid committing offences which carry serious consequences upon conviction.

If you have been charged with Drive at Unlawful Hour, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.  We can help you understand the law and your rights and can provide you with the best possible defence.  In circumstances where a valid defence in Law does not exist, it may still be possible to avoid the escalating sanctions penalties and insurance consequences associated with the original offence by negotiating a favorable resolution.

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