Government of New Brunswick

Graduated drivers licences (GDLs) were introduced in the New Brunswick Motor Vehicle Act in 1996 in response to the high collision rates for new drivers. The idea behind GDL laws is to identify the highest-risk driving situations for new drivers, and introduce them slowly. The hope is that new drivers will develop their driving skills and judgment in lower-risk situations, and be more ready for higher-risk situations when they get to them.

Studies show that a number of factors affect collision risk for new drivers:

  • Having an experienced driver supervising a new driver reduces collision risk.
  • The later in the day (night), the higher the risk.
  • The more passengers, the higher the risk.
  • As with all drivers, alcohol increases risk.

In New Brunswick, the GDL law is focused on experience, not age. Statistics show that new drivers have more collisions because of their inexperience, not their age.

The GDL program creates two levels of licence before a new driver gets a “full” unrestricted licence. All new drivers spend a minimum of 24 months with a GDL before they get a full licence.

New drivers are at level 1 once they pass a written test. A level 1 licence is what people used to know as a “learner’s permit”. Drivers pass to level 2 after a successful road test.

In 2009 the Motor Vehicle Act was amended to impose additional restrictions on new drivers.

These changes include the following:

Level 1 Drivers

  • Level 1 drivers must wait 12 months before taking a road test and passing into Level 2. That 12-month wait period can be reduced to eight months if the new driver passes a driver training course. (Prior to 2009, the wait time could be reduced to four months with a driver training course.) 
  • A Level 1 driver cannot drive alone or with passengers other than a supervising driver with three years or more experience.
  • A Level 1 driver cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m.
  • Blood alcohol must always be 0%.

Level 2 Drivers

  • Level 2 drivers are permitted to drive with up to three passengers.
  • Level 2 drivers are permitted to drive between midnight and 5 a.m. if they are:
    - Driving with a supervising driver with three years’ experience, or
    - Driving to or from work or school;, or
    - Driving in an emergency situation, or
    - Have permission from the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, or
    - Are 21 or older.
  • Blood alcohol must always be 0%.

After completing 24 months at level 1 and 2 (combined), a new driver gets a full licence, with only one restriction.