Ontario’s Graduated Licensing system is designed to introduce drivers to driving privileges gradually, reducing restrictions as their experience increases. There are separate graduated licensing systems for car and motorcycle drivers.
As a basic introduction, the motorcycle graduated licensing system will be briefly described below.
This is not official government information. It is our plain-language interpretation of the system. Official provincial documents must be consulted for guaranteed accurate descriptions of the regulations. The MTO Web Site is an easy to use source of official information.
Ontario motorcycle licenses consist of three classes, M1, M2, and M. Here’s how they work:
The M1 is the first step in motorcycle licensing, allowing aspiring riders to practice skills. To earn the M1 licence one must visit an Ontario Drive Test Centre to complete an Application for Ontario Driver’s Licence, vision test and written test. There is no ridden or road test to earn the M1.
The written test will include a number of “rules of the road” questions such as identification of highway signs, as well as motorcycle-specific regulatory information. A copy of the Ontario Motorcycle Handbook provides information needed to pass the M1 written test. Those who aren’t already licensed car drivers (or those in need of a refresher) should also study the Ontario Drivers’ Handbook to prepare. These books can be purchased at any Ontario Vehicle and Drivers Licensing office, book store, Canadian Tire, and many gas stations.
The two main Ontario Drive Test Centres in Ottawa are at 1570 Walkey Rd and 5303 Canotek Rd, Unit 14.
The cost of the M1 includes a fee for the application and the future M2 road test. Those intending to take a Ministry approved licensing course (such asGearing Up-M1 Exit) can notify the Ministry upon application, and the price will be adjusted accordingly.
One must ride with an M1 class for at least 60 days, but no more than 90 days. After 90 days, if the M1 is not upgraded to an M2, the M1 expires and the process must be restarted. After 60 days (but before 90) an applicant must go to a Licensing Centre and either take the Ministry road test or provide them the paperwork received by passing a licensing course, such as Gearing Up– M1 Exit.
As the M1 is designed to allow riders to practice skills, there are a number of restrictions:
- your blood alcohol level must be zero;
- you must ride only during daylight hours (1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset)
- you may not ride on highways with speed limits over 80 km/hr, except highways: 11, 17, 61, 69, 71, 101, 102, and 144; and
- you may not carry passengers.
The M2 licence is earned after taking a basic skills test (M1-Exit test) on a closed course, either at a selected Ontario Drive Test Centre, or with a training course. The M2 can only be applied after riding for at least 60 days under the restrictions of an M1 licence.
Since the Gearing Up-M1 Exit course is provincially certified and involves no street riding, it may be taken at any time while holding an M1 – one does not have to wait until after 60 days. The paperwork earned upon successful completion of the course, however, must only be submitted after 60 days (and before 90 days) for the upgrade to be applied.
The M2 is a probationary driver’s licence intended for riders to apply the skills acquired while holding the M1 to on-road situations. Other than maintaining a blood alcohol level of zero, the remaining M1 restrictions are lifted.
The M2 licence expires after 5 years, with the expectation that riders are prepared for full motorcycle licensing privileges after that time. Riders who let the M2 lapse will be required to begin the process again, including wait times.
The M license is earned after taking a full road test (M2-Exit test) on city streets and the highway.
When riders are eligible to test for their full M licence depends on how the M2 was earned:
- Riders who earned their M2 licence through a safety course are eligible to test after 18 months of holding an M2.
- Riders who earned their M2 through testing at the Ministry are eligible to test after 22 months of holding an M2.
Once the M licence is earned there are no special restrictions beyond the normal law, and it does not expire. Due to these facts, the M2-Exit test is more intensive than the previous road test, including street and highway riding.