Driving Without a Valid B.C. Driver's Licence
Unlicensed drivers are a chronic problem on our roads. Many have outstanding fines for driving without a driver’s licence and other traffic offences. It’s important to understand that unlicensed drivers breach the insurance of any vehicle they are driving.
The consequences of driving without a valid driver’s licence are severe in this province. As a deterrent to individuals who continue to drive illegally, the consequences ramp up.
1st time – The first time police find you driving unlicensed, you will receive a violation ticket for driving without a valid driver’s licence. You will not be permitted to drive the vehicle any further on the road.
2nd time – When found a second time driving without a valid driver's licence, the notice on your driving record will inform the police that you have a previous 'No Driver’s Licence' conviction and state they will immediately impound the vehicle you are driving for seven days, whether it is owned by you or not. You will immediately be prohibited from driving. The driving prohibition period is indefinite – it will continue until you get a valid B.C. driver’s licence, meeting all other licensing requirements you may have had placed on you, such as paying any and all outstanding traffic fines.
Subsequently: If you continue to operate a motor vehicle after being prohibited from driving, you will be charged with ‘Driving While Prohibited’ which is punishable by a $500 fine and up to six months in jail for a first offence.
Drivers licensed outside B.C.
Visitors — you may drive in B.C. for up to six months if you hold a valid foreign or out-of-province driver’s licence. Any restrictions you have on your home licence also apply here in B.C.
Visiting Student — you can drive for longer but must be registered full-time at a recognized institution and may need a vehicle permit. Visit any Driver Licence Centre for more information. If you are attending a designated (recognized) educational institution in B.C., you are permitted to drive here with your out-of-province licence. You must be registered as a full-time student. Note: it is important to always carry and be able to show your Student ID card when asked to do so by a police.
See Directory of Universities, Colleges and Schools in the Provinces and Territories of Canada for a list of qualifying institutions
New Resident in B.C. — if you hold a valid driver's licence issued outside B.C., you may continue to drive using that licence for a maximum of 90 days. After moving to B.C., it is best to apply for a B.C. driver’s licence as soon as possible to give you enough time to meet any application requirements. After 90 days, the out-of-province driver’s licence you hold will no longer be permitted. Go to Insurance Corporation of BC – www.icbc.com – for information on driver’s licences.
If you are licensed elsewhere, you must produce a valid driver’s licence at the request of the police. If a valid driver’s licence is not produced, you will immediately be issued a Notice of Driving Prohibition. If a valid driver’s licence is produced, you should be allowed to continue on your way unless the police have evidence to suggest you should be holding a B.C. driver’s licence.
Requesting a Review of a Driving Prohibition for Driving Unlicensed
If you believe you should not have been identified as an unlicensed driver or that you have a reason to be exempt from the requirement to hold a valid B.C. driver’s licence, you may submit your reasons to the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles. An adjudicator will consider this submission and compare it with your driving record. See Review of a Driving Prohibition for Driving Unlicensed on the Disputes, Appeals and Reviews page of this site for more information on the process.