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Home >> Living >> Transportation >> Cars & Driving

Cars & Driving

Laws

Operators of cars and other vehicles drive on the right-hand side of the road in Canada. Speed limits are posted in kilometres per hour and enforced by the police.

There are strict laws governing driving in Canada. Breaking these laws can cost money and may affect your driving record. Some examples of these laws are:

  • A driver’s license and car insurance are required to drive a vehicle.
  • With few exceptions, drivers and passengers must use seatbelts at all times.
  • Children must be strapped into a government-approved child safety seat.
  • Driving while drunk can result in severe penalties and loss of a driver's licence.
  • Vehicles travelling in both directions on a road or highway are required to stop or yield to school buses with flashing red lights.
  • Speeding in construction zones can result in steep fines.

In Ontario, it is illegal for drivers to use hand-held devices for communications or entertainment while driving. Distracted driving can result in penalties and fines.

In Kingston, drivers are not permitted to idle their vehicles for more than three minutes anywhere in the city or face a possible fine. Drivers are permitted to idle for five minutes when the temperature is below 5 Celsius (41 Fahrenheit).

See For More Information links below for links to detailed information on federal and provincial driving requirements.

Children

For safety purposes, children must be appropriately restrained—through use of baby/child car safety seats, booster seats, or seatbelts—if they are passengers in most vehicles, such as a car, truck, or van. See the Transporting Children section for more information on this subject.

Insurance

You must have car insurance (also known as automobile insurance) to drive a vehicle in Canada. The cost of insurance varies from one company to another and is determined by a driver's age, driving record, type of vehicle, and where they live. There are also different types of insurance plans available and some cost more than others. Driving without insurance is a serious offence and can result in a substantial fine.

Driver's Licences

To apply for an Ontario driver's licence, you must be at least 16 years old. You must also pass an eyesight test and a written test.

New drivers are licensed through a process called Graduated Licensing. Under the system, new drivers have up to five years to complete two steps before they are fully licensed to drive in Ontario.

When you apply for a licence, you will be asked to show a number of official documents such as your passport or Permanent Resident Card. New drivers are tested at a Driver Examination Centre.

Driver's licences are renewed every five years up to the age of 80. After the age of 80, drivers are required to renew their licence every two years. They must also fulfill a set of requirements and tests.

NOTE: Newcomers who have a valid driver's licence are allowed to drive in Ontario for up to 60 days, but must apply for a driver's licence within that period. If you have an out-of-country licence, you will need to have it translated by an approved translator. See For More Information links below.

Licence Plates & Validation Stickers

Every vehicle must be registered before the owner is issued Ontario licence plates. Vehicle registration is done at a ServiceOntario office that handles drivers and vehicles, though sometimes car dealerships will do the paperwork for you (see For More Information links below). When you register a vehicle, you will be required to provide a vehicle permit (proof of ownership) and proof that it is insured.

Licence plates are renewed regularly by a validation sticker attached to the upper right-hand corner of the licence plate. Owners of vehicles are mailed a renewal application approximately 60 days before the sticker expires, usually on their birthdate. Sticker renewals may be submitted online. Some vehicles will be required to undergo an emissions test (see Drive Clean below) before receiving a new validation sticker.

Drive Clean

Vehicles in Ontario are regularly tested for emission problems as part of a government program called Drive Clean. The program aims to reduce harmful greenhouse gases and other pollutants. The emissions test may be required to renew your licence plate sticker. It is the responsibility of vehicle owners to repair any problems that are identified by the test.

You can find out if your vehicle needs to pass an emissions test by contacting the Drive Clean Call Centre (see For More Information links below).

Parking & Parking Tickets

Different parts of the city have different vehicle parking rules. Parking is free in some areas of the city such as at large shopping malls, but often must be paid for in other locations.

Pay & Display parking meters are located on streets throughout the city and in the downtown where you can purchase a short block of parking time.

The city also has a number of parking garages and parking lots that can be used for either short- and long-term parking. You can pay by the hour or purchase monthly parking permits from the city for available spaces. On-street parking in residential areas and neighbourhoods may have restrictions such as time of day, side of street, or length of stay. Some neighbourhoods require a city-issued on-street parking permit (see For More Information links below).

On-street parking is prohibited from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. at night during the winter months (December – March) to make it easier for snow removal crews to clear the streets. There are also many No Parking zones in the city that are marked by signs.

Failure to obey parking rules and regulations can result in a parking ticket. You can pay parking fines online, by phone, or in person at City Hall. See For More Information links below for details on city parking regulations and payment options.

NOTE: People who have certain physical or health conditions may apply for an Accessible Parking Permit. The permits allow individuals to park in designated accessible parking spaces. Permits can be obtained from ServiceOntario.

For More Information

Winter Road Conditions
Information on road conditions all regions of Ontario (Kingston is area 7, Eastern Ontario ) during the winter months. Includes an interactive map with more details, including road closures due to construction.

Cycling in Kingston
The City of Kingston encourages bicycling as a healthy and inexpensive form of transportation. Includes information about bike racks, bicycle trails and pathways, protective helmets, hand signals and the rules of the road, as well as a video on Kingston as a bike-friendly community.

Driving in Canada
An overview of driver’s licence regulations in Canada with links to licensing agencies in the 10 provinces and three territories. Includes sections on foreign licences, international driving permits, driving laws and rules, car insurance, safety, and buying and leasing a car.

Driving and Roads
Government of Ontario information on driving and vehicle registration requirements. Includes an online driver’s licence wizard tool, details on the graduated licensing system, types of driver licences, enhanced driver’s licences, changing information on your licence, and ordering driver records. Also includes information on registering and insuring a vehicle in Ontario, renewing licence plate stickers, and other vehicle registration specifics.

What is graduated licensing?
An explanation of the two-step licensing system for new drivers in Ontario. Available in Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), French, Gujarati, Pilipino (Tagalog), Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu.

How do I get an Ontario driver’s licence?
What does an Ontario driver’s licence look like, types of licences, how to apply for a licence and where to get more information. Available in Arabic, Chinese (simplified), French, Gujarati, Pilipino (Tagalog), Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tamil, and Urdu.

Renew a G driver’s licence: 80 years and over
A step-by-step guide to renewing an Ontario’s driver’s licence after the age of 80. Includes information about vision tests, written tests, road tests, group education sessions and other requirements. There is also a link to a downloadable guide of suggested programs for older drivers.

Automobile Insurance
A guide to understanding automobile insurance in Ontario: what to do after an accident, how to shop for auto insurance, and insurance requirements for other motorized vehicles such as motorcycles and snowmobiles. There is also an RSS newsfeed for updates and an interactive online tool to help with understanding rates.

Vehicle licensing
Information about licensing a vehicle, renewing plates, replacing plates, permits or validation stickers and other related topics.

Accessible Parking Permit
Information about who qualifies for an Accessible Parking Permit and how to apply for one as either an Ontario resident or a visitor. Also includes information on how to renew your permit or replace one that has bee damaged, lost, or stolen. Downloadable application forms and a set of frequently asked questions (FAQ) are also provided.

Traffic Safety — Canada Safety Council
A series of articles with information about road and vehicle safety in Canada, including winter and summer driving tips, the hazards of messy cars, tire safety, aggressive and impaired driving, driver distractions, and many other topics. Also available on Facebook and Twitter.

Road Safety Topics
Covers such areas as driver safety, vehicle safety, motorcycle safety, winter driving, cyclists and pedestrians, seat belts, car seats, air bags, school buses and emergency vehicles.

Drive Clean
A mandatory Ontario vehicle emissions inspection program requiring owners of vehicles to fix any emissions problems. Details how the test is done for different vehicles, explains test results, and outlines the process to follow for repairs. A series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), including what to do if you are outside Ontario, are provided. Also includes online tools that allow vehicle owners to learn the date of their next emissions test, find a test facility, and search a vehicle’s history.

Parking — City of Kingston
A guide to parking in Kingston, including metered parking (Pay & Display), garages and lots, on-street permits, event and accessible parking, and related regulations. Includes various parking maps and online payment of parking tickets.

Accessible Parking — City of Kingston
This page includes an explanation of accessible parking spaces in Kingston, how to obtain a permit, and fines for improper parking in an accessible space. Includes link to downloadable accessible parking map.

Traveller’s Information
Detailed information about roads and highways in Ontario, including interactive maps that point out road closures, restricted areas, and current incidents. An official road map of Ontario can be downloaded from site.

Active Transportation
The public health department and the City of Kingston encourage walking, biking, taking public transit, or any other physical means as an alternative to using a car. Includes a list of resources and useful links.

Service Location Finder — ServiceOntario
Searchable directory with information on how and where to access many Ontario government services. Covers health, social assistance, business, employment, education, driver and vehicle, taxes, and others.

City of Kingston Online Payment Services
Online payment services for transit (bus) passes, pet tags, parking permits, parking tickets, garbage bag tags, and provincial fines. Also registration and payment for recreation programs.

Parking Regulations: Violations and Fines — City of Kingston
A list of the most common parking violations. Includes a complete list of violations and associated fines.

Snow Plowing
The City’s of Kingston’s “Winter Control Plan” outlines how the City responds to winter weather to help people, drivers and emergency vehicles move safely and efficiently around Kingston. Includes a general overview on snow plows and snow plow safety and winter parking restrictions, as well as a set of https://www.cityofkingston.ca/residents/roads-and-traffic/snow-removal/faqs.

Provincial Offenses Court and Administration Office
Operated by the City of Kingston on behalf of the City and Frontenac County this court processes Provincial Offence charges — these are noncriminal offences including speeding, careless driving and other driving infractions, liquor offences, and trespassing. The office accepts payment for charges; schedules trials; processes applications, pleas, extensions, and appeals; and enforces and collects outstanding fines. A brief set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) is included, as are downloadable guides in French and English and other court process-related documents. There is also an online link to the City’s online payment service (for fines), however that service is only available in English.

Driving & Transportation
Ontario Government videos on installing car seats and booster seats, how to get a driver's license, snowmobiling, water and boat safety, and more. This is an English only page, but the videos are available in a mixture of French and English.

Winter Driving — Transport Canada
Informational video with driving tips for Canadian winters. Includes tips on clearing your car of snow, using snow tires, emergency kits, fuel consumption, and car maintenance.

Climate Action Tool Kit
A City of Kingston resource highlighting actions that people can take to help Kingston reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increase our climate resilience. Includes suggestions on how to save energy and be more sustainable both at home and the workplace through food, transportation, and energy choices. General information is also included, as are useful tools to help measure energy use and GHG emissions from a variety of everyday sources. This toolkit was developed as part of the community-built Kingston Climate Action Plan.

Exchange an Out-of-province driver’s licence
Details on how to switch a driver’s licence from another province, state, or country for an Ontario driver’s licence. Also the timeline for exchanging a licence and the requirements for getting a full Ontario driver’s licence. Includes details on proof of driver’s experience and the various tests you may be required to take.

How can I get my foreign driver’s licence translated?
Details on translation requirements for out-of-country driver’s licences. Includes an explanation of who qualifies as an approved translator.

Drive in Ontario: Visitors
What you need to know if you are, or will be, visiting Ontario — and want to drive in the province. Details for if you are here for less than 3 months, more than 3 months, the rules of the road, and accessible parking permits for visitors.

Winter Driving — Be Prepared, Be Safe!
Downloadable booklet with details about winter driving conditions. Contains helpful information about driving safely and winter road maintenance practices. Videos with tips are also available.

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