ICBC “N” Driver Restrictions – a Deep Dive & FAQs

N Driver Restrictions

ICBC N Driver Restrictions in British Columbia

Welcome to the world of British Columbia’s N driver restrictions – a realm where questions like, “Do N drivers have a curfew?” and “Are N drivers allowed to use GPS?” are all too common. If you’re a novice driver in BC, navigating these restrictions can sometimes feel like deciphering an intricate puzzle. Fortunately, we’re here to unravel the mysteries surrounding Class 7 N licenses, so you can hit the road with confidence and clarity.

In this comprehensive guide, we will not only provide answers to those burning questions but also delve into the intricacies of the N license restrictions. From electronic devices and passenger limits to alcohol tolerance and nighttime driving, we’ll leave no stone unturned in helping you understand the rules of the road in British Columbia.

So, whether you’re a newly minted N driver eager to explore the highways or a concerned parent trying to make sense of the restrictions, get ready to embark on an enlightening journey through the world of ICBC N driver restrictions in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Let’s dive in.

N Driver Restrictions

“N” License Restrictions Snapshot

“N” Drivers Must…

  • Have zero alcohol or drugs in their body while driving
  • Clearly display the official “N” sign on the back of their vehicle​
  • No hand-held or hands-free electronic devices while driving
  • One passenger only (immediate family exempt) unless with supervisor age 25+ with a valid Class 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 license

Is Class 7 Your N?

Class 7 in beautiful British Columbia is your L and N.

  • Learners who have passed their knowledge test will receive a Class 7L learner’s license, and once they pass the first road test, will receive their Class 7N novice license
  • Once Class 7N drivers pass the second road test (after two years of driving, or 18 months with an approved driver education course), they will have a Class 5 BC license

ICBC gives the gift of a lot of L & N driver restrictions. These are in place for both class 7L ‘learner drivers’ and class 7N ‘new drivers.’

Both new and learner drivers have their own set of rules and regulations. Some of them overlap. This is all part of ICBC’s graduated licensing program. Turns out, learning how to drive gradually seems to be the safest method. To learn more about how the GLP program works, check out my article: What is the Graduated Licensing Program? or check out the L Driver Restrictions.

Class 7 License

Electronic Devices – Class 7 License BC

Class 7 ICBC Electronic Device Regulations

  • No hand-held cell phones or other electronic devices
  • No hands-free cell phones or other electronic devices
  • Do not touch, operate, hold or adjust your phone
  • Bluetooth with the wireless headset is not allowed
  • Using a speakerphone that can be operated with one touch or voice commands is not allowed
  • Do not program a GPS system
  • You can not select music from your cellphone
  • Do not wear earbuds
  • Connecting your cellphone or hand-held device to play music on your in-vehicle audio system is not allowed

No Electronic Devices While Driving

*Keep in mind, these N driver restrictions laws are for when you are driving.

It’s okay if you want to safely pull over and park, and then connect your music for example. Just do not even think about touching any of the above while driving.

These laws are in effect even when you’re stopped at a red light, or stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic not moving at all because technically you are still “in control of the vehicle” at that time.

L N Electronic Devices Laws BC Driving Blog

N Restrictions BC – Can N Drivers Listen to Music?

Yes, you can listen to music while driving if you have your Class 7N. But, you can’t use electronic devices while driving. In other words, set up your music before you drive.

Then, put it away. Do not touch any electronic device whatsoever while driving. Or, just use the radio or CD player if those are options in your vehicle.

BC Distracted Driving Fines & Penalty Points

The fines for distracted driving are not cheap these days. One ticket costs $368 and 4 points; for a total of $620.

If you aren’t familiar, check out my article How ICBC Points Work – More Than 3 Can Hurt The Bank, they are a bad thing and add an additional charge on top of your fine.

​Motor Vehicle Act sectionDescriptionFinePoint level
214.2 (1)Using an electronic device while driving$3684
214.2 (2)Emailing or texting while driving$3684
  • Four points cost $252
  • 50 points will cost you $34,560 (Not even kidding)

You Must Prominently Display The Official N Sign – Class 7 License BC

N Driver Restrictions
  • Your N sign needs to be clearly visible
  • Do not hide it half behind your license plate
  • It is supposed to let drivers around you know to be a little more patient
  • If you’re driving a trailer, put the N sign on the back of the trailer where people will be able to see it; not on the back of your truck/vehicle
N sign on trailer ICBC BC Driving Blog
Place your N where people can see it.

Driving lessons and the N sign

If you’re going for driving lessons with a driving school, you don’t need to put the L or N sign on the car.

That’s because driving school cars are required to have big signs. These signs say “student driver” attached to the back of the car for people to see. You can always add the sign if you like.

N License – Zero Drugs & Alcohol

For both L and N drivers, there is a strict zero alcohol & drug tolerance law. It is task enough to be an inexperienced driver in this world nowadays. There is no way that any amount of drugs or alcohol will help anyone.

zero drugs and alcohol N driver 7N BC

Can a New Driver Transport Alcohol?

Question: My blood alcohol level would be zero as I would NEVER drink and drive, but some of my family members said that with an N you can get a ticket for even having liquor in your car? I am of legal drinking age.

Basically, you’re allowed to transport alcohol as long as it’s sealed (read: not open at all) and out of reach of the driver and/or passenger compartment, just like drivers of other license classes. 

Have it located as far away from the driver/passenger area as possible i.e. the trunk, box of the pickup truck, under the rear seats, or in the very rear of the hatch… depending on the type of vehicle.  

And yes, any driver of any license class could get a ticket if the alcohol is opened or if it’s located right beside or near the driver.

If you read this ICBC N Driver Restrictions Page it clearly states “You must not drive with any alcohol in your blood.” It does not say “In your vehicle.”

Liquor in Motor Vehicles

44  (1) In this section:

“motor home” has the same meaning as in the Motor Vehicle Act;

“motor vehicle” has the same meaning as in the Motor Vehicle Act, and includes an off-road vehicle as defined in the Off-Road Vehicle Act.

(2) Subject to subsection (3), a person must not drive or otherwise exercise control over the operation of a motor vehicle, whether or not it is in motion, while there is liquor in the person’s possession or in the motor vehicle.

(3) Subsection (2) does not apply

(a) if the liquor is in a container that is unopened and has an unbroken seal,

(b) if the liquor is being transported or used in accordance with a licence issued under this Act, or

(c) in any other case, if the motor vehicle

(i)   is a motor home and the liquor is kept in a cabinet away from the driver’s area,

(ii)   is a station wagon or hatchback and the liquor is behind the rear seat, whether or not that seat is in an upright position,

(iii)   is a pickup truck and the liquor is in an exterior compartment, a space designed for the carriage of baggage or parcels or any other location that is not readily accessible to any person in the motor vehicle,

(iv)   is a motorcycle and the liquor is not readily accessible to the operator, or

(v)   is not one referred to in subparagraphs (i) to (iv) and the liquor is in the trunk or space designed for the carriage of baggage or parcels.

Class 7 Licnese – N – Novice Driver Passenger Restrictions 

How Many Passengers Can an N Driver Have in BC?

  • You can only take one passenger at this stage, unless they are your immediate family members, or if you have a supervisor with you
  • If you so desire, you can fill up your vehicle with family members, as long as they all have a seat belt of course.
N Passenger Restrictions BC ICBC
  • The supervisor must be the usual supervisor: aged 25 years or older, with a valid class 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 driver’s license
  • They need to sit beside you in the front seat

New drivers can only have ONE passenger as per their new driver restrictions… (Immediate family members are exempt)

n driver restrictions ICBC

ICBC Immediate Family Members Definition

What counts as immediate family members? Immediate family means:

  • Parents
  • Children
  • Spouse
  • Brothers
  • Sisters
  • Grandparents
  • Step-parent
  • Step-grandparent
  • Step-child
  • Step-brother
  • Step-sister
  • Foster-parent
  • Foster-grandparent
  • Foster-child
  • Foster-grandchild
  • Foster-brother
  • Foster-sister

… but not cousins. Cousins are not considered immediate family. Think of cousins as “friends.”

ICBC passenger restrictions

That means you can fill up your car with immediate family members and you can still have ONE friend (or non-immediate family member)

Class 7 new driver passenger restrictions immediate family

You can also fill up your car with any kind of people you want if you have a qualified supervisor with a full license class 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5

N supervisor N driver restrictions qualified supervisor

N Driver Restrictions: You Are Not Allowed To Drive With TWO Friends

Sorry… You can only have one friend. Friends are nice but have been proven to be very distracting for new drivers.

ICBC has found that new drivers who drive around with friends in their vehicle are much more likely to crash. And unfortunately, some people’s friends have been lost this way.

ICBC L N Passengers N driver restrictions

You can not drive with one friend plus another person who is NOT an immediate family as defined by ICBC above 

ICBC N driver restrictions

Remember the reason that these restrictions are in place is to keep people safe. New drivers are more likely to have a crash when compared with experienced drivers, even without distractions. 

What Vehicles Can New Drivers Operate BC?

Class 7 (7L learner & 7N novice) license holders are allowed to operate all the same vehicles as Class 5 drivers, including passenger vehicles that have 2 axles (read about what an axle is on Car & Driver), such as:

  • Cars
  • Vans
  • Construction & utility vehicles (2 axle maximum)
  • Light trucks
  • Limited-speed motorcycles or ATVs (all-terrain vehicles)
  • Any motor home – including those exceeding 2 axles – not equipped with air brakes
  • 3-wheeled vehicles; does not include 3-wheeled motorcycles (trikes) or motorcycle/sidecar combinations
  • Read more on our blog: British Columbia Driver License & Vehicle Guide
What vehicles Class 5 and Class 7 can drive in British Columbia
Class 7 “N” New Drivers (as well as Class 7 “L” Learners, excluding the U-Haul) may drive the same vehicles as Class 5.

Can A New Driver Tow A Trailer?

Can a new driver tow a trailer in BC? ICBC

New drivers and learner drivers in BC (Class 7 L & N) are allowed to tow a trailer that weighs up to a maximum of 4,600 kg GVW (gross vehicle weight CVSE Ministry of Transportation website).

GVW is the combined weight of your trailer and its load.

Say a trailer weighs 4,000 kg when empty. You can tow the trailer with a Class 4, 5, or 7 (novice) driver’s license.

Watch your weight

Just be careful, because after you load the trailer with loot, the GVW might exceed 4,600 kg. So do watch your weight especially if you’re packing your collection of designer marble countertops, a collection of pianos, or something like that.

Can A New Driver Rent A U-Haul in BC?

Can a Class 7 new driver drive a U-Haul in British Columbia
  • Yes, Class 7Ns may drive U-Hauls
  • U-Haul requires that renters be at least 16 years old to rent a trailer
  • You must be at least 18 years old to rent trucks
  • You do not need a special driver’s license to rent a U-Haul, since they are not classified as commercial vehicles

Any license which grants the ability to drive without supervision will work. Learners’ permits are not acceptable.


Class 7 License – Why are there so many L/N restrictions?

These N driver restrictions are in place to keep inexperienced drivers as safe as possible.

To do this, ICBC had to try and reduce the number of distractions for the driver.

Multiple studies have found that new drivers crash much more when their friends are in the vehicle with them (LA Times news article).

new driver car crash ICBC

Can Your Supervisor be Drunk?

To answer this question, we went to our friends over at Drive Smart BC, which was created and is run by a retired traffic officer on Vancouver Island.

So, in addition to zero blood alcohol for the new driver, the supervisor needs to have a BAC under 50 mg% (.05). Ideally, the supervisor should have a zero blood alcohol requirement too.

Alcohol and the Learner Driver Supervisor – DriveSmart BC

Get creative with ways to get home

You may need to get creative sometimes. Remember that there are always alternatives, such as Uber, public transportation, staying overnight, calling someone for a ride, etc.

Be sure to follow all of your N driver restrictions when driving U-Haul. If you’re looking for other options, check out my article New Driver Car Rental, Sharing, and Car for Road Test.

Class 7 zero alcohol L&N Driver Restrictions British Columbia ICBC

Can New & Learner Drivers Drive In the U.S. & Across Canada?

Generally speaking, yes, the N driver restrictions allow for both N and L to drive across Canada & in the U.S. Just make sure to follow the same restrictions displayed on the back of your license. You might need a magnifying glass to read it, but it’s there.

Check with individual locations to double-check. And check and see if you can change your car speedometer to American (miles). 50 km/hr is roughly equal to 31 mph. 80 km/hr is about 50 mph.

Can Class 7 L and N drivers drive in USA and Canada

When in Rome… I mean, when in the USA, do as the Canadians do. If you do get pulled over, authorities will look at your license. They will be able to see your L and N driver restrictions. And, they’ll expect you’re following the rules.

Driving On The Highway/Freeway with Class 7

driving on highway/freeway with Class 7N License BC

Can Class 7 Drive On Highway In BC?

Yes, you can drive on the highway & freeway with your Learner’s license and New driver’s license (Class 7L & 7N). The only exception is if it indicates you aren’t allowed on the back of your license. This is rare.

Highway/Freeway not that dangerous

The only way to get better and more experienced at driving is to actually drive. That’s why brand new learner drivers with their Class 7 are allowed to drive on the freeway and highway. The highway/freeway – ironically – isn’t the most dangerous place for new drivers.

The most dangerous place to drive…

The most dangerous place (for all drivers) is intersections that are close to your home. You can read more about different types of intersections in this article on our site. Always pay full attention close to home. Do not go on autopilot just because you know where all the stop signs are, etc. The second most common place where crashes happen is in parking lots.

Just be sure to keep your eyes up far ahead when on the freeway, this will help keep your car control smooth. And stay in the right lane; check out my article about how the left lane is for faster traffic.

Spouse Definition For ICBC Restrictions

Uber Tesla

What counts as a spouse?

A spouse is defined as someone who was married to another person at ‘the relevant time’ or who was living for a minimum of 2 years or longer immediately before the ‘relevant time’ in a marriage-like relationship.

This includes marriage-like relationships between people of the same gender identity.

Length Of Time In ‘N’ Stage

N stage time ICBC Length of time

Part of the N driver restrictions includes a mandatory amount of time in this stage.

  • This stage must last for at least 24 months (2 years) unless you have successfully completed a GLP driver education program
  • However, your N license won’t expire for 5 years
  • In the case you’ve completed an approved driver’s education program, your 24 months can be reduced to 18 months
  • If your license is suspended, canceled, expired, or surrendered, you must wait longer to qualify for a fully privileged driver’s license

Once your license is reinstated, your 24 months will start over from the beginning. Check out my article New Driver Speeding, Tickets, Prohibitions & Penalties to learn more.

Can You Renew Your N License BC?

How long do you have your N for in BC?

Even though you can take your second road test after two years, your 7N Novice license won’t expire for five years. Check out my article Class 5 vs 7 Road Test: Prepare & Conquer if you need to prepare for the second road test.

After five years, if you’re still not ready for the second road test, you can simply renew your driver’s license, just like anyone else. You’ll just need to go to ICBC, pay a fee, and get a new photo taken.

The only thing to be aware of is the amount of time your ‘N’ license has expired. If it’s expired for a long time (don’t quote me but I believe it is 2 or 3 years), then you won’t be able to simply renew it.

At that point you’ll need to do another road test, or, you can also just get a BC-ID card which is a non-drivers photo ID if you’re not into driving anymore.

How to Get Your N in 6 Months?

Hate to break it to you, but you can’t get your N in 6 months. If you successfully complete an ICBC-approved GLP driver education course, then you’ll be able to get 6 months taken off your total N time; for a grand total of 18 months driving with the Class 7N license.

Time Of Day Restrictions

Can N Drivers Drive At Night In BC?

Yes, Class 7N new drivers can drive at night or anytime 24/7/365. There are no time restrictions – you may drive whenever you like, as long as you’re following all of the restrictions printed on the back of your license. (The only time restriction is in the “L” Phase). Do be careful driving in the middle of the night. It may seem easier because there’s no rush hour, but it’s a whole different kind of world if you know what I mean.

Can N drivers drive at night in BC?

Can a New Driver Drive With a Baby in British Columbia?

Yes, you can of course drive with a baby. The real question is, why are you thinking of a baby as something like an alien, rather than simply a son or daughter?

Just be sure to follow your passenger restrictions. Immediate family members are exempt from the one-passenger restriction in the “N” stage. In other words, daughters and sons – even tiny, fresh, sleeping, squirmy, squiggly, snuggly, screaming, cute, fragile, joyful, terrifying, and exciting ones – are allowed.

The safest place for a car seat is in the rear, or middle seat, as it is farthest away from potential airbags and impact.

Read more on our blog: Car Seat Regulations BC – The Basic Guide

can a new driver drive with a baby BC
Oh Dear

Lost Your L or N Sign?

ICBC N & L Signs

If you lost your L or N sign, you have a few options. You could:

Question: Is It Illegal To Keep An “N” Or “L” On The Back Of A Vehicle All The Time Even If The Driver Is Not In The Learners Or New Category?

Answer From The VPD (Vancouver Police Department) Via Email:

                The simple answer is “ no “it is not illegal, but keep in mind that you may be stopped if you are the lone occupant of the vehicle driving while displaying an “L” sign. The “L” sign requires the driver to be accompanied by a qualified supervisor. If an officer sees a vehicle operated by a lone individual while displaying an “L” sign the officer will more than likely stop the vehicle to ascertain if he/she is contravening the licence restrictions.

Can An N Driver Drive My Car?

​Yes, new and learner drivers can drive your car, but ICBC asks you to list who drives your car. Examples are family members and employees – including learner drivers and new drivers. In September 2019, ICBC changed its insurance model. It’s moving to a more driver-based system.

You can add a learner or a new driver to your listed drivers at an Autoplan broker office. You will need their driver’s license number and birthday. You can add or remove listed drivers anytime.

If an unlisted driver crashes your car, you could face financial consequences unless you have Unlisted Driver Protection. I also wrote a comprehensive article on how ICBC claims work if you want to find out more about that.

Driver-based model: Under the new model, at-fault crashes will follow the driver, not the vehicle.

However, crashes caused by learners won’t go on their ICBC driving record. The learner stage will also not count toward their driving experience.

ICBC – For parents of teen drivers

Common ICBC Restriction Codes

BC Drivers License Restrictions Examples

Wondering what those numbers on your license mean? Here are some common ICBC restriction codes.

  • Restriction 14 – Restriction 14 may be applied to a license as a result of a road test. Drivers with this restriction are not permitted to operate a vehicle on highway 99 south of Vancouver, Highway 1 east of Vancouver, or west of highway 9.
  • Restriction 21 – Corrective lenses required
  • Restriction 39 – Qualified supervisor required age 25+, 1 passenger
  • Restriction 43 – 5 am to midnight only L
  • Restriction 45 – 1 passenger unless supervisor aged 25+, family exempt
  • Restriction 46 – 0 BAC/BDC (blood alcohol/drug content), must display L sign, no electronic device
  • Restriction 47 – 0 BAC/BDC (blood alcohol/drug content), must display N sign, no electronic device

Driving Without Consideration

Random Question : Hi there. I recently got in a bad collision and was given a ticket for “driving without consideration”. This is the only ticket I got – does it affect my N permit?

It looks to be a $196 Ticket worth 6 points. Normally the new driver’s record will be automatically reviewed by the superintendent after 3 or more points. So, it does seem like you may be headed toward a prohibition of 1-6 months.

Question on Overloading With N:

Does driving with more than one passenger on an N license void your insurance?

Answer: No it does not void your insurance.

{Say my son drives with an N and violates the “one passenger rule,” would he still be covered if he had an accident and the passengers were injured? What about the cost of damage to vehicles involved?
Unfortunately, young drivers are inexperienced and more likely to crash—which is why the “one passenger rule” is in place.

If this situation were to happen though, your son will still be covered by insurance. However, he’d likely get a ticket or have his licence suspended for breaking the rules of the graduated licensing program. The rules of the program are in place to keep young drivers as safe as possible while they’re inexperienced.}

There Is a Pulse In Your Thumb

Okay, this is just slightly random, but I thought I’d throw it in here for good luck. Avoid checking someone’s pulse with your thumb. Your thumb has its own.


These new driver restrictions can seem downright annoying. But of course, they are there to try and keep people safe. New drivers are simply at increased risk of crashing and causing injuries. This is due to many factors; two of the most important being driver inexperience, and driver distraction, and sometimes you can throw raging hormones and some other stuff into the mix there, too.

Apparently, The brain does not fully develop until the age of 25. That’s probably not what you want me to tell you. The part of the brain that doesn’t develop until age 25 is called the prefrontal cortex.

Impulsive behaviors may be much more tempting up until the age of 25. This is why it’s not a coincidence that many car rental companies charge a “youthful surcharge” or have an additional fee for those under 25.

They aren’t simply hating on your age; those under 25 statistically crash automobiles more, take more risks, and get into accidents in general.

No one says you have to learn how to drive at any certain age (I mean, maybe they do..), but just learn when you feel ready.

My recommendation would be to follow the rules and avoid getting any tickets. Get through the graduated licensing program as efficiently as you can.

Even though it may not seem like it, there is a full privilege driver’s license waiting at the end of it all. And I think the marvelous newfound freedom that comes with that will all be worth it.

If you have problems saying “no” to your friends, it may be helpful to drive a car that only has 2 seats such as the following… not that this is necessarily an affordable or desirable option, but still maybe something to think about.

  • Honda CR-Z
  • Mazda MX-5 Miata
  • Nissan 370Z
  • Smart Fortwo
  • BMW Z4
  • TT Roadster

Staying out of trouble in this phase is important, and one way to help prevent collisions is in parking lots, where collisions commonly occur (#2 most common place for collisions, after intersections). You can help prevent trouble by reversing into your parking space so that you don’t need to reverse out, and learning about Right-of-Way in the Parking Lot. Also, read up on defensive driving strategies to prevent collisions to stay safe while driving.