Ohio Driving Laws For 16-Year-Olds

The state of Ohio mandates some strict rules for new teen drivers to reduce teen driving accidents. Teens are the most at risk for car crashes and three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than drivers 20 years and older. CDC statistics reveal that nationally, 2,364 teens aged 16 to 19 were killed in car crashes in 2017. That amounts to six per day.

In Ohio, teen drivers were involved in 132,163 traffic crashes from 2016 to 2018, of which 251 were fatal. In 68% of these crashes, the teen was at fault. To help keep teens safe on the roads, Ohio follows a graduated driver licensing (GDL) program that eases restrictions as teens become older and gain more driving experience.

If your teen is about to take the Ohio driving test, here’s what you need to know about Ohio’s driving laws for 16-year-olds.

Ohio Probationary Driver License Rules for 16-Year-Olds

Teens who have had their temporary instruction permit for at least six months can make an appointment at their local BMV to take the driving test. Once they pass, they will receive a probationary driver's license. With a probationary driver's license, teens are allowed to drive without a parent or guardian. However, for the first 12 months, Ohio’s driving laws place the following restrictions on new teen drivers:

1.  Teens may not operate a vehicle between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. unless they are:

  • Accompanied by a parent or guardian.

  • Driving to or from work with the relevant documentation from the employer.

  • Driving to or from a school event or a religious event with the appropriate documentation from the event official.

  • Driving during an emergency.

2. They may not drive a vehicle with more than one non-family member as a passenger unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

3. The driver and all passengers must wear seat belts.

4. The use of any mobile devices is prohibited, including hands-free devices. Ohio has clamped down on distracted driving. For drivers under 18, distracted driving is a primary offense. That means teens can be pulled over if a law enforcement officer sees them using their mobile device in any way.

After 12 months, teens are allowed to drive between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., but the other rules still apply.

Penalties for Breaking Ohio’s Teen Driving Laws

It’s important for teens to follow the rules of their probationary driving license if they want to avoid penalties and progress to the next stage of the GDL program.

If your teen is convicted of a traffic offense within the first six months of having a license, it’s likely they will be ordered to drive with a parent or guardian for a further six months or until they reach age 17.

Should they be convicted of multiple violations or an alcohol-related offense, their probationary driver’s license may be suspended for a minimum of six months or up to one year. Ohio has strict DUI laws for teens and drivers under the age of 21, and young drivers with a blood-alcohol level of only 0.02% will face a DUI charge. Losing their license for a year is something no teen will be happy about and, as a parent, you won’t be pleased with the legal fees you'll have to pay either!

Know Driving Laws in Ohio

Ohio’s driving laws for 16-year-olds are there for a reason — to help reduce the number of teen car crashes and deaths on the road. If your teen is starting to learn to drive, now is the time to discuss teen driver safety and explain why it is important to follow the rules of their probationary license.

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