Teen Driving Laws in Ohio

Getting your driver's license is a major responsibility, and part of that is following all the rules. Before you get your first license, here’s what you need to know about teen driving laws in Ohio.  

How to Get a Teen Driver’s License in Ohio

To get a teen driver’s license in Ohio, young drivers must take the following steps:

  1. At 15½ years old, you can apply for a Temporary Permit. This is also known as an instructional permit or a learner's permit. To earn your Temporary Permit, you need to pass a written exam and an eye test. 

  2. To practice driving with your learner’s permit, you must have a licensed, supervising driver 21 years or older in the front passenger seat. If you are under 16, the adult must be a parent, guardian, or driving instructor.

  3. All teens under the age of 18 must complete a driver education course that includes 24 hours of in-class instruction and eight hours of instruction on the road. 

  4. You must complete a minimum of 50 hours of supervised behind-the-wheel driving practice, with 10 hours of night driving.

When you’ve completed these steps, are at least 16 years old, and have had your Temporary Permit for at least six months, you can apply for an Ohio driver’s license.

Ohio’s Licensing Restrictions for Teen Drivers

If you’re under 18 and pass the road test for your license, you will receive a Probationary Driver's License under Ohio’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. This program places certain restrictions on teen drivers, which are removed when you reach full driving privileges. 

If you're under the age of 16, these rules apply:

  • For the first 12 months, you're not allowed to drive between midnight and 6 a.m., except when accompanied by a parent or guardian, or when driving to and from a school, work, religious event, or during an emergency. Keep documents proving work or school commitments with you at all times.  

  • Only one non-family member is allowed as a passenger.

  • You and all passengers must wear seat belts.

  • You can't use your cell phone or other electronic devices while driving, even in hands-free mode.

When turning 17, restrictions are eased:

  • The driving curfew changes to between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

  • Passengers are allowed. 

When you reach the age of 18, full driving privileges are granted, provided you have no traffic violations. 

Traffic Violations and Underage DUI Laws in Ohio

If you are convicted of a moving violation in the first six months of having a Probationary Driver's License, you may only be allowed to drive with a parent or guardian for the next six months or until you turn 17, whichever comes first. Multiple traffic convictions before you turn 18 may result in a suspended license

Ohio takes distracted driving seriously. If a police officer observes you using your cell phone — or even just holding it — while driving, they can pull you over and ticket you. Teen drivers aren't even allowed to use hands-free technology to receive calls, though this restriction is lifted when you turn 18.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is also a serious offense for teen drivers. If you are under age 18 and are caught driving with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08% you will be charged with an OVUAC (Operation of a Vehicle after Underage Consumption). 

Penalties for an OVUAC conviction include a six-month suspension and remedial driver education. To get your license back, you'll also need to retake the driver exam and pay a reinstatement fee. If you have more than one violation, the length of suspension will increase to up to one year. 

Get Your License Today

It takes practice to become a great driver, so it’s a good idea for teens to take a defensive driving course. Learning defensive driving techniques can help you drive more safely and react to potential hazards correctly. 

Driversed.com is an Ohio BMV-approved driving school. We can help you prepare to take both your learner's permit and driver’s license tests. Sign up for our courses today!

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Update 5/4/24