Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles

Map of USA with Ohio highlighted in light blueBefore the year 2000, Ohio adopted graduated driver licensing (GDL) for the young drivers in the state. The program has been adopted by many states in the U.S., as it has been shown to drastically reduce the rate of crashes among teens. The basic idea of graduated driver licensing is to extend the process of driver-license acquisition, by gradually ceding in stages all of the privileges and responsibilities of an unrestricted driver’s license. In Ohio, there are three stages.

Summary of Graduated Driver Licensing

In Ohio, young, prospective drivers can begin their driver training in the middle of their 15th year. They begin with a driver education requirement, as well as a temporary permit. The permit allows the owner to drive under the supervision of a licensed driver over 21 years old, such as a driving instructor or a parent. This allows for the driving component of the driver education course, as well as the behind-the-wheel training required for the probationary license.

Six months after the acquisition of an Instruction Permit, student drivers become eligible for the probationary license. In order to acquire one, drivers must finish their driver education courses, with 24 hours of classroom experience and eight hours of driving practice under the supervision of a driving instructor. In addition, they must also finish practicing with their guardian or parent supervisor. The requirement is 50 hours, which the supervisor will attest to in writing at the Department of Transportation test site. The form, called a fifty hour affidavit, is available on the Bureau of Motor Vehicles website.

Once at the test site, drivers will be required to take the road test. If they pass, they will receive the probationary license. In many ways, the Probationary License grants the privileges of a full operator’s license; however, there are some constraints.

For example, 16-year-old drivers are limited to driving on their own between 6 a.m. and midnight. In the presence of a parent or guardian, minors can drive at any time. There are some exceptions to this rule, as in the case of work-related activities. Driving to and from work is the most notable example of this. Once drivers turn 17, they can drive between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m., two hours longer than 16-year-olds. Passengers are also restricted. 16-year-olds can only transport one passenger at a time without a guardian in the vehicle; 17-year-olds are restricted to as many passengers as there are additional safety belts. If there are four safety belts, total, in the vehicle, then only 3 passengers are allowed.

At 18, the probationary license is invalidated, and a regular driver’s license may be issued.

Helpful Links for Teen Drivers and Parents

Before going to the BMV to acquire an instruction permit, be sure you have all the identifying documentation necessary. You need to prove your name, date of birth, social security number, U.S. citizenship or legal status, and residence in Ohio. Follow the link to see what documents you can use for proof.
Acceptable Documents List

For additional information, including recent updates to the law, you can visit the Bureau of Motor Vehicles website

At the above website, there is also an agreement that tends to help develop the rules regarding the parent/teen relationship for driving instruction. It sets a number of basic expectations, as well as sets the stage for some helpful discussions. It also incorporates a number of the most vital lessons to be taught throughout the duration of the behind-the-wheel experience.