Teen Driving Law
The Graduated Driver Licensing Law (GDL Law) aims to protect teen drivers while they gain experience behind the wheel. Ohio’s GDL Law has three parts: Temporary Permit, Probationary Driver’s License and Full License/No Restrictions.
Current Ohio Law
Phase 1: Temporary Permit (also referred to as Instruction Permit)
At age 15 years and six months, teens may go to any Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to take the written exam and eye exam. Once teens pass, they have earned their learner’s permit.
Before obtaining a probationary driver license, these requirements must be met:
- Enroll in and complete a driver education program at a licensed driver training school, which includes 24 hours of classroom and 8 hours of driving time.
- Complete 50 hours total of driving, with at least 10 hours of night driving with a parent or guardian.
- Teens must hold the temporary permit for at least six months.
Ohio Revised Code: 4507.05
Phase 2: Probationary Driver’s License
Once the teen turns 16 years old, they are eligible to take the road test at the BMV. Once the teen passes, the teen will receive a Probationary Driver’s License.
Once the teen begins driving solo, there are still safety restrictions in place for the driver:
- No use of any electronic devices.
- Nighttime driving is restricted from 12 a.m. and 6 a.m., except for work, school, religious events, or medical emergencies until teens have had their probationary license for one year or turn 18.
- Restricted to no more than one non-family member passenger without parental supervision until teens have had their probationary license for one year or turn 18.
The following restrictions apply after the teen has held the probationary license for one year but is younger than 18 years old:
- Nighttime driving is restricted from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., except for work, school, religious events or medical emergencies.
- The teen may not transport more passengers than the number of originally installed safety belts in the vehicle.
Phase 3: Full License/No Restrictions
Once the teen turns 18 years old, restrictions are lifted.
According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death for US teens. Six teens aged 16 to 19 die every day from motor vehicle crash injuries. Teens and parents can work together to prevent motor vehicle crashes. Below risk factors associated with teen driving crashes and strategies to prevent them.
Peer-to-Peer Education is an opportunity for teens to develop and implement a plan that educates their peers about a problem that affects them and their fellow teens in their school or community. Peer-to-peer education empowers teens to promote a positive message or campaign to adopt safe behaviors by themselves.
Teens in the Driver Seat: The first peer-to-peer program for teens that focuses solely on traffic safety and addresses all major risks for this age group. Available to high schools in 15 states (including Ohio).
TextLess Live More: A student-led, peer-to-peer, national awareness campaign with a mission to end distracted driving and promote digital wellness.
Always remember and follow the rules of the road to prevent a motor vehicle crash.
- Passengers: Teen drivers transporting passengers can lead to disastrous results. Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of passengers in a car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers.
Reminder: Ohio GDL law places restrictions on the number of non-family passengers in vehicle while using the probationary license (see Teen Driving Law). The law states you are restricted to no more than one non-family member passenger without parental supervision until teens have held their probationary license for 1 year or turn 18.
- Speeding: Speeding is a critical issue for all drivers, especially for teens who lack the experience to react to changing circumstances around their cars. Obey the posted speed limit and know that every time the speed you’re driving doubles, the distance your car will travel when you try to stop quadruples.
- Seat belt use: Seat belts are designed to keep you safe, whether you’re sitting in the front or back seat, by preventing you from being ejected from your vehicle in the event of a crash. Before you put your car in drive, check to make sure everyone is buckled.
- Alcohol/Drug use: Drinking before the age of 21 is illegal in every state, and alcohol and driving should never mix, no matter your age. Marijuana slows a user’s reaction time and affects a driver’s ability to drive safely. Remember that drugs — illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter — can impair driving and have deadly consequences. Know how over-the-counter medications affect you before you drive.
- Distracted Driving: The use of mobile devices while driving is a big problem, but there are other causes of teen distracted driving that pose dangers as well, like adjusting the radio, applying makeup, eating or drinking, or distractions from other passengers in the vehicle.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, in 2019, 6% of teen-related crashes aged 15-19 were distracted related.
In 2019, the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported that 40,237 teens age 15-19 were involved in motor vehicle crashes.
Parents are the number one influence on their teen driver's safety. There are specific risk factors that place your teen at a higher risk for motor vehicle crashes. As a parent, here's what you can do to keep your teen safe on the road.
Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate or not be able to recognize dangerous situations. Teens are also more likely than adults to make critical decision errors that lead to serious crashes.
What can you do…
- Make sure to practice with your teen on a variety of roads, at different times of the day and in varied weather and traffic conditions
- Stress the importance of always scanning for potential hazards including other vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians
Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and allow shorter headways.
What can you do…
- Be a good role model. Never speed. Be consistent between the message you tell your teen and your own driving behaviors.
- According to Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), when a teen first has their drivers license, they are more likely to speed in their own vehicle versus the family sedan.
- Get Involved. Teens who are monitored closely tend to speed less. Stay active and involved in your teens learning-to-drive process.
- Seat belt use
Compared to other age groups, teens and young adults often that the lowest seat belt use rates. According to CDC, Among young drivers aged 16-19 who died in car crashes in 2019, almost half were unrestrained at the time of the crash.
What can you do…
- Set the example. One of the best things you can do as a parent and role model is to always wear your seat belt in the car. Children who grow up watching their parents buckle up are more likely to buckle up when they become drivers. And, before you ever pull out of the driveway, ensure all passengers are buckled to further impress upon your teen the importance of buckling up.
- Educate teens about the law. Not only is buckling up the law, it's also one of the easiest and most effective actions in reducing the chances of death and injury in a crash. Talk to your teen about the seat belt laws in your State. Tell your teen that it's dangerous and reckless to ride in a car unbuckled. Make them aware of the consequences of not buckling up: tickets, loss of driving privileges, injury, or even death in the event of a crash.
- Alcohol use
Any amount of alcohol increases the risk of crashes among teens as compared with older drivers. Remember: For those under 21, the BAC limit is not .08—it is zero.
In 2019, the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported that 523 crashes involving teens age 15-19 were alcohol-related.
What can you do…
- Never provide alcohol to teens. Do your part to prevent your teen from having access to alcohol. Parents who supply alcohol to any teen—or help any minor possess or consume alcohol—face jail time, loss of a driver's license, and serious fines.
- Tell your teen that underage drinking, is illegal and holds serious consequences. Together, read about some teenagers who've been affected by alcohol or drugs and particularly those who have lost their lives to impaired driving. Teens can often relate better to other teenagers.
- Make the consequences clear. Remind your teens that they face adult consequences for driving after using alcohol or drugs. Make sure your teens know that if they violate underage drinking laws, they face a trip to jail, the loss of their driver licenses, and dozens of unanticipated expenses including attorney fees, court costs, and other fines. Remind them of the added embarrassment and humiliation in getting arrested. An arrest can event compromise academic eligibility, college acceptance, scholarship awards, and more.
- Nighttime & Weekend Driving
In 2019, the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported that the highest percentage of crashes involving teens age 15-19 occurred after school between 3 and 6 pm.
For all ages, fatal crashes are more likely to occur at night; but the risk is higher for teens.
What can you do…
- Make sure your teen is off the road by 9 pm or 10 pm for at least the first 6 months of licensed driving.
- Practice nighttime driving with your teen when you think they are ready
Reminder: Ohio GDL law places the following restrictions on nighttime driving:
- Until teens have held their probationary license for 1 year or turn 18, driving is restricted from to 12 am and 6 am, except for work, school, religious event or medical emergency.
- If the teen has held probationary license for one year but is younger than 18 years old, nighttime driving is restricted from 1 am to 5 am, except for work, school, religious event or medical emergency.
Parent - Teen Learning Module
The Ohio Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Parent - Teen Module is an interactive learning module which provides in-depth information about the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law and aims to bring parents and teens together and provides strategies for parent and teachers to re-enforce GDL.
Steps to complete:
- Start by clicking the link below to complete your preregistration form. From start to finish, you will need about 30 minutes. https://www.impactteendrivers.org/gdl/ohio/pre-survey
- Once you've told us a little about yourself, you will be taken to the Ohio Graduated Driver License Module.
- When you reach the end of the module, you will be instructed to follow the link to a mandatory survey. We want to hear about what you knew and felt about teen driver and passenger safety before the module and what you know and feel about it after completing it.
Resources & Links
State Involvement and Collaborations
The Child Injury Action Group identifies priorities and strategies to reduce child injury in Ohio. Teen driving safety is a focus area of the Child Injury Action Group. The teen driving subcommittee works to reduce motor vehicle child occupant death and injury among teens 13-20 years of age. Currently, the subcommittee works to:
- Increase access to GDL materials
- Implement GDL Toolkit
- Increase use of evidence-based practices in schools
- Increase parent knowledge of GDL law.
The subcommittee is always looking for diverse new members and participating agencies. Learn more about teen driving safety activities in the Child Injury Action Group 2022 - 2027 Strategic Plan.
If you are interested in joining the Teen Driving subcommittee, please fill out the Membership Application form.
Driving School Resources
Ohio GDL Toolkit
Coming soon in 2022!