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Safety Laws in Ohio

To provide safe roadways during transportation, Ohio has adopted several laws all drivers and car owners must follow.

Below are some of the common Ohio safety laws you should be aware of while driving.

Seat Belts

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wearing a safety belt while inside a motor vehicle significantly reduces the risk of fatal injury. Because of this, the following safety belt laws are in place in Ohio:

  • Mandatory use of safety belts for all drivers and passengers in the front seat.
  • Children 8 years old to 15 years old must wear a safety belt or use a child restraint device (when appropriate) at all times, regardless of where in the vehicle they are sitting.

Safety Restraints for Children

Depending on the age, height, and weight of your child, he or she may be required to use a child safety seat or a booster seat while inside a motor vehicle.

Ohio law requires the following:

  • Children under 4 years old OR less than 40 lbs.:
    • Must use a safety seat at all times.
    • Installation for the safety seat must meet the manufacturer's requirements.
  • Children under 8 years old:
    • Must use a booster seat UNLESS the child reaches 4 feet 9 inches or taller.
    • If the shoulder belt crosses near the neck instead of the middle of the chest, your child may need to continue the use of a booster seat beyond the initial age or height requirements.
  • Children 8 years old to 15 years old:
    • Must wear a seat belt at all times.

The driver is responsible for any minors inside the vehicle. Failure to abide by these laws may result in a fine. It is also recommended that children under 13 years old ride in the back seat.

Cell Phones & Texting

While the use of a handheld wireless device isn't banned entirely in Ohio, some restrictions on use apply.

  • All drivers under 18 years old are prohibited from using any wireless communication device.
    • Includes hands-free devices.
  • Texting and driving is prohibited for all drivers.

Exceptions to these laws include:

  • Law enforcement officials.
  • Emergency vehicle operators.
  • Using a wireless device for emergency purposes, such as contact with:
    • Law enforcement.
    • Healthcare providers.
    • The fire department.
  • Reading data for navigation purposes.
  • Reading data to receive emergency weather or traffic information.

NOTE: Distracted driving is an epidemic plaguing our roadways. For information about how you can help stop this behavior, visit our guide to distracted driving, and take the pledge to end it today.

Window Tinting Restrictions

Ohio permits window tinting and the use of other sunscreening devices. However, window tinting materials must meet state guidelines.

The mandatory criteria vehicle owners must abide by when applying window tint to a vehicle include:

  • For the windshield:
    • A light transmittance of 70% or more.
  • For side windows to the left and right of the driver:
    • A light transmittance of 50% or more.
  • For all rear windows:
    • No restrictions for light transmittance so long as dual side mirrors are present.
  • The use of metallic, mirrored, or other reflective materials are prohibited on all windows.
  • You MUST use colors other than red or yellow.

Unattended Minors & Pets

Although there are no current laws prohibiting unattended children or pets in vehicles, an existing danger to the health and safety of a child or pet could be cause for punishment under child neglect endangerment and animal cruelty laws.

Because of the risk of heat stroke or other potentially fatal conditions during extreme weather conditions, parents or guardians are advised to use their best judgment when leaving minors and pets inside a vehicle for extended periods of time.

Unattended Vehicles

Leaving a running vehicle unattended—warming up a vehicle, for example—is prohibited in Ohio. When exiting a vehicle, the driver of the vehicle is required to:

  • Stop the engine.
  • Lock the ignition.
  • Remove the keys.
  • Apply the parking brake.

These laws also apply to cars left in the owner's driveway. Failure to abide by these laws may result in a misdemeanor and fine.

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