Your teenage years are often filled with new experiences, and one of the most exciting of these is learning how to drive. And then, if all goes well, finally being able to drive completely on your own.
Steps to Getting Your License
Ohio is one of the states that has a graduated licensing program, meaning that, as a teenager, you will be able to obtain driving privileges in graduated steps rather than all at once. According to legislators, this program helps prepare young drivers to be responsible, safe, and confident by the time they obtain their full license.
You can begin the licensing process as soon as you are 15 and a half. Here's where to start:
- Bring your identification documents and $22 to your local deputy registrar's branch. (If you're under 18, you'll need a cosigner on your application, who will also need to show acceptable identification documents.)
- Take your written and vision tests at your nearest driver license examination station, run by the Ohio State Highway Patrol. No appointment is necessary, and you will need to bring your complete packet.
A note about the permit application packet: Do not fill out any forms in the packet until directed to do so. This packet needs to follow you throughout the licensing process, and if you lose the forms or complete them before being told to, you'll need to purchase a new set.
The permit packet itself does not make you eligible to drive, even with a licensed driver accompanying you. Only when you have passed the written and vision tests will you obtain the actual permit and have the privilege of driving.
Need help studying? You will definitely need to study the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws before taking your written test. Check out the sample test online before attempting your actual written test.
Once you obtain your temporary permit, you will be able to drive with a licensed adult to practice your skills and gain experience.
You will have to keep the permit for 6 months before being allowed to take your skills (driving) test and obtain your regular license. In this period of time, you should complete the following minimum requirements:
- 24 hours of classroom education
- 8 hours of driving time with a certified instructor
- 50 hours of general driving time with a licensed adult, with at least 10 hours of nighttime driving
Your temporary permit allows you to get on the road, but it also comes with some restrictions, namely, that you can't drive between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a licensed adult, and you must wear your seatbelt at all times.
Your Provisional License
So you've had your temporary permit for 6 months, have practiced the required number of hours, and are ready to take the next step―the driving test.
Make an appointment for your test by calling the nearest driver license examination stations. Or, you can also make an appointment online.
Bring your valid temporary permit, photo permit ID, and the rest of the forms still in your packet. If you're under 18, you'll also need to bring your certificate of completion for a driver's education course, and an affidavit stating that you've completed the 50-hour practice requirement.
The test will consist of a vehicle inspection (the registration and insurance must be current), driving skills and manueverability assessment.
Once you pass the test, the examiner will give you a signed document. Take that document to your nearest deputy registrar's branch, where you'll receive your license immediately.
Restrictions still apply: Even with your new probationary license, you'll be restricted from driving between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., unless accompanied by a licensed adult or you're traveling for work or school purposes.
The license will be valid until you turn 18, at which time you may apply for a full driver license.
Your New Responsibility
Getting your driver's license can be a wonderful, freeing experience that can lead to all sorts of opportunities. However, it can also have dangerous, tragic consequences for yourself, people you care about―and people you don't even know.
The statistics are ominous:
- The leading cause of death for teenagers is car crashes.
- Inexperienced driving is cited as the reason for most teenage crashes.
- 16-year-olds are about three times more likely to die in a crash than older drivers.
- 16-year-olds have a higher crash rate than any other age of driver.
- About half of teenage deaths occur when there is another teen in the car.
- Death rates for 16- and 17-year-old drivers increase with each extra passenger.
These statistics aren't meant to scare you from driving. They're meant to alert you to the danger that is possible any time you get behind the wheel and turn on the ignition.
As a teenager, you'll face many obstacles on the road to becoming a safe driver. You might be easily distracted (go ahead, admit it). You might be careless. You might think you're invulnerable, or that accidents only happen to other people.
But, the biggest obstacle out of all of them will be your lack of experience.
Simply put, there is no substitute for driving experience. Even driving veterans, from time to time, will come across a situation they've never confronted before. And, look at all the years of driving they have on you.
Among the things you'll encounter:
- Poor weather conditions (such as snow, high winds, icy roads, heavy rain, fog―and sometimes a combination of these)
- Construction zones
- Heavy traffic
- Obstacles in the road (deer, dogs, cats, squirrels, pedestrians, bicyclists―even potholes)
- Careless, dangerous, or inexperienced drivers
- Road rage
- Flying debris from trucks or other cars
And, that doesn't even include weird, out-of-the-ordinary things that'll pop up and surprise you just when you think you've seen it all.
The good news is that chances are your reflexes and vision will never be better than when you are a teen. Wisely use this to your advantage. Take things slowly, pay attention, and be serious about your driving education and your driving training.
And, always remember this...your driving education never really ends.
Find more details on the requirements for driver education and training on this site.