How to Get a Ohio Driver’s License
Ohio has a Graduated Driver License program, or GDL, that will give you time to learn how to drive in a controlled way. There are three stages to this program, from no license to full license.
The Ohio GDL program will take at least a year. At 15 ½ you begin the learner state. Pass driver’s, complete your supervised driving time within 6 months, and apply for your restricted license when you’re 16. 6 more months of driving for a full license. All restrictions are lifted when you turn 18.
The steps below have the details you’ll need to know to get your full, unrestricted license.
Get your Ohio temporary instruction permit
You can start the process to get your license at 15 years and 6 months old. To get ready for driving, you can download the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws and start reading through it. At your local Driver Exam Station, you’ll take vision and driving knowledge tests.
You will need to bring proof of identity documents that contain your address, full legal name, etc. Check out the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles acceptable documents list to make sure you have everything you’ll need. The fee is $23.50 and is payable by debit card or check.
You will have to answer 75% of 40 multiple choice questions correctly to pass the knowledge test. You must wait 24 hours to retake the test if you fail. Don’t worry, there is no limit to the number of times you’re allowed to take the test.
It’s always a good idea to practice before your exam, so why not take a few practice tests after you’ve studied the digest?
Once you’ve passed, find your local Deputy Registrar License Agency. That’s where you’ll get your TIPIC, or temporary instruction permit identification card. Note that a parent or guardian will have to sign your application if you are under 18. You will need to have this card with you any time you’re behind the wheel.
You must have your permit for at least 6 months before you can apply for a regular license. During that time, you’ll need to have 50 of driving practice with 10 of those being at night.
There are also limits to your permit. Until you turn 16, you may only drive with a parent or legal guardian accompanying you in the passenger seat. If you’re 16 or older you may drive with any licensed driver over the age of 21.
This is the point also where you’ll need to take an Ohio BMV approved driver’s education course. Drivers’ education consists of 24 hours of classroom instruction and 8 hours of driving time.
When you’re ready to enroll in driver education, find a driving school to get started.
Once you’ve completed the required amount of instruction, you can apply for your driver’s license.
Get your Ohio provisional driver’s license
Receiving your Ohio provisional driver’s license requires that you’ve completed certain requirements. If you’re 16-17 years old you can apply if you’ve completed driver’s training, your required supervised hours, and have held your learner’s permit for at least 6 months. If you do not meet these requirements you can apply at 18.
Now you’re ready for your road test. Online, head to the Ohio BMV for scheduling.
Your driving test will be given by an Ohio BMV approved evaluator who will make sure you can perform basic driving tasks safely. You must bring your own vehicle that is registered, insured, and in good condition, meaning it meets or exceeds all state safety requirements, for the test.
Before you take it, you should check out the Top 10 Automatic Fails on Driver Tests, so you’ll know what not to do on test day.
The application fee for your Ohio provisional driver’s license varies based on your age, ranging from $25.75 if your 16 years of age to $24.50 if your 21 years or older.
Your license will be mailed to you and will have your photograph on it. They take your picture the day you pass your driving skills test. This license will come with the following restrictions:
- Unless you are accompanied by a parent or guardian you may not drive between midnight and 6:00 A.M. You may also drive during this time for work, educational, or religious functions.
- Unless accompanied by a parent or guardian you may not drive with more than one passenger that is not a member of your family
- You may not operate any mobile devices while driving
- You must always wear a seatbelt
Get your full unrestricted OH driver’s license
At a certain point, the state feels that you’ve been able to receive enough supervised driving experience that you can go out on your own.
12 months after getting your Ohio provisional driver’s license you will no longer have any restrictions on the number of passengers you can have. Mobile device use is still prohibited, and you must still always wear your seatbelt. You are still restricted to driving only between 5:00 A.M. and 1:00 A.M. until you turn 18.
This means that previous restrictions are lifted. However, you will not receive an updated license until that one expires. After you renew your license, you will receive your full, unrestricted license in the mail.
Whether you’ve just finished your Ohio graduated licensing process, or are just starting out, you might also want to consider a telematic companion application to better understand your driving habits, and how to improve them.
The best option is the DriverZ Virtual Coach. Download it today to sharpen your S.P.I.D.E.R.Senses™ to build the driving skills that will keep you safe for a lifetime, track your supervised driving hours, and access bespoke driver training based on your specific needs.
Frequently asked questions
Here are answers to some common questions you might have as you start out on your OH graduated licensing journey:
Can I drive with an out of state learner’s permit in Ohio?
Yes. Driver’s with out of state learner’s permits may drive in Ohio if they’re accompanied by a licensed driver, over 21 years of age, that is not intoxicated and is in the front passenger seat.
How do I replace a lost or stolen learner’s permit, provisional license, or driver’s license in Ohio
- You must apply in person at your local Deputy Registrar Agency
- You will have to provide the appropriate documentation
- You will have to pay $9.00 for an ID or $26 for an Ohio learner’s permit or driver’s license
- You will have to sign a statement declaring your original document to be lost or stolen
Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles information
For comprehensive information on everything related to the Ohio graduated licensing program, visit the Ohio BMV You can also call 1-844-644-6268 Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Prepare for your license journey by reviewing the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws, and taking a few practice tests.