Most first-time drivers in Ohio must complete a drivers ed course to learn how to drive safely. This step is required by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (OH BMV) to obtain a driving permit or a drivers license. Fortunately, it’s not difficult going through one of these courses, and there are plenty available to choose from.
Steps to Getting Your Ohio License
If you’re looking to get your Ohio drivers license, we’re here to help. Welcome to our step-by-step guide to get you off of your couch and out onto the road. We know you have a lot of questions, so let’s get going.
No matter your age, getting your license can be an exciting, scary, and confusing time, sometimes all at the same time. First off, let’s clear up some Ohio BMV terms. Sometimes, it seems they’ve gone out of their way to make it confusing.
Terms (and abbreviations) you should know:
- Driver Education Class—A.K.A. “drivers ed.” A state-approved course that will cover driving law and basic driving skills.
- Temporary Permit—A.K.A. “Learners” or “Driving” or “Instruction” Permit This permit will allow you to practice driving legally before applying for your license.
- TIPIC—A.K.A. The “Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card” The actual name of your permit.
- Class D License—The license you’re shooting for, allowing you to drive any vehicle besides a motorcycle or commercial vehicle.
- Knowledge Test—A.K.A. “Written Driving” or “Permit” Test, it’s the one you’ll have to pass to get a permit.
- Driving and Skills Test—A.K.A. “Road Skills Test” or just plain ‘ol “Driving Test,” it’s the one you’ll have to pass to get your license.
- GDL—A.K.A. “Graduated Drivers License.” A “Class D” with some restrictions. These restrictions will apply if you are under 18.
- Driver Exam Stations and Deputy Registrar License Agencies—Fancy ways to say “Your local BMV office.”
- Ohio Digest of Motor Vehicles—commonly known as a “Drivers Manual.”
See? I told you they made it confusing!
Who Must Take Ohio Drivers Ed?
No matter your age, it’s probably not a bad idea for anyone to take a drivers ed course before getting their first license. However, Ohio only requires drivers ed for driving candidates younger than 18. You can enroll in drivers ed at age 15.
The Path to an Ohio License in a Nutshell
The quick and dirty looks like this:
- Take drivers ed
- Get a learner’s permit
- Complete 50 hours of practice driving
- Pass a road skills test
Now let’s take a look at what it’ll take to get those four steps done.
Step 1—Take Drivers Ed
An Ohio drivers ed course is comprised of:
- 24 hours of classroom instruction
- Eight hours of behind-the-wheel instruction
The classroom portion teaches topics like:
- Ohio traffic law
- Meanings of road signs, signals, and markings
- Your responsibilities as a licensed driver
- Alcohol safety and drug abuse awareness
- Motor vehicle operation fundamentals
- Driving in hazardous situations
- Driving in emergency situations
The classroom portion of Ohio drivers ed can be completed online, at an approved driving school, or, if it is offered, at your high school.
At the end of your course, you will receive a certificate of completion. Hold on to it. You’ll need it when you apply for your license.
Perhaps the easiest way to complete the classroom portion of driver’s ed is online. Taking drivers ed online means you can complete this portion at a pace and on a schedule that works best for you.
If you think completing a course online might be a good fit, here’s a list of some great Ohio online driver’s ed providers.
Best Ohio BMV Approved Online Drivers Ed Course Providers
If you (or your folks) would prefer a traditional driving school experience, check out our guide to selecting the best driving school.
Step 2—Getting Your Permit
If you are 15 1/2 and have completed drivers ed, you can apply for your instruction permit.
Application for a permit will happen at your local BMV office.
When you arrive, be sure to have the following with you:
- A Parent or Guardian to co-sign for the TIPIC
- Drivers Ed Certificate of Completion
- Proof of full legal name
- Date of birth
- Social Security number (if you have one)
- Proof of Ohio residency
- Proof of Citizenship or Legal presence
Check out the BMV list of acceptable documents to see exactly what you should bring. We’ve also provided a list of links to all of the documents mentioned on the BMV list at the end of this post.
- You’ll also need to bring:
- Your eyeballs (for a vision test)
- Check, cash, or credit card to pay your application fee.
After you have shown all of this to the folks at the DMV, hold on to it! You’ll need much of it again when you apply for your license.
Now it’s time for your written permit test
The test will include questions about motor vehicle regulations and traffic signs.
The test is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Japanese, Russian, Somali, and Spanish.
To pass the 40-question multiple-choice test, you’ll need to score 75%. Here are some suggestions on how to prepare.
Another way to give yourself a leg up on passing the permit test is to consider one (or more) of the following:
- Study the Ohio Drivers Manual (available in English, Spanish, and Somali)
- Take a driver prep course, a great way to get you ready for your license. (Learn more)
- Quiz yourself with an Ohio permit practice test
A permit practice test has everything the “real” test does, except the pressure. That’s because practice tests feature questions taken from actual BMV exams. It’s like seeing all the answers before the test even begins! Don’t head for your test without a dress rehearsal; you want to pass the first time.
What If Your Test Didn’t Go Like You Planned?
What if you get to the testing center and, despite all your best preparation, your nerves get the best of you, and you wind up failing the test? First, don’t panic. Nearly 1 out of 3 test-takers fail on their first attempt.
If you do happen to fail, the BMV will give you unlimited chances to pass. There is a 24 hour waiting period between attempts.
Another Note—If you’re new to Ohio and started this whole license dance somewhere else, here are some tips that might help.
Step 3—50 Hours of Practice Driving
Now it’s time to put that learners permit to good use, and you are required to use it for six months before you can apply for your license.
Before you can take a driving test, you’ll have to complete 50 hours of practice driving, and at least 10 of those will need to happen after dark.
Your permit does come with some restrictions. You must be accompanied at all times by a licensed driver who is:
- 21 or older
- Riding in the front passenger seat and, according to the BMV website,
- Not intoxicated
While you might be nervous at first, do your best to enjoy this time and always pay close attention to what’s going on around you. You never know the kinds of things, good and bad, that you might learn from the drivers around you. Take time to learn all you can from the licensed driver who is with you.
Also, do yourself the favor of driving in as many conditions as you can, places like:
- On the highway
- In neighborhoods
- On winding or hilly roads
- In downtown areas
- In bad weather
It’s better if you don’t see these things for the first time on your own.
Since you’ll be using your permit for six months, there’s no reason not to drive WAY more than 50 hours! It can only do you good.
BTW—If you are planning a family road trip, you may get the chance to do some practice driving in another state. Check this out to see if you can.
Step 4—Pass a Driving Test
Finally, the last hurdle, your driving test. It’s all good. You got this.
Drivers under 18 must arrive at their appointment with:
- A notarized Fifty Hour Affidavit to confirm the completion of practice driving component
- Tour TIPIC
- Proof of completion of drivers
- The documents you gathered for permit application
- Check, cash, or credit card to pay your application fee
- A vehicle to take the test in. The vehicle must:
- Be insured
- Be properly registered
- Be able to pass a visual safety inspection
The road test has two parts: driving and maneuverability.
During the driving test, you will be asked to perform the following:
- Stopping and starting
- Turning around and backing up
- Proper use of turn signals
- Proper lane usage
- Maintaining a safe following distance
The maneuverability test has two parts:
- Forward through markers
- Backward through markers
The BMV has a detailed description (with diagrams) of all they expect from driving candidates. It would be best if you spent time studying and practicing this information to increase your chances of passing the test.
If you are 18 or younger and fail the test, there is a seven-day waiting period for a retake.
If you are older than 18 and have failed your first attempt at the maneuverability or road portion of the driving test, you will be required to take an Abbreviated Adult Driver Training Course before attempting the driving test for a second time.
This course can be taken by one of the following:
- A 4-hour in-person or online class followed by 4 hours of behind-the-wheel training with a licensed instructor with a licensed abbreviated adult driver training school.
- A 4-hour in-person or online class followed by 24 hours of driving with a licensed driver 21 years of age or older
- A 4-hour state-approved online course followed by 24 hours of driving with a licensed driver 21 years of age or older.
Applicants who choose the option of 24 hours of driving with a licensed driver 21 years of age or older cannot complete more than four hours of driving in one day. Also, applicants who choose this option must complete the Twenty-Four Hour Affidavit (form BMV 5789).
Before the second attempt at the driving test, the applicant must:
- Provide a certificate of completion of an abbreviated adult driver training course.
- If applicable, provide a completed and notarized Twenty-Four Hour Affidavit
Using Your New License
Per the rules of the Ohio Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program, your new license will come with some restrictions concerning when you can drive and who you can have in the car with you. These restrictions will remain in effect for the first 12 months after receiving your license.
If you are under age 18, you may not drive from midnight to 6 A.M. unless traveling:
- To or from work, with a Form BMV 2825 completed by your employer
- To or from school
- To or from a school-sponsored or religious event, with a Form BMV 2826 completed by the event organizer
If you are under age 18, you may not transport more than one passenger unless accompanied by a legal guardian.
A Final Note
Any licensed driver will tell you that you will never face a driving situation as complicated, nerve-wracking, and time-consuming as getting your license. By no means should you let your guard down once you’re behind the wheel but, rest assured. You’ll never face anything on the road that will compare with the process it took to get you your license.
Good luck as you work your way through this. Can’t wait to see you out on the road!
A Final Final Note
If you’ve made it this far, may we suggest you bookmark this page? You’ll probably be coming back to it often as you work your way through this!
Links to the Items on the List of Acceptable Documents
Consular Report of Birth Abroad (FS-240)
Certificate of Birth Abroad (FS-545)
A Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or Form N-570)
A Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-560 or Form N-561)
Permanent Resident “Green” Card (Form I-551)
Employment Authorization Card (Form I-766)
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