All the Ohio Traffic Laws You Should Know

From move over laws to insurance requirements, here are the most important traffic laws in Ohio.
Written by Jacqulyn Graber
Edited by Sarah Gray
Reviewed by Hillary Kobayashi
background
Certain U.S. traffic laws are universal—such as stopping at all stop signs and never driving without a valid license—but the nitty gritty details, like licensure requirements, insurance requirements, and even top speed limits, are going to be different in
Ohio
.
  • Ohio residents must be at least 15.5 years old to apply for a learner’s permit. For a standard Ohio driver’s license, drivers must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Ohio speed limits are generally set at 35 mph for state routes or through highways, 55 mph for freeways with paved shoulders, and 70 mph for rural freeways.
  • Any driver caught
    texting and driving
    will be charged with a primary offense under the newly revised Senate Bill 288.

Driving in Ohio

Learning traffic laws can be daunting—especially if you’re learning to drive, visiting the state, or even moving to Ohio. Luckily, most of what you need to know can be found in the
Ohio BMV Driver’s Handbook
Did you know? The Ohio BMV Driver’s Handbook isn’t only a good resource to brush up on traffic rules and regulations. It’s also a great source to help you study for the temporary permit knowledge test!
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Ohio driving age laws and testing
 
To legally drive in the state of Ohio, motorists
must be at least 15.5 years old
.
Until drivers are 18 years of age or older, they must abide by the regulations and
teen driving laws
laid out by the Ohio BMV for temporary and provisional licenses. To obtain an unrestricted Ohio driver’s license, applicants must be 18 or older, and provide the following: 
  • Two documents showing
    proof of residency
  • Proof of name change (if applicable)
  • Proof of legal presence in the U.S. 
  • Social security number
In addition, drivers will be expected to pass a knowledge and vision test, as well as a road exam. 
To convert an out-of-state license, motorists must visit a deputy registrar license agency with the above documentation. They will not be required to take a vision, knowledge, or road test and can drive up to one year with an out-of-state license. 
For motorcycle licenses, Ohioans can either obtain a stand-alone license, or an endorsement that attaches to their Class D driver’s license. Operators must be at least 15.5 years of age and pass both a knowledge test and an
Ohio motorcycle safety course
.
Being caught driving without a license—whether it’s a motorcycle or auto license—can result in steep fines of up to $1,000, six months in jail, and potential community service hours. 
MORE: How to renew your Ohio driver’s license
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Ohio state insurance laws
In addition to carrying your driver’s license with you, Ohio also requires all drivers to carry
proof of insurance
.
The
state minimum insurance
policy required in the Buckeye State are as follows:
Driving without insurance in Ohio
is one of the more heavily charged violations, with drivers facing fines between $100-$600,
license suspension
for up to 5 years, and a potential vehicle buying ban. To top it all off, all drivers convicted of
driving without insurance
will be required to file for an SR-22
If you’re ever involved in an accident without insurance in Ohio, whether it’s at-fault or not, you will still be penalized—however, since Ohio is an at-fault state, if the other driver was responsible for the accident, their insurance will be responsible for paying for any injuries or property damage that occurred. 

General Ohio traffic laws

Once you’ve got your driver’s license and insurance in place, it’s time to hit the road. But before you do, make sure that you know a few of the basic traffic laws. 
We’ve created a table outlining some fundamental traffic rules, as well as some regulations that may change per state. For a full list of Ohio traffic laws, rules, and regulations, refer to the Ohio BMV Driver’s Handbook. 
Traffic regulations
What you need to know
Right-of-way
The right-of-way helps drivers determine priority of traffic flow.
All drivers must yield right-of-way to drivers who arrive or are at an intersection first, drivers to the right at a four-way stop, cyclists merging or sharing a lane, and emergency vehicles/public safety vehicles. 
In most cases, pedestrians always have the right-of-way
If you fail to yield, you will have two demerit points added to your driver’s license. Fines will range from $100 upward, and court costs may also apply.
Flashing red light
Drivers must stop behind the line, crosswalk, or intersection before entering and coming to a full stop. Check both ways to ensure no drivers are approaching, and then enter the intersection. 
Flashing yellow light
Slow down and continue with caution. Always be ready to stop for other vehicles entering the intersection. 
Two-way left turn only lane
In Ohio, two-way left turn lanes are indicated by a broken yellow line and a solid yellow line along each side of the lane. 
Vehicles on either side of the road can use the center lane prior to making a left turn and avoid blocking traffic.
Turning on a red
Drivers can turn right on a red light, unless a sign prohibits it. 
Drivers can also turn left on a red light, but only from the far left lane of a one-way street onto another one-way street. 
Stopping for a school bus
All drivers must stop for a school bus when they see the flashing amber lights and stop sign extended. 
If the bus is stopped on a road with less than 4 lanes, drivers must stop at least 10 feet from the rear of the bus.
If the bus is stopped on a road with 4 or more lanes, only drivers on the same side of the road as the bus must come to a complete stop. 
Violating school bus traffic stop laws can result in a $500 fine and license suspension. 
Work zones
All drivers must reduce their speed and be prepared to come to a full stop when approaching work/safety zones. 
Drivers caught speeding in a construction zone can be fined between $225-$335. Anyone caught going 35 mph over the posted speed limit in a work zone will be required to appear in court.
The same rules apply to school zones, with drivers going 1-15 mph over the speed limit facing a $235. Anyone caught going higher than that is required to attend a court hearing.
Lane passing
On multi-lane, two-way roads, passing slow-moving vehicles is permissible. When overtaking a car, use the left-most lane and make sure to turn on your signal devices.
If you’re being passed, remain on the right side of the road and maintain a consistent speed while the other vehicle passes. 
U-turn
U-turns are legal in Ohio, unless indicated otherwise by a posted sign. U-turns are not permissible on curves or hills. 
Railroad crossings
Railroad crossings are often marked with a round, yellow warning sign with an ‘X’ symbol or ‘RR’ letters. 
Drivers must stop at least 15 feet from the crossing when a train is approaching. Once it passes and all warning signals are raised, drivers may cross. 
Any violation of Ohio traffic laws can result in steep fines and penalties, including the revocation of your driving privileges. Not only will these infractions and traffic tickets increase your insurance premiums, but they’ll also appear on your driving record
Keep in mind: Ohio is one of the several US states that shares driving history with other states. That means if you travel within the US, other DMVs will be aware of your record—so make sure to keep a
clean driving record
at all costs! 
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Ohio speeding laws
When traveling, you might’ve noticed that different states—and sometimes, even different cities—have varying speed limits. This can make it difficult to keep track, and is especially true in Ohio, where there is no statewide speed limit.
That being said, most Ohio roadways follow these limits:  
  • 70 miles per hour on rural freeways
  • 65 miles per hour on rural expressways and urban freeways
  • 55 miles per hour on most other major roadways
  • 20 miles per hour in school zones
  • 15 miles per hour in alleyways within cities
  • 25 miles per hour in residential and urban areas
Speeding is considered a misdemeanor traffic violation. If you’re pulled over for going above the posted speed limit, you will be given a speeding ticket and fined $150. This is applicable to both first and second offenses.
However, if you’re caught speeding and it’s a third offense, the penalties begin to rise. Third time offenders will face a fourth-degree misdemeanor charge with a $250 fine and 30 day jail sentence.
A fourth traffic offense is considered a third-degree misdemeanor and includes a fine of $500 and up to 60 days in jail.
MORE: Ohio reckless driving

Ohio driver laws

Along with the standard traffic rules and regulations, Ohio also has additional driver safety laws that continue to help promote building good driving habits while protecting those using the roadways. 
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Ohio move over law
Ohio's
‘Move Over’ law
requires all drivers to move over one lane (or slow speed if changing lanes isn’t possible) when passing by any vehicle with flashing or rotating lights parked on the roadside.
As of 2013, this law expanded from only encompassing police and other emergency vehicles, to now also including construction, maintenance, and public utility vehicles. 
Not moving over can be very dangerous and therefore, fines are doubled. Violators are fined $300 for the first infraction, $500 for the same violation within a year of the first, and $1,000 for any subsequent violations in the same year.
Drivers who have received a speeding ticket or have multiple traffic violations on their record from the past year will be confronted with even harsher penalties, including:
  • A third- or fourth-degree misdemeanor charge
  • Between 30-60 days in jail
In 2023, the Ohio State Highway Patrol opted to join a six-state initiative to increase awareness surrounding the ‘Move Over’ law. Currently, all 50 US states have ‘Move Over’ laws.
Ohio seat belt and booster seat laws

booster seat

Seatbelts are one of the most effective ways to prevent injury or death in a motor vehicle crash. For this reason, Ohio has set some clear seat belt laws. 
Every driver or passenger seated in the front seat must wear a seatbelt, regardless of their age. Passengers 16 years of age and older are not required to wear seat belts when seated in the rear seat, while passengers aged 8 to 15 must always wear a seat belt, regardless of where they’re seated in the vehicle.
Finally, every child under the age of eight must ride in a booster seat or other appropriate child restraint seating system for their height and weight.
Breaking the
Ohio seat belt law
will result in a $30 fine for the driver, plus $20 for the passenger. However, drivers are not responsible for ensuring their passengers are belted. 
Finally, breaking the seatbelt law is considered a non-moving violation. This means that you won’t get any points on your driving record—but you will risk the safety of yourself and your passengers. 
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Ohio car accident laws
According to
Ohio car accident laws
, accidents must be reported to the authorities if the accident has caused one or more of the following:
  • An injury that needs medical attention
  • More than $1,000 in property damage
  • Death
No matter how severe the accident, it is illegal to leave the crash scene without exchanging information with the other driver(s) and/or reporting the accident.
If you break the law in Ohio and leave the scene of an accident on a public road or highway, it’s called a “hit skip”. Penalties from local authorities for this minor misdemeanor of the first degree include:
  • Up to six months in jail
  • $500 in fines
  • Minimum six-month license suspension.
More severe accidents come with more severe punishments. For drivers who leave the scene of an accident in Ohio and know that there was some serious injury involved, the charge increases to a felony of the fourth degree
If you knew someone died, it’s considered a
hit-and-run
and upgraded to a felony of the second degree.

Ohio DUI laws

Like the rest of the United States, Ohio takes driving while intoxicated (DWI) or
driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs
(DUI) very seriously.
Ohio uses the term OVI or operating a vehicle under the influence instead of DUI. An Ohio driver can be convicted of an OVI if they are driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or greater, or a urine alcohol concentration of .11% or more.
Ohio drivers may also be charged for and convicted of a controlled substance OVI offense if caught operating under the influence of:
  • 100 nanograms per ml of blood of amphetamines
  • 50 nanograms per ml of blood of cocaine
  • 2,000 nanograms per ml of blood of heroin
  • 25 nanograms per ml of blood of LSD
  • 20 nanograms per ml of urine of marijuana
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Ohio DUI/OVI penalties
If convicted of an OVI, the severity of your punishment will depend largely on the number of OVI convictions you’ve had within the past ten years:
Offense
Fines
License suspension
Jail time
First offense
$375-$1,075
1-3 years
3 days to 6 months
Second offense
$525-$1,625
1-7 years
10 days to 6 months
Third offense
$850-$2,750
2-12 years
30 days to 1 year
Judges may choose to reduce the amount of jail time you’ll face by offering the Community Control Sanction option. Under this law, you can complete treatment programs instead of going to jail.
You’ll also have to complete:
  • A minimum of three days of a driver's intervention program (for your first offense)
  • Five days of jail and 18 days of house arrest with alcohol electronic monitoring (for your second offense)
  • 15 days of jail and 55 days of house arrest with alcohol electronic monitoring (for your third offense)
Higher BACs can also qualify you for an aggravate or super OVI. For this increased sentencing, you’ll need to be the operator of a motor vehicle with a BAC of at least .17%. Here’s what you’ll face:
  • First aggravated offense: Three days in jail plus three days of a driver's intervention program.
  • Second aggravated offense: A minimum of 20 days in jail or 10 days in jail plus 36 days of house arrest with alcohol monitoring.
  • Third aggravated offense: 60 days in jail or 30 days in jail plus 110 days of house arrest with alcohol monitoring.
Minors can be convicted of an underage OVI for driving a vehicle with a BAC of at least .02% (but less than .08%). This is a fourth-degree misdemeanor and punishable with up to 30 days in jail, up to $250 in charges, and a two-year license suspension. 
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Ohio distracted driving laws
In 2021, Ohio identified
distracted driving
as one of the most common causes of vehicular accidents
Even worse, distracted driving increased by about 11% from 2022 to 2021, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. 
Ohio defines distracted driving as any of the following:
  • Visual: Anything that averts your eyes away from the road.
  • Manual: Taking your hand off the steering wheel to complete a task, like eating, drinking, or using electronics.
  • Cognitive: Zoning out while driving. Typically, it can be recognized if you don’t remember driving the last few miles or how you reached a destination.
  • Auditory: Shifting your focus from driving to paying attention to music, what a passenger is saying, etc.
Ohio’s laws surrounding distracted driving focus specifically on
texting while driving
In previous years, the bill used to strictly penalize drivers under the age of 18 caught using an electronic device while driving in any capacity—calling, texting, sending emails, or simply touching. Drivers over the age of 18, on the other hand, had more relaxed restrictions, allowing them to take phone calls while behind the wheel. 
However, in 2023, these laws were revised. As per the Ohio revised code, any driver, regardless of their age, cannot use electronic communication devices while driving, unless you’re using Bluetooth or Siri. 
Breaking this law is a primary traffic offense, and law enforcement officers/police officers are able to pull you over if caught. 
First-time violators will be fined $150 with two points added to their driving record. Second offenses raise the price to $250, and subsequent charges put four points on your driving record, up to $500 in fines, and a possible 90-day license suspension. 
MORE: Ohio red light cameras

Biking and motorcycle traffic rules in Ohio

Just like automobile motorists, cyclists and motorcycle owners also have to follow the basic Ohio traffic laws, along with a few oddities. 
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Ohio bicyclist laws
According to the
Ohio Department of Public Safety
, bicyclists must ride on the right side of the road, going with traffic and not in the opposite direction. All cyclists are typically allowed wherever motorcycles and automobiles are, except the freeway or major highways. 
If there are two or more bikers riding together, they are allowed to ride side-by-side in the same single travel lane. As with most states, cyclists must also use proper hand traffic signals when changing lanes or turning to indicate to drivers their intentions, unless it is unsafe to do so. 
When it comes to motorized bicycles, the rules slightly differ depending on the class of E-bike:
  • Class 1 and Class 2 E-bikes are allowed in bike lanes or shared use paths
  • Class 3 E-bikes are typically not allowed on any bike lanes or shared use paths
  • Anyone under the age of 16 cannot operate a Class 3 E-bike
  • Anyone riding a Class 3 E-bike is required to wear a safety helmet
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Ohio motorcycle laws
Motorcycle owners generally have to follow the same guidelines as automobile drivers when it comes to getting a driver’s license, private property, vehicle repairs, and driving laws. 
But there are some additional regulations that help to keep bikers safe while driving alongside traffic: 
  • Motorcycle operators under the age of 18, or drivers in the first year of their endorsement, must wear a helmet
  • Every operator and passenger must wear proper eye protection
  • Passengers can only ride on a firmly attached seat or saddle
  • No more than two motorcycles can ride side-by-side in one lane
In addition, all drivers are required to carry
proof of insurance
Operating a motorcycle without the proper permits or endorsements will result in the issuance of a $1,000 fine and/or community service time for a first offense, and a $1,000 fine and/or maximum 6 months in prison for a subsequent offense. 

FAQ

In Ohio, there is no law against eating and driving, as long as you’re in physical control of your vehicle. While it technically isn’t illegal, we still recommend you pull over or park to eat your meal before continuing on your road trip.
Yes. Under the newly revised texting and driving laws, Ohio drivers can use their device while in a parked vehicle or stopped at a red light.
Yes. Following too close behind a vehicle is prohibited under the Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.34. Penalties can range from $150-$250 fines and 30 hours of community service or up to 30 days in jail for multiple violations. 
In Ohio, there is no law against eating and driving, as long as you’re in physical control of your vehicle. While it technically isn’t illegal, we still recommend you pull over or park to eat your meal before continuing on your road trip.
Yes. Under the newly revised texting and driving laws, Ohio drivers can use their device while in a parked vehicle or stopped at a red light.
Yes. Following too close behind a vehicle is prohibited under the Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.34. Penalties can range from $150-$250 fines and 30 hours of community service or up to 30 days in jail for multiple violations. 
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