Driving to Ohio: Tips, Tricks, and Laws

Driving in Ohio will be a breeze with these tips for mapping a route, avoiding traffic, and following state laws.
Written by Sarah Gray
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Mar 23, 2023
Ohio is home to some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the nation, but it’s also home to one of the most notorious interstate bottlenecks. 
Generally speaking, driving in Ohio is simple, but after being subjected to the North’s brutal winters, the roads leave a lot to be desired for a smooth ride. Add in some potentially confusing speed limit laws and gnarly
traffic, and you’ve got a recipe for a driving disaster if you don’t know what to expect.
Read on to learn how to map out the best route through the state as well as tricks for avoiding traffic snarls and traffic tickets.
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The best routes for driving to Ohio

Whether you’re heading in from one of the coasts or up from the South, we can help you find the best routes to get to Ohio fast, and with a little fun thrown in! Here are some of the most popular routes to Ohio: 
  • New York City
    (7 hours): I-80 from New York City to Akron travels through some of the most beautiful Pennsylvania Dutch country you’ll see. It’s also a super-quick trip with plenty of fun and interesting places to stop.
  • Ft. Lauderdale
    (19 hours): Whether you take the inland route up I-75 or take in some coastal views by starting off on I-95 and finishing your trip via I-77, the drive from Ft. Lauderdale to Toledo is sure to keep you entertained.
  • Grand Junction
    (22 hours): The Midwest may seem boring to some, but a trip ​​across the country on I-70 will take you through some of the county’s most beautiful and serene scenery. As an added bonus, well-placed and clean rest stops along the route offer great opportunities to get out and stretch. 
  • Louisville
    : (6 hours): The short trip up I-75 from Louisville to Cleveland takes you through two of Ohio’s biggest cities for some great chances to see some sites and try out some great food!

How good are Ohio’s roads?

Some states have better roads than others, and Ohio’s roads are about average.
Like most Northern states, Ohio’s annual cycles of freezing and thawing wreak havoc on roads, leading to lots of potholes and high maintenance costs. Regardless, Ohio still manages to offer some of the most scenic drives in the country.

Does Ohio have toll roads?

Yes. The 242-mile-long Ohio Turnpike spans the state from East to West, connecting Chicago with Pittsburgh.
Traveling the length of the Turnpike will cost drivers of two-axle passenger vehicles $21.00, or just $14.25 for those with an E-ZPass, which works on turnpikes across the nation. For a complete breakdown of tolls on the Ohio Turnpike and tips for how to acquire an E-ZPass,
check out this site

How bad is Ohio traffic?

Outside of Columbus, driving in Ohio—even in Ohio’s other big cities—really isn’t that bad. A lot of factors figure into making Columbus
one of the worst cities in America for traffic
. Among these are high population density,
poor driving habits
, and the fact that Columbus is home to one of the worst Interstate bottlenecks in the nation: I-70 and I-71.  
Key Takeaway If you can avoid Columbus, driving in Ohio should be pretty average.

What are Ohio’s speeding laws?

Ohio has three types of speeding laws: A basic speeding law, prima facie speed limits, and absolute speed limits. Let’s take a look at how each law breaks down and what fines you may face for breaking them.
  • Basic speed law: Put simply, Ohio’s speeding law requires that drivers always travel at a safe speed. This means not only following posted speed limits but also taking into consideration road, weather, and other conditions that can affect driving safety.
  • Prima facie speed limits: Sometimes called “presumed speed limits,” prima facie speed limits are similar to absolute speed limits, with a key exception. Exceeding a prima facie speed limit is not automatically illegal—instead, you’ll have the opportunity to appear in court to prove to a judge that, despite exceeding the prima facie limit, you were still driving safely.
  • Absolute speed limit: These are very straightforward. Exceeding an absolute speed limit will result in tickets and fines—period: 
  • 75 miles per hour on rural freeways
  • 65 miles per hour on rural expressways and urban freeways
  • 55 miles per hour on most other roadways

Fines for speeding in Ohio

The consequences of speeding in Ohio vary depending on the circumstances, but you can generally expect fines of no less than $150 and no more than $500 as well as the potential for jail time after your third offense. Depending on the driver’s speed and other circumstances, additional penalties may apply—such as demerit points and reckless driving charges.
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What are Ohio’s alcohol laws?

Ohio’s DUI laws
are very simple: if you’re operating a vehicle and your BAC is over 0.08%, you’re violating the law. Furthermore, a driver can be convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI), even without proof of BAC.
Ohio’s open container law
is just as no-nonsense as its DUI law—unless you’re a passenger in a chauffeured limousine, you cannot legally possess an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.
No traffic ticket is ever good, but
alcohol-related traffic violations
come with some of the heaviest penalties and fees. Even for a first offense, drivers convicted of a DUI in Ohio will face jail time, heavy fines, and license suspension. Save yourself the trouble and cost of alcohol-related traffic violations, and save the drinking for after you’re finished driving for the day.

Can you use headphones while driving in Ohio?

No. Ohio law prohibits the wearing or use of headphones or earbuds while driving. 

What are some of Ohio’s best road trips?

Ohio is bordered by Lake Erie to the North, and Great Lakes mean great lighthouses! Take a drive down Ohio’s
scenic Route 6
with stops to explore Ashtabula Harbor, Lorain, and Marblehead Lighthouses. 
If inland wonders are more up your alley, drive the
Waterfall Weekend Loop
in north-central Ohio that will take you to the famous East and West Falls, Brandywine Falls, Dundee Falls, and several others.

How to find affordable car insurance in Ohio

Ohio drives can be beautiful and fun, but even if you’ll be avoiding big cities like Columbus and Cincinnati, you still need to make sure you’re covered with reliable
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Due to its high population density, and an infamous interstate bottleneck, Columbus has the worst traffic in Ohio, and some of the worst traffic in the nation.
The longest distance across the state, whether East to West or North to South, is only about 300 miles and takes less than five hours to drive.
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