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Driving in Ohio

By Insurance.com Posted : 01/11/2010

Get an E-Check

Ohio requires a pollution control inspection, called E-Check, for seven counties: Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage and Summit. The purpose of the test is to reduce air pollution in these areas, in accordance with EPA guidelines.

Vehicle registration in any of these counties requires an E-Check Certificate. The test is free for county residents; cars coming from out of state require a pre-purchased voucher. To find more information or a testing location near you, call 1-800-CAR-TEST or visit the Ohio E-Check Station Locator.

Renew Your Ohio License or Plates

Online registration and renewals are available based on eligibility. Check renewal options at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Find More Insurance Information

Find consumer alerts and view the latest regulations and news about all types of insurance at the Ohio Department of Insurance.

Using Laser and Radar Detectors

Under federal law, the use or possession of radar and laser detectors is illegal in all commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds and on military bases. For all other purposes, radar and laser detectors are legal in Ohio.

Child Restraint Law

Children under four years of age or 40 pounds must use a federally approved child safety restraint. Children above these limits need to use a belt-positioning booster seat between four years of age or 40 pounds and eight years of age and four feet nine inches tall. In all cases, children younger than 15 not required to use child seats or booster seats must comply with the normal seat belt law.

Violations of the child restraint law are primary offenses, meaning that police can stop and ticket you simply to enforce child safety seat rules.

Seat Belt Law

Ohio requires safety belt use. Drivers and front seat passengers of most passenger vehicles must wear their seat belts on Ohio's public roads. If the vehicle's driver is under 18 years old, all passengers must wear safety belts. In addition, passengers under age 16 may not ride in the back of an unenclosed truck or trailer that exceeds 25 mph, and no one may ride in the back if the tailgate is not closed.

These people are exempt from the law:

  1. Children subject to the child safety restraint law
  2. Mail or newspaper deliverers
  3. People with an affidavit from a physician stating their medical condition that prevents seat belt use
  4. Riders in vehicles manufactured before 1966

Seat belt use enforcement is secondary in Ohio, meaning you cannot be stopped by police and ticketed merely for a seat belt violation. Furthermore, a citation for violating the safety belt law does not count as a moving violation and does not add points to your driving record.

Alcohol Laws

Under Ohio law, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 for normal drivers 21 and over. For drivers under 21, it is .02, and for commercial drivers the acceptable BAC is .04. Open containers of alcohol - including those that have been closed again - are prohibited in all vehicles, as is consumption of alcohol in vehicles - either parked or moving. However, a paying passenger or his or her guest in the back of a limousine may consume liquor, subject to age laws.

Alcohol and Drug Penalties

Penalties for violating the alcohol and drug laws range from a mandatory fine and license suspension to a three day jail sentence and the option of the judge mandating a special yellow license plate with red letters. Subsequent violations bring a mandatory special license plate, increasing fines and jail time, and the eventual loss of driving privileges and impounding of your vehicle.

Many auto insurance companies in Ohio will raise your rates or cancel or non-renew your insurance if you're convicted of an Operating a Vehicle under the Influence of alcohol or drugs (OVI) offense, commonly called DUI or DWI. Conviction for excessive violations, license suspension, or major violations also carries the risk of the Ohio BMV requiring an SR-22 filing for three to five years, to prove that you're maintaining car insurance.

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