Ohio Driving Laws for Seniors and Older Drivers

Learn about driving provisions and special programs focused on keeping both Ohio's older drivers and roadways safe.

Most of the myriad rules and regulations enforced by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) apply to drivers of all ages and stages—and the state claims it imposes no special rules on drivers based on age alone, which might be seen as discriminatory.

Still, some of the legal controls discussed here, such as procedures for reporting a potentially unsafe driver and for securing disability parking plates and placards, may be especially relevant for older drivers.

License Renewal Rules in Ohio

Ohio does not impose any age-based rules on license renewals.

Time limits: All drivers age 21 and older must renew in person every four years.

Vision test: Required at in-person renewal. BMV personnel will conduct a test free, with and without corrective lenses.

Written test: Not generally required at in-person renewal.

Road test: Not generally required at in-person renewal.

How to Request an Unsafe Driver Investigation in Ohio

The Ohio BMV will accept information from a law enforcement agency, court, physician, hospital, or rehabilitation facility that a licensed driver should submit a medical statement or take a driver license examination if there is "good cause to believe" that the driver is incompetent or incapable of driving safely. If a law enforcement agency or court makes such a request, there must be some personal observation of the subject's driving or personal contact with the driver.

The BMV will also take action on a written and signed request submitted by a relative, friend, or neighbor of the driver, but only after there is sufficient cause to require a medical statement or driver license examination.

Only requests coming from a physician will be kept confidential from the driver.

Send a written request to have a driver recertified for driving privileges to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Attention: Driver License Special Case Section/Medical Unit, P.O. Box 16784, Columbus, Ohio 43216. Or fax it to 614-752-7271, Attention: Medical Unit.

The letter should include a release allowing the BMV to use the writer's name as the source of information.

How to Get a Medical Restriction in Ohio

If a medical or vision condition may affect driving, a driver may need to obtain a two-part driver license that consists of a driver's license and a medical restriction card. The driver will receive an Exam Station Request for Statement of Physician from the BMV 45-60 days before the driver's requirement is due. The driver must have a doctor complete and sign the form and must then return it to the BMV.

How to Get a License Reinstated

For information on how to get back a license that has been suspended or revoked in Ohio, contact the BMV’s main office at 614-752-7500. If the license was suspended for medical reasons, the suspension will continue until it receives an acceptable Request for Statement of Physician or until necessary tests are passed.

How to Get Parking Placards or License Plates for a Disabled Driver

Disabled person parking placards and license plates can be issued to drivers with impaired mobility if a licensed medical practitioner certifies the condition.

The placards and plates are available for those who:

  • cannot walk 200 feet without stopping to rest
  • cannot walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assistive device
  • are severely restricted by lung disease
  • use portable oxygen
  • have a severe cardiac condition, or
  • are severely limited in the ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition.

To obtain a disability placard:

  • Complete and sign an Application for Disability Placard.
  • Have a licensed physician, physician’s assistant, advance practice nurse, or chiropractor provide a Certification for Prescription as noted on the form.
  • Include a fee of $5.00.
  • Take or mail the original application to the address on the form.

To obtain a disability plate:

Learn More About Ohio Driving Rules

The BMV website has a wealth of information for Ohio drivers, including licensing and vehicle registration requirements. Of special interest is the link to Ohio laws and regulations controlling motorists in the state.

Where to Find a Lawyer for Help

You can use Nolo’s Lawyer Directory to find a local lawyer experienced in representing older people who need help with auto accidents or traffic tickets in Ohio.

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