Ohio Legislators Attempt to Raise the Driving Age


By Sam Baghal, Staff Writer

The Ohio Transportation Committee has recently approved a bill to increase the minimum driving age; if it gains endorsement from Governor Mike Dewine and Ohio legislators, the age for teens to obtain a license will be raised to 16 ½ years.

Ohio’s current driving laws differ from those of New Jersey, requiring kids to be 15 ½ years old in order to get a learner’s permit. One must have this permit for six months before acquiring a probationary license at the age of 16. However, this recent proposal, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Michael Sheehy and Republican Rep. Gary Scherer, extends the learner’s permit time requirement to a full year. This motion is gradually gaining headway as more politicians jump on board in an effort to promote driving safety.

This act was inspired by new studies and statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in which 2,364 teens between the ages of 16 and 19 are killed in car crashes every year. That number disturbingly breaks down to six teenager deaths every day.

“We live in an age full of distractions and new dangers, and a rapidly changing transportation system,” commented Sheehy, “Ohio has certainly seen an uptick of injuries and deaths related to teen drivers, and this legislation will make sure that our drivers are fully prepared for the dangers of modern roadways.”

The bill would also enforce stricter curfew restrictions on permit and probationary license holders. Under current law, a driver under the age of 18 is prohibited from driving between the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. Yet, exceptions are often made for work, school, and religious obligations. The proposed law would change the hours to 10 p.m to 6 a.m and allow absolutely no accommodations.

As the bill gets closer to reaching acceptance from the Senate, Ohio’s youth is expressing great opposition. They argue that elected officials are wrong to think they have the moral and constitutional authority to regulate the lives of teenagers. 

“Raising the driving law that has been prevalent in Ohio for so long would be a complete government overreach. It’s so unfair that this law may potentially be enacted against teens and our personal rights, but we don’t even have the chance to vote against it,” Junior Emily Lewis said. 

As of now, the future of this bill remains unclear, and its benefits have been deemed questionable by the public. The strong, conflicting opinions that have presented themselves in Ohio brings into question the law’s true purpose, whether it be legislating away teen liberties or ensuring their safety from the risks of the road.