Yes, a step-parent can be the supervising driver that accompanies a permit holder that is under 16 in Ohio.
According to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) anyone that stands in the place of a parent or legal guardian who resides with the child qualifies as a parent, including the step-parent, for the purposes of being a permit holder's supervising driver.
The Ohio BMV states online that a Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card (known as the TIPIC) holder must be at least fifteen years and six months of age. When the permit holder is but less than sixteen years of age, he or she must be accompanied by a licensed parent, guardian or certified driving instructor who actually occupies the seat beside the driver.
When we contact the Ohio BMV about your question they had a hard time responding at first, though one would think this would be a common question. Finally they got back to us that yes, a step-parent is permitted to be the supervising driver for a TPIC holder that is younger than 16 years of age because that person would be considered a custodian of the child which is permitted under Ohio law (Ohio Code Section 4507.05).
In Ohio once a permit holder turns 16 years of age he or she may drive with a valid licensed driver 21 years of age or older. The restriction of driving with a parent, guardian or custodian at this age is broadened to allow for other supervising drivers.
Other information the BMV thought would be helpful to you is that state regulation prohibits a licensee 17 years of age from transporting more than one person that is not a family member unless accompanied by the license holder's parent, guardian, or custodian. Allowed occupants include any relative and/or eligible adult. The definition of eligible adults refers to a parent, guardian, or custodian.
So a 16 year old licensee in Ohio can have relatives, but only one unrelated person in the car. "Relatives" include the immediate family, grandparents, step-parents, aunts and uncles. Cousins are not included. If you have more questions about being a supervising driver or the restrictions of a permit or the Ohio's graduate driver license program we suggest you contact the OH BMV directly.
When a child obtains a learner's permit you should inform your car insurance company to find out if they are properly covered to learn to drive in your vehicle or if you will need to place them on the car insurance policy as a driver at this point in time. Some auto insurance companies want the child listed on the policy when they obtain their permit while other companies will allow you to wait until they have progressed to a provisional or full driver's license.
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