Frequently Asked Questions
To take the driver's license exam, teens under 18 years old are required to complete 24 hours of classroom training (which can be done in a traditional classroom or through a state-approved online course), pass the final exam with a minimum score of 75%, and complete 8 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.
Teens are also required to complete 50 hours of supervised practice driving, 10 of which must be at night. For teens under 16 years old, this supervised driving must be with a parent or guardian in the passenger seat. Teens 16 or older may drive with any valid- licensed driver over the age of 21 in the passenger seat, except from midnight - 6 a.m., when the driver must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
You must be at least 15 years and 5 months old to begin the classroom portion of the course. To begin the in-car training, you must have your temporary driving permit, which you can get at 15 years and 6 months old.
You will need to register with our school first. You can register online at www.FirstDriveDrivingSchool.com. After you submit the online registration, you will immediately receive an automated confirmation email.
Our office will process your registration within 1-2 business days and send you an email with detailed information and student forms. You will need to fill out and sign the student forms and return them to our office to complete your registration, and this must be done before you can begin any training with us. You may drop the forms off at either of our locations during posted office hours or by appointment, or send them to us by postal mail. Please note that we are required to have original signed documents in our file. (If you sign up for the traditional classroom course, you may bring these forms with you to the first class.)
Traditional classroom training is given in eight 3¼-hour sessions, numbered 1 through 8. A student must attend each of the eight sessions and pass a final exam to complete the classroom training requirement. Each session has a 15-minute break about halfway through, so the total training time is 24 hours.
When you sign up for the traditional class, you sign up for the session #1 date and are automatically scheduled into the eight class sessions over the 2-week period proceeding from that date. Ideally, you will attend all eight sessions in sequential order in that 2-week period, but it is possible to reschedule, and sessions 2-7 can be taken in any order. You do need to take session #1 first and session #8 last. (Session #1 includes introductory information not covered in the other sessions. The final exam is only given at the end of session #8 and cannot be taken until all of the other sessions have been completed.) Rescheduling is subject to seat availability and can substantially delay your completion time.
Class activities include instructor-led discussions, individual and group projects, student presentations, hands-on exercises, and a few videos. Except for session #1, each session begins with a review of the previous session, and session #8 ends with a final exam covering all eight sessions. Students must score 75% on the final exam to complete the classroom training requirement. Everything on the exam is covered in class, and students are encouraged to take notes and study.
Our normal class schedule is Mondays-Thursdays, 6:00 – 9:15pm, with sessions 1-4 scheduled one week and sessions 5-8 the next. During school breaks, we may offer morning classes 9:00am-12:15pm, and/or afternoon classes 1:30-4:45pm. Class schedules are adjusted for holidays as needed. If a session is cancelled due to weather, a power outage, or other event, a make-up session will be added on the Friday of that week.
You may opt to complete the 24-hour class training requirement through a state-approved course at a state-licensed online driving school rather than in a traditional, in-person classroom. We provide a link on our website and in our registration area to a course provided by an affiliated online school, but you can complete the requirement with any state-approved, certificate-bearing, 24-hour teen driving course. Such a state-approved online course meets the same curriculum requirements as the traditional classroom course, and will also include a final examination on which you must score at least 75% to pass.
Upon completing a 24-hour state-approved online driving course, the online school will send you an official Certificate of Completion. You will need to submit that original Certificate of Completion to First Drive as soon as you can to document that you have completed the classroom training requirement and are eligible for in-car scheduling.
Please note, by state law, students are limited to two hours of online class time per day. Thus, it will take a minimum of 12 days to complete the entire course, if you work on it for two hours each day.
We require students to complete the 24-hour classroom training requirement first. Once classroom training is completed and we have all required paperwork on file, the student is placed in line for in-car scheduling. In-car sessions are then made available to students in the order in which they were placed in line. (If we have all other paperwork on file, traditional classroom students get in line upon completing all eight class sessions and passing the final exam, and online students are placed in line when we have received both the Certificate of Enrollment and the Certificate of Completion from the online course.)
Once the student is in line for in-cars, wait times vary substantially depending on the time of year, generally ranging from around four weeks in the mid-winter months up to 12 or more weeks from late spring through mid-fall.
We implemented this rule upon returning from the COVID shutdown in May 2020 so that students who were nearly finished with their training programs would not be delayed by those who still had a lot of training left to do. We found that this not only helped those students, but also dramatically improved the overall average completion time. Aside from more efficient scheduling, we also find that students who have completed the class requirement are better prepared for in-cars and get more out of them.
In November 2020, the state driver training office announced that there is legislation in progress to change the state law so that all students will be required to complete the 24-hour class training requirement first.
There are four 2-hour in-car sessions to complete the 8-hour state requirement.
At a minimum, you must have an original, valid driving permit in your immediate possession. If the student does not have an original, valid permit on hand, we cannot do the in-car session and a rescheduling fee will apply. The interim paper permit is valid for up to 90 days or until you receive the plastic ID card permit, whichever comes first. A photo or photocopy of the paper permit is not sufficient; you must have the original. If you lose the plastic ID card, you cannot revert to the original paper permit, but must go to the BMV to apply for a replacement card and receive a new interim paper permit.
Whether the permit is valid is also subject to any restrictions. If the permit has a corrective lenses restriction, it is not valid unless the student is wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses. If the permit has a daytime-only restriction, it is not valid between sunset and sunrise.
For safety, we also require that students wear closed-toe shoes for in-car sessions. Sandals, flipflops, and slippers are not allowed.
We strongly suggest the student be dressed appropriately for the weather. If it is very sunny, the student should have sunglasses. If it is very cold, the student should have a coat.
During the covid pandemic, we suggest that students carry a small personal bottle of hand sanitizer and a pen.
While each drive is tailored to the individual student's needs and skill level as well as current conditions, our standard in-car training progression follows this general plan:
- Drive #1 – basic driving skills; the route remains in the area of the driving school, primarily on residential streets; pre-drive preparation and fitting the car to you, staying in your lane, speed control, proper steering, turning, starting, and stopping techniques, visual scan patterns, proper railroad crossing procedure, communicating with other roadway users, maneuverability test introduction, parking.
- Drive #2 – suburban driving; route will stretch across several northwest Columbus suburbs following larger, busier roads; driving in moderate traffic, situational awareness, lane-change procedure, roundabouts, large intersections, introduction to freeway driving, maneuverability test review, parking.
- Drive #3 – rural driving; follows a route of various types of rural roads just beyond the outskirts of the northwest Columbus suburbs; vehicle control at higher speeds, evaluating road conditions, identifying risks and potential risks, sight-distance and planning ahead, rural and suburban freeway driving, maneuverability test review, parking.
- Drive #4 – urban driving; route normally includes downtown Columbus, OSU campus, and inner-city freeways; complex situations, intersections and traffic patterns, one-way streets, higher density traffic, interacting with pedestrians, anticipating others' actions, maneuverability test review, parking.
This is only a plan and last-minute adjustments are always a possibility. Safety is our first priority and quality drive time is a close second. We will not go into situations that we feel are unsafe due to the student's skill level or current traffic or weather conditions. We will also avoid getting stuck in traffic jams to the extent possible.
You are not required to have any prior driving experience. However, you will get more out of your in-car training, and will be more likely to complete all of the planned training, if you have at least a basic feel for vehicle control.
If your first in-car will be your first time behind the wheel or your first time on the road, we need you to let us know this before scheduling so we can plan accordingly.
State law requires at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice outside of your in-car lessons, including at least 10 hours at night, before you take your license test. We say this is an absolute bare minimum and the more the merrier!
For new drivers, learning how to drive is as big a step as a toddler just learning how to walk, or like learning how to play piano or basketball, although the stakes are much higher! Driving requires unique types of perception, judgment, and physical coordination which can be developed only through repetition and experience over time.
We suggest at least a few hours of parking lot time before your first in-car, and at least 6-8 hours of driving practice between in-car sessions.
This is not necessary. We are trained and experienced in getting new drivers onto the freeway for the first time and do it routinely. You do need to demonstrate consistent positive control of the car and strong situational awareness before we will take you on the freeway, but you do not need to have been on the freeway previously
Please note that any cancellation or no-show can significantly delay completion of your training, and that we must charge a rescheduling fee if we are given less than two business days of notice.
If you must reschedule an in-car session, please notify us as soon as possible so that we can offer the time slot to another student. We incur a substantial cost if the slot is not filled by another student, and we need notice of at least two business days to ensure the best chance of scheduling another student into the slot. For this reason, if we receive less than two business days of notice that you need to cancel, we do need to charge a rescheduling fee. The rescheduling fee will also apply if a student does not show up at all for a scheduled lesson, arrives more than 10 minutes late, or arrives unprepared (for example, is not carrying a temporary permit). The purpose of the rescheduling fee is to pay for the instructor's time, which actually costs slightly more than the fee we charge.
If you are unable to attend a classroom session, please notify us as soon as possible. You will need to be rescheduled into a future date on which that particular session is offered and a seat is available. This will also impact the date on which you attend the last session and take the final exam. As seating is limited and each session is given only once every two weeks at most, there could be a considerable wait to get into a different session, especially during peak enrollment periods.
Once you have completed all of your required training, our office will verify that all of your paperwork is in order. If it is all good, we will issue your final Certificate of Completion. This is the certificate you will need to present at the exam station when you take your driving test. While we always issue final certificates as quickly as we can, the process can take as long as 3-5 business days during certain times of the year.
(If you are 18 or older upon completion of a certificate-bearing teen course, a certificate is not automatically issued but will be issued on request, upon completion of your course.)
We will notify you when the certificate is completed. We strongly recommend that you pick it up from us during our office hours. We are happy to mail it to you if you prefer but cannot be responsible for mail-related delays or loss.
If you are under 18, you will need the final Certificate of Completion from us, a notarized 50-Hour Affidavit completed by a parent or guardian, and a valid temporary permit. You will also need to have a suitable vehicle when you go for the test, and have your vehicle registration and proof of insurance on hand. (They will do a vehicle inspection.)
If you are 18 or older and taking your first driving test, you do not need a Certificate of Completion nor a 50-hour affidavit.
This is an official form available on the Ohio BMV website (we are happy to provide you a copy) on which a parent or guardian attests that you have done 50 hours of supervised practice driving, including 10 hours at night, in addition to your formal driver training. Your parent or guardian must sign the form in front of a Notary Public.
Yes, we have a notary on staff at each location who can help you with this free of charge. Please contact us for further information or to arrange an appointment. Notary services are also usually available at banks, libraries, and municipal offices.
The best way to contact us is by email at email@example.com. You may also call us at our main number, 614-777-1762 and leave a voicemail, or text us at 614-951-9161. We regularly monitor all incoming communication during normal business hours and frequently outside of normal business hours, and will respond to you as soon as we can, usually within one business day.)
We average 40-50 calls per day during "slow" times, well over 100 per day during our peak season, we have very limited office staff, and we think it's important to take calls in the order they were received. We do answer the phone when there aren't other customers awaiting our response, but there is almost always a line. We monitor incoming communication during operating hours and handle urgent calls immediately..
We regularly monitor guidance from local and state health officials and strictly follow all public health directives. We have continued enhanced cleaning procedures in our cars and in our classrooms, and high-touch surfaces are cleaned regularly. First Drive staff are required to self-monitor and are not permitted to work if they are experiencing covid symptoms. We have disposable masks available for use in our classrooms and cars as needed.
In the classroom: Attendance is by reservation only and class sizes are limited to reduce the potential for exposure. Hand washing is strongly encouraged and sanitizer is readily available. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to wear a mask, but specific masking requirements are at the discretion of the classroom instructor. Students who are experiencing any covid symptoms are discouraged from attending class, and any exhibiting symptoms during class will be checked with a touchless thermometer and will be sent home if their temperature is 100°F or more.
In our cars: We have hand sanitizer in all of our cars and encourage its use. Instructors are advised to maintain positive air exchange in the car by leaving at least two windows cracked, turning on the blower, and setting the vents for fresh air. If either the student or the instructor prefer that masks be used, masks will be required of both occupants. (If you have a strong preference that masks be used, please let us know in advance, as we have some instructors who cannot wear a mask due to medical reasons. Students who are experiencing covid symptoms should contact us as soon as possible prior to a scheduled in-car lesson to reschedule. Students who exhibit covid symptoms upon arrival or during an in-car lesson will be checked with a touchless thermometer and will be sent home if their temperature is 100°F or more.