Your teen will soon be a new driver. You’ve been there every step of the way so far, and your state and local governments have, too.
The Michigan Secretary of State is in charge of licensing for all drivers in Michigan. To enroll in Level 1 and Level 2 of the Graduated Driver Licensing program, your teen must apply in person and be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Please check in advance for locations, hours, fees, plus acceptable forms of identification your teen will need to present when applying for each stage of licensing.
Study materials to help your teen get ready for the exams are also available. Keep in mind that as a parent or legal guardian, Michigan law authorizes you to withdraw consent to drive for your teen driver under age 18. This procedure begins with a notarized letter to The Michigan Secretary of State.
Please note that all driving skills tests required for licensing are provided through an independent network of state-approved third-party organizations. A list of authorized organizations is available through The Michigan Secretary of State.
State and local police enforce traffic laws and investigate crashes. Remind your teen that police can and will enforce all requirements on safety belt use, drinking and driving and other laws. Breaking the law can lead to fines, license suspension and other penalties. Talk to your teen about these and other consequences, and explain what to do if stopped by police.
- If stopped by the police, teens should expect to present a valid license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
- If stopped as a driver or passenger, teens should always cooperate and be respectful with law enforcement.
- If in any kind of situation involving law enforcement, teens should talk to their parents about it, because this can create a learning experience.
If your teen gets a ticket or is involved in a crash, it could lead to a court appearance. Judges deal seriously and directly with teen traffic violations. They can assess fines and suspend driving privileges for traffic offenses — even for a first offense. In Michigan, parents must accompany teens to all court appearances.
Graduated driver licensing (GDL) violations
Traffic violations related to GDL restrictions can range from fines set by the court to delayed advancement to the next level of licensure or the repeat of a level. More serious violations can result in the suspension or revocation of your teen’s driver’s license or driving privileges.
Operating while intoxicated in Michigan
In Michigan, drivers age 21 and over with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more can be charged with an operating while intoxicated (OWI) violation. The limits are more restrictive for drivers under the age of 21, who can be charged with OWI with a BAC of .02 or more.
- Driver’s license restricted for 30 days.
- Payment of a fine of up to $250 and/or up to 360 hours of community service.
- Four points on driving record.
- Payment of a driver responsibility fee of $500 for two consecutive years.
Michigan alcohol purchase, consumption or possession law
A person under the age of 21 who is found guilty of a violation of state law or local ordinance relating to illegal consumption, possession, purchase or receipt of alcohol, regardless of whether a vehicle was involved, faces the following penalties:
- First offense — $100 fine; subsequent convictions can result in larger fines and extended suspension or restriction of driving privileges.
- Community service and alcohol screening may be required.
- If in a motor vehicle, two points added to driving record and vehicle can be impounded for up to 30 days.
Penalties for use of fraudulent ID to purchase liquor
- Up to a $100 fine, 93 days in jail, or both.
- Suspension of driver’s license of up to 90 days.
- Alcohol screening may be required.
Driver, passenger and child passenger safety belt laws
Here’s a summary of the passenger restraint laws in Michigan:
- Safety belts are required for the driver and front seat passengers.
- Children ages 8 until 16 seated anywhere in the vehicle are required to wear a safety belt or be in an approved child restraint system.
- Children ages 4 up to 8 years and also less than 57" tall are required to be properly secured in a booster seat or child restraint system. If taller than 57", they must wear a safety belt.
- Children under age 4 are required to be properly secured in a child restraint system in the rear seat, unless no rear seat is available.
Failure to comply with Michigan passenger restraint laws can result in fines set by the court — generally about $65.
Michigan speed limit laws
Unless otherwise posted, the speed limits on Michigan roadways are as follows:
- Freeways: 70 mph
- Highways: 55 mph
- Residential & business zones: 25 mph
Violations of Michigan speed limit laws can result in fines set by the court and assessment the following points to your driving record:
- 2 Points: 1-10 mph above limit
- 3 Points: 11-15 mph above limit
- 4 Points: More than 15 mph above limit