Licensing Process

To get your driver’s license in Michigan, you’ll move through three licensing stages. As you progress, you’ll also need your parents’ permission.

Level 1 License

When you turn 14 years 9 months old, you may apply for a Level 1 license once your parent or legal guardian has signed a Level 1 application. You must successfully complete a Segment 1 driver education course that includes a minimum of 24 hours of classroom instruction, six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction and four hours of observation as a passenger. Upon submitting a Segment 1 Certificate of Completion and passing a vision test, you’ll be issued a Level 1 license.  Drivers with a Level 1 or Level 2 license are prohibited from using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.

With a Level 1 license you must complete, under the supervision of a licensed parent or designated adult age 21 or older, a minimum of 30 hours of driving including two hours at night. After 3 continuous months, you may then enroll in a Segment 2 driver education course that includes six hours of classroom instruction. You’re required to successfully complete Segment 2 and at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving, including at least 10 hours at night, before taking the driving skills test and moving on to the intermediate licensing phase.

Level 2 License

When you turn age 16 and have driven on a Level 1 license for at least six months, driven violation and suspension free and had no at-fault crashes for at least 90 days, you can apply for a Level 2 license. Your parent or legal guardian must certify that you’ve completed the minimum requirements for practice driving, plus submit a Segment 2 Certificate of Completion and a Driving Skills Test Certificate.

With your Level 2 license, you’ll be allowed to drive alone, but must be accompanied by a designated licensed adult over age 21 when driving between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. except: – driving to or from or in the course of employment,  – driving to or from an authorized activity*, or – accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or a licensed driver 21 years of age or older designated by the parent or legal guardian.  You are not allowed to have more than one passenger in the vehicle under the age of 21 except: – when the additional passengers are immediate family members, – when driving to or from or in the course of employment, – while going to or from an authorized activity*, or – when accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or a licensed driver 21 years of age or older designated by the parent or legal guardian. Drivers with a Level 1 or Level 2 license are prohibited from using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.

Authorized activity means:  (a) A school or school sanctioned event or activity.  School means a public or private school, including a home school.  (b) A sporting event or activity, or extracurricular event or activity, that is not school sanctioned but that is part of an official sports league or association or an official extracurricular club, or that is paid for as a service offered by a business specializing in those events or activities or training for those events or activities.  (c) A class or program of vocational instruction offered by a college, community college, nonprofit association, or unit of government or by a business specializing in vocational training.  (d) An event or activity sponsored by a religious organization that is tax-exempt under federal law.  (e) Transporting an individual in need of immediate emergency care or personal protection to a health care professional, hospital, police station, domestic violence shelter, or public safety location.

Now is a good time to set up a parent-teen driving agreement to help you and your parents establish expectations related to both their rules and those of the state.

Full License

At age 17, you’ll automatically be issued a Level 3 license (unless your parent/guardian requests, in writing, otherwise) if you’ve driven under a Level 2 license for at least six months, have been violation and suspension free and have had no at-fault crashes for at least 12 consecutive months.  All nighttime and passenger driving restrictions are lifted once you receive your Level 3 license. Keep in mind that until you reach the age of 18, Michigan law authorizes your parents or legal guardian to withdraw their consent for you to drive. Listen to their direction and respect their knowledge.

At age 18, the Graduated Driver License law ends. Teens exiting GDL may still be subject to probationary requirements.  Probation does not automatically end at age 18. Drivers, front seat passengers and all others under age 16 must wear seat belts or be in an approved child restraint system. Additionally, AAA recommends that drivers of all ages should refrain from using a cell phone while driving, except for emergency purposes, such as a call to a law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department or other emergency services agency or entity. Effective July 1, 2010, Michigan law prohibits drivers of any age from reading, composing or sending electronic text messages while operating a vehicle.

Licensing Authority

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, you must apply in person and be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Be sure to check in advance for locations, hours, fees, plus acceptable forms or identification you’ll need to present when applying for each stage of licensing. Study materials to help you get ready for the exams are also available.

Please note that all driving skills tests required for licensing are provided through an independent network of approved third-party organizations. A list of authorized organizations is available on the website of the Michigan Secretary of State.

  • Parent-Teen Driving Agreement – Signing a formal agreement with your parents helps in multiple ways.
  • Driver-ZED – Offered by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Driver-ZED is a computer-based program to help you practice driving on your PC.