Licensing & State Laws
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 at each step.
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.
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. Drivers with a Level 1 or Level 2 license are prohibited from using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.
Keep track of your practice driving with the AAA Driving Log.
Level 2 License
When you turn 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 intermediate license, you’ll be allowed to drive alone, but must be accompanied by a licensed adult when driving between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. (certain exclusions apply). Drivers with a Level 1 or Level 2 license are prohibited from using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.
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. unless driving to and from employment. You are not allowed to have more than one non-family passenger in the vehicle under the age of 21 unless accompanied by a parent, guardian or designated adult over the age of 21. The law makes exceptions for teens driving to or from school or school-sanctioned events.
Level 3 License
At age 17, you’ll automatically be issued a Level 3 license (unless your parent/guardian requests 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. Michigan law prohibits drivers of any age from reading, composing or sending electronic text messages while operating a vehicle.
For more information on the licensing process, visit the Michigan Secretary of State.
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 through the Michigan Secretary of State.
Your parents will do most of the rule setting and enforcement as you learn to drive. But state and local police are involved, too.
Police enforce traffic laws and investigate crashes. By enforcing traffic laws and requirements on seat belt use, distracted driving, drinking and driving, and teen licensing laws, police keep everyone on the road safer. Breaking the law can lead to fines, license suspension and other penalties.
- If pulled over by the police, expect to present your driver’s license, the vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
- If stopped as a driver or passenger, always cooperate and be respectful with law enforcement.
- If in any kind of situation involving law enforcement, talk to your parents about it immediately afterward.
- Use a parent-teen driving agreement.
- Keep your parents in the know about who you ride with.
- Let your parents know when and where you’re headed.
- StartSmart: Practice Driving – AAA’s tips for parents and teens about practice driving.
- StartSmart: Always Use Seat Belts – 63 percent of 16- to 20-year-olds who die in car crashes aren’t buckled up.
- StartSmart: Distractions and Driving – Read about the most common distractions, and get helpful advice for teens and parents.