Licensing & State Laws

Michigan’s multi-stage licensing process allows teens to gradually gain exposure to complex driving situations, easing them into driving over an extended period of time.

Level 1 License

After turning 14 years 9 months, teens may apply for a Level 1 license once you have signed a Level 1 application.  Your teen 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, your teen will be issued a Level 1 license.

With a Level 1 license, teens must practice driving under the supervision of a licensed parent or designated adult age 21 or older for a minimum of 30 hours including two hours at night. After 3 continuous months he or she may then enroll in a Segment 2 driver education course that includes six hours of classroom instruction. They will be 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 by law from using a cellular phone while operating a motor vehicle.

Level 2 License

When your teen turns age 16, has driven on a Level 1 license for at least six months, has driven violation and suspension free and had no at-fault crashes for at least 90 days, he or she can apply for a Level 2 license. You must certify that your teen has completed the minimum requirements for practice driving, plus submit a Segment 2 Certificate of Completion and a Driving Skills Test Certificate.

A teen with a Level 2 license is 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  place of employment, – driving to or from an authorized activity*, or – accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or a licensed driver 21 years of age or older designated by the parent or legal guardian.  A teen with a Level 2 license is 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 except: – when the additional passengers are immediate family members, – when driving to or from  place 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 by law from using a cellular phone while operating a motor vehicle.

* Authorized activity means any of the following: (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.

Level 3 License

At age 17, your teen is automatically issued a Level 3 license (unless you request, in writing, otherwise) if the teen has driven under a Level 2 license for at least six months, has been violation and suspension free and has had no at-fault crashes for at least 12 consecutive months.  All nighttime and passenger driving restrictions are lifted after your teen receives a Level 3 license.  As a parent or legal guardian, keep in mind that Michigan law authorizes you to withdraw your consent for a teen under age 18 to drive.

At age 18, the Graduated Driver License law ends, however teens exiting from GDL may still be subject to probationary requirements.  Probation does not automatically end at age 18.

In all instances drivers, front seat passengers and all others under the age of 16 seated anywhere in the vehicle 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 calling 911 or other emergency purposes. Michigan law prohibits drivers of any age from reading, composing or sending electronic text messages while operating a vehicle.

A parent-teen driving agreement can help you enforce licensing rules that the state and your family set. An agreement helps you and your teen understand the rules of the road and sends a clear message that driving is an earned privilege that your family takes seriously.

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 seat 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.