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  • Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers) in Michigan

    Teens Getting a New License in Michigan

    In Michigan, the MI Secretary of State (SOS) handles the driver’s licensing process for both teen and adult drivers.

    Although the process of getting your very first Michigan driver’s license may seem complicated, we’ve explained it in a simplified format. Read on for the steps to follow in order to hit the roads on your own.

    New to Michigan?

    To be eligible to apply for a Michigan driver's license under the GDL system, any driver education instruction you received in your previous state must meet Michigan's minimum hours of classroom and behind-the-wheel training time (see below for Segment 1 and Segment 2 requirements). Your age, license type, and driver education hours will determine your eligibility for a Michigan graduated driver’s license.

    To apply for a MI license or learner's permit, you must bring your parent or guardian with you to the Secretary of State (SOS) office. In addition to giving proof of having met Driver’s Ed requirements, you must also provide:

    • Proof of Social Security number.
    • Your current license or learner’s permit from your previous state.
    • Proof of U.S. citizenship.
    • 2 documents proving Michigan residency.

    You will also be asked to take a vision test, the 40-question Michigan Original Operator License test, and possibly a driving skills exam before you can receive your new Michigan driver’s license or learner's permit. Your out-of-state driving record will also be transferred to Michigan.

    MI Graduated Driver’s License Program (GDL)

    Michigan is one of many states to adopt a graduated driver licensing (GDL) program, requiring teens and new drivers to meet certain milestones before obtaining a full driver’s license. Many of these milestones are based on age and experience; in Michigan, teens will obtain a Level 1 Learner’s Permit, a Level 2 Provisional License, and a Level 3 Full Driver’s License through the GDL program.

    Licensing Age Requirements in MI

    • A Level 1 License: 14 years and 9 months.
    • A Level 2 License: 16 years old.
    • A Level 3 License: 17 years old.

    Driver’s Ed―Segment 1 and Segment 2

    Driver’s education is mandatory in Michigan, and is split up into two different sections, or “segments.”

    • Segment 1 must be completed before you apply for a learner's permit and begin your supervised driving.
    • Segment 2 may only be completed after you have received a Level 1 license and have completed your supervised driving hours.

    You must be at least 14 years and 8 months old to begin Driver’s Ed in Michigan, and your course must be provided by a public or private high school, or by a state-licensed driver's education school either in a classroom setting or through an approved online provider.

    Segment 1 of Driver’s Ed includes:

    • 24 hours of classroom instruction, with a daily maximum of 2 hours per day.
    • 6 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction, with a daily maximum of 1 hour per day.
      ―At least 4 hours of classroom instruction must be completed before you begin driving instruction.
      ―At least 3 hours of driving instruction must be completed before the very last classroom instruction session.
    • Segment 1 DMV written test.

    Prior to applying for Segment 2, you must complete at least 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training, including 2 hours at night (you will need to complete additional driving requirements after you receive your Level 2 license).

    Segment 2 of Driver’s Ed includes:

    • An additional 6 hours of classroom instruction.
    • Segment 2 DMV written test.

    Additional driving requirements are outlined below in the Level 1 and Level 2 License sections.

    Level 1 Learner’s Permit

    In Michigan, a learner’s permit is referred to as a Level 1 Learner’s License. To obtain your learner’s permit, you must be at least 14 years and 9 months old and have completed Segment 1 of an approved Driver’s Ed course (see above).

    You’ll need to visit your local Secretary of State(SOS) office with your parent or guardian, and present the following:

    • Your birth certificate.
    • Proof of Social Security number.
    • Segment 1 Driver’s Ed completion certificate.
    • 2 documents proving Michigan residency.

    NOTE: If you do not have one of these documents, your parent/legal guardian will need to provide verification for you.

    Fill out the Michigan driver’s license application with your parent/guardian’s signature, and you will be issued your Level 1 learner’s permit (there is no fee).

    Behind-the-Wheel Requirements

    With your Level 1 learner’s permit, you may now begin supervised driving practice with a licensed adult 21 years old or older. During this time, and before beginning Segment 2 of Driver’s Ed, you will need to:

    • Hold your Level 1 license for at least 3 months.
    • Complete at least 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training, including 2 hours at night.

    Once you have met the above requirements, you may begin Segment 2 of Driver’s Ed, and continue your behind-the-wheel training. Including the previous 30 hours of driving, you will need to complete a total of 50 hours, with 10 hours being driven at night. You can download the Driving Skills Test Study Guide (Form SOS-360), which includes a driving log to record your hours.

    You will need to carry your Level 1 license for at least 6 months before applying for Level 2.

    Level 2 Intermediate License

    Once you’re 16 years old, you’ve completed Segment 2 of Driver’s Ed, and you’ve held your learner’s permit for at least 6 months, you are eligible to take your driving test and obtain a Level 2 provisional license.

    Schedule an appointment for your driving test with one of the Michigan SOS’s approved third-party testing facilities. You will need to provide the road test examiner with the following:

    • Proof of completion of the required 50 hours of behind-the-wheel practice (at least 10 hours at night).
    • Segment 2 certificate of completion.
    • A Level 1 Learner’s License.
    • Payment for the testing fee (varies by provider).

    You will be tested on your basic control skills, as well as an on-road examination in traffic during the DMV road test. Once you pass your driving test, head to your local SOS office with all of the above documents, plus:

    • Your Driver Skills Test certificate.
    • Proper identification documents. For more information, please visit the complete list of identification documents on the Michigan SOS website.
    • Proof of Social Security number.
    • Payment for the $25 license fee.

    Just as with your Level 1 license, your parent/guardian will need to sign your Level 2 license application. Once you are issued the Michigan Level 2 license, you will need to carry it for a minimum of 6 months before applying for Level 3.

    Level 2 Provisional License Driving Restrictions

    With your Level 2 Michigan provisional license, you are now allowed to drive without supervision, but there are a couple restrictions:

    • You are not allowed to drive between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. except when driving:
      ―To, from, or because of employment.
      ―To or from an authorized activity, such as school or a extracurricular sporting event.
      ―With a parent/legal guardian, or a licensed driver 21 years old or older who has been designated by the parent/guardian.
    • You are not allowed to drive with more than 1 passenger who is under 21 years old except when:
      ―The additional passengers are immediate members of your family.
      ―You’re driving to, from, or because of employment.
      ―Accompanied by your parent/guardian, or a licensed driver 21 years old or older who has been designated by the parent/guardian.

    Level 3 Full Michigan Driver's License

    Once you turn 17 years old and have held your Level 2 provisional license for at least 6 months, all GDL restrictions will be lifted and you will earn your Level 3 full Michigan driver’s license, provided that you have not had any violations or accidents within the last 12 months.

    Your new driver's license will be mailed to you at no additional cost.

    NOTE: You may need to provide proof of your identity and legal presence. For more information, please visit the complete list of identification documents on the Michigan SOS website.

    While on your way to your full driver's license, you can follow our new license checklist to keep track of the major steps.

    Car Insurance in Michigan

    Having car insurance is required by law, and is very important in protecting yourself financially if you’re involved in an accident. Adding a teen driver to a policy may significantly increase the cost of your family’s premiums, so it is a good idea to check with multiple auto insurance companies to find the best coverage

    Level 1 License Insurance

    Teens with a Level 1 MI license may be covered under the insurance of the adult driver who is riding with them. If not, it is very important to get an insurance policy that covers the teen driving with a Michigan learner's permit.

    Level 2 License Insurance

    Teen drivers are required to show proof of insurance in order to get their Level 2 license. Teens may be added to an existing family policy, a parent's policy, or they may get their own policy.

    There may be opportunities for teens and their families to qualify for insurance discounts. For more information about discounts, rates, and coverage, visit the DMV.org pages:

    Other Michigan Teen Driver's Licenses

    Motorcycle License

    If you are at least 16 years old, you can get a “CY” motorcycle endorsement if you have a Level 2 or Level 3 license. You must also:

    • Complete an approved motorcycle safety course (for teens 16 to 17 years old) and bring your completion certificate to the SOS.
      ―Your on-cycle skills exam will be part of your motorcycle safety course.
    • Pass the written knowledge test at the SOS office.
    • Pay the $13.50 motorcycle endorsement fee.

    Moped License

    Anyone with a valid Michigan driver’s license is allowed to drive a moped. Teen drivers who don't have a valid driver's license but are at least 15 years old can apply for a moped license by doing the following:

    • Provide proof of identity.
    • Show proof of Social Security number.
    • Show two documents proving Michigan residency.
    • Pass a vision test, knowledge, and traffic sign test.
    • Fill out the application and have your parent/guardian sign it.
    • Pay the $7.50 moped license fee.

    The moped-only license must be surrendered when the driver obtains a regular driver's license.

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