How to get a Michigan Driver's License

To get a Michigan Operator's License, or basic Driver's License, you must meet and pass several age-based requirements and tests . Below is a step by step guide on how the process works.

1. If you are under the age of 18

Drivers under the age of 18 must complete all the steps that are part of the Michigan Graduated Driver Licensing System (GDL). The system is designed to teach teens to drive by gradually increasing thei diring privileges. The list below outlines your complete plan of action if you start out under the age of 18:

  • Step 1: Apply for a Level 1 Learner's Permit

    A Level 1 License allows a young driver to drive only when accompanied by a licensed parent, licensed legal guardian or with a licensed driver over the age of 21 designated by a parent or legal guardian (in written form).

    You will need to meet the following requirements to obtain a Level 1 License:

    • Be at least 14 years and 9 months old when you apply for your permit.
    • Have written approval from a parent or legal guardian to apply for your permiy. Your parent/guardian must come with you to the Secretary of State branch office to sign the application form.
    • Provide provide proof of identity, pass a vision test and meet health standards set by the Secretary of State.
    • Complete the Segment 1 Driver Education Course approved by the Michigan Department of Education, including 24 hours of classroom instruction and 6 hours of behind-the-wheel driving instruction. You can start the Segment 1 course once you reach the age of 14 years and 8 months old. Click here to register online for the Segment 1 Driver Education.
  • Step 2: Apply for a Level 2 Intermediate License

    A Level 2 License is the second step of the Michigan GDL. It allows the young driver to drive without supervision with certain restrictions:

    • No phone calls.
    • No driving between the hours of 10 pm and 5 am.
    • No transporting more than one passenger who is less than 21 years old unless they are your immediate family members.

    Exceptions to the last two rules include driving to or from work, or authorized activity (school-sanctioned activities, official sports league events, classes of vocational instruction, religious organization activities, transporting another person in case of emergency or personal protection). You may also disregard the last two rules if you are accompanied by a licensed parent/guardian or any licensed driver at least 21 years of age if designated (in written form) by your parent/guardian.

    You will need to meet the following requirements to obtain a Level 2 License:

    • Be at least 16 years old and apply at a Michigan Secretary of State Branch Office accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. You must pay a small application fee at the Branch Office.
    • Have completed six months of practice driving at Level 1.
    • Complete the Segment 2 Driver Education Course approved by the Michigan Department of Education, including 6 hours of classroom instruction. Click here to register online for the Segment 2 Driver Education.
    • Have no convictions/civil infractions, license suspensions or crashes during the 90-day period immediately prior to applying for your Level 2 License.
    • Complete a minimum of 50 hours of behind-the-wheel practice driving, including 10 hours of nighttime driving, evidenced by a driving log that is certified by a parent or legal guardian.
    • Pass a Road Skill Test conducted by an independent Road Testing Agency approved by the Secretary of State. Click here to register online for you road test.
  • Step 3: Apply for a Level 3 Full Driver's License

    The Level 3 License is the last step of Michigan GDL. It doesn't have any restrictions. The GDL system ends for teens when they turn 18 years of age. You will be given full driving privileges if you are eligible.

    The requirement for obtaining a Level 3 Full License are:

    • Be at least 17 years old.
    • Hold your Level 2 License for at least six months.
    • Complete 12 consecutive months of driving without a moving violation, an at-fault crash that resulted without a moving violation, a license suspension or a violation of the graduated license restrictions.

    You don't have to visit a Secretary of State Branch Office to upgrade to a Level 3 License, it will be automatically mailed to your address on file. There is no fee.

    Note that your parents or guardians may restrict your License to Level 2, Level 1 or even cancel it if they believe you are not ready for driving privileges. Your parent may complete and mail this form 30 days before your 17th birthday to prevent you from getting the full license.

2. If you are 18 or older

To get your first Michigan Driver's License if you are 18 years of age or older and have never been licensed, you will first pass the written test, get a Temporary Instruction Permit and then pass the Driving Skills Test after you have practiced driving with a licensed adult for at least 30 days.

Click here to register online for you road test.

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