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How to Get A Driver’s License in Michigan (A Complete 2022 Guide)

How to Get A Driver’s License in Michigan (A Complete Guide)

Getting your first driver’s license is practically a rite of passage. 

In Michigan, that journey can begin when you turn 14 years and 8 months.

And although the road to getting a license isn’t complicated, it will require your time and effort. Not only that, but it might be a bit confusing if you’re unsure what to do. 

We’re here to help. 

We’re going to give you a complete guide on how to get a driver’s license in Michigan. 

We’ll start from the very beginning to the end. This way, you know exactly what you need to do. 

Sounds good? Let’s begin!

Michigan Driver’s License Requirements

Yes, you will have to undergo a Graduated Driver License (GDL) program if starting from scratch.

Now, it isn’t unusual for states to have a GDL program for teen drivers. The gradual granting of driving privileges makes drivers more likely to be ready for unsupervised driving.

That said, the GDL program in Michigan comes in three levels:

  • Level 1 (Learner’s Permit)
  • Level 2 (Intermediate License)
  • Level 3 (Full Driver’s License)

Let’s explore the steps and requirements for each.

How to Get a Level 1 (Learner’s) License in Michigan

The first thing aspiring drivers in Michigan under 18 years old need to obtain is a learner’s license. It’s your starting point whether you’re 14 and three-quarters or 17.

Here are the steps to getting your Level 1 license in Michigan: 

  1. Enroll in an approved driver’s education program and complete Segment 1.

NOTE: Segment 1 includes the following:

  • 24 hours of classroom instruction
  • 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training
  • 4 hours of observation

Remember that a parent or legal guardian must give their consent for you to enroll. 

  1. Pass the written exam at the end of the driver’s ed program. You need a score of at least 70% to pass. 
  1. Receive a green certificate of completion from your approved driver’s ed program. 
  1. Submit your application online. Visit the Secretary of State’s portal for online services “Pre-Apply for a Michigan Driver’s License or ID” and complete the application form.
  1. Gather the necessary documents:
    1. Proof of identity
    2. Proof of citizenship or legal presence
    3. Proof of Social Security Number
    4. Two proofs of Michigan residency
    5. Proof of completion for Segment 1 (the green certificate of completion)

NOTE: Click here to view which documents you can use.

  1. Schedule a visit to a Secretary of State’s office. Don’t forget to make an online appointment before going.
  1. Submit the necessary documents. 
  1. Pass a vision screening.
  1. Have your photo taken.
  1. Receive your temporary license (there is no fee for it). Your official Level 1 license or learner’s permit will come via mail.

A Level 1 license allows you to practice driving. However, ensure that a parent or legal guardian supervises you when you’re behind the wheel.

Now, your Level 1 license will expire on your 18th birthday. You can hold onto it and skip the Level 2 license. However, you will have very limited driving privileges for a long time, especially if you started at 14 years and 8 months. 

How to Get a Level 2 (Intermediate) License in Michigan

You can begin working on your Level 2 license once you’ve turned 16 years old. 

If so, here are the steps and requirements for getting a Level 2 license in Michigan:

  1. Hold your Level 1 license for at least 6 months.
  1. Maintain a clean driving record for the last 90 days. 
  1. Log in the necessary practice hours. You must have logged 50 supervised driving hours — 10 of these must be after sunset.
  1. Complete Segment 2 of Driver’s Education. 

NOTE: Once you’ve accumulated 30 logged practice hours (2 of which are at night), you can enroll in a driver’s ed program to undergo segment 2. It consists of 6 hours of classroom instruction and a written exam.

NOTE II: Your Segment 2 driver’s education does NOT have to be the same provider as Segment 1. 

  1. Schedule your on-road driving skills test with an approved Driver’s License Business. 

NOTE: Check your local area telephone book to find an approved provider and call to make an appointment. 

  1. Arrive at your Driver’s License Business location and bring the following:
    1. Level 1 license
    2. Segment 2 Driver’s Education Certificate of Completion 
    3. The 50-hour driving log
    4. A vehicle with proof of registration and insurance 
    5. A parent or legal guardian
    6. Payment for your test (cost will depend on your tester)
  1. Pass the driving skills test. 
  1. Receive a certificate of completion.
  1. Visit a Secretary of State branch office and submit the following documents:
    1. Your valid Level 1 license
    2. The white certificate of completion from Segment 2 driver’s ed
    3. On-road driving skills test certificate of completion
    4. The filled-out driving log that shows you’ve completed the required number of practice hours (your parent or guardian must sign it)
    5. Proof of identity
    6. Proof of citizenship or lawful presence
    7. Proof of Social Security Number
    8. Two proofs of Michigan residency
  1. Have your picture taken. 
  1. Pay the $25 licensing fee.
  1. Receive your temporary credential. Your Level 2 license will arrive through the mail.

As we mentioned, you’ll have more freedom with a Level 2 license. However, ensure that you remain mindful of the restrictions on your driving privileges. These include:

  • You cannot use your phone while behind the wheel.
  • You cannot drive from 10 pm to 5 am unless supervised by a parent, legal guardian, or a licensed driver at least 21 years old. 
  • You can only have one passenger under 21 unless supervised. 

How to Get a Level 3 (Full) License in Michigan

A Level 2 license automatically becomes a Level 3 license when you meet the following requirements:

  • You’ve turned 17 years old 
  • You’ve had your Level 2 license for at least 6 months
  • You’ve maintained a clean driving record for the last 90 days

And there you have it — your Level 2 restrictions will drop and you are now a fully licensed driver in Michigan.

Congrats!

How to Get an Operator’s License in Michigan

The GDL program in Michigan only applies to those below 18. Once you’re of age, the steps to getting your license become slightly different.

You don’t need to complete a driver’s ed program anymore. And, once you fulfill all the requirements, you get full driving privileges.

Here are the things you must do:

  1. Schedule a visit to a Secretary of State’s branch office and provide the following documents:
    1. Proof of identity
    2. Proof of lawful status or U.S. Citizenship
    3. Proof of Social Security Number
    4. Two documents proving Michigan residency

NOTE: You can check this link to see what documents you can use.

 

  1. Pass a vision test.
  1. Pass the written test and the road rules exam.

NOTE: You have two more chances to take these if you don’t pass on your first try.

  1. Pay the $25 licensing fee.
  1. Have your photo taken.
  1. Receive your Temporary Instruction Permit. This allows you to practice driving with a licensed adult for up to 180 days. However, you can already take the on-road driving test after 30 days.
  1. Schedule an on-road driving test with a local Driver’s License Business center. 
  1. Pass the on-road driving test.
  1. Apply for an Operator’s license at a Secretary of State’s office. You must provide the following documents:
    1. The same documents when you got your Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP)
    2. Your Temporary Instruction Permit
    3. Your driving test certificate of completion

After that, congratulations are in order — you have your Operator’s license!

As you can see, if you’re already 18 years old or older, getting a driver’s license is a lot shorter. 

FAQs

Got some questions? Then let’s answer some of the most frequently asked ones about driver’s licenses in Michigan. 

What is the Parent Driving Permit in Michigan?

A Parent Driving Permit is issued by your driver’s education provider while you’re still undergoing Segment 1. This is required if you plan on practicing driving outside your on-road driving instruction hours with your driver’s ed provider. 

Can I get my license online in Michigan?

Unfortunately, you cannot. Michigan offers several online services, but you must visit a Secretary of State’s office to get your license. The most that you can do online is complete the application in advance.

What documents do I need to get a Michigan driver’s license?

The typical documents you need to present are as follows:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of citizenship or lawful status in the U.S.
  • Proof of Social Security Number
  • Proof of residency in Michigan

However, you will also need to obtain the following as you complete the GDL program:

How much does it cost to get a driver’s license in Michigan?

It’s best to prepare anywhere between $275 to $475 when you’re getting your license in Michigan.

Although the licensing fee is standard at $25, there are two factors with varying costs.

One is your driver’s ed program. Different providers offer varying rates. However, it’s usually between $200 and $400. You also have to pay for a third-party driving test provider, which usually comes to $50.

Do you have to parallel park in a driving test in Michigan?

Yes. Although a bill was introduced in 2019 to remove parallel parking from the required maneuvers during the on-road driving skills test, it hasn’t passed. So, expect your examiner to ask you to demonstrate it.

Is the Michigan driving test hard?

There’s a reason why you’re given time for practice driving hours before your road test. Prepare to demonstrate several maneuvers during the driving exam, such as Y-turns and parallel parking. You must also ensure you observe and obey all traffic signs and signals.

Several things may cause you to fail, so do your best to avoid these. Here are some of them:

  • Refusing to buckle up
  • Causing an accident
  • Exceeding the speed limit by ten mph
  • Not yielding the right-of-way
  • Making an illegal U-turn
  • Not stopping at a railroad crossing

How many questions are on the Michigan permit test?

You take two written tests in Michigan — one after Segment 1 and another after Segment 2. Each of these tests has 40 questions. You must get 70% of these correctly to pass.

If you are over 18, you will take the test in one go at a Secretary of State’s office.

How to prepare for the permit test in Michigan?

The best way to prepare for the written exam is to study the What Every Driver Must Know handbook. You can also take some prep tests — these can help you to deal with the testing environment.

How to transfer an out-of-state license to Michigan? 

If you’ve recently transferred to Michigan and have an out-of-state license, it’s easy to convert it. 

You must bring the necessary documents to a Secretary of State’s office. Although you do not need to take a knowledge exam, you must pass a vision test.

You will also have to get your photo taken while you’re there.

Your Michigan license will arrive in the mail in about two weeks.

The Wrap Up

And there you have it — a complete step-by-step guide on how to get a driver’s license in Michigan. 

Yes, there are many things to do, but now you have a roadmap to keep you on track. 

If you’re under 18, completing the GDL program may seem tedious, but it does ensure your readiness to get behind the wheel. 

And if you ever get confused along the way, remember, you can always come back to this page if you need to check what to do next.

Good luck!

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