facebookHow to Get a Michigan Driver’s License: The Ultimate Guide
How to Get Your Michigan Driver’s License: The Ultimate Guide

How to Get Your Michigan Driver’s License: The Ultimate Guide

by Zutobi · Updated Feb 02, 2021

Anyone who plans to drive on public roads in Michigan needs a driver’s license. The license program is more complex than in most states, so make sure to read through the entire article.

In this guide, we’ll go over all you need to know to get your driver’s license in Michigan. 

The 3 Stages to a Michigan Driver’s License

Before we can go through how to obtain your driver’s license, we must explain the different types of licenses in Michigan. 

Stage 1: Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP)

Every first-time applicant must start out with a temporary instruction permit, regardless of age. The permit allows you to drive as long as you have a licensed driver in the seat next to you. If you are under 18, this driver must carry an authorization form signed by your parent or guardian.

  • If you are over 18, you will need to drive with an instruction permit for 30 days before you can move straight to a full driver’s license.
  • If you are under 18, you will be required to participate in the Graduated Driver’s Program.

Stage 2: Restricted Driver’s License

If you are under 18, you will transition from the TIP to a restricted driver’s license after holding the permit for at least six months and fulfilling the minimum requirements. This license will allow you to drive unsupervised during normal school and work hours. 

Driving Restrictions With a Restricted License

  • You can not drive between the hours of 10 pm and 5 am unless:
    • You are accompanied by your parent, guardian, or a designated, licensed adult age 21 or older. 
    • You are commuting to and from work. You must have a signed statement from your work to prove it is necessary.
    • You are driving to and from a school-sanctioned event. You must have a signed statement from your school to prove it is necessary.
  • You can not drive with more than one passenger under the age of 21 in the vehicle unless:
    • Your parent, guardian, or designated adult is in the car beside you while you drive.
    • The passenger is part of your immediate family
    • You are carpooling to-and-from work or a school-sanctioned event.
  • You can not use a cell phone or hands-free communication devices while driving, except in an emergency. If you are caught, you can be fined up to $295.

Stage 3: Operator’s License

This is your normal driver’s license. If you are under 21, you will receive a vertical ID with “Under 21” printed on it. Drivers over 21 will receive the standard horizontal license.

If you are under 18, your parents can request to delay your application if they think you are not ready, even if you meet all the requirements.

How to Get a Driver’s License in Michigan

Over 18 Years Old

If you are over 18 and have never had a license, you will need to head to your local Michigan Secretary of State Office to apply for your temporary instruction permit.

  1. Book an appointment to reduce time. Some locations may require you to make an appointment in advance.
  2. Gather your documents. You will need to provide approved documents to prove:
    1. Identity
    2. Social Security Number
    3. Citizenship or legal presence
    4. Residency
  3. Pass a Vision Exam with or without corrective lenses. If you need lenses to pass, you will be required to wear them while driving.
  4. Take the Knowledge Test. The written exam contains 50 questions about laws, road signs, and safe driving practices. You need to get 40 questions right to pass, otherwise, you will need to reschedule to take the test again.

    Pass your exams on the first try with our Michigan practice tests, summarized manual, and modernized learning program that helps you memorize and retain everything you need to know to pass the test and drive safely.
  5. Pay the required fees.
  6. Practice with a licensed adult for at least 30 days. You will not need to log your hours if you are over 18. 
  7. Take the driving skills test. It will measure your familiarity with the road, laws, and operation of a vehicle.
  8. Have your photo taken, pay the fee, and receive a temporary paper license. Your new Michigan driver’s license will come in the mail within three weeks.

Under 18 Years Old

If you are under 18, you must complete the Graduated Driver’s License Program. This requirement is waived if you have had a valid license from another state for at least a year. 

The program requirements end when you complete all three license stages OR turn 18, whichever comes first.

Step 1: Driver Education (Segment 1)

In Michigan, you must be at least 14 years and 8 months to start the GDL program. You will also need your parent’s permission. 

  1. Find an approved Driver’s Education Provider with behind the wheel instruction.
  2. Take at least 24 hours of classroom instruction.
  3. Have at least 6 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.
  4. Have at least four hours of observation time in a training vehicle.
  5. Pass the Segment 1 state exam with a score of at least 70%.

Step 2: Temporary Instruction Permit

To obtain your permit, you must be at least 14 years and 9 months old. After you pass Driver Education Segment 1, you will need to complete the following:

  1. Obtain permission from your parent or guardian. If someone will act as your supervising driver, they will also indicate this. They will need to go with you to the secretary of State office.
  2. Book an appointment to reduce time. Some locations may require you to make an appointment in advance.
  3. Gather your documents. You will need to provide approved documents to prove:
    1. Identity
    2. Social Security Number
    3. Citizenship or legal presence
    4. Residency
    5. Your Segment 1 Certificate of Completion
  4. Pass a Vision Exam with or without corrective lenses. If you need lenses to pass, you will be required to wear them while driving.
  5. Pass the Health Standards for Driving. The examiner will ask you a few questions about your health that could affect your ability to drive.
  6. Take the Knowledge Test. The written exam contains 50 questions about laws, road signs, and safe driving practices. You need to get 40 questions right to pass, otherwise, you will need to reschedule to take the test again.

    Pass your exams on the first try with our Michigan practice tests, summarized manual, and modernized learning program that helps you memorize and retain everything you need to know to pass the test and drive safely.
  7. Pay the required fees.

Step 3: Driver Education (Segment 2)

To move to this stage, you need to hold your permit for at least three months and present a log of at least 30 hours of supervised driving time, and two hours must be at night.

In Segment 2, you will have at least six hours of classroom instruction, and you must pass the Segment 2 state exam. 

Step 4: The Michigan Driving Skills Test

To take your driving skills test, you must:

  • Be at least 15 years old
  • Have held your GDL Level 1 (TIP) License for at least six months
  • Have logged 50 hours of supervised driving time, with 10 of those hours at night
  • Complete your Driver Education Segment 2 state exam

Remember that you will need insurance and registration for the vehicle you will use in the test, and find an approved driving skills test administrator. The test will not count unless it is administered by a center approved by the Michigan SOS.

The first part of the driving skills test will involve off-street maneuvers on their course. Then you will perform an on-road test to demonstrate your knowledge of best driving practices in urban, expressway, highway, and residential areas.

Step 5:  Restricted Driver’s License

You must be at least 16 years old and have held your permit for at least 6 months to apply for a restricted license. You can not have any violations, at-fault crashes, or suspensions on your record for at least 90 days preceding your license application.

  1. Obtain permission from your parent or guardian. If someone will act as your supervising driver, they will also indicate this. They will need to go with you to the secretary of State office.
  2. Book an appointment to reduce time. Some locations may require you to make an appointment in advance.
  3. Gather your documents. You will need to provide approved documents to prove:
    1. Identity
    2. Social Security Number
    3. Citizenship or legal presence
    4. Residency
    5. Your driving skills test certificate
  4. Pass a Vision Exam with or without corrective lenses. If you need lenses to pass, you will be required to wear them while driving.
  5. Pay the required fees.
  6. You will receive a paper certificate, and your new restricted license will come in the mail in about 3 weeks.

Step 6: Operator’s License

Finally – you can now apply for your full Michigan driver’s license! You must be at least 17, and you must hold your restricted license without a traffic violation, at-fault crash, license suspension, or restriction violation. If any of these things happen, the 12-month countdown starts over.

You will receive a paper certificate at the Michigan SOS office, and your real unrestricted driver’s license will come in the mail within 3 weeks.

That’s It!

Want more great tips and information about getting your Michigan driver’s license? Join us on Zutobi for information about tests, license renewals, safe driving practices, and more.

Take our full course with tests and theory

450+ exam-like questions

All you need to ace your test

Perfect for first-timers, renewals and senior citizens

0