How to Get Your Michigan Driver’s License: Step-by-Step
The Michigan Secretary of State oversees the state’s graduated licensing program. This program helps first-time drivers learn driving basics through testing, behind-the-wheel practice, and real-world experience under the supervision of a licensed adult until they turn 17 years old.
Michigan’s GDL includes driver’s education and has two segments:
- Segment 1 includes classroom and driving instruction, observed driving, and a written test
- Segment 2 includes extra classroom instruction and a written test
Anyone under 18 will go through these two stages and must be enrolled to complete the program.
This guide shares the entire process of getting a permit to an unrestricted license. It also covers how you can apply for a license as an adult or if you’ve recently moved to the state.
You will visit a Michigan DMV throughout each of licensing applications.
Getting a Driving Permit in Michigan
Michigan’s GDL program becomes available to teens age 14 years and 8 months old. This begins with driver’s education. Teens will take Segment 1 of the driver’s education course before their written test.
These segments are like other state’s permit and provisional stages.
Segment 1 Requirements:
- Classroom instruction: 24 hours
- Driving instruction: 6 hours
- Driving observation: 4 hours
- Written test
Segment 2 Requirements:
- Classroom instruction: 6 hours
- Written test
Teens can move onto applying for their learners permit at age 14 years and 9 months once they’ve passed Segment 1 of the driver’s education requirement. Teens from out-of-state can transfer their learner’s permit if they meet the 30-hour classroom and 6 hours driving training experience.
Applying for the Learners Permit (Segment 1)
- Visit a local DMV office
- Show proof of ID & SSN
- Provide (2) residency documents
- Show proof of completed Segment 1 driver’s education
Teens will get their level 1 permit, granting privilege to drive with a licensed parent/guardian or licensed adult (21+). You will hold your permit for 3 months before moving onto Segment 2.
About the Written Test
The knowledge (written) test examines your ability to identify road signs, rules, and driving obligations. The driver’s education certification waives your need to take a written test at the DMV. Otherwise, such as those new to the state, will need to take a 40-question test ($25 fee).
Michigan expects you to complete extra driving experience before applying for a Segment 2 permit:
- 50 hours of supervised driving
- 10 hours of night driving (part of the 50-hours)
A parent/guardian will confirm these hours and log the experience (see Form SOS-360).
Getting a Provisional (Segment 2) Driver’s License
The provisional (Segment 2) license becomes available when teens turn 16 years old and meet the standard requirements as part of the GDL program. Until now, teens completed a driver’s education course but will require extra training after holding their learners for the required 3 months.
The teen will do:
- 6 hours of extra classroom instruction
- The Segment 2 written test
Teens will also complete the 50 hours of behind-the-wheel experience before upgrading their license.
A driving test is the next GDL step once teens turn 16 and passed the requirements. This driving test takes place at a local SOS office and awards a Driver Skills Test certificate which teens turn in when upgrading their permit to the provisional/intermediate license.
The steps when upgrading includes:
- Complete the extra driver’s education
- Complete the 50-hours of driving experience (10 hours at night)
- Schedule and take the driving test
- Turn in the driving test certificate
- Show proof of ID, SSN, and residency
- Pay the $25 licensing fee
Your restrictions with a provisional include:
- No driving between 10 PM and 5 AM except for work, extracurricular activities like school and sports, unless accompanied by a licensed adult or parent/guardian
- No more than 1 passenger under 21 years od except for an immediate family member, going to/from work, or you have a licensed driver with you
… and anytime driving if you’re accompanied by a licensed (21+) adult.
Teens are expected to continue following driving rules and laws until you’re ready to apply for an unrestricted license. Teens will hold their Segment 2 license until they turn 17 before upgrading to the full (adult) license.
Getting an Unrestricted (Adult) License in Michigan
Teens graduating through the GDL program can upgrade their Segment 2 (Level 2) provisional license into a Level 3 (Adult) license once they’ve passed requirements and held it until 17 years old.
Those 18 and older will:
- Apply for a temporary instruction permit
- Upgrade to a standard license after 30 days
The steps required to get an unrestricted Michigan license includes:
- Visit a Michigan DMV office
- Apply for the temporary instruction permit (TIP)
- Provide proof of ID, SSN, and residency
- Pass the vision, road sign, and road tests
- Pay the $25 fee
- Hold the temporary permit for 30 days
- Use this time to practice driving
- Apply for the standard driver’s license
- Provide proof of ID
- Turn in the temporary permit
- Turn in the certificate of passing your road test
- Pay the $0 (free upgrade) to $20 licensing fee (enhanced license)
- Wait until the permanent license arrives by mail
Drivers may choose to upgrade their license into the enhanced version by providing extra information showing your SSN, U.S. citizenship, identity, and residency. You’ll pay a total $45, get a photo taken, and get a temporary license until the permanent one arrives by mail.
And like that… you have an adult license!
Congratulations! You’re a Licensed Michigan Driver!
You’ve completed your journey in getting a Michigan driver’s license. Your unrestricted license is good for 5-years unless certain restrictions apply.
What’s next? Consider registering a vehicle in your name.
You’ll want auto insurance during the registration and throughout your time on the road. Check with local insurance providers or use our MI insurance guides for full details!