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How to Get a Michigan Drivers License

Learning to drive is an exciting stop on the road to adulthood. It brings all kinds of new freedoms, but it's also important to note that teen drivers are at a higher risk of being involved in an accident than any other age group. For that reason, Michigan has instituted a graduated driver licensing system. Here are the steps you'll need to follow to get your Michigan drivers license.

Step One: Complete Segment 1 Driver's Education

At 14 years and 8 months, you're old enough to begin your training as a new Michigan driver. Before you can get your level 1 license (the equivalent of a learner's permit), you must complete segment 1 of drivers ed, which consists of:

  • At least 24 hours of classroom learning
  • Six or more hours of behind-the-wheel instruction
  • Four hours of driving observation
  • A written exam on Michigan's traffic laws and regulations

After you've completed segment 1, you can visit your local branch of the Secretary of State to get your level 1 license. Just be sure to bring along the necessary ID documents.

With your level 1 license, you're allowed to practice driving as long as you're with a licensed adult who is 21 or older.

Step Two: Complete Segment 2 Driver's Education

The next step toward getting your Michigan drivers license is completing segment 2, but there are a couple requirements you'll need to meet first:

  • You must have held you level 1 license for at least three consecutive months
  • You must have completed at least 30 hours of parent-supervised driving practice, including at least 2 hours at night

Segment 2 consists of at least six hours of instruction. After that, it's time to start focusing on passing your road skills test.

Step Three: Get Your Level 2 License

Once you're 16, you're old enough to apply for your level 2 license. Before you can apply, however, you must have completed segments 1 and 2 of driver's education, and logged an additional 50 hours of behind-the-wheel practice, including at least 10 at night.

Once you meet those standards, it's time to visit an independently-operated testing center to show off your driving abilities. You'll need to bring a vehicle to use for the exam, and it must be registered and insured.

After a vehicle inspection, your examiner will instruct you to demonstrate a variety of maneuvers both on a closed course and on operational roads. These may include:

  • Parallel parking and backing
  • Stopping at a specific point
  • Approaching intersections and turning
  • Changing lanes and approaching curves

The state offers a study guide to help you prepare for the test. The same document also includes a driving log that you should use to track your practice hours. You'll need to bring the completed log to your test appointment.

After you pass your road skills exam, you'll receive your level 2 license.

Step Four: Follow All Level 2 License Restrictions

Once you've received you level 2 license, you can start driving on your own. There are, however, certain rules you'll need to follow if you want to hold on to that newfound freedom. With your level 2 license, you cannot:

  1. Use a cell phone while driving
  2. Drive between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  3. Drive with more than one passenger who is under 18

There are a number of exceptions to rules no. 2 and 3, so be sure to familiarize yourself with them.

Once you're 17 and you've completed at least six months of safe driving with your level 2 license, you'll be upgraded to a level 3 or unrestricted Michigan drivers license.

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