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Frequently Asked Questions - Michigan Teen Driver

The Michigan SOS office recommends developing a Parent-Teen Safe Driving Contract in order to set the proper limits for acceptable and safe driving behavior. This will help you learn how to become a responsible driver.

When applying for a license at an SOS branch office, you will be required to submit proof of identification, legal presence in the United States, Michigan residency and give a valid Social Security number or provide proof of ineligibility. Outlined below is a list of the required documents:

Social Security Number or Letter of Ineligibility (Present one of the following documents)
• Social Security card or other Social Security Administration (SSA) document containing full name and Social Security number
• W-2 or 1099 form
• Paystub containing full name and Social Security number
• United States military identification card with photo and Social Security number (DD-2, DD-1173 or CAC card)
• Letter of ineligibility from the SSA (not more than 30 days old)

You may be required to correct information with the SSA before a driver’s license application can be processed. If your current legal name is different from the name on your birth certificate or legal presence document, you must show legal proof of the name change by submitting a court order, marriage certificate or divorce decree.

Legal Presence (Certain documents will be subject to verification through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements System (SAVE)
• Certified birth certificate with raised seal issued by a United States government office
• Valid unexpired United States passport or passport card
• Certificate of Citizenship (N-560 or N-561)
• Certificate of Naturalization (N-550, N-570 or N578)
• Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by the United States Department of State
• Valid foreign passport in applicant’s name with English subtitles or translation with United States visa and stamped I-94
• Valid Permanent Resident Card (I-551)
• Valid Employment Authorization Card (I-688, I-688A, I-688B or I-766)
• Valid Refugee Travel Document (I-571) with stamped I-94
• Approved U.S. Department of Labor certification with valid foreign passport in applicant’s name with English subtitles or translation with United States visa and stamped I-94
• United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) documents expired less than one year may be submitted if accompanied by an I-797

Identity Verification (Must be original documents and more than one document may be required)
• Out of state or Canadian driver’s license or identification card (expired less than one year)
• Marriage license issued in the United States
• Divorce decree issued in the United States
• United States court order for name change
• Photo identification card issued by a federal or Michigan government agency
• United States military identification card with photo (DD-2, DD-1173 or CAC card)
• United States military discharge or separation documents (DD-214)
• Tribal photo identification card from a federally recognized Native American tribe
• Michigan Department of Corrections prisoner identification card (document requires verification)
• Michigan driver’s education certificate (applicants who are 18 or younger)
• Michigan adoption record
• United States school records, school identification cards with name and photo, diplomas, transcripts or yearbooks
• A second document from the Legal Presence group may also be acceptable
• Foreign passport, I-94, Employment Authorization Card, Refugee Travel Document or United States visa

A parent or legal guardian may sign for an applicant under age 18 by presenting their driver’s license or identification card.

Proof of Michigan Residence (present at least two documents with name and Michigan residential address)
• Utility or credit card bill issued within the past 90 days (electronic copies are acceptable)
• Account statement from a bank or another financial institution (issued within the past 90 days)
• Michigan high school, college or university report cards or transcripts
• Mortgage, lease or rental agreement (must include the landlord’s telephone number)
• Paystub or earnings statements issued with the name and address of employer
• Life, auto, health or home insurance policy
• Local, state or federal government documents (receipts, licenses or assessments)
• Michigan title and registration (must show current residential address)
• Other documents containing applicant’s name and address may be accepted with manager approval

Post office boxes are not acceptable as a residential address.

The following educational requirements must be met before a license or permit will be issued by the State of Michigan:

• Level 1 License—You must be at least 14 years and 8 months old to enroll in a Segment 1 driver’s education course that includes the following:

o Minimum of 24 hours of classroom instruction
o Minimum of 6 hours behind-the-wheel experience
o Minimum of 4 hours of behind-the-wheel observation time

You must also pass a vision and health screening exam and a written test.

• Level 2 Intermediate License—You must complete a Segment 2 driver’s education course that includes at least six hours of classroom instruction and a written test.

To be eligible for a Michigan license, applicants must meet the following criteria:

Level 1 License
• You must be at least 14 years and 9 months old.
• You must successfully complete Segment 1 of an approved driver’s education program.
• You must have your parent, legal guardian or responsible adult sign the application.

Level 2 Intermediate License
• You must be at least 16 years old.
• You must have held a Level 1 License for at least six months.
• You must successfully complete Segment 2 or an approved driver’s education course.
• You must pass a driving skills test.
• You must not have any convictions for a civil infraction, license suspension or found to be at fault in an auto accident for the 90-day period prior to applying for a Level 2 Intermediate License.

Level 3 Full License
• You must be at least 17 years old.
• You must have held a Level 2 Intermediate License for at least six months.
• You must have 12 consecutive months without having a moving violation, an auto accident or a license suspension.

The State of Massachusetts requires drivers to certify that they do not have a mental, physical of visual condition that might affect their ability to drive safely. All drivers must pass the following tests:

Written Knowledge Test
• The written knowledge test is to determine how well you know the Michigan traffic laws and understand safe driving practices. You must correctly answer 20 out of the 25 multiple-choice questions.

Vision Screening Exam
• An unrestricted license will be issued to applicants with a visual acuity of 20/40 and a peripheral vision of 140 degrees.

• A restricted license will be issued to drivers who need corrective lenses to pass the test.

• A “Daylight Only” restricted license may be issued to drivers if their visual acuity is between 20/50 and 20/70.

Driving Skills Test
A driving skills test is required for the following individuals:

• You are applying for a Level 2 License under the Michigan GDL program.
• You are 18 or older and have never been licensed before.
• Your last driver’s license has been expired for more than four years.
• You have a foreign driver’s license from a country other than Canada or Germany.

The test includes driving on rural highways, expressways and residential neighborhoods. The “Driving Skills Test Study Guide” is available at any SOS branch office or on the SOS website.

The State of Michigan has a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program and the following requirements must be met when applying for a license or permit:

Level 1 license
• You must be at least 14 years and nine months old.
• You must successfully pass the Segment 1 Driver Education course.
• You must pass the written test that is part of the education course.
• You must successfully pass a vision test.
• You must answer some general health questions.
• You must have a parent, legal guardian or responsible adult sign the application.

The learner’s license is free and valid for a period of 180 days.

Level 2 Intermediate License
• You must have a Level 1 Lerner’s License.
• You must successfully pass the Segment 2 Driver Education course.
• You must have a Road Skill endorsement.
• You must have a parent, legal guardian or another adult sign the application certifying that you have logged at least 50 hours of practice driving.
• You must pay the $25 driver’s license application fee.

Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP)
Michigan has a temporary instruction permit for people who fall into one of the following categories:

• You have never completed a Graduated Driver’s License Program.
• Your United States issued driver’s license has been expired for at least four years.
• You have an expired license issued by a foreign country.
• You have never had a license before.

This type of permit will allow you to practice driving with a licensed adult driver. You must hold a TIP for a minimum of 30 days before applying for a driver’s license. The TIP expires 180 days from the date it was issued.

The State of Michigan has the following restrictions:

Level 1 License
• You may only drive with a parent, legal guardian or a licensed adult driver who is 21 years of age or older.

Level 2 Intermediate License
• Time Restriction—You are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle between 10 pm and 5 am unless one of the following conditions applies:

• You are driving to or from your place of employment.

• You are driving to or from an authorized activity, which includes:

1. A school-sanctioned activity or event
2. A sporting activity or event that is part of an official sports league or association or part of an official extracurricular club
3. A class or program of vocational instruction offered by a college, community college, non-profit organization or a business or government agency that specializes in vocational training
4. An activity or event sponsored by a religious organization that is tax-exempt under federal law

• You are transporting an individual who is in need of emergency care or personal protection to a police station, public safety location, hospital or domestic violence shelter.

• You are accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or a licensed adult driver who is 21 years of age or older.

• Passenger Restriction—You cannot have more than one passenger in the vehicle under age 21 unless one of the following conditions applies:

• You are driving to or from your place of employment.

• You are driving to or from an authorized activity (see above list).

• You are accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or a licensed adult driver who is 21 years of age or older.

Before applying for a learner’s permit, you should study the Michigan Driver Handbook entitled, “What Every Driver Must Know”, which contains information about how to safely operate a vehicle on Michigan roads. Some of the topics covered include the following:

• Chapter 1—Michigan Driver’s License Information
• Chapter 2—Voter Registration, Organ Donation and State Identification Cards
• Chapter 3—Your Michigan Driving Record
• Chapter 4—Losing Your Privilege to Drive
• Chapter 5—Substance Abuse and Driving
• Chapter 6—Safety Belts, Safety Seats and Air Bags
• Chapter 7—Signs, Pavement Markings and Signals
• Chapter 8—Basic Skills, Law and Safety
• Chapter 9—Sharing the Road Safely and Being Courteous
• Chapter 10—Emergencies and Special Situations
• Chapter 11—Snowmobiles, Off-Road Vehicles and Watercraft
• Chapter 12—Titles, Insurance, Registrations and License Plates
• Chapter 13—Disabilities and Parking

The manual can be found at any Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) branch office or on the SOS website.

When applying for a license or permit, you will need to do the following:

• Fill out an application for a Temporary Instruction Permit, Level 1 License, Level 2 Intermediate License or a Level Three License.
• Answer a few general health questions.
• Pass a vision-screening test.
• Pass the written knowledge test.

Applicants under the age of 18 will need to have a parent, legal guardian or responsible adult sign the application.

There are no specific restrictions for new drivers, but as of April 30, 2010, all drivers are prohibited from reading, writing or sending text messages while operating a motor vehicle. Individuals who violate this law will be fined $100 for a first offenses and $200 for each subsequent offense.