Michigan Teenage Driving Laws: What Teens and Parents Need to Know

To ensure safe driving practices, Michigan teenage driving laws include restrictions on instructional permits and rules for provisional licenses.
Written by Cameron Thiessen
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
To keep drivers on
roads safe, people under the age of 18 are met with certain driving restrictions based on a three-level graduated licensing system. Level 1 starts when a person is 14 years and 9 months of age or older.
Level 1 drivers will need to be accompanied by a licensed adult who is either 21 or older or a parent or guardian to get behind the wheel. After six months, you’ll be able to apply for your Level 2 license. The rules for teen drivers in Michigan keep changing as you move through the levels, so let’s go through them all.

Rules for teen drivers in Michigan

Teens who want to get a head start on becoming responsible and mature drivers can proceed through Michigan’s
Graduated Driver License (GDL)
system, which integrates driver’s education as you move through the three license levels.
Young drivers must be kept safe—they are the highest-risk age group to get into accidents. Fortunately, updates to Michigan’s teen driver laws have led to a decline in the involvement of 16- to 18-year-olds in fatal crashes in the state.
Before you can get your Level 1 learner’s license, you’ll have to enroll in a Segment 1 certified driver’s education course. You’re old enough to do this once you are 14 years and 8 months of age
To practice driving while in Segment 1, you will be issued a Parent Driving Permit, which allows you to drive under proper supervision as long as you are actively enrolled in and attending Segment 1 driver’s education.

Michigan Level 1 learner’s license

To get your learner’s license, you’ll have to have finished all of the classes in the Segment 1 course, fulfill the required instruction hours, and pass a written exam. Once you’ve done this, you can graduate from Segment 1 and apply for your Level 1 learner’s license.
Michigan Secretary of State’s
website has all the info you need for applying for your first Michigan license or ID.
During your time as a Level 1 driver, you’ll need to complete a certain amount of practice driving with a parent, guardian, or parent-designated instructor. You need a total of 30 hours of driving experience, including 2 hours of night driving, to apply for Segment 2.
With your Level 1 learner’s permit, you must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or parent-approved instructor who is over the age of 21 when driving.
By allowing teens to drive under close adult supervision, parents and guardians become an integral part of teaching safe driving practices. Thanks to the most recent changes to the Michigan teen driving laws in the late 2010s, fatal crashes involving teens have gone down by significant numbers.

Michigan Level 2 probationary license

While you have your Level 1 learner’s license, you can enroll in Segment 2 of driver’s education. You’ll have to have done your initial 30 hours of required driving practice before you can enroll. 
In addition to the required coursework, you’ll have to pass another written knowledge exam and a driving skills test before you can graduate from Segment 2.
Here are the requirements for applying for a Level 2 probationary license:
  • You must be at least 16 years old.
  • You need to have completed Segment 2 of driver’s education.
  • You have to have had your Level 1 learner’s license for at least 6 months.
  • You need to have completed a cumulative 50 hours of driving practice, 10 of which need to be at night.
  • You need to pass an on-road driving skills test.
  • You need to have been in zero
    at-fault accidents
  • You must have gotten zero citations or license sanctions.
  • You cannot have been convicted of any driving violation at least 90 days before taking the driving skills test.
Here are the special rules for drivers with Level 2 graduated licensing status. Unless you’re accompanied by a parent/guardian/designated licensed driver 21 years old or older, you cannot:
  • Drive between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Drive with more than one passenger who is younger than 21, unless they are a sibling.
You’ll have to live with these restrictions for 6 months, so long as you turn 17 within that time and have kept a
clean driving record
You need to have met all of the Level 2 requirements before turning 18; otherwise, you’ll have to get an adult learner’s permit before being able to get your full license.
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Michigan Level 3 full license

The final level of Michigan’s GDL program is Level 3. Here are the requirements for getting your Level 3 license:
  • You must be at least 17 years old.
  • You need to have had your Level 2 probationary license for at least 6 months
  • Within at least 1 consecutive year, you cannot have: (1) Been in an at-fault accident, (2) Received a driving ticket, (3) Gotten a license sanction, or (4) Been convicted of a driving-related violation
Your license will automatically upgrade to Level 3 once you have completed the GDL program, and the Level 3 license comes without curfew or passenger restrictions.
That being said, there are certain rules for Level 3 drivers that you should be aware of:
  • If you are convicted of a violation or are found to be at fault for an accident, you will be placed on probation.
  • If this happens, you’ll have to go in for a driver assessment reexamination, and you may have your license suspended, depending on the circumstances.
Otherwise, you’ll automatically age out of the GDL program once you turn 18. At this point, you’ll be given a standard driver’s license.

Michigan teenage drivers and cell phone use

Texting and driving
is a serious detriment to the safety of all drivers on U.S. roads, and it is a particularly pressing concern when teenage drivers are involved. Distracted driving leads to thousands of car accidents every year, according to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
It is strictly prohibited by Michigan law to use a cell phone while you’re driving a car with a Level 1 or Level 2 graduated license. Don’t do it! 
Don’t open Instagram, don’t pull up the family group chat at the red light, and do not make or take any calls. For more information, you can
read about Kelsey’s Law
on the Michigan government’s website.
Exceptions to this rule do exist. Teens who are driving a vehicle in Michigan with a Level 1 or 2 license can use cell phones to:
  • Report an accident, emergency, or road hazard
  • Report a dangerous situation where they believe they are “in jeopardy”
  • Report a crime committed against them or another person
You are also exempt from the cell phone use rule if you are using a voice-operated system that is integrated with the car’s audio system.

Penalties for violating Michigan teen driving laws

If you violate driving laws while carrying a Level 1 license, your parent or guardian will receive written notification of your conviction or violation from the secretary of state. Penalties are determined based on the situation.
If you violate Level 2 restrictions, this is considered to be a civil infraction, and you’ll be given two demerit points on your license. Your parent or guardian will also receive a notification, and your probation period will be extended for another 12 months, after which you will be required to undergo reexamination. You may lose your license entirely during this process.
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