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How to Get a Learners Permit in Michigan

Obtaining a learners permit in Michigan is part of a process called “graduated driver licensing.” To get learners permit credentials in the state, you will need to visit a local Secretary of State (SOS) office. (The services provided by the SOS are commonly known as DMV services.) Teen residents need a permit for driving before they can obtain a full drivers license, and residents over 18 also need a type of learners permit, called a Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP), if they have never been licensed or their previous license has been long expired. Learn more about MI learners permits in the sections below.

Michigan Requirements for Learners Permit Applicants

A DMV learners permit may also be called a Level 1 license within the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. These are the three levels (you need a permit for driving in Michigan before reaching Levels 2 and 3):

  • Level 1 is given to teenage drivers who are at least 14 years and nine months old. This is a traditional learners permit that requires supervision while the holder is driving.
  • Level 2 is a mid-level graduated license that is similar to a full license, with some key restrictions. Level 2 drivers must be at least 16 years old.
  • Level 3 is a license given to drivers who are at least 17 years old and have completed all requirements for graduating. There are no restrictions on this license.

If you are a parent getting a learners permit for your child, know that he or she must pass a driver education course before obtaining the permit. Teen drivers can begin this DMV drivers permit course as soon as they are 14 years and eight months old. You must give them permission before they can enroll in a drivers ed course.

Getting a learners permit is only possible after at least 24 hours of classroom instruction, six hours of instruction behind the wheel and four hours observed in a training vehicle. If learners permit seekers pass a course certified by the Michigan Department of State, and also pass a knowledge test, then they will receive a Certificate of Completion. This does not allow learners permit seekers to drive, however it is necessary to apply.

Note: Teen applicants must also pass a vision screening before they are allowed to begin the behind-the-wheel section of the drivers ed course.

DMV drivers permits for all motorists 18 and older are called temporary instruction permits (TIPs). With a TIP, you can drive in a vehicle with a licensed adult for 180 days. You should seek this type of learners permit if you have never had a license, if you previously held a foreign license that is now expired or if you have held a U.S. license in the past but it is more than four years expired. To apply for a TIP, you need documents proving your Social Security Number, legal presence in the U.S., in-state residency and identity in addition to passing certain knowledge and vision tests.

Where to Get a Learners Permit in Michigan

Applying for a learners permit in Michigan must be done at a Secretary of State branch office. Obtaining a learners permit online is not possible. If you are a parent applying for a learners permit with and on behalf of your teenage child, both you and your teen must be present at the SOS office during the application.

The requirements for a Michigan learners permit are as follows:

  • You must have a green driver Certificate of Completion proving that your teen has completed a certified drivers ed course, meeting all standards of vision, knowledge and driving ability.
  • You must be able to prove your teen’s Social Security Number (or provide a letter of ineligibility).
  • You must establish your teen’s U.S. citizenship or legal presence in the country.
  • You must prove your teen’s identity.
  • You must provide documents proving that your teen resides in the state of Michigan.
  • As a parent or guardian, you must provide your signature on the learners permit application.

If all of these conditions are met, then your teen can obtain a learners drivers license and legally drive on state roads under proper supervision.

Note: There is no fee for obtaining a Level 1 GDL license.

Michigan Learners Permit Rules

One of the most common learners permit questions is, “What restrictions must teen drivers abide by with a Level 1 license?”

The most obvious of the Michigan learners permit rules is that Level 1 teen drivers may not drive alone. By definition, a learners permit requires adult supervision. There are some specific restrictions for Level 1 teen drivers. For example, learners drivers license holders can only drive with a licensed parent or guardian in the car or with certain other licensed drivers who are over 21 years of age. Also, the supervising adult must be sitting in the front seat. And teen drivers are not allowed to use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.

On this last point, DMV drivers permit holders are not permitted to use cell phones in most cases as of March 28, 2013. Michigan law defines what “use” means very clearly. The learners permit holder must not make an outgoing call from the phone nor can the driver answer an incoming call. Essentially, an MI permit for driving forbids holders from communicating with anyone verbally through the phone, even if they are only listening.

Michigan DMV drivers permit holders are, however, allowed to use voice-operated systems that are already built into the vehicle. Some exceptions to the cell phone restriction learners permit rules include using a phone to report a car accident, road hazard or medical emergency, using a phone if the driver truly feels that his or her safety is in danger and using a phone to report a crime or prevent a potential crime.

Learners permit holders who violate the cell phone restriction laws are subject to a ticket, which in turn results in fines and costs. Therefore, it is important to strictly adhere to all restrictions and guidelines.

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