Teaching Your Teen to Drive
Segment 1 Driver Education
Teens must be at least age 14 years and 8 months to begin Segment 1 Driver Education. The course is held over a minimum of 3 weeks, includes at least 24 hours in the classroom, 6 hours of driving, 4 hours of observation driving time, and a written examination.
Applying for a Level 1 Learner’s License
Teens must successfully complete Segment 1 Driver Education, be at least age 14 and 9 months, and pass a vision and health screening to be issued a Level 1 Learner’s License. A parent or legal guardian must accompany their teen to the Secretary of State office and sign the license application. Documents required at the SOS office include: proof of Social Security number, legal presence, identity, and Michigan residency, and a Michigan Driver Education Segment 1 Certificate of Completion. See Michigan.gov/TeenDriver for a list of eligible documents.
Level 1 Learner’s License restrictions
Teens with a Level 1 Learner’s License must be supervised at all times by a licensed parent, legal guardian, or designated licensed driver aged 21 or older. If your teen is driving with someone other than you, he or she should carry a signed letter of authorization from you. Seatbelts are required for everyone in the front seat, and everyone under age 16 in the vehicle. Drivers with a Level 1 Learner’s License are prohibited from using hand-held cellphones and from texting.
Parent’s required supervised driving time
Inexperience is the main reason for crashes among newly licensed drivers. Driver education introduces teens to the mechanics of driving, but it is just the beginning of the learning process. From there, parents need to continue to practice driving with their teens while they gain experience in all types of situations and conditions in order to reduce their risk of crashing. After teens are issued a Level 1 Learner’s License, parents are required to log a minimum of 50 hours of supervised driving time with them, including 10 hours at night.
Segment 2 Driver Education
Segment 2 Driver Education includes a minimum of 6 hours of classroom instruction and a written exam. Teens must hold a Level 1 Learner’s License a minimum of 3 continuous months to enroll and must have completed 30 of the 50 hours of required supervised driving time with their parents (including 2 of the 10 hours at night). A driving log must be presented to the driver education instructor before taking the course.
Driving Skills Test
The Driving Skills Test includes a vehicle inspection, basic control skills test, and an on road driving test. It is administered by independent testing organizations approved by the Secretary of State. A test fee is required and varies with testing organizations. To be eligible for the test, teens must hold a Level 1 Learner’s License a minimum of 6 months, successfully complete Segment 2 Driver Education, and complete the minimum 50 hours of supervised driving time on a Level 1 Learner’s License, including a minimum of 10 hours at night. A driving log must be presented to the skills test examiner before taking the test.
Applying for a Level 2 Intermediate License
To be issued a Level 2 Intermediate License, teens must be age 16 or older, pass a Driving Skills Test, and be crash and violation-free for 90 days prior to applying for the license. A parent or legal guardian must accompany their teen to the Secretary of State office and sign the license application. Documents required at the SOS office include: proof of Social Security number, legal presence, identity, and Michigan residency, a Level 1 Learner’s License, Michigan Driver Education Segment 2 Certificate of Completion, and a Driving Skills Test Certificate. See Michigan.gov/TeenDriver for a list of eligible documents.
Level 2 Intermediate License restrictions
- No driving between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. except when:
- driving to or from or in the course of employment;
- driving to or from an authorized activity; or
- accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or a licensed driver 21 years of age or older designated by the parent or legal guardian.
- No driving at any time with more than 1 passenger in the vehicle who is younger than 21 years of age except:
- when the additional passengers are immediate family members;
- when driving to or from, or in the course of employment;
- while going to or from an authorized activity; or
- when accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or a licensed driver 21 years of age or older designated by the parent or legal guardian.
- No hand-held cellphones
- No texting
- Seatbelts required for everyone in front seat, and everyone under age 16 in vehicle
All first-time drivers are placed on probation for at least three years. Teen drivers who are convicted of a traffic violation, involved in a traffic crash, or violate license restrictions may be required to appear for a driver reexamination, which may result in further license restrictions, suspension or both. Should this occur, advancement to the next GDL level will be delayed.
Additional family rules to consider
- No passengers
- No nighttime driving
- No electronic communication or entertainment devices (including no Bluetooth)
- Seatbelts required by all in the vehicle regardless of age
Parent – teen safe driving contract
Crash rates peak during the first 6 months that teens drive without supervision, making this an essential time for parents to provide guidance, oversight, and set limits. Parents who do this have teens that are less likely to receive traffic tickets or be involved in traffic crashes. Inexperience and immaturity combine to make young drivers especially at-risk at night, after drinking alcohol, with passengers, when unbelted, and when using cellphones. Parents are strongly encouraged to complete a driving contract with their teen. For a sample, see the Parent – teen safe driving contract.
Level 3 License
Teens with a Level 3 License have no state-imposed license restrictions. Parents may request that their teen remain at Level 2 and not automatically advance to Level 3. To advance to a Level 3 License, teens must be age 17 or older, have held a Level 2 Intermediate License for a minimum of 6 months, and be 12 months crash and violation free.