Getting a Michigan Driver’s License Is Harder Today Than it Used to Be
Normally when you’re thinking of things for teens to do, it’s hanging out with friends, playing sports or in band, or going shopping.
But get ready parents – driver’s training is often a key milestone for teens.
I am no stranger to this, as I just signed up my fifth child for driver’s training.
Besides being hit hard by the reality that my kid is growing up, I groan inwardly because I know what’s ahead.
Driver’s training is pretty different from when us parents learned to drive, and the reality of it is: there is a LOT more responsibility put on us than our parents had.
Not only have there been changes to the age, curriculum, and licensing requirements (click here for Teen Driver’s Education basics in Michigan), but with most public schools no longer offering driver’s training, your options for where you enroll your teen have changed, too.
This is good, though, because our kids really do need our expertise, opinions, and coaching to become good, safe drivers.
5730 Clyde Park SW, Wyoming, MI 49509
How to Choose a Driving School
1 – Consider the Driver’s Training Location
You will be driving your kid to driver’s training multiple times a week, usually for three weeks, plus to multiple practice and driving observation times.
Pick a place convenient to you or a place you don’t mind hanging out while you wait.
2 – The Curriculum is Basically the Same at Every Driving School
As far as getting “the right” school, they’re all pretty much the same, as far as the content they teach. Driver education programs follow the state-mandated curriculum. Driving schools in West Michigan all aim to teach your kid to drive safely for a lifetime.
Driving schools emphasize defensive techniques, which teaches drivers how to drive smartly and avoid accidents, even if they are not in the wrong. Some specifics may be:
- Double check an intersection both ways before entering, even after you have a green light.
- Keep an eye on all factors of the road through constant internal monologuing.
- Think about what can potentially happen and plan a way out.
PS – Kids start learning driving habits right away, so reinforcing what your child is learning in class is a good idea.
3 – Talk to Local Friends About Their Experiences
Driving schools in West Michigan are similar in cost, but often provide different class options, customer service, and communication styles.
For example, some driving schools teach class sessions online, while others only conduct lessons in person.
We recommend finding friends in your area that have recently gone through driver’s education. Ask them about their experiences to find driving schools with the best service – and timing – that fit your needs.
Teen driver with permit doing practice driving hours
Steps to Getting Your Michigan Driver’s License
There are several steps to getting a Michigan’s Driver’s license these days. Driver’s Education is now a multi-phase event that is not typically funded by your local school system.
Today, Michigan’s driver education curriculum is split into two segments. Gone are the days of attending class for a few hours, getting a learner’s permit, driving a bit, and then getting a license.
Driving students take Segment 1 of drivers education before beginning supervised driving.
This segment requires a minimum of 24 hours of classroom instruction, a minimum of 6 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction, and at least 4 hours where you observe another student’s driving.
Graduated Driver’s License (GDL)
After completing “Segment 1” of driver’s training, your child will be eligible to receive what is called a “Graduated Driver’s License.”
GDL is a driver licensing system that gradually increases driving privileges as a teen advances. GDL consists of two segments of driver education instruction and three licensing levels.
Acquiring this first level of the license will require a trip to the Secretary of State’s office with multiple documents for proof of id. Your driver’s training school should very clearly tell you which documents will be required for this first license.
Once your child’s practice hours are complete and they pass Segment 2 of driver’s training, you will sign your child up to take a road test, which includes parking skills (yes, parallel parking).
You can choose from this list of driver testing businesses. After passing the road and parking test, it’s off to the SOS again to get the level 2 driver’s license.
Pro Tip: Check the expiration dates on all levels of your child’s licenses.
The first level of the GDL does expire after a year, and the second level expires at age 18.
While the SOS does automatically renew and mail the second level license to you, there may be a gap of time between when a license expires, and a new one is sent through the mail. This literally just happened to my daughter, which resulted in a week of no driving for her.
To move on to Segment 2 of driver’s education, the student has to have 30 hours of driving experience (at least 2 hours at night).
Segment 2 includes a minimum of six hours of classroom instruction.
Pro Tip 2: Don’t Let Them Have ANY License Before you Talk about Texting and Driving
Texting and driving is super dangerous, yet teens are extremely susceptible to it.
Have open, clear conversations with them about the dangers of texting while driving before you let them have any kind of driver’s license.
And set them up for success wherever you can. Verizon had a good list of apps that can block texting while driving, for example.
Car Insurance Rates Will Go Up 80 – 100% When You add a Teen
In Michigan, a child does not need to be added to your car insurance until they have a level 2 license.
Of course, you will need to consult with your insurance provider to discuss how adding your new driver will affect your rates. Basically in Michigan rates go up 80-100 percent when you add a new driver.
Factors include the child’s age, gender, and type of vehicle the child will be primarily driving. Rates continue to increase for each child added. (Which is really fun for big families!)
Rates go down once the child is in their 20s if they have a clean driving record.
Driver’s Training Schools in West Michigan
We’ve put together a list of driver’s training programs in the area to help you sort through your options for you and your teen as you tackle this milestone. Take some deep breaths.
If you thought potty training was a tough ride, you’ll really need to buckle up for driver’s training.
All Star Driver Education | Known for being the most comprehensive driver’s training program in the state for Segment One. Unlike most other driving schools, All Star also offers Road Tests.
Caledonia, Cedar Springs, Comstock Park, East Grand Rapids, Fruitport, Grandville, Hopkins, Lowell, Muskegon, Pentwater, Ravenna, Rockford, St. Joseph, White Cloud
- East Grand Rapids Community Center: 750 Lakeside Dr SE, East Grand Rapids, MI 49506
- Kenowa Hills HS Education Center: 3825 Hendershot Ave NW, Grand rapids, MI 49544
- Sycamore Elementary School: 2163 142nd Ave, Dorr, MI 49323
- Recreation Park of Lowell: 225 S Broadway St, Lowell, MI 49331
- Cedar Springs HS: 204 E Muskegon St, Cedar Springs, MI 49319
Buckle In Driving Academy | Founded by parents, Buckle In understands the importance of a drivers training program that works with both the parent and teen. They even let parents come along on their teen’s last drive!
- 3901 Chicago Dr SW Suite 116, Grandville, MI 49418
- 5871 Harvey St, Muskegon, MI 49444
Century Driving | Allendale, Big Rapids, Byron Center, Coopersville, Dorr, Fennville, Fremont, Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Hastings, Holland, Houghton Lake, Hudsonville, Jenison, Middleville, Newaygo, Saugatuck, Spring Lake, Wayland, Wyoming
- 1008 28th St SW, Wyoming, MI 49509
- 5645 Balsam Dr #500, Hudsonville, MI 49426
- 575 ½ E 8th St, Holland, MI 49423
- 13100 168th Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
Georgetown Driving School | Hudsonville
- 4832 40th Ave, Hudsonville, MI 49426
Jungle Survival Driving School | Jungle Survival Driving School is focused and dedicated to teen driver safety, with the stats to back it up. On average, 80% of teen drivers will get in an accident within their first three years driving, but less than 20% of Jungle graduates will have had an accident in the same time frame. Students and their parents also get access to Jungle’s electronic driving log to help log driving hours.
- 1626 142nd Ave, Dorr, MI 49323
- 6090 Fulton St E C, Ada, MI 49301
Keys Driving School | Grand Haven
- 800 Washington Ave, Grand Haven, MI 49417
Macatawa Driving School | Holland
- 612 W 23rd St, Holland, MI 49423
Main Street Driving School | Grand Rapids
- 2017 Celadon Dr NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Navigator Driving Academy | Rockford
- 2989 13 Mile Rd NE, Rockford, MI 49341
Official Driving School | Grand Rapids, Grandville, Holland
- 2035 28th St SE Q, Grand Rapids, MI 49508
- 3622 Rivertown Pkwy, Grandville, MI 49418
- 2300 Plymouth Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
- 3101 Leonard St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
- 9548 Cherry Valley Ave SE, Caledonia, MI 49316
- 4100 Kroes St NE, Rockford, MI 49341
- 202 E 32nd St, Holland, MI 49423
Prestige Driving School | Hamilton
- Hamilton HS: 4911 136th Ave, Hamilton, MI 49419
RiteWay Driving School | Grand Rapids
- 2650 E Beltline Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546
What documents are needed for a first time driver’s license in Michigan?
The new driver will need to provide proof of legal presence, proof of Social Security number, proof of identity, and two documents proving Michigan residency.
How much is driver’s training in Michigan?
Most programs average about $400, with the bulk of the cost going toward segment 1 and a smaller amount going toward segment 2.
How old do you have to be to start driver’s training?
Individuals as young as 14 years and 8 months old can apply to begin segment 1 of driver’s training.