What Every Driver Must Know

State of Michigan
What Every Driver
Must Know
Ruth Johnson, Secretary of State
November 2011
Dear Michigan Motorist:
There are nearly 7 million licensed drivers and 10 million
registered vehicles in Michigan, which means our highways
and roads are busy places. Ensuring motorists have the skills
and knowledge to drive safely and responsibly is one of the best
ways to remain safe on the road.
I am pleased to offer this latest edition of What Every Driver
Must Know. In it, you will find information about driver’s
licenses, teens and driving, common traffic rules, signs and
signals, what to do in emergencies, and much more. Whether
you are a novice driver or have years of experience behind the
wheel, this booklet can be a helpful guide.
Driving requires your full attention. Distractions such cell
phones, texting, tuning the radio, and eating should be avoided
when you are behind the wheel. Please make sure that you and
your passengers remain safe. Obey all traffic laws, make sure
everyone is buckled up or in an appropriate child safety seat,
and never drink and drive. Michigan is a great state with many
different opportunities for travel, recreation, and fun. Please
drive safely.
Sincerely,
Ruth Johnson
Secretary of State
Table of Contents
Introduction 6
1. Michigan Driver’s License Information 7
Michigan Residents New Michigan Residents General Licensing Requirements The Driver’s License Process Providing Your Social Security Number; Providing Proof
of Legal Presence; Providing Proof of Identity; Providing Proof
of Residency; Physical Standards; Vision Test; Knowledge Test;
Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP); Driving Skills Test;
Restricted License Due to Disability or Illness; Changing
Information on Your License; The Decision to Give Up Driving 7
7
8
10
Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) 16
Graduated Driver Licensing Summary 17
Probationary Program 22
Other Licenses and Endorsements 23
Renewing Your Michigan Driver’s License 29
Special Renewals 31
Driver Education Certification; Parental Consent and Support Driver Education—Segment 1; Level 1 License; Driver Education—Segment 2; Level 2 License; Level 3 License Traffic Violations While on Probation; Ending Probation Chauffeur’s License; Commercial Driver License: Group A, Group B, Group C; CDL Temporary Instruction Permit; Additional CDL Information; Moped License; Motorcycle Endorsement; Recreational Double R Endorsement The Renewal Process; Convenient Renewal by Mail Duplicate License; Early Renewals; Out-of-State Renewal by Mail; License Lost While Out of State; Military Personnel and Dependents; Driving in a Foreign
Country; Obtaining a German Driver’s License 2. Voter Registration, Organ Donation, and State
Identification Cards Voter Registration Information Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donor Program State Identification Cards 3. Your Michigan Driving Record Your Driving Record
Traffic Tickets; Michigan’s Point System; Points for Some Traffic Convictions; Basic Driver Improvement Course;
Michigan’s Driver Responsibility Law; Obtaining a Copy of Your
Driving Record 34
34
35
36
37
37
4. Losing Your Privilege to Drive
Licensing Actions Driver’s License Restrictions, Suspensions, and Revocations;
Mandatory Licensing Actions Required by State Law;
Licensing Actions Imposed by the Department of State
Driver Assessment Re-examinations
The Driver Assessment Re-examination Process; Teen
Drivers, Probationary Drivers, and Re-examinations;
Losing Your Privilege to Drive – A Note for Teens
5. Substance Abuse and Driving
Drinking or Using Drugs and Driving is Illegal
Effects of Alcohol Illegal or Street Drugs and Medications Recognizing Drivers Who Have Been Drinking or Using
Other Drugs Anti-Drunken and Drugged Driving Laws Preliminary Breath Test; Michigan’s Implied Consent
Law; Types of Charges
43
43
44
47
47
48
48
49
50
Commercial Drivers and Alcohol Teen Drivers and Alcohol Anti-Drug Laws Repeat Offender Laws 52
53
53
53
Consequences for Alcohol, Drug, and Driving-WhileLicense-Suspended Offenses
55
Penalties Under the Repeat Offender Laws
Alcohol/Drug Violations
Alcohol Offenses Involving Young Drivers
Driving-While-License-Suspended Violations
6. Safety Belts, Safety Seats, and Air Bags
Buckle Up—It’s the Law! Protecting Children and Teens Law Sets Special Requirements
Air Bags 7. Signs, Pavement Markings, and Signals
Signs Regulatory Signs; Warning Signs; Slow-Moving
Vehicles; Guide Signs; Route Markers
Pavement Markings
Signals
Traffic Control Signals; Railroad Crossings; School
Areas; Construction and Maintenance; Pedestrian Signals
8. Basic Skills, Law, and Safety
Some Basic Driving Tips
65
65
66
67
68
68
74
77
84
84
Preparing to Drive
Controlling Your Speed
85
86
Turning at Intersections 90
Passing 91
Freeway Driving 95
Cruise Control Parking Your Vehicle 96
97
Speed Limits; Give Yourself Time and Space to Stop;
Look Down the Road 12 Seconds; Signaling; Yielding;
Yielding in Other Circumstances
Right Turns on Red Lights; Some Left Turns on Red Lights
Passing on the Left; Passing on the Right; Passing Parked
Vehicles; Passing Vehicles in Slow-Moving Traffic Lanes;
Roundabouts
Leaving a Freeway; Fatigue
Parking on a Hill; Parking Violations; Never Park;
Children Left in Unattended Vehicles
How to Reduce Auto Theft/Carjacking 98
99
Other Safety Tips
Tall Loads and Low Bridges – Bridge Hits and Damages
9. Sharing the Road Safely—Be Courteous!
101
Distracted Driving Tips for Sharing the Road When Driving Pedestrians; Blind Pedestrians Emergency Vehicles Sharing the Road with Commercial Vehicles Tips for Motorcycle Operators Tips for Safe Motorcycling Tips for Sharing the Road with Motorcycles Tips for Moped Operators
101
103
105
107
109
110
111
Tips for Safely Riding a Moped
Tips for Sharing the Road with Mopeds
Tips for Bicyclists
Tips for Safe Bicycling
Tips for Sharing the Road with Bicyclists
The Segway Scooter
School Buses: What do the Flashing Lights Mean?
100
112
113
When the Yellow Overhead Lights are Flashing; When the Red
Overhead Lights are Flashing; When the Yellow Hazard Lights
are Flashing; All School Buses
114
116
116
Aggressive Driving and Road Rage 117
10.Emergencies and Special Situations
119
Emergencies 119
Braking Skids To Steer Out of a Skid
Driving in Bad Weather Rain Using the Headlights If an Oncoming Vehicle is in Your Lane When Involved in a Crash The Vehicle/Deer Collision Other Safety Tips 11.Snowmobiles, ORVs, and Watercraft—
Some Facts to Know 119
120
120
121
122
122
123
123
125
126
Snowmobiles126
Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs) 126
Snowmobiles, ORVs, and Alcohol 127
A Summary of Snowmobile (SM) and ORV Crimes 127
Watercraft 129
A Note About Personal Watercraft
A Summary of Watercraft Crimes 12. Titles, Insurance, Registrations, and License Plates
Title Certificates New Residents
Buying a Vehicle in Another State
Buying a Vehicle from a Dealer
Buying a Vehicle from an Individual
Tax Liability
Use Tax Exemption for a Relative
Relationships that Do Not Qualify for a Tax Exemption Supporting Your Claim
Odometer Statement
Selling a Vehicle
Insurance Required Registration Low-Speed Vehicles License Plate Renewal Forms Providing Proof of Insurance:
Renewing Online or at a Self-Service Station;
Renewing by Mail; License Plates Stay with the Owner;
Personalized License Plates; Specialty and
Fundraising License Plates; 30- and 60-Day Permits
13. Disabilities and Parking
License Plates for Individuals with Disabilities
131
132
132
132
133
133
133
133
134
134
134
134
135
135
136
136
137
140
140
Reduced Fee Registration for Certain Vans
Disability Parking Placards
Free Parking
Disability Parking Spaces
Van Accessible Parking
Penalties for Misuse of a Disability License Plate or
Parking Placard
Pregnant Mother Parking Permits
Test Your Safe Driving Knowledge - Quiz
140
140
141
142
www.Michigan.gov/sos
143
143
144
5
Introduction
What Every Driver Must Know contains information about
operating a motor vehicle safely on Michigan roads. Although this
publication includes information about many Michigan traffic laws,
it is not meant as a legal document or as a substitute for the Michigan
Vehicle Code. Information in this publication is subject to change.
For more information about Secretary of State services and programs:
Visit our website at www.Michigan.gov/sos
Contact the Department of State Information Center at
(888) SOS-MICH (767-6424)
The official Secretary of State Twitter feed is available at
www.twitter.com/Michsos
Visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Michigansos
The Michigan Department of State Information Center telephone
number, SOS website, and other helpful resources are also found on the
back cover.
Please remember that driving is a privilege and not a right. Drivers
must drive responsibly and safely, obey traffic laws, and never drink
and drive. Finally, make sure that you and your passengers are
properly buckled up — it’s the law!
Before you read further, consider these facts about
driving in Michigan. In 2009:
290,978 motor vehicle crashes were reported. Deaths
numbered 871 and 70,931 people were injured.
Of all fatal crashes, 27.9 percent occurred at
intersections.
Alcohol was involved in 277 fatal crashes.
Three out of five accidental deaths for young people
ages 15 -24 were due to motor vehicle crashes.
Accidental death for children in motor vehicle crashes
routinely outpaces the next two most frequent causes: fire and
drowning.
The percentage of all pedestrian fatalities that occurred at
crossings other than intersections was 30.6.
Excessive speed was a factor in 13.2 percent of drivers in fatal
crashes.
2009 Quick Fact
Michigan Traffic Crash Data — Michigan Department of State Police/Office of Highway Safety Planning
www.Michigan.gov/sos
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1
Michigan Driver’s
License Information
You must be licensed to operate a motor vehicle on public
streets and highways. This chapter provides information about
the requirements and procedures for obtaining and renewing a
Michigan driver’s license. The licensing procedures and
requirements differ depending on an applicant’s age. All
applicants must meet requirements listed under General
Licensing Requirements.
Michigan Residents
To be considered a resident, you must reside in Michigan and
have established that you are legally present in the state.
New Michigan Residents
Under state law, the Department of State is prohibited from
issuing an original standard driver’s license or state identification
card to anyone who is not a legal resident of the state.
If you have recently moved to Michigan and have a valid
driver’s license or state identification card from another state,
these can be used in the interim until your state residency
is established. Once residency is established, please visit a
Secretary of State office to apply for a Michigan driver’s license
or state ID card.
You must also pass a vision test and pay a fee. No other
test is required if you are surrendering a valid out-of-state or
Canadian operator’s license. An application for a Michigan
driver’s license other than an operator’s license, such as a
chauffeur’s license or Commercial Driver License, may require
additional testing and a background check.
The Department of State will contact your previous home
state to obtain your driving record, which then becomes part of
your Michigan driving record. If your previous driver’s license
is suspended or revoked, you must contact your previous state
to clear any outstanding issues before your application for a
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7
Michigan license will be accepted. Once your application for a
Michigan license is accepted, your current out-of-state driver’s
license will be invalidated and returned to you because Michigan
law permits drivers to hold only one valid driver’s license at a
time.
General Licensing Requirements
You must meet certain requirements before a Michigan
driver’s license can be issued. If you are age 18 or older and have
never been licensed, you are not required to take driver education
to obtain a license, although it is strongly recommended.
Teenagers under age 18 are required to successfully meet the
requirements of Michigan’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL)
program before they can be licensed. This requirement is waived
if you have had a license from another state for more than a year.
For more information, please turn to the section about GDL.
The requirements for obtaining a license will vary depending
on the type of license, group designator, or endorsement.
You will not be issued a license if you have never been
licensed in Michigan, any other state or country, and you have
two or more convictions for moving violations on your driving
record within the three years before the date you apply. To be
eligible to reapply, you must wait until you have no more than
one conviction on your driving record within the three years
before the date you reapply.
If you are age 18 or older, before you can get a Michigan
driver’s license you must present proof of:

A Social Security Number: A Social Security card or
other Social Security Administration (SSA) document
containing your name and Social Security number or a
letter of ineligibility from the SSA.
U.S. Citizenship or Legal Presence: A certified copy of
your birth certificate, a valid, unexpired U.S. passport
or Certificate of Citizenship; or legal presence if not a
U.S. citizen, such as a Permanent Resident Card or an
Employment Authorization Card.
*A certified copy of your birth certificate must have a raised
seal and have been issued by a government unit in the
U.S. or U.S. territory.

www.Michigan.gov/sos
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
Identity: A U.S. marriage license, U.S. school records,
or photo ID issued by a federal or Michigan government
agency.

Michigan Residency: A utility bill, bank statement,
paycheck stub with your employer’s address, tax
assessment, or professional license. At least two
documents will be required.
In addition, you must:

Pass a vision test and meet health standards set by the
Secretary of State’s office.

Pass a knowledge test.

Pay the appropriate license fee.

Complete a minimum 30 days of practice driving on a
Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP).

Pass a driving skills test. The driving skills test will be
administered by an independent testing organization
approved by the Department of State.
If you have a valid driver’s license from another state, the
written knowledge and driving skills tests as well as the 30-day
practice requirements may be waived. The Department of State
will contact your previous home state to obtain your driving
record, which then becomes part of your Michigan driving
record.
If you meet the requirements listed on this page, you will be
issued a temporary operator’s permit after paying the appropriate
fees. Your driver’s license will be mailed to you.
In some instances, because of medical conditions or other
reasons, restrictions may be placed on your driver’s license. If
any special licensing conditions are required, these conditions or
restrictions will be printed on the driver’s license.
Drivers licensed for the first time will be placed on probation
for a minimum of three years. Please refer to information about
Michigan’s Probationary License Program in this booklet.
www.Michigan.gov/sos
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The Driver’s License Process
Providing Your Social Security Number
State and federal laws require the Department of State to
collect Social Security numbers to verify U.S. citizenship or
legal presence and to assist in child support collection. A letter
of ineligibility from the Social Security Administration must be
presented if you do not have a Social Security number and wish
to obtain a standard license or ID card. The letter can be no
more than 30 days old.
All Social Security information will be verified.
For questions about Social Security or to replace a lost Social
Security card, contact the Social Security Administration at (800)
772-1213 (voice), (800) 325-0778 (TTY), or visit its website at
www.ssa.gov.
Providing Proof of Legal Presence
A standard driver’s license or state ID card will not be issued
unless valid proof of U.S. citizenship or legal presence in the
U.S. is provided. Some of the documents that may be provided
as proof of U.S. citizenship or legal presence include a certified
copy of your birth certificate with a raised seal that was issued by
a government unit in the U.S. or U.S. territory, a valid, unexpired
U.S. passport or a certificate of citizenship or naturalization,
a Permanent Resident Card, or an Employment Authorization
Card.
The first and last names and date of birth on the legal
presence and identity documents should match. 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, such as an original marriage license, divorce decree, or
court order.
Providing Proof of Identity
You must also provide proof of identity when applying for a
driver’s license or state ID card. Only original documents will
be accepted. Photocopies or facsimiles cannot be used. More
than one document may be required.
www.Michigan.gov/sos
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Providing Proof of Residency
Before your driver’s license or state ID card application can
be processed, you must present proof that you are a Michigan
resident. At least two documents must be presented. Acceptable
documents include a utility bill, credit card bill or account
statement issued within the last 90 days, pay stub, earnings
statement, mortgage, rental or lease agreement, or an insurance
policy.
Residency documents in a family member’s name may be
used if the family relationship can be established by other forms
of documented proof.
Physical Standards
The Secretary of State office staff will ask you a few
general health questions as part of the screening procedure.
Your application may be denied pending additional medical
information should there be any question about your physical
condition and your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
Vision Test
You will be given a vision test to determine if your vision
meets minimum standards. If corrective lenses, such as glasses
or contact lenses, are needed to pass the test, your driver’s
license will show you must wear them while driving. If you fail
the vision test, your eye-care specialist must complete a vision
statement documenting that you meet the vision standards.
A favorable vision statement means a driver’s license may be
issued. If the vision statement documents that you do not meet
the vision standards, your driver’s license application will be
denied.
Sometimes special driving limitations, such as “daylight
driving only,” will be required based on the vision statement and
other information acquired by the Department of State.
Knowledge Test
If you have never been licensed, you will be given a
knowledge test to determine how well you know Michigan traffic
laws and safe driving practices. Applicants age 18 or older will
be given this test at the Secretary of State office when applying
for a Temporary Instruction Permit. Teens in the Graduated
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11
Driver Licensing program must pass a knowledge test as a part
of the Segment 1 driver education class.
If you are required to take a knowledge test for your original
operator’s or chauffeur’s license, arrive at the Secretary of State
office at least one hour before closing to allow sufficient time to
complete the test.
If you have difficulty speaking or reading English, branch
office staff will provide a list of available foreign language
interpreters. Knowledge tests are also available in many
languages. Please contact the Department of State Information
Center at (888) SOS-MICH (767-6424) in advance to obtain a
list of interpreters. Hearing-impaired customers can request a
sign language interpreter in advance of a branch office visit or
may use an interpreter they know.
Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP)
A Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP) allows you to practice
driving with a licensed adult for up to 180 days. A TIP is issued
if you are age 18 or older and:

You have never been licensed.

Your license expired more than four years ago.

You hold an expired out-of-country driver’s license
from a country other than Germany or Canada.
If your driver’s license is expired for less than four years, a
TIP may not be required.
Before obtaining a TIP, you must present proof of a
valid Social Security number or a letter of ineligibility, U.S.
citizenship or legal presence in the U.S., identity, and Michigan
residency. You must also pass vision, written knowledge, and
road sign tests. You must practice driving with a licensed
adult for at least 30 days before you are eligible to apply for a
Michigan driver’s license. The 30-day practice period is waived
if you have previously had a driver’s license. You must pass a
driving skills test before a driver’s license will be issued.
Driving Skills Test
You will need to take a driving skills test if:

You are applying for a Level 2 License under Graduated
Driver Licensing.
www.Michigan.gov/sos
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
You are age 18 or older, have never been licensed and
are applying for an original driver’s license.

Your last driver’s license has been expired for more than
four years.

You hold a driver’s license from a country other than
Germany or Canada.
The driving skills test may be waived if you are converting a
driver’s license issued by another state, Canada, or Germany.
Eligibility requirements for taking a driving skills test differ
depending on your age.
If you are under age 18, you must have:

Completed Segment 2 of Graduated Driver
Licensing.

Logged at least 50 hours of supervised driving, including
10 hours at night.

Held a Level 1 License for at least six months.

Not had any convictions, civil infractions, license
suspensions or at-fault crashes during the 90-day period
immediately preceding your driving skills test and
application for your Level 2 License.
If you are age 18 or older, you must:

First obtain a Temporary Instruction Permit before taking
a driving skills test. You may be required to complete a
30-day practice period.
Driving skills tests are administered by independent
third-party testing organizations approved by the Department
of State. A list of approved third-party testing organizations
is available at all Secretary of State offices and from the
Department of State website. Be sure to ask the third-party
testing organization you choose about its pricing policies before
scheduling your test. The Department of State does not set
driving skills test fees or pricing policies.
Applicants who are hearing impaired or not fluent in English
may use an interpreter during the driving skills test. (Interpreters
are not allowed during the skills testing for a commercial
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13
driver’s license.) The interpreter will be required to present
photo identification to the examiner and may only interpret
the instructions as the examiner gives them. Lists of approved
sign language and foreign language interpreters are available
through the department. Applicants may also bring their own
interpreters. For more information, please call (888) SOS-MICH
(767-6424).
The first part of the driving skills test requires you to pass
a series of off-street, closed-course maneuvers, followed by an
on-road driving skills test. After passing the first part, you must
then pass an on-road driving test to receive your driving skills
certificate. The driving skills test includes urban, expressway,
rural highway, and residential driving.
Complete study information is provided in the Department of
State publication Driving Skills Test Study Guide available at any
Secretary of State office, or on the Department of State website.
You should review this study guide thoroughly before taking the
driving skills test.
Restricted License Due to Disability or Illness
When applying for an original or renewal driver’s license,
you may be requested to provide a Physician’s Statement of
Examination. A vision statement may be requested in some
cases. A physician licensed in Michigan or another state must
complete the physician’s statement. A physician’s statement
is required if the Department of State has reason to believe
you have had a fainting spell, blackout, seizure, or other loss
of consciousness in the preceding six months. For a chauffeur
or commercial driver’s license, you must not have had any
blackouts, fainting spells, or seizures within the last 12 months.
A physician’s statement is also needed for any physical or
mental infirmity, impairment, disability, or disease that may
affect your ability to drive safely. A physician must accurately
describe your condition, including any disability or illness,
and any medications you have been taking. The form must
be returned within 45 days to the Michigan Department of
State, Lansing, Michigan 48918-1601. Department of State
Traffic Safety Division will review the physician’s statement to
determine if you meet Michigan’s physical and mental standards.
www.Michigan.gov/sos
14

If a physician’s statement does not indicate a physical or
mental impairment is present, and if all other standards
are met, an unrestricted driver’s license may be issued.

If a physician’s statement indicates a serious physical
or mental condition at the time you renew your driver’s
license, you will be required to attend a driver
re-examination. The re-examination will evaluate your
ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. Every effort
will be made to help you keep your driver’s license and
continue to drive safely. If you have such a condition
and are renewing your license, please begin the renewal
process several weeks before your license expires to
allow adequate time for processing.

If a restricted driver’s license is issued because of a
disability or illness, a periodic driver re-examination
may be required.
Changing Information on Your License
Make sure your driver’s license shows your correct name
and residential address. If you need to change your name on
your driver’s license, you must first change your name with
the Social Security Administration (SSA). Present your proof
of name change along with your valid driver’s license to the
SSA. Allow at least three business days for the Social Security
Administration website to update, before visiting a Secretary
of State office. At the Secretary of State’s office, present
your license and proof of the name change, such as a marriage
certificate, divorce decree, or legal name change document. The
name change will be processed and a new driver’s license will be
issued for a fee.
Michigan law requires that your driver’s license address
correspond to your residence and match the address on your
voter identification card. You may submit a change of address
either at a Secretary of State office or by mail. If you are
submitting a change of address at a branch office, bring your
driver’s license. Your driver’s license will be updated with your
new address. There is no charge for this service.
You may also submit a change of address by mail.
Change-of-address forms are available on the Department of State
website. Complete the form and mail it to the address provided.
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When you submit a change of address, the procedures for
updating your voter registration address will also be explained.
Your driver’s license may be suspended or revoked if you fail to
change your address with the Department of State.
The Decision to Give Up Driving
Choosing to give up your privilege to drive can be a difficult
decision. When you finally decide to “leave the driving to
someone else,” return your driver’s license to a Secretary of
State office, where you may obtain a state identification (ID)
card.
A state ID card is used in place of the driver’s license
for identification purposes. For complete information about
obtaining a state ID card, visit our website.
Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL)
Under Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL), teen drivers
under age 18 must complete two segments of driver education
instruction and meet the requirements for each of the three
GDL licensing levels. Driving privileges are increased at each
new licensing level as the teen driver gains greater skill and
confidence. Graduated Driver Licensing requirements, driving
privileges, and driver education requirements are outlined on
pages 17-21. Parents or legal guardians of teen drivers will find
additional information in the booklet Michigan’s Graduated
Driver Licensing: A Guide for Parents. This publication is
available on the Department of State website, at Secretary of
State offices by request, and is distributed by driver education
providers.
Driver Education Certification
Teens may enroll in driver education at age 14 years,
8 months. To participate, students must meet Michigan’s
physical and mental health standards for operating a vehicle
safely. The driver education component of Graduated Driver
Licensing consists of two segments of instruction. These
segments provide information about traffic safety, basic vehicle
operation, and laws and regulations, as well as on-the-road
driving experience. For additional information about GDL,
please visit the Department of State website.
www.Michigan.gov/sos
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Parental Consent and Support
The Department of State is working with parents to help
ensure teen drivers become safe and courteous drivers. As a
parent or legal guardian, you are often the best judge of your
teen driver’s progress, skill, and maturity behind the wheel.
Involvement from you is crucial to the coaching, learning, and
driving experience of your teen driver so he or she becomes
a safe driver. Although Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL)
requires teens to complete 50 hours of supervised driving, you
are encouraged to provide supervision beyond this minimum.
The Department of State will notify you by letter if your
teen driver is convicted of violating the terms of his or her GDL
license or failing to display a valid GDL license.
You also have the legal right to request that your teen be held
at a certain GDL level, dropped back a level, or have all driving
privileges canceled if you believe your teen is not ready to
handle certain driving responsibilities. Forms for changing the
status of your teen’s GDL driving privileges are available at any
Secretary of State office. GDL ends for all teens at age 18.
Graduated Driver Licensing Summary
Driver Education—Segment 1
Graduated Driver Licensing requires drivers under age 18
to complete two segments of driver education. Segment 1 must
include:

24 hours of in-class instruction.

Six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.

Four hours of observation time.
A teen must be 14 years, 8 months old to enroll in a
Segment 1 driver education course.
Once a teen successfully completes Segment 1, a green
Michigan Department of State Segment 1 Certificate of
Completion is issued by the driver education provider. The
certificate of completion is not a permit to drive and may not
be used as a driver’s license. The certificate of completion,
along with identification and proof of the teen’s Social Security
number, must be presented when applying for the Level 1
License at a Secretary of State office.
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Level 1 License
After the driver education instructor issues the green Segment
1 certificate, the teen and parent or legal guardian should go to a
Secretary of State office to apply for a Level 1 License without
delay. The green Segment 1 certificate is not a license to drive.
Any delay in obtaining the Level 1 License may adversely affect
a teen’s advancement through the GDL program.
A teen must be at least 14 years, 9 months old to apply for the
Level 1 License. A parent or legal guardian must accompany the
teen to sign the application. The parent or legal guardian must
sign the application or the teen driver will not be issued a Level
1 License. Signing indicates parental/legal guardian approval for
licensing of a minor.
The Level 1 License is a paper license. No photograph will
be taken until the Level 2 License is issued.
To obtain a Level 1 License, the teen and a parent or legal
guardian must go to a Secretary of State office and present
proof of:

A Social Security Number: Such as the teen’s Social
Security card, W-2 form or a pay stub, OR a letter of
ineligibility from the Social Security Administration.

U.S. Citizenship or Legal Presence: Such as the
teen’s certified birth certificate or valid U.S. passport,
a Permanent Resident Card, or an Employment
Authorization Card.

Identity: Such as the teen’s driver education certificate,
school record or yearbook.

Michigan Residency: Such as the teen’s high school
report card or bank statement. At least two documents
will be required.

A green Michigan Department of State Segment 1
Certificate of Completion.
The teen must meet the Department of State vision and health
standards. A parent or legal guardian must be present to sign the
Level 1 License application, granting approval.
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With a Level 1 License, the teen driver may only drive
while accompanied by a licensed parent, legal guardian, or
designated adult age 21 or older.
Driver Education—Segment 2
Segment 2 of driver education consists of six hours of
classroom instruction. Driver education instructors may also
provide some on-the-road driving instruction, although it is not
required.
To enroll in a Segment 2 driver education course, the teen
must have:

Held a valid Level 1 License for at least three
consecutive months.

Completed at least 30 of the mandatory 50 hours of
parent-teen driving, which includes two of the 10 hours
of nighttime driving.
When the teen successfully completes Segment 2, a
white Michigan Department of State Segment 2 Certificate of
Completion will be issued by the driver education instructor.
This certificate will be required to apply for the Level 2 License.
Level 2 License
A teen will advance from a Level 1 License to a Level 2
License if he or she meets all of the requirements, including a
driving skills test. Teens must complete both Segment 1 and
Segment 2 of the driver education course to qualify for a Level
2 License and must have held a Level 1 License for at least six
months.
Teens cannot have a moving violation resulting in a
conviction or civil infraction determination, or been involved
in an at-fault crash during the 90-day period immediately
preceding application. The Level 2 License requires the teen to
be photographed.
To obtain a Level 2 License, teens and their parent or
legal guardian must go to a Secretary of State office and
present proof of:

Age – the teen must be at least 16 years old. (The Level
1 License is acceptable proof.)
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
Social Security Number: Such as the teen’s Social
Security card or a letter of ineligibility from the Social
Security Administration.

U.S. citizenship or Legal Presence: Such as the
teen’s certified birth certificate or valid U.S. passport,
a Permanent Resident Card, or an Employment
Authorization Card.

Identity: Such as the teen’s driver education certificate,
school record or yearbook.

Michigan Residency: Such as the teen’s high school
report card or bank statement. At least two documents
will be required.

The skills test certificate, verifying the teen has passed
a driving skills test given by a third-party testing
organization approved by the Department of State.

Proof that the teen has had a Level 1 License for at least
six months. (If the Level 1 License has been lost, please
refer to the “Duplicate License” section in this chapter
for information about replacing a lost license.)

The white Michigan Department of State Segment 2
Certificate of Completion.

A log or other record documenting the teen’s 50 hours of
supervised driving with a licensed parent, legal guardian,
or designated adult age 21 or older. Graduated Driver
Licensing requires 10 of the 50 hours of supervised
driving to be completed at night.
A teen with a Level 2 License:
1.) Shall not operate a motor vehicle 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 (see below); or

Accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or a licensed
driver age 21 or older designated by the parent or legal
guardian.
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2.) Shall not operate a motor vehicle at any time with more than one passenger in the vehicle who is less than 21 years old 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 (see
below); or

When accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or a
licensed driver age 21 years or older designated by the
parent or legal guardian.
Authorized activity means any of the following:

A school or a school-sanctioned event or activity. School
means a public or private school, including a home
school.

A sporting event or activity, or extracurricular event
or activity, that is not school-sanctioned but is part of
an official sports league or association or an official
extracurricular club, or is paid for as a service offered
by a business specializing in those events or activities or
training for those events or activities.

A class or program of vocational instruction offered by
a college, community college, nonprofit association,
or unit of government, or by a business specializing in
vocational training.

An event or activity sponsored by a religious
organization that is tax-exempt under federal law.

Transporting an individual in need of immediate
emergency care or personal protection to a health care
professional, hospital, police station, domestic violence
shelter, or public safety location.
Level 3 License
A teen will automatically advance to a Level 3 License if he
or she is age 17, meets all driving requirements, and has parental
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authorization. This authorization is granted when the parent or
legal guardian signs for the teen’s Level 2 License. If the parent
does not authorize automatic advancement to a Level 3 License,
the teen will remain at Level 2 until the parent accompanies the
teen to a Secretary of State office and grants authorization, or
until the teen turns age 18.
If the parent has authorized the teen to automatically advance
to a Level 3 License and the teen has successfully met all
licensing requirements, the Level 3 License will be automatically
mailed to the teen.
To obtain a Level 3 License, the teen must:

Be at least age 17.

Have driven at Level 2 for at least six months.

Have completed 12 consecutive months of driving
without a moving violation, an at-fault crash that
resulted in a moving violation, a license suspension, or a
violation of a Graduated Driver License restriction.
A Level 3 License grants full driving privileges. Graduated
Driver Licensing ends for all teens at age 18.
Probationary Program
New drivers, including teen drivers under Graduated Driver
Licensing (GDL), are placed on probation for a minimum of
three years. The probationary period is a way for the Department
of State to monitor the driving performance of new drivers.
Probation is a separate program from GDL, but works like GDL
to encourage new drivers to reduce their crash risk and drive
safely.
Traffic Violations While on Probation
Each traffic violation posted on your driving record during
probation will result in a contact by the Department of State. If
your driving record shows unsafe driving behavior, including
speeding, stop sign violations, and crashes, you may be
required to undergo a driver assessment re-examination. At a
driver assessment re-examination, a restriction, suspension, or
combination of both may be imposed on your license.
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Probationary licensing controls will also extend the time a
young driver holds a Graduated Driver Licensing Level 1 or 2
License. Teen drivers on probation may face a re-examination,
which could result in license restrictions or suspension, if cell
phone use was found to be a contributing factor in a crash or
traffic violation. The purpose of probationary licensing controls
is to reduce the risk of a traffic crash and encourage safe driving.
Ending Probation
To complete probation, you must drive the last 10 months
of your probationary period without receiving any tickets or
driver’s license suspensions, or causing any crashes. Failure
to do so will automatically extend your probation until you can
demonstrate you are a safe driver by remaining violation and
crash free for a 10-month period.
The first two years after probation are called post probation.
You are subject to a driver re-examination during this time if you
have nine or more points and an alcohol-related ticket or crash,
or other at-fault crash.
Points placed on your driving record during probation or post
probation are not automatically erased when probation and post
probation end. Points remain on your driving record for two
years from the conviction date. If you have 12 or more points
on your driving record, you will be required to attend a driver
assessment re-examination, regardless of whether those points
were issued during probation or post probation.
For additional information about probation, visit the
Department of State website.
Other Licenses and Endorsements
Most Michigan drivers will only need an operator’s license.
However, professions such as taxi driver, school bus driver,
or commercial truck driver require special licensing and
endorsements.
Chauffeur’s License
You must be at least age 16, have completed driver education,
and passed a chauffeur’s license knowledge test before a
chauffeur’s license can be issued. A chauffeur’s license is
required if you:
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
Are employed for the principal purpose of operating a
motor vehicle or combination of vehicles with a Gross
Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or
more.

Operate a motor vehicle as a carrier of passengers or as a
common or contract carrier of property.

Operate a bus, school bus, taxi, or limousine.
Drivers operating single vehicles or vehicles in combination
with a GVWR or Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of
10,000 pounds or more must also meet Michigan’s Commercial
Driver License (CDL) requirements. Drivers must be at least
age 18 to drive in Michigan and at least age 21 to drive across
state lines or to transport hazardous materials in amounts that
require the vehicle to be placarded. Drivers must also have the
appropriate medical card or medical waiver. If a CDL group
designator or endorsement is required, it will be added to the
chauffeur’s license.
Certain operations are exempt from requiring a chauffeur’s
license, including operating a motor vehicle for a volunteer
program when you only receive reimbursement for the vehicle’s
operating costs; operating a motor home for personal use; or,
if you are a parent, shuttling students to and from school and
school-related events. For more information, please refer to the
brochure Your Michigan Chauffeur License available at Secretary
of State offices or from the Department of State website.
Commercial Driver License
Before you can operate commercial motor vehicles of the
types listed below, you must be at least age 18, have been
suspension free for 36 months before the date of application,
and have the appropriate Michigan Commercial Driver License
(CDL) group designation on your driver’s license. Drivers
between ages 18 and 21 can operate a commercial vehicle only
in Michigan. You must be at least age 21 to drive a vehicle
across state lines or to transport hazardous materials in amounts
that require the vehicle to be placarded. A commercial vehicle
endorsement will be required in addition to a group designation
when operating double trailers, tank vehicles, vehicles carrying
hazardous materials, commercial buses, and school buses.
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Drivers applying for or renewing a standard CDL with a
hazardous materials endorsement must provide proof of U.S.
citizenship or legal presence and undergo federal background
and fingerprint checks. For more information about the
hazardous materials endorsement requirements, visit the
department’s website or refer to the Michigan Commercial
Driver License Manual.
You must provide proof of your Social Security number
and possess the appropriate medical card or medical waiver.
Knowledge, vision, and skills tests are also required. You will
need a CDL with the proper group designation to operate the
following vehicles:
Group A:

Combination vehicles that tow trailers or other vehicles
with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of
10,001 pounds or more when the gross combination
weight rating is 26,001 pounds or more.
Unless certain restrictions or additional endorsements apply,
the Group A designation allows the operation of Group B and
Group C vehicles.
Group B:

A vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more.

May tow trailers or other vehicles with a GVWR of
10,000 pounds or less.
Unless certain restrictions or additional endorsements apply,
the Group B designation allows the operation of Group C
vehicles.
Group C:

Vehicles designed to transport 16 or more persons
(including the driver) or that carry or tow hazardous
materials in amounts requiring placards (and the HazMat
endorsement) that fall under the following GVWR:
 Less than 26,001 pounds.
 Less than 26,001 pounds towing trailers or other
vehicles.
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CDL Temporary Instruction Permit
A CDL Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP) allows you to
practice driving only under the supervision of a CDL driver
licensed with the appropriate group designation for the type
of commercial vehicle you are operating. A CDL TIP may be
obtained if you have been suspension free for the 36 months
before making an application and after passing all the required
knowledge tests. A CDL TIP is valid for 180 days from the date
of issue. There is no minimum time you must have a CDL TIP
before taking the skills tests.
All CDL applicants must show a valid Michigan operator
or chauffeur photo driver’s license, along with the appropriate
CDL TIP before taking their CDL skills test. If the applicant
is converting to a chauffeur-based driver’s license, a “clipped”
Michigan operator photo driver’s license with the temporary
chauffeur’s permit is acceptable.
All out-of-state CDL applicants must wait until they receive
their Michigan operator or chauffeur photo driver’s license to
take the CDL skills test. Skills tests are administered by
third-party testing organizations–public or private entities
authorized by the Department of State. A list of approved
third-party testing organizations is available at any Secretary
of State office or from the Department of State website.
Additional CDL Information
Contact a Secretary of State office for information about
specific CDL exceptions for active duty military (including
the National Guard), firefighters, police officers, and farmers.
Applicants may request a copy of the Michigan Commercial
Driver License Manual from any Secretary of State office or
download a copy from the Department of State website. The
CDL manual contains all the information needed to study for
your CDL written and skills tests.
For information about other commercial driver qualifications,
including the physical/medical requirements contact:
Interstate Operation
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
315 W. Allegan St., Room 205
Lansing, MI 48933
(517) 377-1866
www.fmcsa.dot.gov
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Intrastate Operation
Michigan Center for Truck Safety
Suite 2
1131 Centennial Way
Lansing, MI 48917
(800) 682-4682 (Lansing office)
(800) 469-7364 (Upper Peninsula office)
www.truckingsafety.org
Trucks and Commercial Buses
Michigan Trucking Association
1131 Centennial Way
Lansing, MI 48917
(517) 321-1951
www.mitrucking.org
School Buses
Michigan Department of Education
Grants Coordination and School Support
P.O. Box 30008
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 373-1806
www.michigan.gov/mde
Moped License
If you have a valid operator’s or chauffeur’s license, you are
allowed to operate a moped on public roadways. If you do not
have a valid operator’s or chauffeur’s license and are at least age
15, you may apply for a moped license at a Secretary of State
office. You are not eligible for a moped license if your operator’s
or chauffeur’s license is suspended, revoked, or denied. For
more information, obtain a copy of the brochure Riding A Moped
Safely at a Secretary of State office or from the Department of
State website.
Motorcycle Endorsement
To operate a motorcycle on public roads, you must have a
valid Michigan driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement.
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The fee for the motorcycle endorsement is added to your driver’s
license fee.
To obtain a motorcycle endorsement you must:

Pass a motorcycle knowledge test at a Secretary of State
office.

Complete a motorcycle safety course approved by
the Michigan Department of State OR pass a motorcycle
skills test administered by a third-party testing
organization approved by the Department of State.

If you fail the skills test twice, you must present proof of
passing an approved motorcycle safety course.

If you are age 16 or 17, you are required to complete a
motorcycle safety course.
A motorcycle Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP) is issued
if you are at least age 16 and hold a valid Michigan Graduated
Driver License Level 2 or Level 3. You must also pass a written
test and pay a fee to obtain a motorcycle TIP. Applicants ages
16 and 17 must present proof of enrollment in, or completion of,
a motorcycle safety course. This requirement may be waived if
you have a valid license or endorsement to operate a motorcycle
from another state.
A motorcycle TIP is valid for 180 days. When using
a motorcycle TIP, you must be under the constant visual
supervision of a licensed motorcycle operator at least age 18.
While using a motorcycle TIP, you may not carry passengers or
operate your motorcycle at night.
For more information about motorcycle safety classes,
motorcycle endorsements, or third-party testing organizations,
obtain a copy of the Michigan Motorcycle Operator Manual
from a Secretary of State office or visit the Department of State
website.
Recreational Double R Endorsement
A “recreational double” is a pickup truck pulling a fifth-wheel
trailer designed for recreational living purposes, with a second
trailer attached to the rear of the fifth-wheel trailer. The pickup
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truck must have a towing rate equal to, or greater than, the total
weight being towed. The total length of the combination cannot
exceed 65 feet.
To operate a recreational double, you must have an “R”
endorsement on your driver’s license. Anyone age 18 or older
with a valid driver’s license may apply for this endorsement at a
Secretary of State office. A knowledge test is required. There is
no skills test.
Drivers holding a Group “A” CDL with a “T” double trailers
endorsement can operate a recreational double without the “R”
endorsement. (Triple trailers are not permitted in Michigan.)
For more information, obtain a copy of the brochure A
Recreational Double Endorsement at a Secretary of State office
or visit the Department of State website.
Renewing Your Michigan Driver’s License
The Renewal Process
A driver’s license is usually valid for four years and expires
on your birthday in the year shown on the license’s upper right
corner. If you are under age 21, your driver’s license expires on
your 21st birthday.
To remind you to renew your driver’s license, the Department
of State sends a renewal notice about 45 days before expiration.
The renewal notice is sent to the address listed on department
records. Do not let your driver’s license expire unless you will
no longer be driving. Driving without a valid license is illegal.
If you renew your operator’s license after its expiration date,
you will pay a late fee in addition to the regular renewal fee.
A driver’s license will not be renewed if your driving record
shows six or more unpaid parking tickets, or if your driver’s
license has been suspended or revoked. A renewal application
may also be denied if you have failed to provide a valid Social
Security number or letter of ineligibility from the Social Security
Administration and proof of U.S. citizenship or legal presence.
When renewing your driver’s license at a Secretary of State
office, a vision screening will be given. A new photograph will
also be taken.
Cash, checks, and money orders are accepted at all Secretary
of State offices. PLUS offices and SUPER!Centers also accept
Discover and MasterCard at the counter – a nominal service fee
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29
is charged. Find the Secretary of State office nearest you by
using the department’s Branch Office Locator on its website.
Convenient Renewal by Mail
You are eligible to renew your driver’s license by mail if your
last renewal was completed at a Secretary of State office, the
Department of State has your verified Social Security number,
you do not hold a Commercial Driver License, and you are not
listed on the sex offender registry. If your renewal notice states
“You cannot renew your license by mail,” you must renew at a
Secretary of State office.
Renewal by mail is easy. Payment must be made by check,
money order, or Discover, Visa, or MasterCard. To register to
vote, or update a voter registration, complete and return the form
enclosed with your renewal application.
After renewing by mail, your next driver’s license renewal
must be completed at a Secretary of State office.
If your physical or mental condition has changed and affects
your ability to drive since you last renewed, you must renew
your license in person at a Secretary of State office. Your
physician may have to complete a Physician’s Statement of
Examination form attesting to the impact your condition has on
your driving ability. This form is available on the Department
of State website. Plan to renew at least two weeks before your
current license expires. If your operator’s license is expired at
the time you renew, you will be assessed a late fee in addition to
the regular renewal fee.
If you have a Commercial Driver License (CDL), you cannot
renew by mail. You must go to a Secretary of State office for a
vision test and to have your eligibility checked through state and
national driver records. A hazardous materials endorsement may not
be renewed or transferred from another state until you successfully
complete federal background record and fingerprint checks.
Please visit the Department of State website for more information,
including a list of agencies providing the fingerprint check.
Motorists with a CDL whose driving privilege has been
suspended, revoked, canceled, or denied in Michigan or any
other state will not be able to renew their CDL until the matter is
resolved.
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Special Renewals
Duplicate License: If your driver’s license has been lost,
destroyed, mutilated, or is illegible, apply for a duplicate
at a Secretary of State office. Identification documents are
required to issue a replacement license, such as certified birth
certificates, U.S. or Canadian passports, marriage licenses, and
photo identification cards issued by a Michigan governmental
agency. Only original or certified documents will be accepted.
Photocopies and facsimiles are not adequate proof. If your
license will expire within a year, your application for a duplicate
license will be processed as a renewal.
Early Renewals: A driver’s license may be renewed up to
12 months early at a Secretary of State office if you are unable to
renew it on time for any reason.
Out-of-State Renewal by Mail: If you are a Michigan
resident temporarily residing out of state and cannot return to
Michigan to renew your driver’s license, you may renew it by
mail or choose to get a special driving permit, depending on the
circumstances of your particular situation.
The permit is valid for up to 180 days after your license
expires or for two weeks upon your return to Michigan,
whichever comes first. However, you are advised to immediately
renew your driver’s license at a Secretary of State office after
returning home.
To request a special driving permit application form, please
provide the following information in writing: your first, middle,
and last names; date of birth; driver’s license number; home and
out of-state addresses; and length of time expected to be out of
Michigan. Mail your request to the Department of State at:
Michigan Department of State
Out-of-State Resident Services
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, Michigan 48918-1502
Telephone: (517) 322-1473
License Lost While Out of State: If you are out of state
and lose your driver’s license, you may request a temporary
extension permit good for 180 days that allows you to drive back
to Michigan. As soon as you return, you should immediately
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31
apply for a new driver’s license at a Secretary of State office.
To request the special driving permit, please follow the
instructions for obtaining a permit under Out-of-State Renewal
by Mail.
Military Personnel and Dependents: If your Michigan
driver’s license expires while you are on active duty in the U.S.
military, it remains valid until 30 days from the date of your next
leave, or until 30 days after your discharge, whichever comes
first. Military personnel driving on an expired license should
carry their active duty identification card, leave, or discharge
papers.
If you are on duty out of state, you may renew your driver’s
license using out-of-state renewal by mail procedures.
Michigan residents in the military who are stationed in
Michigan must renew their driver’s license using the same
procedures in-state drivers follow. The driver’s license of a
military dependent is not granted the extension allowed for
military personnel. However, a dependent’s license may be
renewed by mail if it was not renewed by mail the last time.
A late fee is not collected when military personnel stationed
out of state on active duty renew their Michigan operator’s
license. The expired operator’s licenses of civilians and military
dependents are subject to a late fee upon renewal.
A late fee is not collected when military personnel stationed
out of state on active duty renew their Michigan operator’s
license. The expired operator’s licenses of civilians and military
dependents are subject to a late fee upon renewal.
Driving in a Foreign Country
For most travelers planning a vacation or business trip
abroad, a Michigan driver’s license or a Michigan driver’s
license with an International Driving Permit is sufficient to
drive in a foreign country. AAA and the National Automobile
Club (NAC), an affiliate of the American Automobile Touring
Alliance, are the two organizations authorized by the U.S.
Department of State to issue International Driving Permits.
To obtain an International Driving Permit, you must be at
least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license. International
Driving Permits are valid for one year and accepted in more than
150 countries. They are not a substitute driver’s license, but a
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32
supplemental document providing a translation of your driver’s
license information. International Driving Permits are not valid
in the country that issued them. Contact your local AAA branch
office or visit the NAC website at www.nationalautoclub.com
and click on Sitemap for more information.
Obtaining a German Driver’s License
If you plan to live in Germany for one year or more, you
may take advantage of the driver’s license reciprocity agreement
Michigan has with Germany. The reciprocity agreement allows
Michigan residents to waive many or all of the requirements for
obtaining a German driver’s license.
To obtain a German driver’s license, submit the following to
the American Embassy in Germany:

Official identification such as an identity card, passport,
or local residency certificate.

A recent photograph.

Your Michigan driver’s license translated into German.

A statement written and signed by you stating your
Michigan driver’s license is valid.
If you wish to obtain a driver’s license issued in a country
that does not have a reciprocity agreement with Michigan, you
must fulfill all of that country’s requirements before the license
will be issued.
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Voter Registration, Organ Donation, and State Identification Cards
2
The Department of State oversees many areas involving traffic
safety issues, automobile and other vehicle registrations, and
licensing issues. This chapter provides information about
several programs not directly related to motor vehicles, such
as voter registration and organ donor programs.
Voter Registration Information
You must be registered to vote to participate in local, state
and federal elections. Eligible residents may register at a
Secretary of State office.
If you are applying for, renewing, or updating information on
your driver’s license or state ID card, you also will be provided
with an opportunity to register to vote.
To register to vote you must be:

A U.S. citizen.

At least 18 years old on or before election day.

A resident of Michigan and the city or township where
you wish to register to vote.
In addition to Secretary of State offices, you may register by
mail or at your local county, city, or township clerk’s office. You
must register at least 30 days before the election. If you move
within your city or township, you must change the address on
your voter registration. If you move to another city or township,
you must register to vote in that jurisdiction to remain eligible to
vote.
The Department of State will enclose a voter registration
application with your renewal notice if you are eligible to renew
your driver’s license by mail. To register, fill out the voter
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registration form and send it with your driver’s license renewal
form. If you are already registered and your address has not
changed, you do not need to mail the voter registration form
supplied with your driver’s license renewal notice.
Michigan’s mail-in voter registration form may also be
printed from the Department of State website.
If the address you provide on a voter registration application
does not match the residential address on file with the Secretary
of State, your driver’s license or state ID card will be updated to
match your voter registration.
Organ, Eye, and Tissue Donor Program
Michigan residents have the opportunity to make a profound
impact on the well-being of others by joining the Michigan
Organ Donor Registry. Adding your name to the state registry of
people willing to donate their organs, eyes, and tissue will be the
first step toward someday becoming a hero.
It is critical that you give serious consideration to the question
of donation because it truly is a matter of life and death. About
3,000 very ill people in Michigan are waiting for an organ
transplant to save their lives. Tragically, some will die before
an organ becomes available. Thousands more are waiting for
the gifts of sight and mobility offered through cornea and tissue
donations.
Donation and transplantation are modern-day miracles.
Donors are able to give their lungs, kidneys, heart, liver,
pancreas, and sometimes intestines, to patients whose lives
will be tragically cut short without a transplant. Tissue donors
help people with severe injuries recover and experience a better
quality of life. Corneas help the blind, or nearly blind, to see
again.
Everyone is a potential donor regardless of age or medical
conditions. Donors have ranged in age from newborns to people
older than 100 years. Transplant doctors evaluate all potential
donors and then decide what can be used to help others.
Donation is free, it does not interfere with open-casket
memorials and, for most people, it is an opportunity to help
others in desperate need with a priceless gift that saves and
enhances lives. All major religions approve of organ donation
(or leave the decision up to the individual); most view it as a
person’s final act of compassion for others.
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35
When you join the donor registry, you receive a red heart
emblem for the front of your license, indicating your decision
that you want to help others through donation. It is always a
good idea to share your decision with your family and to explain
why it is important to you.
For more information about organ, tissue, and eye donation,
go to the Department of State website at www.Michigan.gov/sos
or contact:
Gift of Life Michigan
(800) 482-4881; www.giftoflifemichigan.org
Michigan Eye-Bank
(800) 247-7250; www.michiganeyebank.org
State Identification Cards
A state identification (ID) card can be issued to any eligible
resident, regardless of age. You may not have a state ID card
and a Michigan driver’s license unless your license has been
restricted, suspended, or revoked.
You will need to provide proof of your citizenship or legal
presence, identity, residency and Social Security number
(or present a letter of ineligibility from the Social Security
Administration).
Your state ID card expires four years from your last birthday
and may be renewed by mail. Under Michigan law, a state ID
card is as valid as a driver’s license for identification purposes.
For more information about obtaining a state ID card, please
visit our website.
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36
3
Your Michigan
Driving Record
Michigan maintains a driving record for every driver. The
driving record contains information the Department of
State is required to maintain, such as moving violations,
traffic crashes, and alcohol-related convictions. Drivers with
unsatisfactory records may be required to attend a driver
re-examination, face possible loss of their license, and pay
reinstatement fees. Safe drivers benefit by having a reduced
risk of traffic crashes and serious injury, as well as lower
insurance rates. Driving safely in Michigan matters.
Your Driving Record
Driving is a privilege. Once you obtain a driver’s license,
you must continually show that you have the skill and knowledge
to drive safely, or your driver’s license may be restricted,
suspended, or revoked. The Department of State has access to
accident information reported by law enforcement as well as for
moving violations and certain drug crimes from the courts. Your
driving record will include information about civil or criminal
moving violations and at-fault crashes. The Department of State
is also notified of any traffic crashes, convictions, and findings
of responsibility in other states. Convictions from other states
will appear on your Michigan driving record along with any
points assessed according to Michigan’s point system. You
may purchase a copy of your own driving record for $8 at any
Secretary of State office.
Most convictions stay on your driving record for at least
seven years. Certain convictions and licensing actions stay on
your driving record for at least 10 years. A conviction for a
fatality remains on your driving record permanently. As of Oct.
31, 2010, a drunken or drugged driving conviction remains on
your driving record permanently.
Under Michigan’s Driver Privacy Protection acts, personal
information on your driving record is private and is not released
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37
to the general public unless there is a permissible use as
prescribed by law. Personal information includes your name,
address, driver’s license number, and similar information.
Some examples of permissible uses include insurance rating,
automobile recalls, and driver verification for car rental
companies.
Traffic Tickets
When a uniformed law enforcement officer driving an official
police vehicle signals you to stop, you must pull out of traffic
and stop safely as soon as possible. The officer may stop you
for a variety of reasons. For example, your vehicle may have
defective equipment or match the description of a stolen vehicle,
or the officer may have an emergency message for you or may
believe you committed a traffic violation. You must be able to
show your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of
insurance to the officer.
Michigan’s Point System
Under Michigan law, some traffic violations are civil
infractions, while others are misdemeanors or felonies.
Depending on the violation and how it is resolved, you may
be fined, referred to a special program or, in the most serious
situations, sent to jail. In most cases, if you do not take care of
a traffic ticket, your driver’s license will be suspended. Any
traffic tickets for moving violations received while your license
is suspended will result in additional suspensions on your driving
record and payment of a reinstatement fee.
Each time you are convicted of a traffic violation, you will
have to pay certain court fines and costs. In addition, points may
be posted to your driving record.
Under Michigan’s point system, each traffic violation has a
point value, which is set by law in the Michigan Vehicle Code.
Points are placed on your driving record only after you have
been convicted or found guilty of, or responsible for, a moving
violation. Points placed on your driving record remain there
for two years from the date of conviction. The system used to
post points to your driving record is separate from the points
assigned by an insurance company to determine your rate. If
you believe there are extenuating circumstances for the ticket
you received, these must be submitted when you appear in court.
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The Department of State cannot set aside a court conviction. The
following shows the points for some traffic violations.
Points for Some Traffic Convictions*
Six Points:

Manslaughter, negligent homicide, or other felony
involving use of a motor vehicle.
Operating
while intoxicated or operating with any
presence of a Schedule 1 drug or cocaine.

Failing to stop and give identification at the scene of a
crash.

Reckless driving.

Refusal to take a chemical test.

Fleeing or eluding a police officer.

Failure to yield causing death or injury of emergency
responder, construction worker, or person operating
implements of animal husbandry.

Moving violation causing injury or death.
Four Points:

Drag racing.

Impaired driving.

Under age 21 with any bodily alcohol content.

16 mph or more over the legal speed limit.

Failure to yield/show due caution for emergency
vehicles.

Moving violation resulting in an at-fault collision.
Three Points:

Careless driving.

Disobeying a traffic signal or stop sign or improper
passing.

11 through 15 mph over the legal speed limit.
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
Failure to stop at railroad crossing.

Failure to stop for a school bus or for disobeying a
school crossing guard.
Two Points:

10 mph or less over the legal speed limit.

Open alcohol container in vehicle.

All other moving violations of traffic laws.

Refusal of Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) by anyone
under age 21.
*Please note that snowmobile and off-road vehicle (ORV)
alcohol-conviction points are placed on a driving record and may
result in licensing action against your driving privileges even
though the violation happened while operating a snowmobile
or ORV. More information is provided in Chapter 11, on pages
122-127.
Basic Driver Improvement Course
Effective Dec. 31, 2010, if you are convicted of certain
traffic violations, you may be eligible to attend a Basic Driver
Improvement Course (BDIC). The BDIC is optional and may
only be used once to keep points off your driving record.
Instruction may take place in a classroom, online, or both.
Course providers set the fee for their classes. All course
providers are approved through the Department of State.
The Department of State will determine BDIC eligibility and
notify you by mail. A listing of BDIC providers is available on
the department website. You must successfully complete the
BDIC within a specified timeframe, otherwise, points will be
placed on your driving record and the violation made available to
insurance companies.
Michigan’s Driver Responsibility Law
In an effort to promote greater traffic safety, Michigan
enacted the Driver Responsibility Law to deter potentially
dangerous driving behavior, thereby saving lives. The Driver
Responsibility Program calls for monetary sanctions for drivers
who:
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40

Accumulate seven or more points on their driving record
(Category 1 offenses)

Are convicted of specific qualifying offenses
(Category 2 offenses)
Only driving offenses with arrest or incident dates on or after
Oct. 1, 2003, are counted. Category 1 offenses are for moving
violations and include speeding, improper turns, and following
too closely.
The Driver Responsibility fee is based on the number of
points on the driving record, with a minimum of seven points
required before a fee is assessed. The fees begin at $100 and
increase by $50 for each additional point above seven points. 7 Points $100
8 Points $150 9 Points $200 10 Points $250 11 Points $300 12 Points $350 13 Points $400 14 Points $450 15 Points $500
Drivers assessed a fee under Category 1 are assessed only
once per year. Drivers will be assessed each year in which seven
or more points show on the record.
Category 2 offenses carry their own Driver Responsibility
fee independent from the number of points on the driving
record. Drivers convicted of these offenses are assessed a
Driver Responsibility fee of $150, $200, $500 or $1,000 for two
consecutive years. The amount is determined by the type of
offense.
For example:

Drunken driving or operating while intoxicated
(OWI) - $1,000

Reckless driving - $500

No proof of insurance - $200 (May be waived if proof
can be provided before the court date that insurance was
valid at the time of the traffic stop.)

Drove while license expired - $150 Points from Category 2 offenses and convictions are not
counted toward the point total for Category 1. Multiple Driver
Responsibility fees are assessed if a driver is convicted of
multiple offenses under Category 2.
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The second year’s fees will be assessed on the anniversary
date of the first year’s fees. Failure to pay results in an indefinite
suspension of the driver’s license. Fee assessments apply to both
licensed and unlicensed drivers. As with other suspensions, a
$125 reinstatement fee is required before the license is restored.
Obtaining a Copy of Your Driving Record
You may obtain a copy of your own driving record through
the mail by submitting the form, Requesting Your Own Record,
BDVR-153, to the Michigan Department of State Record
Lookup Unit. Forms are available at branch offices, from the
Department of State website, and the Record Lookup Unit.
A certified copy of your own driving record may be
purchased at any PLUS Office or SUPER!Center for $8. You
will be required to show your driver’s license when requesting
your driving record - no form is necessary.
If you do not have a Record Lookup account with the
Department of State and you want to obtain a record other
than your own, you must submit your request on the Michigan
Department of State – Record Lookup Request form,
BDVR-154. Information is released according to the Driver
Privacy Protection acts. You must have a permissible use as
defined by law to obtain personal information in a record. If you
do not have a permissible use for obtaining personal information,
you will receive an edited record revealing only public record
information. Each record is $7 and must be paid for in advance
with a check, money order, or Visa, MasterCard, or Discover
credit card. A certified copy is available for an additional $1.
Please mail or fax record request forms to the:
Michigan Department of State
Record Lookup Unit
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918-1540
Telephone: (517) 322-1624
Fax: (517) 322-1181
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42
4
Losing Your Privilege
to Drive
The privilege to drive is often taken for granted, but you
may lose this privilege for a variety of reasons. Motorists
who repeatedly drive while drunk or with a suspended
license may automatically lose their privilege to drive.
Motorists with a health condition who may pose a safety
threat to themselves or others on the road may be required
to appear for a driver re-examination. This chapter provides
information about the Department of State’s Traffic Safety
Division, driver assessment re-examinations, how driving
sanctions can affect your driver’s license, the Graduated
Driver Licensing program, probation, and post probation.
Licensing Actions
Driver’s License Restrictions, Suspensions, and
Revocations
Your driver’s license may be restricted, suspended, or revoked
depending on the situation. With a restricted license, you may
only drive under the terms and conditions listed on the restricted
license. If your license is suspended, your driving privileges are
taken away for a period of time, ranging from days to years. A
revoked license means you have lost all driving privileges. With
a revocation, you must wait one to five years before you are
eligible to request a hearing with the Administrative Hearings
Section of the Legal and Regulatory Services Administration to
have your driver’s license restored
Mandatory Licensing Actions Required by State Law
Michigan law requires the Department of State to
automatically restrict, suspend, or revoke your driver’s license
for certain violations. For example, stealing motor fuel, reckless
driving, drunken driving, and refusing to submit to a breath
test will all result in mandatory restrictions, suspensions, or
revocations.
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Licensing Actions Imposed by the Department of State
The Department of State Traffic Safety Division may also
impose driver’s license restrictions, suspensions, and revocations
after a driver assessment re-examination. The actions taken
against your driver’s license will depend on a number of factors,
including the type of violation or unsafe driving behavior
involved, your driving record, and your willingness to comply
with the recommendations and requirements made in the
assessment.
Driver Assessment Re-examinations
The Department of State Traffic Safety Division conducts
driver re-examinations under the Michigan Vehicle Code. The
Department of State may conduct a re-examination if there is
reason to believe you are unable to operate a motor vehicle
safely because of health reasons or for violating the restrictions
on a driver’s license, crash involvement, or an unsatisfactory
driving record. If you are a probationary driver or in the
Graduated Driver Licensing program, you may be required to
attend a driver re-examination after only one or two violations.
The purpose of the driver re-examination is to discuss driving
performance, determine the appropriate licensing controls
to reduce driving risk associated with this performance, and
encourage improvement. Licensing controls may include
restrictions, suspensions, revocations, or a combination of these
actions.
The Driver Assessment Re-examination Process
The purpose of the driver assessment re-examination is
to assess your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle and
determine if any licensing controls or further review is necessary.
Michigan law allows for a driver re-examination based on
one or more of the following criteria:

The Department of State has reason to believe that
you are incompetent to drive a motor vehicle or have a
physical, visual, or mental condition that makes it unsafe
for you to operate a motor vehicle.

You have been involved in a fatal accident.
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44

You have been involved in three or more traffic crashes
resulting in personal injury or property damage within
the past two years.

You have accumulated 12 or more points within a
two-year period.

You have been convicted of violating the restrictions,
terms, or conditions of your license.
If you are required to attend a re-examination, a driver
analyst will review your driving record and discuss your driving
behavior with you. If your license is restricted, suspended, or
revoked as result of the re-examination, you will be apprised
of your appeal rights and license reinstatement information. A
re-examination held due to medical issues will require you to
pass several tests, including a vision, written, and on-road exams.
You may also be required to present current medical, vision, or
psychological information about yourself.
Teen Drivers, Probationary Drivers, and
Re-examinations
Probationary drivers and teens with a Graduated Driver
License may also be required to attend a driver assessment
re-examination based on the violations posted to their driving
records. Depending on the nature of the violation, a license may
be restricted or suspended for up to a year.
The parent or legal guardian of GDL drivers will be notified
if their teen drivers violate certain conditions of the GDL license.
Any suspension action taken against a teen’s GDL license may
delay advancement to the next GDL level.
Licensing controls may also extend probation. Safe driving
not only reduces the risk of a traffic crash or violation, but it
helps ensure that a teen or new driver will successfully complete
GDL or probation on time.
Losing Your Privilege to Drive – A Note for Teens
Michigan law deals harshly with teens who make bomb
threats or file false reports about them. Teens convicted of this
serious felony face several sanctions, including delayed entry
into driver education and loss of their driving privileges. There is
no appeal granted under the law.
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
Individuals less than 14 years old will be prohibited from
taking driver education until they are 16 years old and
may not be issued their first Graduated Driver License
until they are 17 years old.

Individuals 14-to-20 years old who are unlicensed will
be prohibited from taking any driver education and may
not be issued a driver’s license for three years from their
conviction date.

Individuals 14-to-20 years old who are licensed will
have their driver’s license suspended for one year,
followed by a restricted license for up to two years.
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5
Substance Abuse
and Driving
When you drink alcohol or use other drugs and drive, you
endanger your life as well as the lives of your passengers and
other motorists. Each year, thousands of people are killed
or permanently disabled because someone drove under the
influence of alcohol or other chemical substances. Michigan
takes a strong stand against drivers who abuse substances and
drive. This chapter provides information about drinking and
driving, penalties for breaking the law, and the state’s tough
Repeat Offender laws.
Drinking or Using Drugs and Driving is Illegal
Drink or use drugs and drive, and the results can be deadly.
Several hundred people die every year in Michigan from
alcohol- or drug-related crashes. The courts, law enforcement,
state and local governments, as well as a number of private
agencies, are working together to reduce and prevent the
thousands of injuries and deaths that result from drunken driving
in Michigan.
Under Michigan law, it is illegal to drive:

While intoxicated, or visibly impaired, by alcohol,
illegal drugs, and certain prescribed medications.

With a Bodily Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater
(operating while intoxicated) or with a BAC of 0.17 or
greater.

With any amount of a Schedule 1 drug or cocaine in
your body.
If you are under age 21 it is against the law:

To drive with a Bodily Alcohol Content of 0.02 or
greater, or have any presence of alcohol other than that
consumed at a generally recognized religious ceremony.

To buy, possess, or consume alcoholic beverages.
You may transport alcohol in a vehicle only when
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47
accompanied by an adult age 21 or older. If you are
caught with alcohol in your vehicle and there is no
adult accompanying you, you can be charged with
a misdemeanor, whether you are on the road or in a
parking lot.
It is best to never drink and drive. If you plan on drinking,
select a designated driver ahead of time who is not going to
drink. You can also ask someone else to give you a ride, call
a taxi, use public transportation, or seek other assistance. If
someone you know has been drinking or using drugs, do not let
him or her drive. Find a designated driver, call a taxi, or insist
that the person use public transportation. Never ride with anyone
who has been drinking or using drugs. If necessary, take away a
person’s car keys and offer him or her a place to sleep. Be sure
drivers are completely sober before they get behind the wheel.
Effects of Alcohol
Driving requires concentration, motor skills, common sense,
and a concern for the safety of everyone on the road. Alcohol
affects people differently. Mixing drugs or medications with
alcohol can be particularly dangerous and even deadly, especially
behind the wheel.
The effects of alcohol are the same whether you drink beer,
wine, or whiskey. A 12-ounce can of beer, 5-ounce glass of wine,
and a 1.5-ounce shot of whiskey all contain the same amount of
alcohol. Drink a standard serving of any of these and the effects
will be the same to your body. Your judgment and self-control
will be affected. Drinking even one drink can impair your ability
to drive, slow your reaction time, dull your concentration, and
cause visual problems. Many people mistakenly believe that
coffee, a cold shower, exercise, or fresh air can sober them up.
The only thing that sobers you up is time.
Illegal or Street Drugs and Medications
Because everyone’s metabolism is different, it’s difficult to
predict how medications and drugs will affect the body. Drugs
and medications can be as dangerous as alcohol when mixed with
driving. Illegal or “street” drugs are sold without a prescription
and are particularly dangerous because users do not always know
the contents, purity, or possible effects of these drugs.
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Prescription and nonprescription medications may also
contain substances that can adversely affect your ability to drive
safely. It is illegal to drive while impaired or under the influence
of prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Some drugs
such as antihistamines, which are found in many cold remedies
and allergy preparations, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and
pain relievers may cause drowsiness. Diet pills, “stay awake”
drugs, and other medications with stimulants such as caffeine,
ephedrine, and pseudoephedrine may cause excitability or
drowsiness. Effects may also vary depending on the combination
of drugs.
Know the contents and potential side effects of any drugs you
are taking and be sure it is safe to drive when using them. Please
be aware that it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle
with any presence of a Schedule 1 drug or cocaine. For more
information, consult your physician or pharmacist.
Recognizing Drivers Who Have Been Drinking
or Using Other Drugs
It is possible to recognize drivers who may have been
drinking or using other drugs. They may:

Weave within their lane.

Wander from one lane to another.

Run off the pavement.

Stop too quickly or slowly.

Drive too quickly or slowly.

Go through stop signs or other signals.

Drive on the wrong side of the road.
These signs do not always mean that the driver has been
drinking or using drugs, but they do require your full attention.
If you observe a dangerous situation, do not become personally
involved. Get an accurate description of the vehicle and license
plate number. Call 911, the local Michigan State Police post,
or a telephone operator for police help. You are most likely to
encounter other drivers who have been drinking or using drugs
at night or early morning, particularly from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.; on
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49
the weekends, especially late Friday and Saturday nights; on
holidays; or near bars and other businesses that sell alcohol.
When you see someone you suspect of driving under the
influence of alcohol or drugs, put as much distance as possible
between yourself and that driver. Think twice about passing
him or her. Let the driver pass you, especially when he or she
is approaching rapidly. The driver’s actions may be uncertain.
Stay alert. It is possible that the same driver may be met further
down the road.
Anti-Drunken and Drugged Driving Laws
Anti-drunken and drugged driving laws require swift and
sure action and stiff penalties for drunken drivers. The laws:

Require courts to decide drunken and drugged driving
cases within 77 days after an arrest or after an arrest
warrant is served, whichever is later.

Require a mandatory six-month driver’s license
suspension even for a first conviction of driving while
intoxicated. A driver may be eligible for a restricted
license after serving 30 days of the suspension.

For a conviction of operating with a Bodily Alcohol
Content (BAC) of 0.17 or greater:


A driver’s license suspension for one year; eligible for a restricted license after 45 days with installation of an ignition interlock device.

Imprisonment up to 180 days.

A fine of not less than $200 or more than $700.
For a second conviction of drunken or drugged driving
within 7 years, require a fine of not less than $200 or
more than $1,000, and one or both of the following:
 Imprisonment
for not less than five days or more
than one year.

30 to 90 days of community service.
Include
a felony for a conviction for drunken or drugged
driving that causes death.
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
Include a felony for a conviction for drunken or drugged
driving that causes a serious injury to another.

Require fines for a conviction of driving while a driver’s
license is suspended or revoked of up to $500 for a first
offense, and $1,000 for an additional offense.

Do not allow hardship appeals for habitual alcohol or
drug offenders.

Require a reinstatement fee of $125 if your driver’s
license was suspended, revoked, or restricted. This fee is
separate from the reinstatement fee needed for any other
driving violations.

Require payment of a Driver Responsibility fee of $500
to $1,000 for two consecutive years.
Preliminary Breath Test
When stopped by a law enforcement officer for suspicion
of driving while intoxicated, you may be asked to take sobriety
tests including a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) at the roadside to
determine whether you are under the influence of alcohol. If you
refuse to take the PBT, you will be charged with a civil infraction
and fined up to $100 plus court costs. Persons under age 21
who refuse to take the PBT will receive two points on their
driving record. Even if you take the PBT, you must still take the
evidentiary chemical test (blood, breath, or urine test).
Michigan’s Implied Consent Law
If arrested, you will be required to take a chemical test to
determine your Bodily Alcohol Content (BAC) or to ascertain
whether there are drugs in your body. Under Michigan’s Implied
Consent Law, all drivers are considered to have given their
consent to this test. If you refuse to take the test, six points
will be added to your driving record and your license will be
suspended for one year. Please be aware that suspension of a
license is automatic. This is a separate consequence from any
subsequent convictions resulting from the traffic stop.
If you are arrested a second time in seven years and again
unreasonably refuse the chemical test, six points will be added to
your driving record and your license will be suspended for two
years.
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If you unreasonably refuse to take the test, or if the test
shows your BAC is 0.08 or greater, your driver’s license will be
destroyed by the officer, and you will be issued a paper driving
permit that allows you to drive, provided your license was valid
at the time of your arrest, until your case is resolved in court.
Types of Charges:

Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI) means that
because of alcohol or other drugs in your body, your
ability to operate a motor vehicle was visibly impaired.

Operating With a Bodily Alcohol Content of 0.17 or
more means the bodily alcohol content of your body was
0.17 or greater.

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) means the alcohol
or drugs in your body substantially affected your driving
ability so you could not operate a motor vehicle safely,
or your bodily alcohol content was 0.08 or greater.

Operating With Presence of Drugs (OWPD) means
operating a vehicle with the presence of any amount of a
Schedule 1 drug or cocaine.

Under Age 21 Operating With Any Bodily Alcohol
Content means having a BAC of 0.02 or greater but less
than 0.08, or any presence of alcohol other than that
consumed as part of a generally recognized religious
ceremony.
Commercial Drivers and Alcohol
While many of the drunken driving charges are the same for
commercial drivers as other motorists, there are some important
distinctions. When operating a commercial vehicle:

The threshold for an Unlawful Bodily Alcohol Content
offense is 0.015. Commercial drivers with a UBAC of
0.015 will be placed out of service for 24 hours.

A UBAC of 0.04 or greater but less than 0.08 will result
in CDL suspensions or revocations, depending on the
number of offenses.
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Commercial drivers with one offense for operating a
commercial or noncommercial vehicle while drunk will have their
CDL suspended for one year; three years if they are transporting
hazardous materials. A second or third offense will result in
a revocation of their CDL for a minimum of 10 years. Their
operator or chauffeur driver’s license may also be suspended or
revoked. For more information, please refer to the Department of
State’s Michigan Commercial Driver License Manual.
Teen Drivers and Alcohol
Drivers between ages of 16 and 20 are typically the least
experienced drivers on the road. When alcohol is added to their
inexperience, the results can be even more deadly. Male teenage
drivers with a bodily alcohol content between 0.05 and 0.10 are
18 times more likely than a sober, male teenage driver to be
killed in a single vehicle crash. Female teenagers are
54 times more likely to be killed than a sober counterpart. Any
involvement with alcohol by teenagers can result in the loss of
their license. Simply possessing any alcoholic beverage, whether
in a motor vehicle or not, can result in a license suspension for a
teenager.
For information about licensing actions for drivers under age
21, please see the Zero Tolerance section on pages 59-60.
Anti-Drug Laws
Michigan law requires driver’s license suspensions for
drug convictions, even if you were not driving at the time of
the offense. Even the possession, manufacture or distribution
of drugs may result in a driver’s license suspension. If there
are no prior drug violations, your driver’s license is suspended
for six months. No restricted license is allowed for the first
30 days. One or more prior drug convictions in seven years
means your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. No
restricted license is allowed for the first 60 days. The driver’s
license reinstatement fee is $125. This fee is separate from the
reinstatement fee required for any other driving activity.
Repeat Offender Laws
Michigan’s Repeat Offender laws are designed to get tough
with drivers who repeatedly drive drunk or while on a suspended
license. Under the laws, you are a repeat offender if you have:
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
Two or more alcohol- or drug-related convictions within
seven years.

Three or more convictions for driving while your license
is suspended or revoked in seven years.

Three or more alcohol- or drug-related convictions
within 10 years.
Penalties Under the Repeat Offender Laws
If you are arrested as a repeat offender, the law enforcement
officer destroys the metal license plate of the vehicle you are
driving, whether you own the vehicle or not. A temporary paper
license plate is issued allowing the vehicle to be legally driven.
A new metal license plate cannot be issued until your case is
resolved in court.
Sanctions under the Repeat Offender laws include additional
driver’s license suspensions or revocations, metal license plate
confiscation, vehicle immobilization or forfeiture, registration
denial, the use of ignition interlock devices, and mandatory
substance abuse treatment. Repeat offenders who cause an accident
resulting in a long-term injury or death are charged with a felony
and face thousands of dollars in fines and years in jail in addition to
other penalties.
When drivers are convicted of a third drunken driving violation,
or receive a fourth additional suspension because they drove while
their license was suspended or revoked, these repeat offenders are
subject to registration denial.
Registration denial prevents the repeat offender from purchasing,
renewing, transferring, or replacing a license plate. Registration
denial includes any vehicles that are registered, co-registered,
leased, or co-leased by the repeat offender. During registration
denial, it is a crime to attempt to purchase, lease, or obtain a vehicle.
Unless a circuit court order is requested and issued, a repeat offender
may not transfer a vehicle to any family member if that vehicle is
carrying a temporary plate, is immobilized, forfeited, or subject to
registration denial. Registration denial continues until the repeat
offender is authorized to obtain a driver’s license or has served all of
the additional suspensions.
Please refer to the chart following this section for more
information about offenders convicted of multiple alcohol or
Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) offenses.
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Consequences for Alcohol, Drug, and
Driving-While-License-Suspended Offenses
Alcohol/Drug Violations
First Offense: Operating With A Bodily Alcohol Content of
0.17 or greater
Sanctions:

One or more of the following:
 $200 to $700 fine.  Up to 180 days in jail.
 Up to 360 hours of community service.

Driver’s license suspension for one year; eligible for
restricted license after 45 days with installation of an
ignition interlock device.

Possible vehicle immobilization.

Alcohol rehabilitation program required for at least one
year.

Six points on driving record.

$1,000 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years.
First Offense: Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)/
Operating With Presence of Drugs (OWPD)
Sanctions:


$100 to $500 fine and one or more of the following:
 Up to 93 days in jail.
 Up to 360 hours of community service.
Driver’s license suspension for 30 days, followed by
restrictions for 150 days.

Possible vehicle immobilization.

Six points on driving record.

$1,000 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years for OWI.

$500 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive years
for OWPD.
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First Offense: Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI)
Sanctions:

Up to $300 fine and one or more of the following:
 Up to 93 days in jail.
 Up to 360 hours of community service.

Driver’s license restriction for 90 days (180 days if
impaired by controlled substance).

Possible vehicle immobilization.

Four points on driving record.

$500 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years.
Second Offense Within Seven Years: Operating While
Intoxicated (OWI)/Operating With Presence of Drugs
(OWPD)
Sanctions:

$200 to $1,000 fine and one or more of the following:
 Five days to one year in jail.
 30 to 90 days community service.

Driver’s license denial and revocation for one or five
years.

License plate confiscation.

Vehicle immobilization 90 to 180 days unless vehicle is
forfeited.

Possible vehicle forfeiture.

Six points on driving record.

$1,000 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years for OWI.

$500 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive years
for OWPD.
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Second Offense Within Seven Years: Operating While
Visibly Impaired (OWVI)
Sanctions:

$200 to $1,000 fine and one or more of the following:
Five days to one year in jail.
30 to 90 days community service.



Driver’s license denial and revocation for one or five
years.

License plate confiscation.

Vehicle immobilization 90 to 180 days unless vehicle is
forfeited.

Possible vehicle forfeiture.

Four points on driving record.

$500 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years.
Third Offense Within 10 Years (Felony): Operating While
Intoxicated (OWI)/Operating With Presence of Drugs
(OWPD)
Sanctions:

Driver’s license denial and revocation for one or five
years.

License plate confiscation.

Vehicle immobilization one to three years unless vehicle
is forfeited.

Possible vehicle forfeiture.

Registration denial of all owned and leased vehicles.

Six points on driving record.

$1,000 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years for OWI.

$500 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive years
for OWPD.
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Third Offense Within 10 Years (Felony): Operating While
Visibly Impaired (OWVI)
Sanctions:

Driver’s license denial and revocation for one or five
years.

License plate confiscation.

Vehicle immobilization one to three years unless
forfeited.

Possible vehicle forfeiture.

Registration denial.

Four points on driving record.

$500 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years.
Heidi’s Law
Michigan’s Repeat Offender laws require tough sanctions
for motorists convicted of two or more alcohol- or drug-related
offenses within seven years or three or more alcohol- or
drug-related offenses within 10 years. However, if a third or
subsequent drunken or drugged driving violation occurred more
than 10 years after any previous convictions, the court had to
count the current violation as a first offense when considering
criminal sanctions.
Because of a concern that chronic repeat offenders could face
lighter sentences simply because more than 10 years had passed
since their last conviction, the state enacted Heidi’s Law. Heidi’s
Law requires felony penalties for a third or subsequent drunken
or drugged driving offense regardless of when prior offenses
occurred. It also requires the Department of State to maintain
certain drunken or drugged driving violations on a driver’s
record for life.
Under Heidi’s Law, licensing and plate sanctions are treated
as a first offense for motorists with three or more drunken
or drugged driving convictions if more than 10 years has
elapsed since the last violation. Vehicle sanctions include plate
confiscation, vehicle forfeiture, and immobilization. Licensing
sanctions are restrictions, suspensions, and revocations.
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Third Offense in a Lifetime (Felony): Operating While
Intoxicated (OWI) / Operating With Presence of Drugs
(OWPD) / Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI)
Criminal Sanctions:

$500 to $5,000 fine and either:
 One to five years in prison.
 Probation with 30 days to one year in jail.

60 to 180 days community service.
Alcohol Offenses Causing Injury or Death
First or Second Offense Causing Death/Serious Injury
(Felony): Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)/Operating
While Visibly Impaired (OWVI)/Operating With Presence of
Drugs (OWPD)
Sanctions:
Death
 Up
to 15 years in prison or a $2,500 to $10,000 fine
or both.
Injury
 Up to five years in prison or a $1,000 to $5,000 fine
or both.
Emergency Responder Death
 Up to 20 years in prison or a $2,500 to $10,000 fine or
both.
Death/Injury/Emergency Responder Death
 Driver’s license revocation and denial for one or five
years.

License plate confiscation.

Vehicle immobilization up to 180 days unless forfeited.

Possible vehicle forfeiture.

$1,000 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years.
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Open Intoxicants in a Motor Vehicle
Sanctions:

Up to a $100 fine.

First offense–no action is taken against driver’s license.

Second offense–driver’s license is suspended for
30 days/restricted for 60 days.

Third offense–driver’s license is suspended for 60 days/
restricted for 305 days.

Alcohol screening may be required.

Two points on driving record.
Alcohol Offenses Involving Young Drivers
First Offense: Zero Tolerance (Under Age 21)
Sanctions:
 Up to $250 fine and/or
 Up to 360 hours community service.

Driver’s license is restricted for 30 days.

Four points on driving record.

$500 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years.
Second Offense Within Seven Years: Zero Tolerance
(Under Age 21)
Sanctions:
 Up to $500 fine and/or
 Up to 60 days community service.
 Up to 93 days in jail.

Driver’s license suspension 90 days. Any prior
drunken driving conviction results in a minimum
one-year driver’s license revocation.

Four points on driving record.

$500 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years.
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Person Under 21 Purchase/Consume/Possess Alcohol
Sanctions:

First offense–$100 fine, no action is taken against
driver’s license.

Second offense–$200 fine, driver’s license is suspended
for 30 days/restricted for 60 days.

Third offense–$500 fine, driver’s license is suspended
for 60 days/restricted for 305 days.

Community service may be required.

Alcohol screening may be required.
Person Under 21 Transport or Possess in a Motor
Vehicle
Sanctions:

Up to a $100 fine.

First offense–no action is taken against driver’s license.

Second offense–driver’s license is suspended for
30 days/restricted for 60 days.

Third offense–driver’s license is suspended for
60 days/restricted for 305 days.

Alcohol screening may be required.

Community service may be required.

Two points on driving record.

Vehicle can be impounded up to 30 days.
Use Fraudulent ID to Purchase Liquor
Sanctions:

Up to a $100 fine, 93 days in jail, or both.

90-day driver’s license suspension.

Alcohol screening may be required.
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Driving-While-License-Suspended Violations
First Offense: Driving While License Suspended (DWLS)
Sanctions:

Up to $500 fine, up to 93 days in jail, or both.

Mandatory like additional suspension.

Mandatory additional 30-day suspension if convicted of
driving while suspended due to failure to pay tickets or
appear in court; reinstatement fee due.

$500 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years.
Second Offense Within Seven Years: Driving While License
Suspended (DWLS)
Sanctions:

Up to $1,000 fine, up to one year in jail, or both.

Mandatory additional suspension.

Vehicle may be immobilized for up to 180 days.

$500 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years.
Third Offense – Must Have Two Priors Within Seven Years
(Misdemeanor): Driving While License Suspended (DWLS)
Sanctions:

Mandatory additional suspension.

License plate confiscation.

Vehicle immobilized 90 to 180 days.

$500 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years.
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Fourth offense – Must have three priors within seven years
(misdemeanor): Driving While License Suspended (DWLS)
Sanctions:

Same as for third offense.

Registration denial of all owned and leased vehicles if
conviction generates a fourth or more additional
suspension.

$500 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years.
Fifth Offense – Must Have Four Priors Within Seven Years
(Misdemeanor): Driving While License Suspended (DWLS)
Sanctions:

Mandatory additional suspension.

License plate confiscation.

Vehicle immobilized one to three years.

Registration denial of all owned and leased vehicles if
conviction generates a fourth or more additional
suspension.

$500 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years.
First and Second Offense Causing Death/Serious Injury
(Felony): Driving While License Suspended (DWLS)
Sanctions:
Death
 Up
to 15 years in prison or a $2,500 to $10,000 fine
or both.
Injury
 Up to five years in prison or a $1,000 to $5,000 fine
or both.
Emergency Responder Death
 Up to 20 years in prison or a $2,500 to $10,000 fine or
both.
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Death/Injury/Emergency Responder Death
 Driver’s license revocation and denial for one or five
years.

License plate confiscation.

Vehicle immobilization up to 180 days unless forfeited.

Possible vehicle forfeiture.

$1,000 Driver Responsibility fee for two consecutive
years.
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6
Seat Belts, Safety
Seats, and Air Bags
Click It or Ticket: Under Michigan’s seat belt and child-safety
restraint laws, a law enforcement officer may stop a vehicle if
the driver and occupants are not properly buckled up. Please
review the information in this chapter and obey these laws.
Buckle Up — It’s the Law!
Michigan law requires:

All front seat passengers to be buckled up (including the
driver).

All passengers under age 16 to be buckled up, in all
seating positions.

All children under age 8 to be in an approved child safety
seat or booster seat, in all seating positions, unless 4 feet
9 inches or taller.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports
that seat belts save over 13,000 lives every year and that buckling
up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect
yourself in a crash.

Be responsible – make sure all passengers are properly
buckled up.

Even if the vehicle is equipped with air bags, they are not
a substitute for wearing a seat belt.

Everyone in the vehicle will be safer when seat belts are
worn correctly – shoulder belt across the middle of the
chest away from the neck, with the lap belt worn low
across the hips, below the stomach.

Drivers exempt from using a seat belt because of a
medical condition must carry a doctor’s statement.
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Protecting Children and Teens
Since the Michigan Child Passenger Protection Law was
enacted, use of child restraints and safety belts has increased,
while deaths and injuries have decreased. However, many
people use child restraint devices improperly. Make certain both
the child safety restraint and your child are properly buckled
before you drive.
Law Sets Special Requirements
Michigan’s child passenger safety law mandates that:

Children under age 8 and less than 4 feet 9 inches tall
must be properly secured in a child restraint system
in accordance with the child restraint and vehicle
manufacturer’s instructions and federal safety standards.

Children under age 4 to be positioned in a rear seat if the
vehicle is equipped with a rear seat. If all available rear
seats are occupied by children under age 4, then they
may be positioned in the child restraint system in the
front seat.

A child in a rear-facing child restraint system may only
be placed in the front seat if the front passenger air bag
is deactivated.

Young people under age 18 are prohibited from riding in
the open bed of a pickup truck traveling more than
15 mph. The law allows exceptions for vehicles used by
farmers, construction workers, the military, in parades,
and by authorized emergency and rescue personnel.

Removing a child from a car seat to nurse while the
vehicle is moving is prohibited.
Never hold a child on your lap or buckle a child with another
passenger into one seat belt. Always insist children buckle their
seat belts before starting the engine.
Assistance with child safety seat installation is available
at many community agencies, such as local public health
departments. Avoid buying secondhand seats as they may not
meet federal safety standards, may not work properly, or may
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66
have missing parts or instructions. And, if there is a recall, you
may not receive notification.
Air Bags
Air bags are designed to provide vehicle occupants with
extra protection in a crash. Depending on the make and model,
today’s vehicles may have air bags in a variety of locations,
including the steering wheel, dashboard, roof columns and door
panels. Sensors within the vehicle determine when an air bag
will deploy based on the type and severity of the crash. For
the best protection always wear a seat belt, even in vehicles
equipped with air bags. Seat belts remain the best protection in
rollover, side impact, and rear-end crashes.

A child in a rear-facing child restraint system may be
placed in the front seat only if the front passenger air bag
is deactivated.

Parents are encouraged to seat all children ages 12 and
younger in the rear seat of the vehicle to avoid potential
injury from an air bag in the event of a crash.

It is recommended that drivers sit with at least 10 inches
between the center of their breastbone and the center of
the steering wheel.

If you are pregnant, it is recommended that you wear
your seat belt with the lap portion of the belt correctly
positioned over the hips (not the stomach) and the
shoulder portion across the chest. Sit as far back as
possible from the air bag.
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7
Signs, Pavement Markings, and Signals
Signs, pavement markings, and signals are all ways of
communicating. They provide information about regulations,
highway routes, directions, places of interest, and cautions.
They include regulatory, warning, and guide signs. This
chapter presents important information about signs, pavement
markings, and signals. Obeying signs, traffic signals, and
markings will help to keep you safe.
Signs
Regulatory Signs
Regulatory signs that control moving traffic are always red
and white or black and white. “Do Not Enter,” “Wrong Way,”
“Yield,” and “Stop” are examples of signs with red backgrounds.
Regulatory signs that control parking may be green and white.
The yield sign indicates a driver must slow down and give
way to all traffic and pedestrians.
The shape of this sign indicates stop. Stop
and give the right-of-way to pedestrians and all
cross traffic before moving forward. You must
stop behind a marked or unmarked crosswalk
that joins sidewalks on opposite sides of the
street, or behind a marked stop line. If there is
no pavement marking or crosswalk, stop before
entering the intersection, where traffic coming from all directions
is visible.
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A red circle with a line through it always means
“no,” such as “no entry.”
This sign means do not turn around in the
middle of a street or an intersection.
These two signs are sometimes used
together and mean do not pass. The
yellow pennant sign will be posted on
the left side of the road. The white sign
will be posted on the right side.
This sign follows the do not pass sign. It is on the
right side of the road. It marks the end of a no-passing
zone. You may then pass when it is safe to
do so.
This sign means traffic in the right lane must
turn right. Traffic in the second lane should either
continue driving straight or turn right. A similar
sign may be used for left-turning traffic.
This sign means no right
turn. If the arrow points to the left, the sign
means no left turn.
This sign informs or
warns not to drive across the median (divider
strip) or emergency crossover of a freeway. It
is against the law for anyone to cross a freeway
median–except for law enforcement, emergency,
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69
or maintenance vehicles. To change directions on a freeway,
drive to the next exit, get off, and re-enter the freeway in the
other direction.
This sign directs traffic to the right of an
obstruction.
This sign is posted over a highway lane that is
used only for making a left turn. Traffic from both
directions will be using this lane. Never use a
turning lane as a merge lane to pull out into traffic
or to overtake and pass other vehicles.
Located at intersections, this sign means do not
turn until the light turns green.
This type of sign shows the maximum speeds
allowed on a freeway, weather permitting.
Warning Signs
Signs like this provide advisory speeds at
freeway exit and entrance ramps. They show the
maximum recommended safe speed to drive on a
ramp in ideal weather conditions.
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70
These signs warn of a curve or sharp turn ahead. If the curve
is too sharp to drive at the posted speed limit, an advisory speed
sign is attached to indicate the fastest recommended speed in
ideal weather conditions. Slow down before entering the curve.
If the speed limit is not posted before a curve, judge how
sharp the curve is and change speed accordingly. If you cannot
see around a curve, slow down more than normal. When driving
around a curve, the vehicle will tend to move to the outside of
the curve.
These signs show an upcoming
side or cross road. Look for other
vehicles entering or leaving the
roadway.
This sign is posted where two lanes come
together to form one lane.
This sign means prepare to yield ahead
These signs mean a lane ends ahead, and a driver must merge
into the proper lane. However,
yield the right-of-way to
vehicles already in the left lane,
or in the right lane in the case
of a “lane ends merge right”
sign.
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This sign shows the road ahead has two-way
traffic.
This sign indicates that a driver is approaching
a roundabout intersection. When an advisory
speed panel is posted below the sign, slow
down to the recommended speed.
This sign shows the lane use for a roundabout.
The left lane is for traffic traveling left and through
the intersection. The right lane is for traffic
traveling right and through the intersection.
This sign warns of a steep hill. You may need
to slow down at the top or change to a lower
gear.
This sign cautions that a
section of the roadway may be more slippery
when weather conditions are bad. Make sure to
slow down when the road is wet or icy.
This sign marks a traffic island or obstruction.
Drive to either side.
This sign is used to remind drivers that they
are going from a divided highway to a
two-way roadway.
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This sign means that school children may
be crossing. Slow down and watch for them.
Traffic controls near school areas may include
school crosswalk lines, stop lines, curb markings,
word and symbol markings, special school speed
limits, and school crosswalk signs.
Watch for adult crossing guards and student safety patrols
helping children cross streets safely.
Vehicles must stop for crossing guards with a stop sign
upraised, and may not continue until the crossing guard has
moved completely out of the intersection.
These warning signs alert
drivers that bicyclists or
pedestrians may enter or
cross the road and to drive with
caution.
This sign informs or warns you that a bridge or
underpass is ahead with a clearance of only
12 feet, 6 inches. Know the height of the vehicle
and load.
This sign means no trucks allowed.
This sign means
prepare to stop ahead.
Slow-Moving Vehicles
This sign on the back of a slow-moving vehicle is
a warning to slow down. It means the vehicle cannot
travel faster than 25 mph. Do not get impatient
if behind one of these vehicles. The driver will
usually try to pull over to the side whenever
possible to prevent traffic back-ups.
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Guide Signs
Guide signs, including those for motorist services, parks, and
public recreation areas, tell what is available ahead. Some show
distance, destination, and direction.
Route Markers
Route markers identify highways by number and symbol as
part of national, state, or local systems.
Limited-access interstate freeway sign
U.S. highway sign
State highway sign
County route marker
Pavement Markings
Pavement markings are white or yellow and, like highway
signs, warn, regulate, and inform drivers.
White lines separate traffic lanes moving in the same
direction. They include:

Broken white lines: On
roadways that have more
than one lane moving in one
direction, broken white lines
separate traffic lanes. Drive
between these lines. Never
straddle them.
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74

Solid white lines: Solid white lines mark the right edge
of the road. Often called fog lines, solid white lines
help you stay on the road at night or in bad weather.
Passing to the right of another vehicle by crossing a solid
white line that marks the right edge of the roadway is
prohibited, even if the shoulder is paved.
Solid white lines are also used to separate lanes of traffic
moving in the same direction. When solid white lines
separate lanes of traffic moving in the same direction,
crossing a solid white line is not recommended. These
white lines may designate sharp curves, freeway
acceleration and deceleration lanes, and other parts of
the road where lane changes are considered dangerous.
A double solid white line is used to show a travel path
where driving in the same direction is permitted on both
sides of the line, but crossing the line is prohibited.
These lines are used to separate traffic for safety reasons such
as bicycle ways, pedestrian ways, or where one lane of traffic is
usually traveling at a higher speed than the other lane:

Crosswalk lines: Solid white lines mark many
pedestrian crosswalks. When these lines are used,
they go all the way across the pavement. Crosswalks
are also indicated by white stripes placed on the road
in the direction of traffic. Crosswalks are placed at
intersections and, sometimes, between intersections.
Stop the vehicle behind the crosswalk line.

Stop lines: Wide white lines painted across a traffic lane
mark where you must stop the vehicle at intersections.
This keeps the vehicle out of the way of pedestrians and
cross traffic. If there are no stop lines or crosswalks, stop
the vehicle before entering the intersection. You should
be able to see traffic from all directions.

Directional Arrows: Wide
white arrows painted down the
center of the traffic lane indicate
the direction that the vehicle
must travel. In the graphic
provided, the arrow pointing to
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75
the left indicates that all vehicles in this lane must turn
left. The next lane may only go straight. The right lane
may go straight or turn right. Always check for traffic
and pedestrians before proceeding or completing your
turn.
Yellow lines separate vehicle traffic lanes moving in opposite
directions. They include:

Broken yellow lines: A single broken yellow line
usually marks the centerline of a two-way roadway
where a vehicle may pass if it is safe.

Solid yellow lines: If a solid yellow line is on your side
of the centerline of a roadway, do not cross over it to
pass. On a four-lane divided roadway or a one-way road,
a solid yellow line usually marks the left edge of the
pavement. A double solid yellow line down the middle
of a two-lane roadway means that passing is not allowed
for vehicles traveling in either direction.

Center lane, left-turn-only: Many roads have a
left-turn only lane to help traffic flow more smoothly.
Each outside edge of this lane is marked with a solid
yellow line with broken yellow lines on the inside edges.
Left turns must be made from within this lane, and may
be made from either direction. Using this lane to pass
other vehicles or as a merge lane is both dangerous and
illegal.
Yield lines are typically found at roundabout intersections
and mid-block crosswalks and help regulate the flow of traffic.
When yielding to traffic, make sure to stop behind the yield lines.
There are two types of yield lines:

White triangular symbols: When you see white
triangles painted across a traffic lane, be prepared to stop
and yield to traffic.

Dashed white lines: Dashed white lines painted across
a roundabout’s traffic lane indicate you should yield to
traffic.
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Signals
Traffic signals control traffic at intersections. It is illegal to
drive across public or private property, such as a store parking
lot, to avoid a traffic-control device. Combinations of traffic
signals, signs, pavement markings, and other traffic-control
devices may be used at railroad crossings, schools, street and
highway construction, and maintenance operations. Pedestrian
signals control pedestrian traffic. Always give the right-of-way
to pedestrians.
Traffic Control Signals
A red light means stop. It is at the top of a
traffic signal in Michigan. Stop the vehicle behind
a crosswalk or stop line. A yellow light means
the green signal has ended and the signal is about
to turn red. You are required to stop on a yellow
light. If you cannot stop safely, do not speed up but
drive cautiously through the intersection. A green
light means proceed cautiously after checking for
pedestrians and vehicles. If a traffic light is not
working at an intersection, and there are no law enforcement
officers or alternate traffic signal devices present to control the flow
of traffic, you should follow the basic right-of-way rules. These
include yielding to vehicles that reach the intersection before you,
to those on your right if you reach the intersection at the same time,
and when turning left, giving right-of-way to oncoming traffic.
The 5-section head signal, or “doghouse signal,”
is used to regulate left and right turns at intersections.
This type of signal has a red light on top, a green
and yellow turn arrow, and a green
and yellow light. When the green
arrow is lit, turning drivers have
a “protected turn,” meaning all
(Left Turn) oncoming or conflicting traffic is
stopped. When the green light is
lit, turning drivers may complete their turn when
oncoming traffic has cleared.
(Right Turn)
When either the yellow light or yellow arrow
is lit, the signal is changing from green to red and drivers must
stop if they have not already entered the intersection or cannot
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safely stop. If they have already entered the intersection, they
must proceed through their turn with caution after making sure
traffic is clear.
A flashing red light means come to a full stop.
Proceed when the road is clear.
A flashing yellow light means proceed
carefully through the intersection. Scan across traffic
in both directions.
A steady green arrow means you may proceed
with caution in the direction of the arrow if the way
is clear. Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians in the
intersection. Traffic coming toward you should stop.
Research from the Federal Highway Administration shows
that by reconfiguring the signal arrows used for left turns, traffic
moves more efficiently through intersections and the chances for
crashes are reduced.
The flashing yellow arrow left-turn signal head has four
separate lenses. The lens at the top is a solid red arrow. The next
signal below it is a solid yellow arrow, then a flashing yellow
arrow, and finally, a solid green arrow at the bottom. Each arrow
specifies what actions are permitted. This signal will be standard
throughout the United States.
A solid red arrow means you must stop.
You cannot turn until the signal changes.
A solid yellow arrow warns you that the
left turn signal is about to change to red.
If you are approaching the intersection,
you must stop. However, if you are
already within the intersection and there
is no conflicting traffic present, you may
complete your left turn.
A flashing yellow arrow allows you to
turn left when oncoming traffic, which has
a green light, is clear. Be sure that there is an adequate gap in the
oncoming traffic and that there are no pedestrians or bicyclists
crossing before making your turn.
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A solid green arrow indicates that oncoming traffic is stopped
and you may turn left. Proceed with caution. At intersections
equipped with vehicle-detection cameras or in-pavement
sensors, this sequence may be skipped if there are no left-turning
vehicles.
Railroad Crossings
Traffic control systems for railroad crossings include all
signs, signals, markings, and illuminated devices that permit safe
and efficient movement of both rail and highway traffic. Trains
cannot stop at railroad crossings. It is much harder and takes
much longer for a train to stop, up to a mile in most cases. It
could be fatal to ignore a signal or try to cross in front of a train.
When approaching a railroad crossing that does not have a
signal or a gate, slow down and look both ways. This is good
advice even if a signaled crossing does not indicate a train is
coming.
This sign warns of a railroad crossing ahead. If
a train is coming, all vehicles must stop no more
than 50 feet or less than 15 feet from the tracks.
If there is more than one set of tracks, check
carefully for other trains that may be coming. Do not cross
the tracks until all trains have passed. When the road is snow
covered, proceed over tracks with enough speed so you will not
get stuck. Avoid changing gears while crossing the tracks.
When you see devices that warn of railroad crossings and
possible oncoming trains:

Slow down and be ready to stop.

School buses, vehicles carrying passengers for hire,
gasoline trucks, and other vehicles carrying hazardous
materials must stop and make sure no train is coming,
even if there is no stop sign or railroad crossing signal.

If there is a stop sign at the crossing, you must stop
whether or not a train is coming.

Be careful not to get “trapped” on railroad tracks by a
line of vehicles backed up by a traffic signal.
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This railroad sign means slow down. Do
not cross the track(s) without checking in both
directions for a train. Be sure tracks are clear for a
safe distance. If there are two or more tracks, the
number will be indicated.
This railroad-crossing signal has a
bell and flashing red lights to warn
that a train is coming. Stop when the bell is
ringing and the lights are flashing. Once the
train has passed, do not proceed until the lights and bell
have stopped and you are sure that all tracks are clear.
This railroad crossing has a sign, signal, bell, and
gate to stop traffic. Do not drive through, around, or
under any crossing gate while it is down, or
being raised or lowered. Stop and wait until the gates
are raised, signals stop flashing, and bells stop
ringing. Once the train has passed, do not proceed
until the lights and bell have stopped
and you are sure that all tracks are clear.
Construction and Maintenance
Warning signs in construction, maintenance, or other
designated work areas are diamond-shaped with black lettering
on an orange or yellow background.
A combination of signs, signals, lighting devices, markings,
barricades, routing, and hand-signaling devices may be used
around road construction, maintenance, and surveying operations
and utility work.
Construction and maintenance signs
may mean part of a lane, an entire
lane, or the whole road is blocked.
These signs are also used when
work is being done adjacent to the
roadway, on shoulders, or in ditch
areas.
Construction zones can be for a short period of time or last
one or more construction seasons. Drivers are made aware of
such zones by signs posted in advance.
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Be aware of the warning sign messages and obey them as
directed. Watch and drive defensively to avoid problems.
Be patient and everyone will travel through construction zones
safely. Watch carefully for construction workers or moving
equipment.
Construction workers also have the authority to direct traffic
in work zones, and their directions should be followed even if
they conflict with an existing traffic control device.
When going through a designated work area, pay attention
to the posted speed limits. For most construction, maintenance,
or surveying activities, the speed limit is 45 mph unless posted
differently. Work zones may limit speeds to 45 mph where
workers are present, yet allow traffic to return to the normally
posted speed when workers are absent. This allows traffic to
move at full speed when safe to do so while requiring motorists
to watch for workers and slow down when construction in
a work zone is active. Fines are doubled for all moving
violations in work zones.
In addition, motorists caught speeding in construction zones
face increased points on their driving records. Under the law,
motorists will be assessed:

3 points for speeding 10 mph or less over the posted
limit.

4 points for speeding more than 10 mph but not more
than 15 mph over the limit.

5 points for speeding more than 15 mph over the limit.
Motorists who have accumulated 12 or more points in a
two-year period will be required to undergo a driver assessment
re-examination.
Motorists causing injury or death to any person in a work
zone are subject to fines of up to $7,500 and imprisonment of up
to 15 years.
Pedestrian Signals
Pedestrian signals are used to control the movement of people
at specific crossing points along the road or at an intersection.
The white symbol of a walking person means “walk,” and a
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red upraised hand means “do not walk.” Some use the words
“WALK” and “DONT WALK.”
Two Section Types
Pedestrian signals may include an audible or visual
“countdown” indicating how much time is left before the
signal changes.
Do not start crossing a road when either the upraised hand
or the DONT WALK images are flashing. If you are partway
across and the signal changes to a flashing mode, complete
your crossing. Drivers should be cautious when pedestrians are
present, especially when turning. Traffic islands help separate
moving traffic or guide traffic and also provide safety for
pedestrians.
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Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon signals (known as “HAWK”
signals) are a new crossing device to alert drivers to the
presence of pedestrians. There are six steps to the HAWK
signal sequence:
1. Dark – The signal stays dark until activated by a
pedestrian. Motorists should proceed with caution when
the signal is dark.
2. Flashing Yellow – The signal will flash yellow once it is
activated. Motorists should slow down and be prepared
to stop.
3. Steady Yellow – Stop. If it is unsafe to stop, motorists
may proceed with caution.
4. Solid Red – Motorists must stop and remain stopped.
5. Alternately Flashing Red – Motorists must stop and
proceed only when clear.
6. Dark – Signal sequence is completed and HAWK signal
turns dark until activated again.
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8
Basic Skills, Laws,
and Safety
This chapter provides information about basic skills, laws,
and safety, with tips for preparing to drive, controlling speed,
signaling, yielding, turning at intersections and at red lights,
using lanes, passing, freeway driving, parking, and using
cruise control. Safe driving requires that you understand and
use these basic skills.
Some Basic Driving Tips
The following tips can help you drive safely.

Concentrate on your driving. A momentary distraction
can lead to a crash. Do not allow tasks such as talking
on a cell phone, texting, using a GPS, tuning the radio,
searching for a compact disc, or eating distract your
attention from the road.

Drive defensively.

Obey all traffic control devices and traffic laws.

Be courteous to others.

Communicate your intentions by using your turn signals
or hand-and-arm signals.

Be aware and keep alert. Even though you follow the
laws, realize others may not.

Recognize that you share the road with others whether
they are walking, bicycling, or driving.

Avoid looking at any one thing for more than a few
seconds.

Watch for vehicles coming from alleys or parking places
when driving in a business district.

Always give yourself enough time and space to do what
you need to do safely. Never follow another vehicle too
closely.
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
Be more careful and increase your following distance at
night, during bad weather conditions, rush hour, during
maneuvers such as lane changes, and when approaching
intersections.

Do not drive when you are tired.

Always obey a law enforcement officer’s orders or
directions. An officer’s directions take priority over a
traffic light or stop sign.
Preparing to Drive
Before operating a vehicle:

Check for clean headlights, taillights, and brake lights.
Make sure all lights and turn signals work properly.

Clean the windshield and windows.

Check the tires for proper air pressure and for any
possible damage.

Check in front and behind the vehicle for objects,
animals, or people in your path.
Before starting the engine:

Make sure you are positioned comfortably in the driver’s
seat.

Make sure you and all passengers, including children,
are properly buckled up.

Check mirrors and check again for anything in your
path. As a driver, you have at least two blind spots or
areas around your vehicle that you cannot see in your
rearview or side-view mirrors—to the left rear and right
rear of the vehicle. Make sure the inside rearview mirror
is properly adjusted so you can see the center of the road
and any traffic behind the vehicle. Adjust the left outside
mirror to see the left edge of the vehicle when seated in a
normal driving position. If there is a right outside mirror,
adjust it to permit a clear view of the right rear edge of
the vehicle.
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
Turn your head
to check the blind
spots before every
lane change. You
cannot get rid of
blind spots, but
can make them
smaller by properly adjusting the mirrors.

Know the type of braking system installed in your
vehicle. If it has antilock brakes, be sure to read and
follow the instructions in the owner’s manual.
Controlling Your Speed
Michigan’s Basic Speed Law means you must drive at a
“careful and prudent” speed in all driving conditions. You must
drive at a speed that always allows you to stop within the clear
distance ahead. This speed is never faster than the posted speed
limit. Depending on conditions, it may be slower than the posted
speed limit. Anticipate trouble ahead. Be ready to stop safely.
Speed Limits
Watch for and obey regulatory speed signs. The following
summarizes some of the standard speed limits defined under the
Michigan Vehicle Code:

15 mph – In mobile home parks and some municipal
parks.

25 mph – In platted subdivisions (showing boundaries,
streets, easements, and other features of surveyed
lots) and condominium complexes. Watch for signs
when driving through business districts, county, state
and federal parks, on roads adjacent to parks and
playgrounds, and in school zones as posted speed limits
vary.

45 mph – In a work zone if posted. If a work zone is
not posted for 45 mph, then the speed limit is the normal
speed limit for that area.

55 mph – Unless otherwise posted, on all streets that are
not designated freeways and on all highways.
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
70 mph maximum/55 mph minimum – On all freeways
unless posted otherwise. School buses and trucks are
restricted to 60 mph. On freeways with speed limits
lower than 70 mph, school buses and trucks are restricted
to 55 mph.
Give Yourself Time and Space to Stop
Your stopping distance can be affected by fatigue, how well
you pay attention, the type and weight of your vehicle, the
condition of your tires and brakes, the type of road surface, and
the weather. Try to estimate how much time and space you have
for stopping on either dry or wet pavement.
A three- to four-second following distance is required. When
the rear of the vehicle ahead passes a sign or any other stationary
point, calculate the time it takes you to reach the same spot by
counting “one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand
three.” You are following too closely if you pass the mark
before you finish counting for three seconds. When speeds are
increased, or during adverse driving conditions, increase your
following distance up to six seconds.
Wet pavement requires more stopping time and space. To
make a smooth stop, increase pressure on the brake pedal
gradually and just before you stop, reduce the pressure.
Look Down the Road 12 Seconds
This rule means always look ahead of the vehicle about
12 seconds worth of travel time down the road. To estimate this
distance, choose a fixed object near the road ahead and begin
counting, “one-thousand one, one thousand two...” until the front
of your vehicle passes the object. If you have not counted to
“one-thousand twelve,” you should be looking farther ahead.
A defensive driver anticipates problems ahead and is prepared
to react in time. Keep a safe distance behind another vehicle.
Under poor or slippery driving conditions, allow even more time.
Signaling
Signaling is a legal requirement and a courtesy. Before
stopping, turning, or changing lanes, see if it is safe.
Communicate to other drivers by giving the required signal,
either using your left hand and arm, or your vehicle’s turn signal.
Signal at least 100 feet ahead of where you plan to turn. In heavy
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traffic or on freeways, signal sooner so drivers behind you have
time to adjust their speed.
The proper hand-and-arm signals are:
Left arm and hand bent
up for a right turn.
Left arm and hand
straight out for a left turn.
Left arm and hand bent
down for slow or stop.
Yielding
Most crashes occur at intersections. Always remember—any
time you are not sure what other drivers are going to do, let them
go first.

When approaching intersections
without traffic signals or signs, or
four-way stop intersections, yield
to the driver on the right if you
reach the intersection at the same
time as another vehicle. Yield
to any vehicle that reaches an
intersection before you.

When making left turns, you
must give the right-of-way to
pedestrians and oncoming traffic.

When approaching an intersection
with a yield sign, slow down
before reaching the intersection,
and then yield the right-of-way to
any vehicle in the intersection and
to cross traffic. Stop if necessary.
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Yielding in Other Circumstances
Before entering an intersection, always check cross traffic.
Prepare to stop and yield the right-of-way to a vehicle or bicycle
coming from the left or right, or to pedestrians in the intersection.

You must also yield when directed by a uniformed law
enforcement officer and when directed by flag people at
construction sites.

You must yield for vehicles in a funeral procession.

You must stop and yield the right-of-way when entering
a highway from an alley, private road, or driveway and
before turning on a red light.

When entering a roundabout, you must yield the right-of
way to drivers already in the roundabout and obey all
traffic signs.

When entering an intersection at sunrise or sunset, use
extra care as other drivers may have difficulty seeing
you.

You must yield to emergency vehicles, approaching from
any direction or if stopped, when their lights are flashing.
Time is critical in an emergency situation. Pulling
over and allowing emergency vehicles to reach their
destination as quickly and safely as possible may save a
life. Never stop in a roundabout for emergency vehicles.
Exit the roundabout before pulling over to the right side
of the road.

You must also yield whenever you are approaching or
passing a stopped waste collection, utility service, or
road maintenance vehicle with its lights flashing.

When at intersections, watch for oncoming motorcycles,
bicycles, and other small vehicles. Because of their size,
it is difficult to judge their distance and speed. After a
crash, it is not uncommon for motorcyclists or bicyclists
to report that the other drivers looked right at them but
still failed to see them. As an automobile driver, be
on the alert for motorcycles, bicycles, and other small
vehicles, and give them plenty of time and extra room.
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Turning at Intersections
Crashes at intersections result in more traffic fatalities and
serious injuries than on any other segment of the road. As
you approach an intersection, look for traffic signals and lane
markings.

Look and plan ahead. Be alert for pedestrians and
vehicles that may disregard a red light and proceed
through an intersection without stopping. Allow time and
space to make your turn safely.

When turning left at an intersection, check cross traffic
and yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

When turning right at an intersection, check the road you
are turning onto for pedestrians and other vehicles.

After turning left onto a one-way street, stay in the left
lane until you can change lanes safely.

Keep alert as smaller vehicles approach the intersection,
such as motorcycles, bicycles, and mopeds. Because
of their size, it may be difficult to judge their distance
and speed. Protect these riders by being courteous and
allowing them to clear the intersection before beginning
your turn.

If you come to an intersection where you cannot
see clearly because of trees or buildings, stop at the
intersection and edge forward slowly.

If you have entered an intersection when the signal light
changes, complete your turn as soon as traffic clears.
Do not try to back up in an effort to avoid blocking the
intersection.
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Right Turns on Red Lights
Unless a sign tells you “no turn
on red,” you may turn right at a red
light after coming to a complete stop.
You must yield to pedestrians and
approaching traffic. Make sure to look
to your left, front, and right for any
oncoming traffic, motorcycles, bicycles,
or pedestrians before starting your turn.
Then turn carefully.
Some Left Turns on Red Lights
Unless a sign tells you “no turn on
red,” you may turn left on a red light
when entering a one-way street from
another one-way street, but you must
first stop and yield to cross traffic.
You may also make a left turn from
a two-way street onto a one-way street
with traffic going in the same direction
as the turn. Yield first to pedestrians and
approaching traffic.
Passing
When passing other vehicles, always
check your rearview and side-view mirrors for any
overtaking traffic. Use your turn signal to indicate your
intentions. Check blind spots by turning your head to see if
you can safely move from your lane without interfering with
traffic. It is illegal to exceed the speed limit or use the shoulder
of the road to pass. When about to pass a vehicle on a divided
highway, move into the passing lane well before passing. When
passing a pedestrian or a slow-moving vehicle, such as a bicycle,
farm equipment, or a horse and buggy, allow adequate room so
that the person or vehicle is not endangered.
Passing on the Left
On a two- or three-lane road with traffic moving in both
directions, you may pass on the left when overtaking another
vehicle if there are no signs or other markings prohibiting
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passing, and it can be done safely. Passing another vehicle on the
left is prohibited when:

You must cross a solid yellow line.

There is a “no passing” sign.

Approaching a hill or curve where your view is
obstructed.

Your view is obstructed within 100 feet of a bridge,
viaduct, or tunnel.

Oncoming traffic is close enough so you would interfere
with the safe operation of the approaching vehicle or the
vehicle being passed.

You cannot see clearly ahead.

When the center lane of a three-lane road is marked for
left turns only.
When passing or preparing to pass another vehicle by using
the center lane of a three-lane road, always use extreme caution.
Approaching vehicles may also be preparing to pass. If you and
an approaching vehicle move into the center lane at the same
time, a serious crash could occur. If the center lane is marked
for left turns only, using this lane for passing or merging is
prohibited.
After passing another vehicle, return to the right lane when
there is enough room to return safely. One rule of thumb is to
return to your lane when it is possible to see both headlights of
the vehicle you passed in the rearview mirror.
Remember to allow extra room when pulling a trailer. Do not
try to pass more than one vehicle at a time or follow too closely
when another vehicle is passing slower traffic.
A driver being passed on the left must give way to the passing
vehicle. Do not increase speed until the other vehicle has
completely passed.
Passing on the Right
When two or more lanes of traffic are moving in the same
direction, passing other vehicles in either lane is allowed.
However, slower moving vehicles should always stay in the lane
farthest to the right except when preparing to make a left turn.
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When driving in the right lane, passing another vehicle should
be done cautiously, as the driver of the other vehicle may not see
you and may turn into your path. Passing on the right of another
vehicle by crossing the solid white line that marks the edge of the
roadway is prohibited, even if the shoulder is paved or a bike lane
is present. It is also illegal to use a right-turn lane for passing.
Passing Parked Vehicles
When driving past parked vehicles, watch for vehicles that
may pull out in front of you. Look for clues, such as a person
in the driver’s seat, exhaust coming from a tailpipe, illuminated
brake lights, a flashing turn signal, illuminated backup lights,
or at parallel parking areas, a vehicle’s front wheels turning
out. Watch for a vehicle door being opened in front of you.
Also, watch for pedestrians or bicyclists trying to cross the road
between parked vehicles.
Passing Vehicles in Slow-Moving Traffic Lanes
In some areas with a long or steep grade, a slow-moving
traffic lane may be provided to allow vehicles that are unable to
maintain the speed limit to travel without blocking traffic.
These slower-moving vehicles should move into the
designated traffic lane, allowing other vehicles to pass them in
the second lane.
Roundabouts
A roundabout is a circular
intersection at which all traffic
travels counterclockwise, always to
the right, around a central island.
Vehicles entering from each leg of the
intersection must yield to the traffic
already in the roundabout, which is
coming from the left. Vehicles exit the
roundabout by making a right turn onto
the desired road.
Approaching the roundabout:

Slow down before entering a roundabout.
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
Look for roadside signs and pavement markings to direct
you into the correct lane before entering the roundabout.

As you approach the yield line, look to your left before
proceeding into the roundabout.

When an appropriate gap in traffic appears, enter
the roundabout and merge with the flow of the other
vehicles. Never make a left turn to enter a roundabout –
this will place you in front of oncoming traffic.
Traveling in a roundabout:

Always stay to the right of the center island.

Vehicles within the roundabout have the right of way.

Do not stop within a roundabout unless it is the only way
to safely avoid a collision or other danger.

If an emergency vehicle is heard or seen approaching, do
not stop. Exit the roundabout, pull over to the right and
stop, allowing the emergency vehicle to pass.

Avoid changing lanes in a multiple-lane roundabout.
Move into the lane you need before entering the
roundabout.

Give special consideration to trucks, trailers and other
large vehicles. Avoid passing or driving next to large
vehicles, as they may need more than one lane to
navigate through the roundabout.

When entering or exiting a roundabout, watch for
pedestrians crossing the street.
Exiting the roundabout:

Maintain a slow speed.

Indicate your exit by using your right turn signal.

Do not accelerate until you are beyond the pedestrian
crossing at the exit.
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Freeway Driving
Freeways are our safest roads. Traffic flows in the same
direction. There are no stops or intersections. Pedestrians, small
motorcycles of 124 cc or less, mopeds, bicycles, all-terrain
vehicles, and slow-moving vehicles are not allowed on freeways.
An entrance ramp allows traffic to enter the freeway. Often,
an exit ramp will be next to the entrance ramp. Look for “Do
Not Enter” and “Wrong Way” signs and speed limit signs. The
entrance ramp usually merges into an acceleration lane allowing
you to increase your speed to match freeway traffic speed.
Signal and check for freeway traffic by using the vehicle’s
rearview and side-view mirrors and quick glances over your
shoulder. Choose a safe space to enter and then merge into
traffic. Traffic on the freeway has the right-of-way. Do not count
on other drivers to let you in.

On a two-lane freeway, drive in the right lane except
when passing, exiting to the left, allowing another
vehicle to merge onto the freeway, when the lanes are
fully occupied with heavily congested traffic, or when
emergency vehicles or construction workers are on the
shoulder.

On a freeway with three or more lanes of travel in the
same direction, you may drive in any lane, however,
if driving at or near the minimum speed limit, drivers
should stay in the lane with the slower moving traffic.
A commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight
of more than 10,000 pounds, a truck tractor, or a
combination vehicle with a trailer must stay in either
of the two lanes farthest to the right, unless otherwise
designated.

Merge signs are placed near freeway entrances to alert
you to traffic entering the freeway. Always watch for
vehicles merging onto the freeway. Adjusting your speed
or moving safely into another lane will allow drivers to
enter the freeway smoothly and safely.

Always watch for drivers who suddenly slow down
when approaching an exit or swerve into the exit lane
unexpectedly.
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Leaving a Freeway
Most freeway exits have a special deceleration lane to slow
down in when exiting the freeway. Look ahead for exit ramp
signs you want and the lane you must use. Check in front,
behind, and to the side for traffic. Signal your intention early and
then move into the proper lane.
Avoid slowing down on the freeway when exiting. Wait until
you are fully in the deceleration lane before reducing your speed,
and then slow down gradually. Many ramps have sharp curves,
so it is important to obey the posted exit ramp speed limit.
If you miss your exit ramp, never back up, turn around,
or use a median crossover. Instead, drive to the next exit. Get
back on the freeway and return to the exit you want. Never use
the crossover lane in the median. It is only for emergency and
Michigan Department of Transportation vehicles.
Fatigue
One of the greatest dangers in freeway driving is fatigue. On
long trips you can become sleepy or hypnotized by the constant
hum of the wind, tires, and engine. If necessary, let someone else
drive. Do not rely on coffee or “stay awake” drugs.
If you feel tired, stop and rest for a 10-minute break at least
every two hours. Pull off the highway at the next exit. Find a
motel or rest area and relax.
If you must drive, keep shifting your eyes from one area of
the road to another. Keep checking the mirrors. Look at objects
near and far, left and right.
Cruise Control
Cruise control is best suited for use in rural areas where there
is not much traffic. Set the cruise control at or below the posted
speed limit. This steady pace saves gasoline and allows for
acceleration to pass slower moving vehicles without blocking the
left lane for extended periods. Acceleration does not cancel the
cruise control setting-depressing the brake pedal will.
Using cruise control in heavy traffic, near large numbers of
exit and entrance ramps, or when roads are slippery from rain,
snow, or ice is not recommended. This could require the constant
resetting of the cruise control to the point you are distracted,
increasing your risk of being involved in a crash. Most vehicle
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manufacturers do not recommend using cruise control when
towing heavy loads.
Parking Your Vehicle
Crashes sometimes occur because people did not park their
vehicles properly. Whenever you park and leave your vehicle,
always turn off the engine and set the parking brake. Take the
keys and lock your vehicle. Do not rely on the transmission to
hold your vehicle in place. Exiting your vehicle into the street
can be dangerous. Watch for bicycles, motorcycles, mopeds, or
other vehicles that might be passing. Check the mirrors before
opening the door for traffic that may not see you. When returning
to your vehicle, face oncoming traffic as you approach the
driver’s side.
Parking on a Hill
To park on a hill, turn the tires so that if the unattended
vehicle starts to roll, it moves into the curb. Always use the
parking brake. You cannot expect the transmission to hold your
vehicle on a hill.
Parking Violations
Communities may pass parking ordinances
for local streets that are stricter than state
law. Signs will be posted at the city limits.
The owner of a vehicle parked illegally is
responsible for any parking tickets. If the
vehicle is being leased, the person leasing it is responsible. The
following is a partial list of “no parking laws.”
Never Park:
Never Park:


Where “no stopping,” “no standing,” “no parking,” and
“no parking at any time” signs are posted.
Within 500 feet of a fire or a crash.

In a space reserved for the disabled, unless you are
properly using a disability license plate or placard.

Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant.
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
Within 20 feet of a fire station driveway on the same
side of the street or, when marked, within 75 feet of the
driveway on the other side of the street.
Within 50 feet of the nearest rail of a railroad crossing.
 In front of any driveway, alley, theater, emergency exit,
or fire escape.
 Next to a road where you block the view of drivers
turning at an intersection.
 More than 12 inches from the curb or against the flow of
traffic. This means the curb should never be more than
12 inches from your vehicle when parked.
 Within 30 feet of a stop sign, traffic light, or flashing
beacon, including a warning sign.
 In a lane of a highway outside city or village limits if
there is a highway shoulder.
 On a bridge or overpass, under a bridge, or in a tunnel.
 On a sidewalk or in front of a public or private driveway.
 Within an intersection, crosswalk, or designated bike
lane.
 Within 20 feet of a marked crosswalk, or 15 feet of an
intersection if there is no crosswalk.
 On the street-side of a legally parked vehicle (double
parking).
 In a manner that obstructs delivery of mail to a rural
mailbox.

Children Left in Unattended Vehicles
Under Michigan law, it is illegal to leave children less than
6 years old unattended in a vehicle if the amount of time or
circumstances in which they are left poses an unreasonable risk
of harm or injury. Parents or guardians who leave their children
in a vehicle under the supervision of someone age 13 or older
who is not legally incapacitated are not in violation of the law.
Make sure your children are safe from harm if you must leave
your vehicle. And, do not forget about your pets. Pets left alone
in vehicles may also suffer injury or harm.
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How to Reduce Auto Theft/Carjacking
Auto theft costs motorists millions of dollars each year. Be
aware of your surroundings, especially who is around your
vehicle, whether you are driving or leaving your vehicle in a
parking lot. When parking your vehicle, park in a well-lighted
lot, close all windows, keep expensive goods out of sight and
locked up, remove the keys, and lock the vehicle. Consider
buying a vehicle alarm. To report auto theft, telephone the police.
Then telephone HEAT (Help Eliminate Auto Thefts) at
(800) 242-HEAT.
In a carjacking, one or more people take a car from the owner
by force. Sometimes, they stage a minor rear-end incident called
a “bump and run” at a traffic light or stop sign. When you get
out to inspect the damage, one person robs you while the other
steals your vehicle. If you are confronted with this situation,
stay in your car. Wait for police or drive to an area where help is
available. If you are threatened, prepare to drive on.
Other Safety Tips

Keep your vehicle in good working condition.
 Have your vehicle identification number (VIN)
chemically etched on the car window and main parts to
help prevent your car from being stolen for parts.
 Alarms and interlocks to prevent other kinds of car theft
can also discourage amateur carjackers.
 Tell people your route and estimated time of arrival at
your beginning and ending stops.
 When driving, keep doors and windows locked. Stay
alert for danger. If available, take freeways rather than
streets through high-crime areas.
 Close a sunroof at night and in high-risk areas.
 Do not get out to fix a flat tire. Try to drive slowly to a
service station or store with a well-lighted parking lot
and telephone for service.
 Choose the safest route to any destination.
 Park as close to that destination as possible.
 Always have keys ready when returning to the car. Be
aware of your surroundings and people who appear to
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be in the wrong place, seem suspect, or whose demeanor
makes you uncomfortable. While you are still outside
the car, check the interior for possible intruders.
 If someone acting suspiciously approaches your vehicle,
try to drive away or sound the horn.
 In case of danger, stay inside the locked car.
 If you are in trouble, use a cell phone if available.
 If a carjacker wants the vehicle, give it up without
a fight. A car can be replaced, but personal safety is
priceless. Stay calm. Get a good description of the
carjackers.
Tall Loads and Low Bridges - Bridge Hits and
Damages
A bridge hit is when a vehicle, its load, or equipment collide
with a bridge or an overpass. Every year, these structures are
damaged by vehicles or their loads that were too tall to pass
safely underneath.

Bridge hits are dangerous because the driver may be
killed or seriously injured.
 An accident may cause the death of another driver or
member of the public.
 You may be liable for the costs of bridge damage,
examination, and repair.
 You may be prosecuted for traffic offenses.
Save lives by knowing or doing the following:
 Know the height and width of your vehicle and its load.
 Do not assume that the heights posted at bridges and
overpasses are correct. Repaving or packed snow
may have reduced the clearance since the heights were
posted. Know your route and check the height of
bridges before beginning your trip. Resources such as
the Michigan Truck Operators’ Map can help you plan
your route.
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9
Sharing the Road
Safely - Be Courteous!
Drivers of all ages need to be concerned with traffic laws,
courtesy, and safety. This chapter reminds you that you share
the road with a variety of traffic such as commercial trucks,
emergency vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds, bicyclists, and
pedestrians. It is important to be patient with all who use
the road. The material presented here will also help you
understand how to drive in a manner that reduces the risk of a
traffic crash and the risk of road rage.
Safe driving involves more than learning the basics of
operating a vehicle and memorizing the rules of the road. Safe
driving also requires good judgment and reflexes, experience,
patience, and common sense.
A young driver’s understanding and judgment may not be as
well developed as an experienced driver’s. Middle-aged drivers
may grow complacent about their driving ability after years of
driving. Older drivers have years of experience on the road, but
may face challenges brought about by losses in vision, hearing,
attentiveness, decision-making ability, or reaction time. Research
indicates older drivers can improve their driving ability through
additional training, enabling them to maintain their driver’s
license while driving safely. Some communities offer driving
skill programs for older drivers.
Distracted Driving
Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration suggests that distracted driving plays a significant
role in traffic crashes. In 2009, 5,474 people were killed
(16 percent of total fatalities) and an estimated 448,000 people
were injured (20 percent of total injuries) in crashes in which
distracted driving is believed to have played a role.
While these numbers are significant, they may understate the
size of the problem since identifying the distraction and its role
in a crash can be difficult.
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Most drivers understand the responsibility of getting behind
the wheel and avoiding risky behaviors. Distracted drivers who
drive “in a careless or negligent manner likely to endanger any
person or property” or “in willful or wanton disregard for the
safety of persons or property” are subject to prosecution under
Michigan law.
Texting while driving is illegal in Michigan and this includes
reading, typing, or sending a text message. Exceptions are in
place for reporting crashes, crimes, or other emergencies. Drivers
face a fine of $100 for a first offense and $200 for subsequent
violations. No points are assessed and convictions are not posted
to a person’s driving record.
Anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off
the wheel, or your mind off your driving can be a big problem.
Studies show that your brain cannot give full attention to more
than one activity at a time. Even seemingly simple tasks such as
tuning a radio can be risky, especially in bad weather or heavy
traffic. In the estimated quarter of a second it takes the brain to
shift attention between two tasks, a car going 65 mph covers
24 feet.
Here are some ways you can minimize in-vehicle distractions:
Before driving:

Designate a front-seat passenger to serve as a “co-pilot,”
rather than fumble with maps or navigation systems.
If you are driving alone, map out destinations in
advance.

Be familiar with equipment in the vehicle. Practice
performing basic functions such as adjusting the
temperature or radio settings without taking your eyes
off the road.

Preprogram your favorite radio stations for easy access
and arrange tapes and CDs in an easy-to-reach spot.

Ensure all children are comfortable and properly buckled
up. Teach them the importance of good behavior
and remaining buckled up while in a vehicle. Do not
underestimate how distracting it can be to tend to them
in the car.
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
Complete any personal grooming before you start
driving or after you reach your destination.
While driving:

Give priority to the task of driving. A momentary
distraction can lead to a crash. Keep your hands on the
wheel and your eyes on the road.

Avoid using cell phones, texting devices, navigation
systems, and other electronic gadgets.

If you must use a cell phone, the best practice is to make
your call while your vehicle is safely parked.

Do not take notes, read, or look up phone numbers.

Avoid involved, stressful, or confrontational
conversations.

If you can’t avoid eating, choose easy-to-handle items
and make sure all drinks are secured in cup holders.

Take a break if you find yourself “lost in thought” or
tired.
Tips for Sharing the Road When Driving
When driving, you’ll share the road with pedestrians,
bicyclists, trucks, farm tractors, and road repair and snow
removal equipment. Keep the following guidelines in mind
when driving:

Be alert and use extra care when sharing the road with
pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, and mopeds. They
are small and hard to see. Keep in mind that children are
especially unpredictable in their movements and may be
hard to spot due to their small size.

Watch for delivery and commercial vehicles that make
frequent stops. Allow more following distance than
usual.

Check your vehicle mirrors and look over your shoulder
for approaching traffic when pulling into traffic from
curbside parking or driveways.
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
Be alert and listen for all-terrain vehicles and
snowmobiles and watch for signs warning of trails and
crosswalks along the roadway.
Pedestrians
As a driver, watch out and always yield
the right-of-way to people walking, jogging,
biking, crossing a street in the middle of a block,
or darting from between parked vehicles. Watch
for them when entering a street from a driveway
or alley, at stop signs, traffic signals, roundabouts,
crosswalks, and intersections.
Take extra care when people with disabilities are crossing
the road. Be on high-alert for children entering the street when
driving near schools, playgrounds, or residential neighborhoods.
After a traffic light turns green, yield to people crossing a
street or vehicles that may still be turning in front of you or
crossing the intersection. Even if traffic lights or crosswalks
are not present, drivers must still yield the right-of-way to a
pedestrian crossing the roadway. Never attempt to pass any
vehicle that has stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross. Drivers
must take every possible precaution to avoid a collision with
pedestrians.
Motorists are cautioned that pedestrians are likely to cross in
the middle of the block, whether or not a crosswalk is present.
Mid-block crosswalks provide pedestrians with safe crossing
along roadways at places other than intersections. A yield line
is sometimes used to indicate the location where drivers should
stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.
Mid-block crosswalk
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When there are no sidewalks, pedestrians should walk on the
side of the road facing oncoming traffic. Parents should teach
their children this, but drivers must watch for pedestrians.
Be alert for joggers running along roadways. Joggers should
wear reflective clothing, use sidewalks or roadway shoulders,
and avoid jogging at night, dawn, dusk, or during bad weather.
Joggers, like other pedestrians, should be on the side of the road
facing oncoming traffic.
Blind Pedestrians
Michigan law requires you to stop or yield the right-of-way
when you see a pedestrian with a white cane or guide dog.
Only the blind may carry white canes. Avoid honking the horn
or revving the engine; these noises are distracting and cover
important audible cues used by the blind. Also avoid blocking
designated crosswalks. This makes it especially difficult for a
visually impaired or blind person to cross the street. It is also an
inconvenience for others attempting to cross and violates the rule
of always yielding to pedestrians.
Emergency Vehicles
Yield the right-of-way to an emergency
vehicle that is approaching from any
direction or has stopped when it is
displaying flashing warning lights, sounding
a siren or other audible warning, or both.
An authorized emergency vehicle includes:
 Ambulances, fire department and police
vehicles, privately owned vehicles of volunteer
or paid fire fighters if authorized by the chief
of an organized fire department, privately
owned motor vehicles of volunteer or paid
members of a life-support agency licensed
by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
if authorized by the life-support
agency.
 A vehicle owned and operated by
a federally recognized, nonprofit,
charitable organization that is used
exclusively for assistance during that emergency.
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
A tow truck or wrecker with a flashing, rotating, or
oscillating red or amber light that is clearly marked and
readily recognizable as a vehicle used to assist disabled
vehicles.
Failure to yield or exercise due caution when passing a
stopped emergency vehicle is a civil infraction. In addition, it is
a felony to injure or kill emergency personnel for failure to yield
or exercise due caution when passing a stationary emergency
vehicle. For more information about the points given for traffic
convictions involving emergency vehicles, please refer to pages
38, 58, 62 and 63.
When you see a stopped emergency vehicle:

Slow down and move over a lane if possible. If traffic or
other conditions prevent you from changing lanes, you
must slow down and proceed with due caution.
When an emergency vehicle is approaching:

Pull over to the edge of the roadway, clear of
intersections, and stop.

Remain there until the emergency vehicle has passed.
Watch for others. There may be several other emergency
vehicles.

Keep a foot on the brake so the brake lights let
emergency vehicle drivers know you have stopped.

Stay at least 500 feet behind any moving emergency
vehicle displaying flashing warning lights and sounding
a siren.

Never pass a moving emergency vehicle displaying
flashing warning lights unless directed to do so by the
emergency vehicle driver or a law enforcement officer.
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Sharing the Road with Commercial Vehicles
When a commercial vehicle such
as a truck or a bus collides with
smaller vehicles, people in the smaller
vehicles are much more likely to be
severely injured or killed. Motorists
should understand the following
about commercial vehicles:

Commercial vehicle drivers cannot stop or maneuver
their vehicles as easily as a passenger vehicle. They take
longer to stop. A passenger vehicle traveling at 55 mph
can stop in about 130 feet to 140 feet. A commercial
vehicle traveling at the same speed takes 400 feet to
stop.

Commercial vehicle drivers may not be able to see
vehicles alongside or close behind their commercial
vehicles. Commercial vehicles have deep blind spots
behind and on both sides. Stay out of their blind spots.

Commercial vehicles need room to make right turns.
They may swing wide to the left to safely negotiate a
right turn.

When you see a commercial vehicle with its right turn
signal on at an intersection, know that the truck is going
to make a wide right turn. Do not try to pass on the
right-hand side or you might get squeezed between the
truck and the curb. Stay behind trucks making right
turns.
The factors above are the result of size and weight differences
between the two types of vehicles, but vehicle size and weight do
not cause crashes–drivers do. Remember to:

Keep a safe distance behind a truck or bus. Following
a commercial vehicle too closely greatly increases the
chances of a rear-end collision. When your passenger
vehicle is right behind a commercial vehicle, the driver
cannot see it and it severely limits what you can see
on the road ahead. Extend the distance between your
vehicle and a commercial vehicle as weather or road
conditions deteriorate.
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
You increase the chances for a crash the longer you drive
in the blind spots of commercial vehicles. A good rule
of thumb is if you cannot see the commercial vehicle
driver in the truck’s side mirror, then the driver cannot
see you.

When following a commercial vehicle, observe its turn
signals before trying to pass. Cutting in between a
commercial vehicle and the curb or shoulder to the right
may result in a crash. If the commercial vehicle appears
to be starting a left turn, wait and verify which way the
driver is signaling before passing on the right.

Signal intended lane changes or turns well in advance.
Never cut off a truck or bus, force it to slow down, or
stop suddenly.

Be careful when passing a truck or bus. Often,
commercial vehicle drivers cannot see you. Allow
enough time and distance to pass safely.

Avoid passing or driving adjacent to larger vehicles in a
roundabout.

Always pass commercial vehicles legally on the left
side and maintain a consistent speed when passing.
Be sure you can see the entire cab of the truck in your
rearview mirror before signaling and pulling in front of
the commercial vehicle.

Never cross behind a commercial vehicle that is
preparing to back up or is backing up. Remember, most
trailers are eight and a half feet wide and can hide a car
completely, preventing the truck driver from even seeing
your vehicle.

Stay behind white stopping lines. White stopping
lines are there for a reason. If you stop past the line,
commercial vehicles will not be able to complete their
turns without hitting you.

When merging onto the freeway, commercial vehicles
may not be able to move over, so match the flow of
traffic as closely as possible, pick your spot, and go.
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
When exiting the freeway, leave space between you
and the vehicle behind you. Plan your move early and
always signal your intentions as soon as possible.

Be even more careful passing a truck with a trailer.
Often, a driver must swing out to the left or right before
making a turn. The driver may not see you and could
force you off the road.

Slow down if a truck or bus is passing you, especially
during bad weather. Splash or spray from their tires can
reduce visibility. Start your wipers before the vehicle
passes.

At night, use low beam headlights when following a
truck or bus.
Tips for Motorcycle Operators
Motorcycle operators have the right to use
a full traffic lane. Sometimes they may be
forced from one side of the lane to the other
by strong winds or a bumpy road.
It is important to remember that, because
of the motorcycle’s smaller size, motorcycles
appear to be farther away than they really
are, making it hard for other motorists to
judge their speed. Any crash between a larger
vehicle and a motorcycle almost always
injures or kills the motorcyclist.
Motorcycle operators should use hand and arm signals even
with their motorcycle’s turn signals. For more information,
obtain a Michigan Motorcycle Operator Manual from a
Secretary of State office or visit the Department of State website.
Tips for Safe Motorcycling

Get properly trained. Take a motorcycle safety
course. More than 60 percent of all fatal motorcycle
crashes involve riders who do not have a motorcycle
endorsement, a valid driver’s license, or both.

Get your “CY” motorcycle endorsement on your license
before you ride. It is the law.
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
Choose a motorcycle that is suited to your size,
experiences, and skill level.

Both the motorcycle operator and passenger must wear
an approved, properly fastened safety helmet. The safety
helmet must meet U.S. Department of Transportation
standards and be properly labeled.

For protection, all motorcycle riders should wear gloves,
reflective clothing, jackets and pants that cover arms and
legs completely, and sturdy boots or shoes high enough
to cover ankles. Bright colors and reflective materials
will increase your visibility.

When riding at 35 mph or more, motorcycle operators
must use shatterproof goggles, a face shield, or
windshield for eye protection. Eye protection is always
recommended.

About 30 percent of all motorcycle fatalities involve
alcohol or drugs. Riding sober is the best way to keep
safe on the road. Alcohol and drugs – including certain
over-the-counter medications – can adversely affect your
driving.
Tips for Sharing the Road with Motorcycles

It is illegal to drive beside a motorcycle in the same
traffic lane. However, two motorcycle riders may drive
side by side in the same lane.

Always treat motorcycle operators with courtesy.

Leave plenty of extra space between your vehicle and
a motorcycle ahead. Motorcycles can usually stop in
shorter distances and may suddenly swerve to avoid
obstacles.

Pass as you would another vehicle, but not so fast or so
close that your tires throw dirt or stones into the rider’s
face, or a draft from your vehicle blows the motorcycle
about.

Before changing lanes, check to see if a motorcycle is in
the space where you plan to move. After you pass, look
again before you move back into the other lane.
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Many motorcycle-vehicle crashes happen when drivers
fail to check their blind spots before turning, changing
lanes, backing up, or parking.

When at intersections, watch for oncoming motorcycles
and other small vehicles. Their smaller size makes
it difficult to judge their distance and speed. Always
exercise caution at intersections and allow motorcycles
or other small vehicles to clear the intersection before
beginning your turn.

The single headlight or taillight of a motorcycle can
blend into the lights of other vehicles. A single light in
traffic may mean a motorcycle.

When making left turns, be alert for possible oncoming
motorcycles.

Some motorcycles do not have self-canceling turn
signals. So watch for clues such as motorcycle operators
or passengers turning their heads to look behind, or
motorcycle operators beginning to lean or tilt their
vehicles.

When coming up behind a motorcycle, slow down
sooner than you would for other vehicles. Leave plenty
of space.

When pulling out of a side street, remember that an
oncoming motorcycle is probably much closer and
coming much faster than it appears.
Tips for Moped Operators
Much of the advice for motorcyclists also applies to moped
operators. Moped operators must follow the same traffic rules as
other motorists.
All mopeds driven on public roads must be registered. A
moped is defined by law as a motor vehicle with two or three
wheels that:

Produces 2.0 horsepower or less.

Has an engine that does not exceed 50 cc piston
displacement.
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
Does not have a gearshift.

Has a top speed of 30 mph or less on a level surface.
Vehicles exceeding any of the above criteria must be
registered and titled as a motorcycle. Other types of vehicles,
such as electric scooters, “pocket rockets,” and mini-choppers,
may fit the definition of a moped or a motorcycle but cannot be
registered if they lack all of the vehicle equipment required by
law to drive on public roads.
Tips for Safely Riding a Moped

Moped operators under age 19 must wear a U.S.
Department of Transportation approved and properly
fastened safety helmet. A safety helmet is strongly
recommended for all adult moped operators.

Ride defensively and expect the unexpected. Be aware
of other vehicles, bicyclists, joggers, pedestrians and
animals on or crossing the road.

Ride on the right edge of the road, out of the flow of
traffic when possible.

Perform a safety check before riding your moped. Make
sure all equipment is in good working order.

Never drive a moped on a freeway, sidewalk or bicycle
path.

Carrying passengers is illegal – even if your moped has a
passenger seat.

Never allow anyone without a valid moped or driver’s
license to operate your moped.
Tips for Sharing the Road with Mopeds

Always treat moped operators with courtesy.

Leave plenty of extra space between your vehicle and a
moped ahead. Mopeds may suddenly swerve to avoid
obstacles.

Be cautious when passing a moped. Do not pass so fast
or so close that your tires throw dirt or stones into the
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rider’s face or a draft from your vehicle blows the moped
about.

Before changing lanes, check to see if a moped is in the
space where you plan to move. After you pass, look
again before you move back into the other lane.

When at intersections, watch for oncoming mopeds and
other small vehicles. Their smaller size makes it difficult
to judge their distance and speed. Always exercise
caution at intersections and allow mopeds or other small
vehicles to clear the intersection before beginning your
turn.

When making left turns, be alert for possible oncoming
mopeds.

When coming up behind a moped, slow down sooner
than you would for other vehicles. Leave plenty of
space.
Tips for Bicyclists
Bicycling is a form of transportation that many
people choose to use for both economic and health
benefits. Bicyclists may legally ride on Michigan
roads, except limited access freeways, and have the
same rights and responsibilities as motorists. Respect
the right-of-way and share the road with bicyclists.
They are vulnerable. Both bicyclists and drivers
need to share responsibility for avoiding conflicts and
communicate intentions while using the roadway.
Tips for Safe Bicycling

Always ride in the same direction as other traffic. Never
ride against the flow of traffic.

Obey all traffic laws, including traffic signs, traffic
signals and lane markings.

When riding on the road, stay as far to the right as
practical.

Ride predictably in a straight line of travel.
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
Ride defensively and assume that other drivers do not
see you.

Wear a bicycle safety helmet and light colored or
reflective clothing.

Use the appropriate hand signals when turning, slowing
or stopping.

When entering a roundabout, ride in the center of
the lane, traveling at or near the speed of circulating
traffic. Bicyclists may also walk their bicycles through
the intersection using the roundabout’s pedestrian
crosswalks.

If riding at night, a front white headlight and rear red
reflector are required by law.
For more information, please refer to What Every Michigan
Bicyclist Must Know and What Every Young Michigan Bicyclist
Must Know published by the League of Michigan Bicyclists.
Tips for Sharing the Road with Bicyclists

Be courteous to bicyclists and share the road safely with
them.

Do not follow bicycles closely. They can stop and
maneuver quickly. Be prepared for a bicyclist to swerve
to avoid a road hazard.

When parking your vehicle, check your mirrors before
opening your door. Opening a vehicle door in the path of
a bicyclist is dangerous and illegal.
When passing a bicyclist:

If there is oncoming traffic, slow down and wait to pass
when traffic clears.

Do not attempt to “squeeze by.” Leave sufficient
space between you and the bicyclist – at least 3
feet is recommended between your side mirror and
the bicyclist. Allow more space, at least 5 feet is
recommended, for higher speed roads or if a group of
bicyclists is present. When driving a larger vehicle,
leave extra room to accommodate for extended wheel
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wells, mirrors or other equipment that can interfere with
a bicyclist.

Check carefully for bicyclists in your blind spots by
glancing over your shoulder and using your rear and side
view mirrors, use your turn signals and allow adequate
room to pass.

Return to the lane when the bicyclist can clearly be seen
in the rearview mirror.

A fast moving vehicle creates a lot of airflow and
draft around it. Be mindful that your vehicle’s “wind
blast” can startle or even knock a bicyclist off balance,
increasing the risks of a crash.

Avoid blasting the horn, as loud noises can surprise the
bicyclist and may cause a crash.
When turning and at intersections:

Watch for oncoming bicyclists and other small vehicles.
Their smaller size can make it difficult to judge their
distance and speed.

At intersections, treat bicyclists the same as any other
vehicle, yield as appropriate especially when they are
turning left in front on you.

Before turning right at an intersection, into a driveway,
or pulling off the road, check for bicyclists coming up
from behind on the shoulder of the road or in a bicycle
lane. As appropriate, yield and allow them to pass
before turning. Do not overtake a bicyclist and turn right
unless it is safe to do so.

Obey all lane markings. Do not use a bicycle lane as a
passing or turning lane.
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The Segway Scooter (Electric Personal
Assistance Mobility Devices)
The Segway Scooter is an upright, self-balancing,
two-wheeled device that is powered by an electric propulsion
system. To operate the scooter, riders stand on the scooter’s
platform using handlebars for support and shift their weight to
propel, steer, and stop. The Segway has a top speed of 15 mph.
Under Michigan law, Segway scooters must follow many of
the same regulations involving bicycles and mopeds, including
yielding right-of-way to pedestrians and prohibiting the scooter’s
use on sidewalks or roads if bicycle paths are available. Segway
scooters cannot be used on roads with a speed limit of more
than 25 mph. In addition, passengers are not allowed on Segway
scooters and drivers must not carry any packages, articles,
or objects that prevent them from keeping both hands on the
scooter’s handlebars. If the Segway scooter is ridden at night, it
must be equipped with the same lights and reflectors as required
on bicycles.
Michigan law also allows local municipalities to post signs
in business districts or along waterfronts to further regulate the
operation of Segway scooters based on the safety, health, and
welfare of their residents. The Department of State does not
title or register Segway scooters. For more information about
the law and any local ordinances, please contact your local law
enforcement agency.
School Buses: What do the Flashing Lights
Mean?
When the Yellow Overhead Lights are Flashing

When the YELLOW overhead lights are
flashing, prepare to stop.
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When the Red Overhead Lights are Flashing

When the RED overhead lights are flashing,
stop at least 20 feet from the school bus.

Remain stopped until the flashing red lights
are turned off or the bus resumes its travels.
When the Yellow Hazard Lights are Flashing

When the YELLOW hazard lights are
flashing, proceed with caution.
It is not necessary to stop for a school bus stopped on the
other side of a divided highway where the road is separated by
a barrier, such as a concrete or grass median, island, or other
structures that separate the flow of traffic. Use extra care around
buses and in school zones. Children are small and hard to see
and may dart into the street or out from around parked vehicles.
Fines for failing to stop for a school bus are double what
would normally be assessed for a moving violation.
Increased fines and imprisonment may result for violations
resulting in injury or death.
Aggressive Driving and Road Rage
Watch for aggressive drivers. Aggressive drivers run stop
signs and red lights, speed, tailgate, weave their vehicles in and
out of traffic, pass on the right, and may make improper hand
gestures. They sometimes yell at you, honk their horns, or flash
their headlights. You must watch for these drivers because their
actions place them and other motorists at an increased risk for
traffic accidents. We have all seen aggressive drivers. They
disregard their own safety as well as that of others. Do not be an
aggressive driver. Be courteous and aware of the traffic around
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you. Take a moment to think about the driving behaviors that
bother you. If you drive in the same manner, your behavior
probably annoys other drivers.
Avoid the following behaviors:

Merging improperly. Failing to merge smoothly disrupts
the flow of traffic. Always try to merge smoothly when
entering the expressway or turning from one road to
another. If you see a driver making an ill-advised merge
or turn, slow down and give him or her room. Getting
angry will not help and your anger could adversely affect
your judgment, resulting in a traffic crash. A driver may
be wrong, but how important is it to prove you are right?
Do not risk injury or death because you feel you have
been wronged when driving. It is much wiser to back off
and allow the driver to merge.

Driving slowly in the left lane. Use all lanes properly
and obey the speed limit. If you are using the left-hand
lane to pass slower traffic and someone tailgates you,
move back into the right-hand lane when it is safe to do
so and allow the faster traffic to move ahead. Driving in
the left-hand lane and allowing traffic to build up behind
you increases the chances aggressive drivers may take
careless risks attempting to get around you.

Tailgating. This is another aggressive-driver trait. If
another driver tailgates you, pull over and let him or her
pass. It is much better to have these unsafe drivers in
front where you can see them rather than having them
driving on your rear bumper.

Gestures. Never gesture at other drivers when you
become angry. If another driver is gesturing to you when
you have made a driving error, let him or her know you
are sorry. Everyone makes mistakes. Returning gestures
or becoming angry will not correct your mistake. It will
only serve to make both of you angrier and increase the
risk of confrontation or a traffic crash. Don’t let yourself
become a victim of road rage.
Always remember that safe driving is affected by your
driving attitude and your ability to control your stress and anger.
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10
Emergencies and Special Situations
This chapter suggests ways to handle emergencies and special
situations. Remember, driving requires complete attention.
Unexpected events can happen very quickly, leaving little
time to react. Plan ahead.
Emergencies

Never stop on a freeway except for an emergency. If you
must stop, turn on the emergency hazard flashers, slow
down gradually, and pull all the way off the pavement as
soon as safely possible.

When stopped, always be alert for approaching and
passing vehicles and stay well off the roadway. Raise
the hood, tie a handkerchief on the radio antenna,
driver-side door handle or mirror, then lock the doors
and wait for assistance. If you must leave your vehicle,
close the hood and lock the vehicle.

When traveling alone or with children at night, it may be
a good idea to stay in the vehicle with windows closed
and doors locked. It is dangerous and illegal to walk on a
freeway.

If your vehicle’s hood opens while driving, slow down
while looking through the windshield between the hood
and dashboard or out the window for a place to stop
safely.

Carry a flashlight, flares, or warning triangles to warn
other drivers of a disabled vehicle at night. Put flares at
least 100 feet behind the vehicle at the side of the road.
Additional flares placed beside and 100 feet ahead of the
vehicle add more protection.
Braking
Under normal stopping situations, all brake systems are
applied the same by applying a steady firm push on the brake
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119
pedal. Under extreme conditions, such as on snow, ice, or in an
emergency stop on dry pavement, antilock brake systems work
differently than other brake systems. In a vehicle with antilock
brakes, apply the brake with hard firm pressure from the start and
maintain this pressure until you have stopped. You may feel or
hear vibrations or pulsations, this is normal.
In a vehicle without antilock brakes, apply the brakes just
hard enough to not lock the wheels. If the wheels do lock,
release pressure and apply the brakes again. This method of
braking is sometimes referred to as “threshold” or “controlled”
braking.
Skids
When driving on snow or a slippery road, slow down
gradually. Test the vehicle’s brakes lightly to get a feel for the
road. Most skids happen when a driver tries to turn at too high a
rate of speed or stop suddenly on slippery pavement.
To prevent a skid in vehicles with standard brakes, use steady
pressure on the brakes without locking them. This method allows
the wheels to turn, maintaining steering control. If the vehicle
has full antilock brakes, maintain brake pressure and steer.
To Steer Out of a Skid
If the vehicle begins to skid, remain calm and do the
following:

Take your foot off the accelerator.

Turn the front wheels only enough to keep them pointed
in the direction you want to go and no farther.

Be prepared for a secondary skid in the opposite
direction.

Again, turn the wheels in the direction you want to go.
Then straighten the wheels to bring the vehicle under
control.
Driving in Bad Weather
Preventive maintenance prior to the winter season is the best
way to ensure safe travel. Regularly check fluid levels such as
power steering, brake, windshield washer, and oil.
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120
Make sure the antifreeze is strong enough to prevent freezing
of the engine and fresh enough to prevent rust. In cold weather,
you may also want to change the windshield washer fluid to one
containing an antifreezing agent.
Leave extra time and drive more slowly when it is foggy,
raining, or snowing and conditions are hazardous. Allow greater
following distance in bad weather. In cold weather, bridges and
underpasses freeze before the road does.
Rain

When it begins to rain, the roads are
most slippery during the first
half-hour. This is because oil dropped
from passing vehicles has not been
washed away. Be especially cautious
at intersections where oil deposits may
be heavier. Slow down and allow at
least twice the normal following distance.

Brakes may become wet after driving through deep
water or during heavy rain. Test them, as they may pull
to one side or the other, or they may not hold at all. Slow
down and gently push on the brake pedal until the brakes
work properly again.

It is possible to lose control of the vehicle on a wet road
because the tires ride on top of the water. This is called
hydroplaning. This can happen if the vehicle’s tires are
worn, tire pressure is low or when driving too fast.

When it is foggy, drive slowly. Turn on the low beam
headlights. Be ready for a fast stop. If the fog becomes
so thick that you cannot see at all, pull off the pavement
and stop. Turn on the four-way emergency flashers and
wait until the fog lifts.
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Using the Headlights
The distance you can see ahead is reduced at night, so driving
is more dangerous.

Headlights must be turned on one half-hour after sunset
until one half-hour before sunrise, and at other times
when visibility is reduced. Use low-beam headlights
when it is foggy, raining, or snowing during the day.
If you are having trouble seeing other vehicles, they
will have trouble seeing you. Turn on your headlights
whenever you are in doubt.

Headlights must be turned on any time there is not
enough daylight to see people and vehicles clearly at
500 feet. When the law requires vehicles to have their
headlights on, it is illegal to use only the parking lights.

You should be able to stop within the clear distance
you can see ahead. When driving at night, it is most
important to drive within the range of the headlights.

It is illegal to use or even flash high-beam headlights
within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle. Also, dim lights
for pedestrians and cyclists.

If oncoming drivers do not dim their headlights, keep
your eyes on the right edge of the road ahead. Do not
look straight at oncoming headlights. The glare may
blind you for several seconds. A dirty windshield will
make headlight glare worse.

Do not use high beams when driving behind other
vehicles. The reflection of bright lights in a driver’s
rearview mirror can be distracting.
If an Oncoming Vehicle is in Your Lane

If there is time, tap the horn to warn the other driver.

Brake hard, but do not lock the wheels in a vehicle that
is not equipped with antilock brakes.

Look for an escape route on the right edge of the road.
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
Try not to go to the left since the other driver may see
you and return to his or her proper lane.

Try an emergency stop in your lane only if there is
enough room and you cannot pull off the road.

If you cannot stop before hitting another vehicle, try to
steer around the vehicle. Do not turn more than needed
to avoid a crash.
When Involved in a Crash

Stop and remain at the scene.

Help secure medical aid for the injured.

Vehicles involved in traffic crashes that do not result in
serious injury or death shall be moved from the main
roadway by the driver or passenger with a valid driver’s
license if the vehicle can be driven and it is safe to do so.

Notify the police if there are injuries or property damage
exceeding $1,000.00.

Exchange names, addresses, driver’s license numbers,
and registration and insurance information with the other
driver(s) involved.

Leaving the scene of an accident could result in fines,
imprisonment, or both
The Vehicle/Deer Collision
About 60,000 vehicle-deer crashes take place in Michigan
each year, and officials suspect that as many as half of all such
crashes may not be reported. Vehicle-deer crashes are costly.
The average crash results in $2,100 in damages, usually to the
front end of the vehicle. Total annual costs for vehicle-deer
crashes statewide are estimated at $130 million.
If you do hit a deer, report it to local law enforcement,
the county sheriff’s office, the State Police or the Michigan
Department of Natural Resources. They also can provide a
permit to keep it.
Your best defense is to:

Stay aware, awake, alert, and sober.
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123

Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are your best
defense in any collision.

Be especially alert in fall and spring, but keep in mind
that vehicle-deer crashes can occur at any time of the
year.

Watch for deer crossing signs.

Slow down if you see one deer. Deer frequently travel
in groups. Chances are there are others nearby.

Be especially alert for deer at dawn and dusk.

Do not rely on gimmicks. Flashing your high-beam
headlights or honking your horn will not deter deer.
If a crash with a deer is unavoidable:

Do not swerve.

Brake firmly.

Hold onto the steering wheel with both hands.

Come to a controlled stop.

Steer your vehicle well off the roadway.
Motorcyclists are advised to:

Be alert for deer whenever you ride. Deer crashes
happen in urban, suburban and rural areas.

Slow down. Decreasing speed gives you more time to
spot an animal and react.

Cover the brakes to reduce reaction time.

Use high beam headlights and additional driving lights
when possible.

If riding in a group, spread out riders in a staggered
formation. If one rider hits a deer, this will lessen the
chance that other riders will be involved.

Wear protective gear at all times.
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Other Safety Tips

Never turn the ignition to the “lock” position while your
vehicle is in motion. This will cause the steering to lock.
Once the steering locks, if you try to turn the steering
wheel, you will lose control of the vehicle.

Never leave keys in the car or ignition.

Make sure there is enough gas.

Be aware of your surroundings. Is there a police or
fire station nearby, open service station, or other open
business to get help should you need it?

Do not hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers.
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Snowmobiles, ORVs, and Watercraft — Some Facts to Know
11
Michigan provides many recreational opportunities for
snowmobiles, off-road vehicles (ORVs), and watercraft with
its extensive network of trails and more than 11,000 lakes.
With so many outdoor enthusiasts enjoying Michigan’s trails
and waterways, we offer this special chapter on snowmobiles,
ORVs, and watercraft. Additional information is available on
our website at www.Michigan.gov/sos or the Department of
Natural Resources website at www.michigan.gov/dnr.
Snowmobiles
You may register your snowmobile at any Secretary of State
office. All snowmobiles used on public lands must display a
three-year registration decal and an annual Snowmobile Trail
Permit sticker. Snowmobile trail permits are required for both
residents and nonresidents. The registration decal and trail permit
are not required for snowmobiles used on private land. Agents
of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR),
including sporting goods stores, local retailers, snowmobile
dealers, department stores, and resort motels, sell trail permits.
Visit the DNR website, www.michigan.gov/dnr, for the location
nearest you. The website also has information about Michigan
laws regarding snowmobile operation as well as guides to the
snowmobile trails.
Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs)
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
issues all ORV decals. The decals are valid for one year. All
ORVs operated on public lands must display a valid ORV decal
except in special circumstances. Please contact the DNR for
more information.
Some communities in northern Michigan and the Upper
Peninsula have recently enacted laws allowing ORVs to travel
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126
on the road. Check with local law enforcement for information
specific to your community.
Snowmobiles, ORVs, and Alcohol
Michigan’s tough stand against drinking and driving includes
snowmobiles and ORVs in an effort to reduce the risk of injury,
death, or damage to personal property. Any violations and points
you receive for drinking while operating a snowmobile or ORV
are placed on your driving record. Points added to your driving
record may result in your driver’s license being suspended
or revoked, preventing you from driving any motor vehicle
in Michigan. Fines and penalties increase with additional
convictions.
You may also be denied an original Commercial Driver
License and an original Driver Training Instructor License.
A Summary of Snowmobile (SM) and ORV
Crimes
First conviction: Operating While Impaired (OWI)
Sanctions:

(ORV) Up to 12 days of community service.

(SM) Up to 45 days of community service.

(SM, ORV) Up to 93 days in jail.

(SM, ORV) Fines up to $300.

(SM, ORV) May not operate SM/ORV for 90 days to
one year.

(SM, ORV) Four points added to driving record.
Second conviction within seven years: Operating While
Impaired (OWI)
Sanctions:

(ORV) Up to 12 days of community service.

(ORV) Up to one year in jail.

(ORV) Fines up to $1,000.

(ORV) May not operate ORV for six months to
18 months.
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
(SM) 10 days to 90 days of community service and jail
up to one year or up to 90 days community service and
jail for two days to one year.

(SM) Fines from $200 to $1,000.

(SM) May not operate SM for six months to two years.

(SM, ORV) Four points added to driving record.
First conviction: Operating Under the Influence of Liquor
(OUIL)/Operating Under the Influence of Drugs (OUID)/
Unlawful Bodily Alcohol Content (UBAC)
Sanctions – one or more of the following:

(ORV) Up to 12 days community service.

(SM) Up to 45 days of community service.

(SM, ORV) Up to 93 days in jail.

(SM, ORV) Fines from $100 to $500.

(SM, ORV) May not operate SM/ORV for six months to
two years.

(SM, ORV) Six points added to driving record.

(SM, ORV) $1,000 Driver Responsibility fee for two
consecutive years.
Second conviction within seven years: Operating Under the
Influence of Liquor (OUIL)/Operating Under the Influence
of Drugs (OUID)/Unlawful Bodily Alcohol Content (UBAC)
Sanctions:

(ORV) Up to 12 days community service.

(SM) 10 days to 90 days of community service and jail
up to one year or up to 90 days community service and
jail for two days to one year.

(ORV) Up to $1000 fine.

(SM) Fines from $200 to $1,000.

(ORV) May not operate ORV for one to two years.

(SM) Revocation of SM operating privileges.
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
(SM, ORV) Six points added to driving record.

(SM, ORV) $1,000 Driver Responsibility fee for two
consecutive years.
Any conviction – causing serious injury (felony): Operating
Under the Influence of Liquor (OUIL)/Operating While
Intoxicated (OWI)
Sanctions:

(SM, ORV) Up to five years in jail or fines from $1,000
to $5,000 or both.

(SM) Revocation of SM operating privileges.

(SM, ORV) Six points added to driving record.

(SM, ORV) $1,000 Driver Responsibility fee for two
consecutive years.
Any conviction – causing death (felony): Operating Under
the Influence of Liquor (OUIL)/Operating While Intoxicated
(OWI)
Sanctions:

(SM, ORV) Up to 15 years in jail or fines from $2,500 to
$10,000 or both.

(SM) Revocation of SM operating privileges.

(SM, ORV) Six points added to driving record.

(SM, ORV) $1,000 Driver Responsibility fee for two
consecutive years.
Watercraft
All watercraft on Michigan waters, including privately owned
lakes and waterways, must be registered except:

Watercraft 16 feet or less, propelled by oars or paddles,
and not used for rental or commercial purposes.

Nonmotorized canoes and kayaks not used for rental or
commercial purposes, rafts, surfboards, sailboards, and
swim floats, regardless of length.
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129

Watercraft registered in another state and used only
temporarily in Michigan.
For most watercraft, the registration fee is based on the length
of the watercraft. All registrations expire on March 31 in the
third year of issuance.
A Note About Personal Watercraft
Personal watercraft (PWC) are a popular form of recreation
on Michigan’s lakes and rivers. To operate a PWC in Michigan,
the following age requirements are in effect:

If you were born after Dec. 31, 1978, you must have a
boating safety certification to operate a PWC.

You must be at least age 14 to operate a PWC.

No child under age 12 may operate a PWC. However,
children ages 12 and 13 may operate a PWC if all of the
following apply:


The child is accompanied solely by the parent or
legal guardian.

Both the child and parent or guardian have a boating
safety certificate.

The PWC is equipped with a lanyard-type engine
cutoff switch that is attached to the parent or
guardian.
Beginning October 2011, the age requirements for
operating a PWC change:

You must be at least age 16 to operate a PWC.

No child under age 14 may operate a PWC.

Children ages 14-15 may operate a PWC if they are accompanied by a parent, guardian or designated
adult age 21 or older, OR if they are operating the
PWC within 100 feet of a parent, legal guardian or
designated adult age 21 or older.
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A Summary of Watercraft Crimes
By operating a vessel on Michigan waters, you have
consented to be tested for alcohol or drugs if arrested by a law
enforcement official.
Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)/Operating Under the
Influence of Drugs (OUID)
Sanctions:
First conviction

May not operate a watercraft for six months to one year.
Second conviction within seven years

May not operate a watercraft for one to two years.
Third conviction within 10 years

Revocation of watercraft operating privileges.
Operating Under the Influence of Liquor (OUIL)/Unlawful
Bodily Alcohol Content (UBAC)/Operating Under the
Influence of Drugs (OUID)/Combined OUIL/UBAC/
Combined OUIL/OUID
Sanctions:
First conviction

May not operate a watercraft for one to two years.
Second conviction within seven years

May not operate a watercraft for two years.
Third conviction within 10 years

Revocation of watercraft operating privileges.
Operating Under the Influence of Liquor (OUIL)/Operating
Under the Influence of Drugs (OUID) (causing injury—
felony)/OUIL/OUID (causing death—felony)
Sanctions:

Revocation of watercraft operating privileges.
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131
Titles, Insurance, Registrations, and License Plates
12
Vehicles are required to be titled, registered, insured, and
display a valid license plate to operate on Michigan roadways.
The Department of State provides a variety of ways Michigan
motorists may easily complete these requirements. In this
chapter, you will find information on how to register and keep
your motor vehicle legal.
Title Certificates
A title is a legal document that shows who owns certain
property. In Michigan, motor vehicles, trailer coaches, trailers
weighing 2,500 pounds or more empty, off-road vehicles, pickup
campers, mobile homes, and watercraft 20 feet and over or with
a permanently affixed engine must be titled.
New Residents
New Michigan residents must immediately title and register
their vehicles at a Secretary of State office and turn in the titles
or other proofs of ownership from their previous home state.
“Resident” means every person who resides in this state and
establishes that he or she is legally present in the United States.
Buying a Vehicle in Another State
If your vehicle was purchased in another state, submit the
assigned title or proof of ownership when applying for Michigan
title and registration. Tax will be due on either the purchase price
or the retail value of the vehicle, whichever is greater. However,
credit may be given for taxes paid in another state.
Buying a Vehicle from a Dealer
When you buy a new or used vehicle from a licensed
Michigan dealer, the dealer provides all forms and ownership
documents, collects the fees and taxes, files the title application
with a Secretary of State office within 15 days from the date of
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delivery, purchases or transfers the license plate, and provides
copies of all paperwork.
By law, the dealer must immediately provide a copy of each
document you sign at the time of signing. Never sign any blank
documents or sign a document without reading it carefully.
Buying a Vehicle from an Individual
When buying a vehicle titled in Michigan from an individual,
all owners named on the face of the title must sign the title
assignment as sellers. The title assignment must show the
name and address of the purchasers, the name and address of
the sellers, the date of sale, the current mileage reading, and the
selling price. The seller must either keep a photocopy of the
reassigned title or a bill of sale (record of sale) with the buyer’s
name, address, driver’s license number, purchase price, date of
sale, and buyer’s signature as proof that ownership of the vehicle
changed.
The title transfer must be filed with the Department of State
within 15 days from the date of the sale to avoid a late fee. If
the title shows there was a lien (loan) on the vehicle, you need to
get a discharge of lien from the lending institution shown on the
title. Submit the discharge form with the title.
By law, you may drive an unregistered vehicle to the first
place of storage (usually home) within three days of purchase.
You must carry the properly assigned title and use the most direct
route.
Tax Liability
Although the Department of State collects use tax when
the title is transferred, the final determination of the tax owed
on vehicle transfers is made by the Michigan Department of
Treasury.
Use tax is due on the purchase price or the retail value of the
vehicle, whichever is greater.
If the Department of Treasury determines the tax liability
differs from the amount collected with the title transfer, you must
pay the difference plus interest. Additional penalties, including
criminal prosecution, may apply.
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Use Tax Exemption for a Relative
Michigan law grants an exemption from use tax when the
buyer and seller have a qualifying relationship limited to spouse;
mother, stepmother; father, stepfather; brother, stepbrother;
sister, stepsister; child, adopted child and stepchild; grandparent;
grandchild; legal ward; and legally-appointed guardian with a
certified letter of guardianship.
Relationships that Do Not Qualify for a Tax
Exemption
Relationships that do not qualify for a tax exemption include
all in-laws (for example: father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law,
daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law), aunts, uncles,
cousins, nieces, nephews, step-grandparents, step-grandchildren,
former spouses, and common-law relationships unless the
common-law marriage took place before Jan. 1, 1957.
Supporting Your Claim
Anyone claiming a use tax exemption based on a family
relationship may be requested by the Michigan Department of
Treasury to produce documents supporting the claim. Documents
supporting your claim must show the relationship of the new
owner to the previous owner.
It is not the responsibility of Secretary of State offices to
verify claims, so you do not need to have supporting documents
with you when you transfer the title. For additional tax
exemption information please contact the Michigan Department
of Treasury at (517) 636-4730.
Odometer Statement
Under federal and state law, the mileage for most motor
vehicles must be recorded when assigning a title. Vehicles
10 years old or older are exempt. The seller enters the mileage
reading in the indicated area of the title assignment and states
whether the mileage is actual, not actual, or whether the
odometer has rolled over.
Buyers should compare the declared mileage with the mileage
shown on the odometer.
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Selling a Vehicle
Complete the seller’s portions of the title assignment by
entering the vehicle mileage, the buyer’s name and address, date,
and selling price. If more than one owner is named on the front
of the title, each person must sign his or her full name as seller.
Have the buyer enter his or her name, address, and signature in
the buyer’s portion of the title assignment. Alterations on a title
void it. Give the buyer the release form if a lien (loan) is shown
on the title.
Under Michigan’s Abandoned Vehicle Law, you are required
to either accompany the buyer to a Secretary of State office to
complete the title transfer or maintain a record of the sale for not
less than 18 months. The record of sale, which serves as proof
that the vehicle ownership has changed, can be a photocopy of
the reassigned title, a bill of sale or other document with the
buyer’s name, address, driver’s license number, and signature as
well as the purchase price and date of sale.
Maintaining a record of sale for any vehicle you sell ensures
you will not be held liable if it is ever abandoned.
Keep the license plate. You may be able to transfer it to
your next vehicle. Never leave the license plate on the vehicle
or let the buyer use it. If you are selling the vehicle to a family
member, the plate can be transferred with the vehicle to the new
owner. Contact your insurance company to cancel coverage on
the sold vehicle.
Insurance Required
Owners of passenger vehicles and trucks must purchase
Michigan no-fault insurance before registering the vehicle.
Motorcycles must also be insured, but are not required to carry
no-fault insurance. Out-of-state insurance policies cannot be
used to meet Michigan insurance requirements for registering
a vehicle. The Department of State will not issue or renew the
vehicle’s license plate if you do not have proof of insurance.
Keep proof of insurance in your vehicle or carry it with you
whenever you drive. Under the Driver Responsibility Law, you
will be ticketed for no proof of insurance if you cannot produce
your insurance certificate when asked by a law enforcement
officer. The court may dismiss the citation if you can prove
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135
before the appearance date that your vehicle was properly
insured at the time you were ticketed.
If a false certificate of insurance is shown to a law
enforcement officer, the plate will be canceled and you may be
sentenced up to one year in jail and fined up to $1,000.
Registration
All motor vehicles and trailers used on Michigan roads must
be registered and display valid license plates. To register a motor
vehicle, provide proof of Michigan no-fault insurance and either
the previous registration or proof of ownership.
When renewing a license plate, you will receive a new
registration certificate. Keep the registration with you or in your
vehicle. You will be asked to show the registration and proof of
insurance if stopped by a law enforcement officer. If the
vehicle is used commercially, sign the registration in the
space provided.
Your license plate, including a personalized plate, for your
automobile, motor home, pickup, motorcycle, or van expires on
your birthday.
Trailers and trailer coaches are issued a permanent,
nontransferable trailer plate based on the unit’s weight.
You also have the option to buy a Recreation Passport when
purchasing or renewing a vehicle registration. A Recreation
Passport gives you access to all state parks and state-owned
public boat sites.
The Passport costs $10 for vehicles and $5 for motorcycles.
You will be issued a special tab with a “P” on it and a new
registration with the words “Recreation Passport” as proof
of purchase. There is no separate state park sticker. Your
Recreation Passport expires when your vehicle registration
expires and may be renewed each year.
Low-Speed Vehicles
A valid driver’s license is required to operate a low-speed
vehicle. A low-speed vehicle is a four-wheel motor vehicle
whose maximum speed is at least 20 mph but not more than
25 mph. They are subject to regular titling and registration
requirements, and all traffic laws. They may be operated on
public roads having a speed limit of 35 mph or less and are
allowed to cross roads with higher speed limits.
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License Plate Renewal Forms
Providing Proof of Insurance
If your insurance company has electronically verified your
vehicle insurance coverage with the Department of State, you
will find either a nine-digit personal identification number (PIN)
or the phrase “insurance verified electronically” in the lower-left
corner of your registration renewal notice. Proof of insurance
is not required for renewals with a PIN or “insurance verified
electronically.”
If the insurance coverage on your vehicle could not be
verified, your renewal notice will have the phrase “Proof of
insurance required” in the lower-left corner. You may renew by
mail or at a branch office by providing proof of insurance and
your registration renewal notice.
Renewing Online or at a Self-Service Station
You can renew online at www.ExpressSOS.com or at a
Self-Service Station if your renewal notice has a PIN or the
phrase “insurance verified electronically” on it. Visit the
Branch Office Locator at the Department of State website
for a list of Self-Service Station locations.
To renew online or at a Self-Service Station, follow the
easy instructions in your renewal notice. You can also submit a
change of address when renewing online. For any other changes,
please visit a Secretary of State office to renew.
Payment is by Discover, Visa, or MasterCard. A nominal
processing fee may be charged. If renewing online, your new
registration and tab will be mailed within 14 business days
to the address on file with the department. If renewing at a
Self-Service Station, your new registration and tab are issued
immediately.
Renewing by Mail
Renewing by mail is a convenient way to renew. You
should receive a license plate renewal notice in the mail about
45 days before your license plate expires. Please make sure all
information is correct. Indicate address changes on the renewal
notice. In the envelope provided, return your renewal notice,
payment, and proof of Michigan no-fault insurance (if your
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137
renewal notice does not contain a PIN or the phrase “insurance
verified electronically”). Payment is by check, money order, or
Discover, Visa, or MasterCard. A nominal processing fee may be
charged.
If you did not receive a license plate renewal notice, you
may still renew at a Secretary of State office with your current
registration and proof of insurance. All branch offices accept
cash, checks, and money orders as well as Discover and
MasterCard at the counter – a nominal processing fee is charged
for credit card use.
If you no longer own the vehicle or plate, destroy the renewal
notice.
License Plates Stay with the Owner
When you buy a license plate for your vehicle, the plate stays
in your name. If you sell the vehicle, keep your license plate
and registration. However, if you sell the vehicle to a family
member, the plate can be transferred with the vehicle to the new
owner.
After selling a vehicle, you may also transfer its plate to
another vehicle you own. You will need to visit a Secretary of
State office to complete the plate transfer.
Permanent trailer plates cannot be transferred to another
trailer.
Personalized License Plates
Personalized license plates are available in the standard
white, Spectacular Peninsulas, veteran and military service,
university, patriotic, and special cause versions. The Department
of State’s online Plate It Your Way program allows you to check
the availability of a personalized plate before going to a branch
office to order it. Plate It Your Way saves you time and makes
it easy to design the personalized plate you want. Personalized
plates cannot be ordered online; they must be ordered in person
at a branch office. Personalized plates may be renewed each year
for the annual registration fee plus a yearly service fee, which is
used for litter cleanup along state roads.
Specialty and Fundraising License Plates
The Department of State offers a variety of license plate
styles. Choices include the standard white plate, Spectacular
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Peninsulas plate, and several plates recognizing veterans,
ex-prisoners of war, and members of the National Guard and
Military Reserve.
The Department of State also offers fundraising license plates
to raise money for the Northern Michigan Olympic Education
Center, Michigan’s 15 state-supported universities, the American
Red Cross and Salvation Army, the Boy Scouts of America, and
the following six state-supported causes: agricultural heritage,
children, lighthouses, veterans, water quality, and wildlife
habitat.
30- and 60-Day Permits
The Secretary of State issues 30- or 60-day temporary permits
if you want to move an unlicensed vehicle. Bring proof of
ownership, such as a title or previous registration, and proof of
Michigan no-fault insurance. These permits cannot be issued for
a vehicle used to transport passengers for hire or for transporting
goods, wares, or merchandise commercially.
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Disabilities and Parking
13
This chapter provides information on disabilities and parking.
Laws for parking vehicles and issuing disability parking
placards and license plates are intended to allow persons
with ambulatory disabilities or blindness easier access
when conducting business, shopping, or enjoying the many
attractions Michigan offers. All drivers must be aware of
Michigan’s disability parking laws, which are enforced by
local municipalities.
License Plates for Individuals with Disabilities
If you have a disability that significantly limits your ability
to walk, or are legally blind, you can obtain a disability license
plate at no extra cost. The license plate allows you, or someone
driving your vehicle while transporting you, to park in any
disability parking space.
A household member may also apply for a disability license
plate if he or she is responsible for providing your transportation.
Disability license plates are also issued to facilities serving
and transporting persons with disabilities. Disability license
plate applications may be printed from the Department of State
website and are available at Secretary of State offices. Your
physician, physician’s assistant, optometrist, chiropractor, or
nurse practitioner must certify your disability license plate
application.
Reduced Fee Registration for Certain Vans
Under state law, if you use a wheelchair and own a van with
a disability license plate, or if someone in your household owns
the van and uses it to transport you, then the standard vehicle
registration fee is reduced 50 percent.
Disability Parking Placards
A disability parking placard allows you, or someone
transporting you, to park in any disability parking space.
Use the placard to park in a disability parking spot when you
are in a vehicle that does not have a disability license plate.
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140
Never loan your placard to someone else – the placard is issued
in your name for your use only.
The Department of State issues two types of disability
parking placards. A temporary disability parking placard
is issued for up to six months, usually to people who are
temporarily disabled because of injury such as a broken leg,
surgery, or a medical condition that is expected to improve. A
temporary placard may not be renewed when it expires. A new
application must be completed before another placard can be
issued.
A permanent disability parking placard is issued for four
years to people with a disability that is medically not expected to
improve. A permanent placard may be renewed for an additional
four-year period at any Secretary of State office. This renewal
can be done up to 45 days prior to a placard’s expiration. No
additional application needs to be completed.
Applications for disability parking placards are available at
Secretary of State offices, by calling (517) 322-1473 or from
the department’s website. Your physician, physician’s assistant,
optometrist, chiropractor, or nurse practitioner must complete
and sign the application before you submit it to the Department
of State.
Do not drive with a disability placard hanging from your
rearview mirror. This reduces your ability to see clearly.
Display the disability placard after parking your vehicle and
remove it before driving.
Free Parking
Free parking is offered to persons with severe disabilities and
requires the use of a free parking sticker.
A person with a disability must have a valid driver’s license
to qualify for a free parking sticker.
Free parking at public ramps and parking meters is limited to
those people who have the free parking sticker attached to their
disability placard.
Free parking is issued only if a physician, physician’s
assistant, nurse practitioner, or chiropractor certifies that the
person with a disability lacks the manual dexterity to put coins in
a meter, cannot walk more than 20 feet, or cannot access a meter
due to use of a wheelchair or other device.
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Persons with a disability who qualify for free parking must
display a disability placard with the free parking sticker attached.
A disability license plate alone does not qualify for free parking.
Disability Parking Spaces
It is illegal to park in a disability parking
space if you do not have a valid disability
license plate or parking placard, even if you
have a disability. It is also illegal to park in a
disability parking space – even with a disability
license plate or placard – if none of the
occupants in the vehicle have a disability.
Van Accessible Parking
Van accessible parking spaces are wider
than standard parking spaces. This provides
space for the van’s wheelchair lift and ramp,
allowing the person with a disability room
to exit and enter the vehicle. For this reason,
it is extremely important not to park within
the painted area of the van accessible parking
space, including the access aisle (painted area
on either side of the disability parking space).
Doing so may prevent the person with a
disability from exiting or entering the vehicle.
Under state law, law enforcement or a governmental agency
designated by law enforcement may issue tickets and tow away
vehicles of drivers who:

Park, stop, or stand in a disability parking space.

Park in a defined access aisle or access lane adjacent to a
van accessible disability parking space.

Park in a manner that interferes with a ramp or a curb cut
used by persons with disabilities.
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142
Penalties for Misuse of a Disability License
Plate or Parking Placard
Improper use, forging, or copying of a disability license plate
or parking placard may result in a fine of up to $500.
Misuse of a disability license plate or placard deprives a
person with a disability the use of a parking space. Not only is
this a great inconvenience for people with disabilities, it may
prevent them from conducting their business.
Pregnant Mother Parking Permits
“Pregnant mother” parking permits are issued as a courtesy
by businesses and private industry for the convenience of their
customers. The Department of State does not issue these
permits. Pregnant mother parking permits are nonbinding and
are not recognized under state law.
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143
Test Your Safe Driving Knowledge
What Every Driver Must Know
Selected Questions from the Michigan Driver
Education Classroom Competency Test
(Correct answers may be found on p. 146)
1. City driving is more dangerous than expressway driving
because of the:
a. Lower speed limits.
b. Narrower driving lanes.
c. Cross traffic and pedestrians.
d. Worse road conditions in bad weather.
2. You come to an intersection with a flashing red light.
You must:
a. Slow down and drive carefully through the
intersection.
b. Turn either right or left since the road is blocked ahead.
c. Stop at the intersection and wait for a flashing green light.
d. Stop at the intersection, then proceed as traffic allows.
3. You are driving in the right lane on an expressway.
You should probably move into the left lane when:
a. Traffic is heavy but moving steadily.
b. The weather is bad and roads are slippery.
c. Traffic is slow in your lane and cars are in the left lane.
d. Traffic is light and cars are merging onto the
express-way from the right
4. Before turning left, it is important to:
a. Sound your horn.
b. Yield to oncoming vehicles.
c. Swing to the right side of your lane.
d. Wait until oncoming traffic has a red light.
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5. When entering an expressway behind several other
vehicles, it is MOST important to:
a. Keep your eyes on the vehicle in back of you.
b. Adjust the position and speed of your vehicle to
the flow of traffic.
c. Stay as close as possible to the vehicle in front of you.
d. Cancel your turn signal.
6. To reduce the effects of headlight glare at night, you
should look:
a. Straight ahead.
b. Over your shoulder.
c. At the center of the road.
d. To the right edge of the road.
7. You are coming to an intersection with a yellow flashing
light. You should:
a. Stop and wait for the light to change.
b. Make a U-turn; the intersection is closed.
c. Drive carefully through the intersection.
d. Prepare to stop; the light is about to turn red.
8. When changing lanes, you can check your blind spot by:
a. Using the inside rearview mirror.
b. Using the outside rearview mirror.
c. Using both inside and outside rearview mirrors.
d. Turning your head and looking over your shoulder.
9. When approaching a work zone with a “45 Where
Workers Present” sign, drivers should:
a. Slow down immediately.
b. Maintain the posted speed limit and slow down to
45 mph where workers are present.
c. Merge to the right lane.
d. All of the above.
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145
Answers:
1 (c); 2 (d); 3 (d); 4 (b); 5 (b); 6 (d); 7 (c); 8 (d); 9 (b)
The Michigan Department of State thanks the following organizations and agencies
for their assistance with this latest revision of What Every Driver Must Know: AAA
Michigan, Office of Highway and Safety Planning, Pedestrian and Bicycle Action Team
of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission, Pupil Transportation Advisory
Committee, and the Michigan Department of State Police.
SOS-133 (Rev. 11/11) PA 300, 1949 as amended;
(300,000 @ $.17 per copy, total $50,931.76)
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146
Notes:
Notes:
Notes:
The Department of State website is designed to put information and access at your fingertips.
Michigan residents can now conduct a wide range of business with the Department of State from the
comfort of their homes.
 Visit www.Michigan.gov/sos for information about Department of State services,
programs, documents, and forms.
 The official Secretary of State Twitter feed is available at www.twitter.com/Michsos
 Visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Michigansos.
The online, no-wait Secretary of State! — www.ExpressSOS.com
Renewing your registration online is quick and easy. The Department of State offers the ability
to renew cars, trucks, motor homes, boats, jet skis, and other watercraft online. You can renew
online 24 hours a day, seven days a week at www.ExpressSOS.com
License plate renewals are also a snap at a Department of State Self-Service Station, available
at PLUS offices and SUPER!Centers. If you have Discover, Visa, or MasterCard and your renewal
notice has a personal identification number (PIN) or the phrase “insurance verified electronically”
printed on it, you can simply scan, pay, and go.
Residents may also renew by mail. Look for instructions about all of the renewal options in the
brochure enclosed with your renewal notice. License plate tabs and watercraft decals will arrive by
mail within 14 business days.
About Our Branch Offices
 All Secretary of State offices accept cash, checks, or money orders.
 Discover and MasterCard credit and debit cards are accepted at the counter at all Secretary
of State offices. A nominal processing fee is charged.
 Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday;
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Please note: Offices located in some larger cities are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
 PLUS offices and SUPER!Centers are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
 SUPER!Centers offer Saturday hours from 9 a.m. to noon.
 Small offices may close for a lunch hour, and all offices are closed on state holidays.
 Visit the Department of State Branch Office Locator at www.ExpressSOS.com
for information about office locations, hours, and services. Click on “Get Started”
and then select Branch Office Locator.
Access for Disabled Individuals
Individuals with a disability will find Secretary of State offices in compliance with
standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you need
accommodation or have been denied services, telephone (888) SOS-MICH (767-6424).
Hearing-impaired customers may access the department’s telephone number by calling the
Michigan Relay Center at (800) 649-3777.
Sign Language Interpreters
Customers can request Ameslan (American Sign Language) interpreters in advance of
an office visit or may use an interpreter they know. The Department of State compensates sign
language interpreters. For more information, please contact the department at
(888) SOS-MICH (767-6424), through the Michigan Relay Center at (800) 649-3777.
Foreign Language Tests
Original driver’s license tests are available in many foreign languages, with English and
Spanish versions available on audiotape.
For general information not listed above, please call the Michigan Department of State
Information Center at (888) SOS-MICH (767-6424). Hearing-impaired customers may access
the department’s telephone number by calling the Michigan Relay Center at (800) 649-3777.
Secretary of State
Ruth Johnson
www.Michigan.gov/sos
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