Michigan

Department of State Driver and Vehicle Records (MDOS)
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918
(517) 322-1460 | www.michigan.gov/sos

Department of State Motor Vehicle Office
Treasury Building
1st Floor 430 W. Allegan Street
Lansing, MI 48918-9900
(888) 767-6424| www.michigan.gov/sos

Michigan State Police
333 S. Grand Ave. PO Box 30634
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 332-2521 | www.michigan.gov/msp

Michigan Department of Transportation
State Transportation Building
425 W. Ottawa Street P.O. Box 30050
Lansing, MI 48909
(517) 373-2090 | www.michigan.gov/mdot

Title Application

Every motor vehicle, pickup camper, trailer coach, trailer, semitrailer, and pole trailer, when driven or moved upon a highway, is subject to the registration and for trailers over 2500 pounds (empty weight) a certificate of title.

Applications are made to the Secretary of State, upon an appropriate form furnished by the Secretary of State or online and must include, among other things, the signature of the owner, a description of the vehicle, odometer miles, whether the vehicle has previously been issued a salvage or rebuilt certificate of title from this state or a comparable certificate of title from any other state or jurisdiction, and the names and addresses of the holders of security interests in the vehicle and in an accessory to the vehicle, in the order of their priority.


Title Transfer of Ownership

A person cannot transfer the plates to a vehicle without applying for a proper certificate of registration describing the vehicle to which the plates are being transferred.

Unless the transfer is made and the fee paid within 15 days, the vehicle is considered to be without registration, the Secretary of State may repossess the license plates, and transfer of the vehicle ownership may be effected and a valid registration acquired thereafter only upon payment of a transfer fee of $15 in addition to the title late fee of $15.

The transferor must present to the transferee before delivery of the vehicle, a written disclosure of odometer mileage by means of the certificate of title or a written statement signed by the transferor.

A dealer is required to apply to the Secretary of State for a new title and secure registration plates and certificate of title for the purchaser within 15 days after delivering the vehicle.

The certificate of title will contain a form for assignment of title or interest and warranty of title by the owner with space for the notation of a security interest in the vehicle, which at the time of a transfer must be certified and signed, and space for a written odometer mileage statement that is required upon transfer.


Titles for Mobile Homes

Mobile homes are titled in Michigan. The title is identified as a “Certificate of Manufactured Home Ownership” or “Certificate of Mobile Home Title.”

Registration Application

The Secretary of State will issue a registration certificate and a certificate of title when registering a vehicle and upon receipt of the required fees.

The registration certificate is delivered to the owner and must contain on its face the date issued, the name and address of the owner, the registration number assigned to the vehicle, expiration date of plate, and a description of the vehicle as determined by the Secretary of State.

A temporary registration may be issued to an owner of a vehicle. The registration shall be valid for 30 days or 60 days from date of issue and shall be in a form as determined by the Secretary of State.

If a person, after making application for or obtaining the registration of a vehicle or a certificate of title, moves from the address named in the application, the person within 10 days after moving must notify the Secretary of State in writing of the old and new addresses.

There is no period of grace for late registration.

The Secretary of State will refuse issuance of a registration or a transfer of registration if the application contains a false or fraudulent statement, the applicant has failed to furnish required information or reasonable additional information requested by the Secretary of State, the applicant is not entitled to the registration of the vehicle under this act, or the applicant has not paid the required fees.

Registrations are issued for permanent, non-expiring plates based on a trailer unit’s weight. New registrations for trailers are permanent and do not expire.

Applications are made to the Secretary of State, upon an appropriate form furnished by the Secretary of State.


Registration for Non-Residents

A non-resident owner of a vehicle otherwise subject to registration may not operate the vehicle for a period exceeding 90 days without securing registration in this state. This applies to military personnel on active duty.

Non-resident owners of vehicles used for transportation of persons and property within the state must be registered and pay corresponding fees.

The Secretary of State may issue to the non-resident owner a temporary permit authorizing the operation of the foreign vehicle within this state for a period of 72 hours, without registering the vehicle, on the payment of a fee.

Non-residents are permitted the operation of a vehicle within this state without registering the vehicle in, or paying any fees to, this state if the vehicle at all times is duly registered in, and displays upon it a valid registration certificate and registration plate or plates issued for the vehicle in the place of residence of the owner.


Registration Type

A vehicle registration issued by the Secretary of State expires on the owner’s birthday. If the owner’s next birthday is at least 6 months but not more than 12 months in the future, the owner shall receive a registration valid until the owner’s next birthday.

The Secretary of State, upon request, may issue a vehicle registration for more than 1 year.

The registration for a motorcycle expires on the owner’s birthday.

Registration must be carried at all times by the driver of the vehicle.


Emissions Inspection

No statewide emissions inspections required.


Safety Inspection

No statewide periodic vehicle safety inspection requirement. A police officer may stop and inspect any vehicle for suspected equipment and safety violations. Temporary vehicle check lanes may also be established.


Title and Registration Fees

AUTOMOBILE

Title Fee: $15.00

Registration Fee: If vehicle model is earlier than 1983, then fee depends on weight. If vehicle model is 1983 or later, the fee depends on the list price of the vehicle.

MOTORCYCLE

Title Fee: $15.00

Registration Fee: $23.00

DUPLICATES

Plate Fee: $5.00

Registration Fee: n/a

Driver’s License Fee: $9.00

Title Fee: n/a

Special Plates: $30.00-$35.00

Plate Disbursement

The plate is required to be attached to the rear of the vehicle. The plate must be attached at a height of not less than 12 inches from the ground, measured from the bottom of the plate, in a place and position which is clearly visible.

The color scheme of the standard license plate is blue on white.

Plates are validated by stickers.

Special license plate or windshield placard disabled drivers is available upon application with doctor’s statement to Secretary of State.

The Secretary of State shall issue to the owner 1 registration plate.

Vehicle registration plates become ineligible for renewal 10 years after they are issued. An owner of a registered vehicle with a registration plate that is ineligible for renewal must acquire a replacement plate upon paying appropriate fees.

Transfer of Plates

The registration plate may be transferred to another vehicle upon proper application and payment of a transfer fee.

A person cannot transfer the plates to a vehicle without applying for a proper certificate of registration describing the vehicle to which the plates are being transferred.

Upon transfer of title, the registration plates issued for the vehicle must be removed, destroyed, or retained and preserved by the owner for transfer to another vehicle upon application and payment of the required fees.

Driver’s License Examination

Vision screening (20/40 visual acuity) and knowledge tests are required to obtain a Level 1 graduated license. If the applicant is age 18 or older, he or she must pass a vision screening and knowledge test to obtain a Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP).

Teens in the graduated licensing program will take the knowledge test as part of segment 1 of driver education. Knowledge tests will be administered by the Department of State.

An original license examination without a vehicle group designation or endorsement must include a behind-the-wheel road test.

The Secretary of State may waive the requirement of a behind-the-wheel road test, knowledge test, or road sign test of an applicant for an original operator’s or chauffeur’s license without a vehicle group designation or endorsement who at the time of the application is the holder of a valid, unrevoked operator’s or chauffeur’s license issued by another state or country.

Vision screenings are required with each renewal conducted in-person.

The results of a knowledge test for an original group designation or endorsement shall be valid for 12 months.


Graduated Driver’s Licensing

Michigan has a system of graduated licensing for novice drivers.

At age 14 and 9 months, individuals who have completed the first segment of driver education, including 6 hours of on-the-road driving with an instructor, and pass a vision test and health standards are eligible for a learner’s license/permit.

  • An individual with a learner’s license/permit may drive only when accompanied either by a licensed parent or legal guardian or, with the permission of the parent or legal guardian, a licensed driver 21 years of age or older.

At age 16, drivers are eligible for an intermediate license who have: (1) held the permit for at least 6 months; (2) accumulated 50 hours (10 at night) of parental/guardian certified driving; (3) completed segment 2 of driver education; (4) no convictions/civil infractions, license suspensions, or crashes during the 90-day period immediately prior to applying for an intermediate license; and (5) passed a road test.

  • Intermediate license holders are prohibited from driving unsupervised between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless driving to or from employment.
  • Intermediate license holders may not transport more than 1 non-family passenger under age 21 unless traveling to or from work, school, or a school-sanctioned event.

At age 17, drivers are eligible for an unrestricted license who have held an intermediate license for at least 6 months and completed 12 consecutive months of driving without a moving violation, an at-fault crash (even if no citation is issued), a license suspension, or a violation of the graduated license restrictions.

Throughout graduated licensing program, parents receive a separate notice of traffic offenses from the Department of State.

Driver education is required for all license applicants under age 18.


Driver’s License Issuance/Application

The application must include the applicant’s full name, date of birth, residence address, height, sex, eye color, signature, photo, and, to the extent required to comply with federal law, the applicant’s Social Security Number.

A license may not be issued to a person under 18 years of age unless that person successfully passes a driver education course and examination given by a public school, nonpublic school, or an equivalent course approved by the Department of State given by a licensed driver training school.

A license may not be issued to anyone over 18 years of age who has not held a temporary instruction permit for at least 30 days.

A student while enrolled in an approved driver education program and who has successfully completed 10 hours of classroom instruction and the equivalent of 2 hours of behind-the-wheel training may be issued a temporary driver education certificate furnished by the Department of State that authorizes a student to drive a motor vehicle when accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian. If the person is over the age of 18, any licensed adult driver may accompany them.

The Secretary of State may issue an original operator’s license and designate level 1, 2, or 3 graduated licensing provisions to a person who is less than 18 years of age and has been licensed in another state or country.

The licensee shall have his or her operator’s or chauffeur’s license, in his or her immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle.

License includes color photograph. Does not include Social Security Number.

License must include medical information, including blood type, immunization data, hearing ability, medication data, and donor status.

License may also include a digitized code for voter information.


Driver’s License Renewal

A driver’s license expires on the birthday of the driver on the 4th year following issuance unless suspended or revoked.

A first operator’s license will expire on the driver’s 21st birthday. Under 21 licenses are vertical; over 21 licenses are horizontal.

A person holding a license at any time within 45 days before the expiration of his or her license may make application for a new license. However, if the licensee will be out of the state during the 45 days immediately preceding expiration of the license or for other good cause shown cannot apply for a license within the 45-day period, application for a new license may be made not more than 6 months before expiration of the license.

A person who will be out-of-state for more than 90 days beyond the expiration date of his or her operator’s license may apply for a 2-year extension of his or her driving privileges.

A member of the U.S. Armed Forces, while on active duty, may use an expired Michigan driver’s license in conjunction with his/her military papers for a period not to exceed:

  • 30 days from the person’s first leave of absence following the expiration of his/her license (the leave does not have to be to Michigan; this refers to any leave of absence), or
  • 30 days from the date of the person’s discharge following the expiration of his/her license.

Spouses and dependents of active military personnel are not granted the same extension allowed for military personnel. A spouse or dependent’s driver’s license expires on his/her birthday in the expiration year. The license may be renewed through the mail.


Types of Driver’s Licenses

A chauffeur’s license must be obtained to drive any size motor vehicle used as a common or contract carrier of persons or property, or if the applicant is employed for the principal purpose of driving a motor vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,000 lbs. or more.

Motorcycle endorsements are separate and distinct for 3-wheeled and 2-wheeled vehicle operating privileges.

Group A licenses authorize holders to drive a vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or over, provided the GVWR of any towed vehicles is 10,001 pounds or more.

Group B licenses authorize holders to drive a vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. and over, provided the GVWR of any towed vehicles is 10,000 pounds or less.

Group C licenses authorize holders to drive a vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers.

Group N licenses authorize holders to drive a tank vehicle.

Group H licenses authorize holders to drive a commercial motor vehicle carrying hazardous materials.

Group P licenses authorize holders to drive school buses.

Group F licenses authorize holders to drive a vehicle with a GVWR more than 26,001 lbs. and operated near a farm.

Group R licenses authorize holders to drive a pick-up truck equipped with a fifth-wheel assembly with an attached semitrailer designed for recreational living purposes or towing an additional trailer.

Group S licenses authorize holders to drive a school bus with students aboard.

Distracted Driving

Text messaging while driving is prohibited. Handheld cell phone use is banned for learner’s permit and intermediate license holders. Detroit and Troy have a prohibition on using handheld cell phones while driving.


Emergency Radio/Cellular

In some areas citizen band radio channel 9 is monitored for emergency calls. Emergency number is 911.


Headsets

No prohibition on wearing of headsets while driving.


Impaired Driving

All 50 states and the District of Columbia prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating beverages, with the illegal per se limit set at 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (.08 BAC). All 50 states and the District of Columbia set the legal drinking age at 21.

Every state’s chemical test law has ‘‘an implied consent’’ provision providing that any person operating a motor vehicle on a public highway, who is suspected of driving while intoxicated, consents to a chemical test to determine if he or she is inebriated. Failure to submit or pass such a test may cause the driver’s license to be suspended or revoked regardless of any court action finding the person innocent of the charge.

The most comprehensive resource on U.S. impaired driving laws is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Digest of Impaired Driving and Selected Beverage Control Laws.  NHTSA’s Digest is updated annually.

Michigan requires the use of ignition interlocks for repeat and high BAC (.17 BAC or greater) impaired driving offenders only.


Move Over Law

State law requires drivers approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights, including towing and recovery vehicles, traveling in the same direction, to vacate the lane closest if safe and possible to do so, or to slow to a speed safe for weather, road and traffic conditions.


Seat Belts

Seat belts are required for the driver and all front seat passengers age 16 and older.

Violation of the seat belt law is a standard offense.

Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is not permitted for persons under age 18 unless the vehicle is moving under 16 mph; some other exceptions apply.


Child Passenger Safety

Children under age 16 must wear a seat belt or be in an approved restraint system regardless of where they sit in the vehicle.

Children under age 8 and less than 4 feet 9 inches shall be properly secured in a booster seat or child restraint system.

Children under age 4 must be properly secured in a child restraint system in the rear seat, if possible.

Violation of the child restraint law is a standard offense.


Railroad Crossing

Vehicles must stop between 15 and 50 feet from the nearest rail when a signal indicates the approach of a train or if a train is clearly visible.

All motor vehicles carrying passengers for hire or hazardous material must stop before crossing.


School Buses

All vehicles must stop not less than 20 feet from a stopped school bus displaying alternately flashing red lights and may not proceed until the school bus has resumed motion or the visual signals are no longer actuated.

Bumper Height

A passenger car shall not have a frame height that exceeds 12 inches or a bumper height that exceeds 22 inches. A pickup truck or sport utility vehicle cannot exceed the following: up to 4,500 GVWR – 24-inch frame height, 26-inch bumper height; 4,501 to 7,500 GVWR – 24-inch frame height, 28-inch bumper height; 7,501 to 10,000 GVWR – 26-inch frame height, 30-inch bumper height.

All trucks or sport utility vehicles having an increased suspension must be equipped with a bumper on both the front and rear of the vehicle.


Headlight Use

Headlights are required to be on 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, and when visibility is less than 500 feet.


Hazard Light Use

Hazard light use is permitted while driving.


Tire Chains

Tire chain usage is permitted for hazardous weather or other related incidents only, but may not damage the highway surface.


Studded Tires

Studded tires are permitted but only with rubber studs.


Glass/Window Tinting

No window application may be used on the front windshield, unless accompanied by a letter from a certified physician stating a medical necessity of the motor vehicle driver.

A tinted film, however, may be applied no more than 4 inches from the top of the windshield and front side windows.

Rear and rear side window tinting is allowed.


Telematics

Televisions viewable by drivers are prohibited in motor vehicles. Certain accessory controls and vehicle information or navigation systems that are either built in or do not interfere with the Driver’s view or control are permitted.


Radar Detectors

Radar detectors are permitted for passenger vehicles but prohibited for use by commercial vehicles.


Windshield Stickers

Prohibited if they interfere with vision.


Other Equipment Rules

N/A.

Motorcycle Equipment

A motorcycle must be equipped with adequate seats and foot rests or pegs for each designated seating position.

Handlebars may not be higher than 15 inches from the lowest point of the undepressed saddle to the highest point of the handle grip of the operator.

A person under age 21 operating or riding on a motorcycle on a public thoroughfare shall wear a U.S. DOT approved crash helmet.  Persons age 21 and older must wear a helmet unless they have had a motorcycle endorsement for at least 2 years or have passed a motorcycle safety course, and have $20,000 in insurance.


Motorcycle Licenses

A person, before operating a motorcycle upon a public street or highway in this state, must procure a motorcycle endorsement on the operator’s or chauffeur’s license.

Before a person who is less than 18 years of age is issued an original motorcycle endorsement on an operator’s or chauffeur’s license, the person must pass an examination and a motorcycle safety course.

A person applying for a motorcycle endorsement who has completed an approved motorcycle safety course will not need to complete a written knowledge test, road sign test, or driving skills test.

A person, before operating a moped upon a highway, must procure a special restricted license to operate a moped unless the person has a valid operator’s or chauffeur’s license. A special restricted license to operate a moped may be issued to a person 15 years of age or older if the person satisfies the Secretary of State that he is competent to operate a moped with safety.


Motorcycle Noise Limits

At a distance of 50 feet, the noise limit is 86 decibels if the maximum lawful speed on the highway or street is greater than 35 mph and 82 decibels if the maximum lawful speed on the highway or street is not more than 35 mph. There can be no excessive or unusual noise.


Mopeds & Other

Mopeds must be registered but need not be insured.

A moped registration shall be valid for a 3-year period that begins on May 1 and expires on April 30 of the third registration year.

A moped or a low-speed vehicle must have permanently affixed to its frame a manufacturer’s identification number and registration decal.

A crash helmet is required for all operators under age 19.

A moped or low-speed vehicle cannot be operated on a sidewalk constructed for the use of pedestrians.

A low-speed vehicle must be operated at a speed of not to exceed 25 mph and cannot be operated on a highway, road, or street with a speed limit of more than 35 mph except for the purpose of crossing that highway, road, or street.

Every moped must be equipped with a head lamp.

A moped shall not be used to carry more than 1 person at a time.

Trailer Dimensions

Total length: 65 feet; trailer length: 28 feet 6 inches; motor home length: 45 feet; width: 8 feet 6 inches (excludes appurtenances for motor homes); height: 13 feet 6 inches.


Trailer Brakes

Independent braking system required when gross weight exceeds 15,000 lbs.


Trailer Hitch/Signals

The hitch cannot exceed 15 feet in length from 1 vehicle to the other and may not allow either vehicle to deviate more than 3 inches from the other.

If the connection consists of a chain, rope, or cable, there shall be displayed upon the connection a red flag or other signal or cloth not less than 12 inches both in length and width.


Trailer Lighting

All trailers must be equipped with at least 1 rear lamp mounted on the rear that emits a red light plainly visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear.

The rear registration plate must be illuminated with white light so as to be visible from a distance of 50 feet to the rear.

Also required: on the front, 2 clearance lamps, 1 at each side; on each side, 2 side marker lamps, 1 at or near the front and 1 at or near the rear; on each side, 2 reflectors, 1 at or near the front and 1 at or near the rear; and on the rear, 2 clearance lamps, 1 at each side, also 2 reflectors, 1 at each side, and 1 stop light.


Trailer Mirrors

Required.


Trailer Speed Limits

A person driving a passenger vehicle pulling another vehicle or trailer shall not exceed the posted speed limit.


Trailer Towing

N/A


Trailer Other Provisions

Riding in towed trailers is permitted.

Accident Reporting

Crashes are required to be immediately reported in cases of death, injury, or if property damage exceeds $1000.00.


Bail Bonds

State has mandatory recognition of AAA arrest bond certificates up to $1,000 with specified exceptions.


Liability Laws

State has no-fault insurance law. Sale and purchase are mandatory. Motorist must show proof of insurance at request of law enforcement officer. Benefits: medical and hospital, unlimited; funeral up to $2,500; wage loss $4,070 per month for maximum of 36 months; replacement services $20/day payable to victim or survivor. General damages: cannot recover from an insured motorist unless injuries result in death, serious impairment of body function, permanent serious disfigurement. The benefits available to nonresidents may depend on whether insurer of non¬resident vehicle has filed certificate of no-fault protection. Insurance is compulsory for non-resident vehicle if in state for an aggregate of more than 30 days in any calendar year.

Minimum insurance requirements are $20,000 for bodily injury to or death of 1 person in any 1 accident; $40,000 for bodily injury to or death of 2 or more persons in any 1 accident; and $10,000 for injury to or destruction of property of others in any 1 accident.

Proof of financial responsibility must be furnished by filing with the Secretary of State a written certificate of any insurance carrier duly authorized to do business in this state, certifying that there is in effect a motor vehicle liability policy for the benefit of the registration applicant.


Weigh Stations

The following vehicles must stop: (1) vehicles with dual rear wheels transporting agricultural products; (2) trucks over 10,000 lbs. with dual rear wheels and/or towing construction equipment; (3) all tractor/semitrailer combination vehicles.


Bicycles

Bicycle helmets are not required.

Drivers passing a bicycle rider traveling in the same direction must pass at a safe distance.


Other

Michigan is party to the Non-Resident Violator Compact.