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Across the US, each state divides licenses into distinct categories and subcategories based on the vehicle, the use, and the weight of the goods the vehicle is carrying.

The number of categories and the rules that apply to each one can be complicated if you’re not familiar with it.

We’re here to help. 

In this article, we’re going to give you a complete guide on Michigan driver’s license classifications. This way, you’ll know exactly which license you need for whatever purpose. 

Not only that, but we’ll also include each license requirement and procedure. 

We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started right away!

What are the License Classifications in Michigan

These are the license class issued in Michigan:

  • Operator’s License 
  • Chauffeur's License
  • Commercial Driving License (CDL)
    • Class A
    • Class B
    • Class C
  • Motorcycle Endorsement

Let’s take a closer look at each one of them.

Operator’s License 

An operator’s license is what most people think of as the standard driving license. This license will allow you to drive vehicles in a personal capacity with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating ( GVWR) of less than 26,000.

Common vehicles include sedans, SUVs, Pickup trucks, etc... 

Also falling within this category are motorcycles that have a max speed of less than 30mph on a flat surface. These mo-peds/bikes do not require a motorcycle endorsement.

Chauffeur's License

A Chauffeur's license is for those drivers who are employed to drive vehicles with a GVWR of more than 10,000.

These commercial purposes include the transport of people or goods/merchandise, including operating a delivery truck, operating a taxi or limousine, etc...

Commercial Driving License (CDL)

There are three CDL classes issued in Michigan:

  • Class A
  • Class B
  • Class C

Class A

A Class ‘A’ Commercial license is for drivers looking to operate vehicles for commercial purposes. The vehicle should weigh upwards of 26,001 GVWR and are towing a vehicle/trailer that weighs 10,001 GCWR or more.

Vehicles that often fall into this class include tractor trolleys, trucks with heavy cargo, etc...

Class A license holders are eligible to drive vehicles falling under the Class B and Class C groups as well. 

However, certain commercial activities may require additional endorsements depending on the types of goods/activity that is being carried out. (More on this below.)

Class B

A Class ‘B’ CDL is for drivers who are to operate vehicles weighing 26,001 GVWR or more towing a trailer/vehicle that weighs less than 10,000 GVWR.

Common vehicles within this group include school buses, small trucks, tank trucks, etc...

Holding a Class B license will allow you to drive vehicles that fall into the Class C license category.

Class C

A Class ‘C’ commercial license is for drivers who intend to drive vehicles that weigh less than 26,000 GVWR, are towing another trailer, or are transporting upwards of 16 people.

Vehicles falling into this class include ambulances, school buses, small lorries, etc... 

Motorcycle Endorsement

Michigan Driver's License Classifications (A Complete Guide) Motorcycle Endorsment

Source: Pexel

A motorcycle endorsement allows a driver to operate motorbikes that have a speed that exceeds 30mph on a flat surface. 

This endorsement is added to your operator or chauffeur's license. You cannot get it alone. 

What are the Classification Licensing Requirements in Michigan?

Here, we’ve listed the requirements for getting each license type or endorsement.

Requirements for an Operator’s License 

For minors, the requirements are: 

  • Be at least 14-18 years old
  • Provide proof of legal residence and identification
  • Provide parent/guardian permission
  • Complete a 24-hour driving course
  • Complete 6 hours of behind the wheel training
  • Pass a written test and physical examinations
  • Take 4 hours of vehicle monitoring
  • Complete 50 hours of driving training
  • Commit no crimes 90 days before applying for a license
  • Pass a road test

For those above the age of 18, the requirements are:

  • Pass a written and physical test
  • Provide proof of legal residence, Social Security number
  • Practice driving for at least 30 days
  • Not be involved in any violation or accident
  • Pass a road test 

Requirements for a Chauffeur's License

  • Be at least 16 years of age
  • Possess an Operator’s License or appear for a skill test
  • Pass a knowledge-based test
  • Have no violations or suspension on your driving record that would make you ineligible to drive

Requirements for a Commercial Driving License

  • Have a current Operator’s license
  • Be at least 21 years old for interstate or 18 years old for within state driving
  • Provide proof of legal residence and identification
  • Have no violations/suspension that make you ineligible to drive
  • Have no 6-point or impaired driving offense obtained 24 months before applying
  • Sign medical statement 
  • Pass the written and skill-based tests

Additional requirements may apply depending on the type of vehicle you intend to drive and the goods/persons you are carrying.

Endorsements will have different examinations. Examples of endorsements include:

  • ‘S’ endorsement - for school buses intended to transport minors. This will require a visible ‘S’ placarding on the bus. 
  • ‘H’ endorsement - for the transport of hazardous material. This will require a federal security threat assessment.
  • ‘P’ endorsement -  for transporting 16 or more individuals, including the driver.

Requirements for a Motorcycle Endorsement

  • Must be 16 years or older
  • Complete motorcycle course if under 18 years of age
  • Must have an Operator or Chauffeur license
  • Pass written and physical test
  • Pass skill-based test

What are Classification Licensing Procedures in Michigan?

In this section, we’ll give you a brief overview of the process of getting each license type or endorsement.

Procedures for an Operator’s License 

The procedures to gaining an operator’s license will depend on your age. For individuals under the age of 18, a Graduated License Program that consists of three levels must be completed. 

To take the first level you’ll have to be above 14 years and 9 months of age. This level will involve taking a 24-hour driving course, 6 hours behind-the-wheel training, and 4 hours of vehicle inspection training. A written test administered by your driving school will also be conducted.

Level 2 should be started at least three months since you’ve cleared the level 1 requirements. In this level, you must complete 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training. Level 2 will also require an additional 50 hours of driving experience, including 10-hours at night.

After holding a level 2 license for six months, you’ll be allowed to appear for the on-road driving test. Passing this test will allow you to drive, supervised by a driver that is 21 years of age or older, on the road.

For level 3 certification you must be at least 17 years of age and must not have been involved in an accident or violation to obtain a full license.

Adult drivers aged 18 or above do not need to go through the above levels. Instead, after passing the written/ physical tests, they will be allowed to appear for the final driving test after thirty days.

Procedures for a Chauffeur's License

A chauffeur license will require the driver to have a valid Operator’s license or complete the required operator requirements. If you possess an Operator’s license, you must have a driving record free from violations that make you ineligible to drive.

Gaining a Chauffeur's license is fairly easy, with only a written test required. This test may vary depending on the activity you’re looking to carry out with the license.

Commercial Driving License

A commercial driving license will require the driver to possess an Operator or Chauffeur's license. 

Also, certain driving and skill-based tests must be cleared. Again, the tests will vary based on the class of license you are seeking to obtain.

Moreover, endorsements will also entail different licensing procedures based on the activity you are going to carry out with the vehicle.

Upon completing the written tests, you’ll receive a CDL permit allowing you to practice under the supervision of an experienced commercial driver, usually in commercial driving schools. After sufficient training, you’ll be eligible to take the skill tests required to receive your license.

Motorcycle Endorsement

To obtain a motorcycle endorsement you’ll have to have an Operator’s or Chauffeur’s driver’s license. 

A 15-hour motorcycle course will have to be completed at a certified motorcycle driving school (if you are under 18). You have to take the written and physical examinations before you’ll be able to receive the motorcycle endorsement, labeled ‘CY’ on your license.


So there you have it - a complete summary of all the license classifications, requirements, and procedures in Michigan. 

This is something you need to know about before applying for a license.

While most of the license categories are pretty straightforward, gaining a CDL can be a bit more complex, with different requirements depending on the vehicle and activity you’re planning to do. So it’s best to check with the Michigan DMV to avoid wasting any time on any unnecessary testing.

Good luck with getting licensed!

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