While in most states the Michigan Department of Motor Vehicles or equivalent government agency is run by the Department of Transportation, in Michigan, as in nearby Illinois, the DMV is operated by the Secretary of State (SOS). The Michigan SOS is where you will want to head to for just about anything related to your driver’s license and vehicle, including for road tests, vehicle registration, and driving records. Below we will look at the various driver-related services offered by the Michigan Department of Motor Vehicles and how to go about applying for each service.
Michigan SOS Driving Records
Unfortunately, Michigan is one of the few states, unlike California and New York, where you are still unable to apply for a driving abstract online. Instead, you can mail an application to the SOS office in Lansing, fax your application, or telephone the Michigan SOS. However, there are restrictions when ordering via telephone. Also, mailing or faxing your application can be a slow process. The fastest way to get your driving record is by visiting a branch office, showing your driver’s license, and paying a fee. You will receive a certified copy of your driving record the same day, and the cost is just $12. A certified copy will be accepted by any government agency, court, employer, or insurer, whereas an uncertified copy may not be accepted universally. You can also get a copy of your driving record through a third-party database, such as SearchQuarry.com.
Michigan SOS Driving Test
Whether you are a teen driver or are over 18 but applying for your first license, you will need to pass a skills (road) test. Road tests are scheduled at SOS branches located in different Michigan counties throughout the state. If you are applying for a commercial (CDL) or motorcycle license, then you will also need to schedule a road test. While road tests for regular licenses are fairly widespread, not all branch offices offer road tests for CDL or motorcycle licenses. Furthermore, there is no online system for scheduling a road test so you will have to visit the SOS branch in person or telephone them.
Michigan SOS Driver’s License
If you recently moved to Michigan from another state, then you will need to transfer your out-of-state driver’s license to a Michigan driver’s license. In most cases, the written test and road test will be waived if you have a valid out-of-state license that has not been expired for more than four years. You will need to pass a vision test, however. If this is your first license, you are under 18, or your out-of-state license expired more than four years ago then a written test and road test will be required. If you have concerns about your out-of-state license contact the state DMV that issued that license for more information.
Michigan Driver & Vehicle Forms
The Michigan SOS has a section of its website dedicated to forms and publications. However, as the SOS is a large government department there are quite a few forms available, many of which, such as election forms, have nothing to do with driving. There are also multiple sections for driving-related issues, such as separate sections for Driver’s Licenses and Owning a Vehicle, so be sure to check the site thoroughly if you don’t find the form you are after in one section.
Michigan Traffic Citations
While the Michigan SOS offers very few online services for residents, the good news is that paying your traffic citations is usually much easier. The Michigan Courts have an online form letting you pay for civil infractions (both traffic and non-traffic) online. You don’t even need your traffic ticket number. Instead, you can simply search for your tickets using your driver’s license number, license plate number, or name and date of birth. However, keep in mind that not all counties are participating in the online payment system. If your county is not participating then you will need to pay your tickets either by mailing them or going in person.
Michigan Vehicle Registration
If you are coming from out of state then you will need to register your vehicle in Michigan as soon as possible. Registration should also be done immediately if you have a vehicle that has never been registered before. For first-time registration you will need to visit an SOS branch in person. However, if you are simply renewing your registration you can do so online.
Michigan Title Transfers
Title must be transferred as soon as possible after you move to Michigan. All motor vehicles, motorcycles, and trailers 2,500 pounds and over must be titled in Michigan. In cases where the title is being held by a lien holder from outside of Michigan, then you can simply bring your most recent vehicle registration to an SOS branch. This will ensure that you have Michigan registration and a Michigan license plate despite having an out-of-state title. Also, everybody listed on the title must be present when transferring the title, although an Appointment of Agent can be used instead if one person cannot be present.