Getting Your Alabama Driver’s License: Requirements and FAQ

Getting Your Alabama Driver’s License: Requirements and FAQ

by Zutobi · Updated Mar 11, 2021

When you read the Alabama Driver’s Manual, getting your driver’s license can look like a daunting process. However, it is fairly straightforward if you know which license you are going for. Today, we will go through everything you need to know to obtain your Alabama license swiftly!

Do I Need an Alabama Driver’s License?

In most situations, yes! Alabama requires drivers to have a government-issued license when they drive on public roads. However, exceptions are made in select cases, such as:

  • Anyone driving farming equipment, if they are moving it from one location to the other.
  • A non-resident over the age of 16 with a valid license from a different state or country
  • Any government agent driving a government-owned vehicle

Each exception comes with their own conditions. You can find the full list here.

Who Can NOT be Licensed in Alabama?

An Alabama Licence will not be issued in the following situations:

  • If you are under 16
  • If you fail your written, vision, or driving exams when required
  • If your driving rights have been suspended or revoked
  • If you have a record of habitual alcohol or drug abuse
  • If you suffer a mental or physical condition that the examining officer feels will prevent you from safely operating a vehicle
  • If you are under 19 and are not a high-school graduate or active high-school student
  • If you can not provide proof of citizenship or legal entry into the US.

The Steps to Getting Your Driver’s License

Step 1: Make sure you collect all of your documentation. This includes:

  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship (or proof of legal residence)
  • Evidence of Alabama residency.
  • Identifying documents like your birth certificate or passport, or Alabama State Id Card.
    • You must provide two forms of id, one must contain a photograph.
    • If you can not provide a photo id, you must provide THREE forms of id
    • In both cases, one MUST be from the “Primary” id list
  • Your social security number
  • The vehicle registration (waived due to Covid-19) and insurance information

Step 2: Make an appointment with a local Driver’s License Office.

Step 3: If you already have an out-of-state license, you will turn it over to be issued your Alabama license. Otherwise, you will need to pay a $5 fee for a written test, vision test, and behind-the-wheel exam.

Step 4: Once you pass your driver exams, you will pay a License fee based on the type of license. You can find the current AL license fees on ALEA.gov.

The Three Stages to the Alabama Driver’s License

Alabama uses a Graduated Driver’s Licence Program (GDL). If you are 19 or younger, you are required to have proof of either High School graduation or enrollment to apply. Your license type also depends on your age.

Stage I – Restricted Learner’s License

Anyone 15 years of age can obtain a Restricted Learner’s License. Once you pass a written Knowledge Test, you’ll be issued a Class D License with a “Y” restriction. This restriction means you MUST have a driving instructor or licensed adult over 21 in the seat beside you when you drive. 

Stage II – Learners Permit or Restricted License

This can be issued to anyone 16 years or older that is capable of operating a vehicle. Like the Stage I permit, you must pass a required written exam and pay the required fees. Your Class D License will be marked with a Y that indicates you are driving under restrictions, including that you must drive with an adult over with a valid license.

Stage I and II also have other restrictions explained further below.

Stage III – Unrestricted Alabama Driver’s License

Anyone between 16 to 18 that has driven with a permit for at least 6 months (including a permit from other states) can apply for an Unrestricted Driver’s License. You must pass a vision test, a knowledge test, and a Behind-the-Wheel exam to pass. If you are 16, your parents must sign a permission form to allow you to receive an unrestricted license and drive without supervision. 

What if I’m Over 18 Years Old?

If you are over 18, you are not required to attain a driver’s permit. But you must still prove that you are a high school student or graduate before you will be issued a license. You will also undergo the process above for the Unrestricted Driver’s License.

What are the Restrictions on a Learner’s Permit and Restricted Licenses?

When you are driving with a learner’s permit or restricted license in Alabama you:

  • May not drive with more than one non-family member in the vehicle. One person MUST be an adult over 21 with a valid license.
  • May not drive between midnight and 6am unless accompanied by a parent or guardian unless:
    • You are traveling to or from work
    • You are traveling to or from a school sponsored event
    • You are going to or from a religious sponsored event
    • You are driving due to a medical, fire, or law enforcement related emergency.
  • You may not use any handheld communication device under any circumstance while you drive. If you are caught, your license will be extended or suspended.

What is the Alabama Written Permit Test?

The written exam, or Knowledge Test, covers the state laws, road safety rules, and traffic signs that you need to know to safely operate a vehicle on a public road. The test consists of 30 questions, and you need to get 24 right to pass.

The information for the test is taken directly from the Alabama Driver’s Manual. We offer a summarized manual as well as practice tests with lots of visuals and in an easy-to-read format. Test your knowledge today!

What is the Alabama Behind-the-Wheel exam?

The Road Test, or Behind-the-Wheel exam, is a practical exam where you will drive on public roads with an examiner to demonstrate your knowledge of state laws and safe driving habits. It usually lasts about 20 minutes. 

You have to provide your own vehicle, with proof of insurance under your own name. We recommend taking your vehicle to a mechanic for inspection first. If the vehicle is deemed unfit for safe travel, you will have to reschedule your driving exam.

Paperwork Needed For Identity Verification

You must provide an original or a copy certified by the agency that issued it. The document will be deemed unacceptable if:

  • You blot out vital information on the document, even if it is an original.
  • If there is ANY sign of tampering, such as erasure marks over vital information.
  • If any pertinent information is missing, such as the date of birth left blank on the birth certificate.
  • The information is illegible from water damage, wear and tear, creasing, and other flaws.
  • A staple, paper clip, or other binding destroys or distorts pertinent information. For example, making it hard to tell if a date reads 1987 or 1997.
  • If the document is not properly signed.

To apply for an Alabama Driver’s License, you must provide two documents to prove your identity. At least one needs to be an approved photo id, and at least one needs to be a primary id. 

If you can not provide a valid photo id, you will need to provide THREE forms of id, and one of them must be from the primary list. You can find the full list of approved documents here.

Primary Documents Include:

  • A Certified US birth certificate
  • US passport
  • Alabama ID Card
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Resident Alien Card
  • Valid Foreign Passport with US Immigration Documents

Secondary Documents Include:

  • A US State Issued Driver’s License
  • Marriage Certificate
  • GED Letter from School
  • Graduation Certificate
  • US Military ID
  • W2 Tax Form
  • Adoption Decree

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I required to take Driver’s Ed in Alabama?

No. Drivers ed is not mandatory. But taking the course helps improve your chances of passing the written and behind-the-wheel exams, and ultimately getting your license.

How do I Renew My Driver’s License?

Your Alabama license is valid for four years, and you have a 60 day grace period after your license expires to renew it. You can do this online, by mail, or by traveling in-person to your DPS office and renewing your license.

Read our renewal guide here.

What if I have a License from Another State?

If you have a valid out of state driver’s license, and you just became a resident of Alabama, you have 30 days to turn in your driver’s license for an Alabama state one. 

How do I Handle a Change of Address?

You must notify the DPS of your address change within 30 days of moving. You can do this online, by mail, or in person at the registrar’s office.

What if I Lose My Alabama Driver’s License?

If your driver’s license is lost, stolen, or damaged, you will need to apply for a duplicate license at your Probate judge or Licence Commissioner Office. You will not be required to retake your exams, but you will need to provide proof of identity, such as your birth certificate.

Warning: If you try to duplicate someone else’s license, you will be hit with forgery and/or perjury. These will lead to a fine and possible imprisonment.

Alabama’s process might seem complicated, However, if you are patient with the process, then you will have your license in no time! Make sure to have everything ready for your visit to the DPS in advance so the process goes as soon as possible. We’ll see you on the road!

A special note from our staff: The trickiest part of the entire process is passing your exams. Ace your exams with our easy summarized Driver’s Manual and state-specific practice tests.

Take our full course with tests and theory

550+ exam-like questions

All you need to ace your test

Perfect for first-timers, renewals and senior citizens

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