alabama drivers license

Getting Your Alabama Driver’s License: Requirements and FAQ

Zutobi
by Zutobi · Updated Apr 30, 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 about how to get your Alabama driver’s license swiftly!

Do I Need a 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 driver’s 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 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 – Learner’s Permit

Anyone 15 years of age can obtain a permit. Once you pass a Written Knowledge Test and the Vision Test, you’ll be issued the learner’s permit (a Class D License with a “Y” restriction). You MUST have a driving instructor or licensed adult over 21 in the seat beside you when you drive, among other restrictions we’ll list further below. 

The Written Test consists of 30 questions, of which you need at least 24 to pass. It’ll test you on traffic laws, road signs, and Alabama traffic legislation. We strongly recommend that you study properly using Zutobi’s DMV prep course or practice tests so you can pass the test on the first try.

If you want to know more about this part of the process, we recommend that you read our in-depth Alabama learners permit guide.

Stage II – Restricted License

This can be issued to anyone 16 years or older that is capable of operating a vehicle. You’ll obtain the restricted license by completing the road skills test. This license will allow you to drive unsupervised, but it’s subject to a number of restrictions that limit, for example, the number of passengers you may carry and the hours you may drive.

Stage I and II have 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. If you have not passed the road skills test (behind-the-wheel exam) as part of Stage II, you must pass it now.

  • If you are younger than 18, you need to have had the restricted license for at least 6 months before you can apply for an unrestricted license.
  • If you are older than 18, you can skip the restricted license and go straight from a learner’s permit to an unrestricted license.

The Steps to Getting Your Alabama 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.

  • The written exam 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!
  • The road test 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.

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.

Restrictions on a Permit and Restricted License

  • May not drive with more than one non-family member in the vehicle.
  • 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.

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?

An 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. 

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.

That's It!

That’s everything you need to know about getting your Alabama driver’s license. The 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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