Licensing & State Laws
Alabama’s multi-stage licensing process allows teens to gradually gain exposure to complex driving situations, easing them into driving over an extended period of time. The learner’s permit and restricted stages are key steps.
At age 15, teens can apply for a learner’s permit in the state of Alabama. To do so, both teen and parent must visit their local driver exam office with a state-certified copy of the teen’s birth certificate, a Social Security card and acceptable proof of school enrollment or graduation. Teens must pass a written driver’s knowledge test and a vision test to receive a learner’s permit.
With a learner’s permit, teens may only drive with a licensed driver age 21 or older supervising and sitting in the front seat. Teens are required to practice driving for at least 30 hours, with a parent or a legal guardian or complete a state Department of Education approved Driver Education Course, before they’re allowed a restricted license.
When teens turn 16, have had a learner’s permit for at least 6 months and have completed 30 hours of practice driving, they can apply for this intermediate license. They also must pass a behind-the-wheel driving test, complete a vision test and provide proof of practice driving time. Legal guardians must accompany their teens to the DMV to sign the application form.
Teens with a restricted license are allowed to drive alone, but must follow certain restrictions, unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or by a licensed driver 21 years of age or older with the consent of parent or legal guardian. They may not drive between midnight and 6 a.m. (Some exceptions are granted, such as driving to and from work on a regular basis, a school sponsored event, a religious organization, hunting and fishing activities or an emergency.) They are also prohibited from driving with more than one passenger in the vehicle, not including a parent or legal guardian of the licensee. Alabama law also prohibits the use of ANY handheld communication device while driving, such as phones, iPods, GPS systems, etc. Teen drivers and all passengers are required to wear seat belts.
At age 17, teens are eligible for a full unrestricted license if they have held a restricted license for six months and have no violations. The state does not place night or passenger limits on those with unrestricted licenses, however, AAA encourages parents to maintain their own rules.
A parent-teen driving agreement can help you enforce licensing rules that the state and your family set. An agreement helps you and your teen understand the rules of the road and sends a clear message that driving is an earned privilege that your family takes seriously.
- If stopped by the police, teens should present a valid license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
- Whether stopped as a driver or passenger, teens should always cooperate and be respectful with law enforcement.
- If in any kind of situation involving law enforcement, teens should talk to their parents about it, because this can create a learning experience.