Licensing & State Laws
To get your driver’s license in Alabama, you’ll move through three licensing stages. As you progress, you’ll also need your parents’ permission at each step.
At age 15, you can apply for a learner’s permit in the state of Alabama. You and your parent or guardian need to visit your local driver exam office with a state-certified copy of your birth certificate, a Social Security card and acceptable proof of school enrollment or graduation. Once you pass a written driver’s knowledge test and a vision test, you receive a learner’s permit.
A learner’s permit lets you drive only with a licensed driver age 21 or older supervising and sitting in the front seat. You 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 you’re allowed a restricted license.
- Keep track of your practice driving with the AAA Driving Log.
When you turn 16, have had a learner’s permit for at least 6 months, you can go to your local DMV to take the behind-the-wheel driving test. You’ll also need to take a second vision test and provide proof that you completed 30 hours of practice driving time or completed a state Department of Education-approved Driver Education Course. Once you do that, you can receive your intermediate license. Make sure a parent comes with you to sign the application form.
With an intermediate license, you are allowed to drive without a parent, but you must follow certain rules to help keep you safe. Alabama does not allow teens with intermediate licenses to drive between 12 p.m. and 6 a.m. — some of the riskiest driving hours for all drivers and especially teens. Exceptions are granted for travel to and from work, hunting and fishing activities, school or religious activities and medical reasons. You also may not drive with more than one non-family passenger in the vehicle, not including a parent or legal guardian. These restrictions, however, do not apply if you are driving with an adult (21 years of age or older) licensed passenger seated next to you. Alabama law also prohibits the use of ANY handheld communication device while driving, such as phones, iPods, GPS systems, etc. You and all of your passengers must wear seat belts while you’re driving.
At age 17, you are eligible for a full unrestricted license if you 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, you should continue to follow your parents’ rules.
For more information on the licensing process, visit the Alabama Department of Public Safety.
The Alabama Department of Public Safety is in charge of licensing for all drivers in the state. The department:
- Conducts the written exam and road test for your learner’s permit and restricted license.
- Provides study materials to help you get ready for the exams.
Keeps track of your license status and can suspend your license if you get too many tickets, don’t keep insurance on your car or commit other violations.
Your parents will set rules as you learn to drive. But state and local police are involved, too, enforcing traffic laws and investigating crashes. By enforcing laws and requirements on seat belt use, distracted driving, drinking and driving, and teen license restrictions, police keep everyone on the road safer. Breaking laws can lead to fines, license suspension and other penalties.
- If pulled over by the police, present your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
- If stopped as a driver or passenger, always cooperate and be respectful with law enforcement.
- If in any kind of situation involving law enforcement, talk to your parents about it immediately afterward.
- Use a parent-teen driving agreement.
- Keep your parents in the know about who you ride with.
- Let your parents know when and where you’re headed.
- StartSmart: Practice Driving – AAA’s tips for parents and teens about practice driving.
- StartSmart: Always Use Seat Belts – 63 percent of 16- to 20-year-olds who die in car crashes aren’t buckled up.
- StartSmart: Distractions and Driving – Read about the most common distractions, and get helpful advice for teens and parents.