Applying for a New License (Drivers 18+) in Alabama
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Whether you're a teen driver just beginning the Graduated Driver License (GDL) program or an adult who has never held a driver’s license, everyone needs a valid driver’s license of some sort before hitting the highway. Even if you’ve moved to Alabama from another state, you need to exchange your out-of-state license for an Alabama license.
The Driver License Division of the Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS) provides several different kinds of licenses. Before continuing, determine which of the following licenses you need:
- Class D Licenses, which are available to 16-year-olds with restrictions and to older drivers without restrictions, and are the licenses discussed here.
- Class D Learner Licenses, which are available to 15-year-olds and are the first step in the GDL program and include a variety of restrictions.
- Class M Licenses, which are for motorcycle drivers who are least 16 years old (14- and 15-year-olds get Class MB licenses).
- Class A, B, and C Licenses (CDLs), which are for commercial vehicle drivers starting at age 18.
NOTE: If you’re a teen driver preparing to begin the GDL program or getting ready to make the switch from a restricted learner’s permit to an unrestricted license, your best bet is to visit our Teen Drivers section before continuing.
Younger than 18―During the GDL process, teen drivers must either complete 30 hours of behind-the-wheel driving practice or complete an Alabama State Department of Education (SDE)-approved driver education course. The DPS Driver License Division provides a multi-purpose verification form for both completing BTW time and completing a driver education course.
18 and Older―Drivers who are at least 18 years old don’t have to take a driver education course, but it’s always a good idea for anyone who’s never driven before to get supplemental driver training.
You'll need to take both your written test and your driving test at your local driver license office. Call ahead to make an appointment.
On the day of your Class D driver's license test, be prepared to:
- Pay the written test fee of $5, and/or the driver license application fee of $23.50. Note that checks aren't accepted, and some driver license offices are in areas where legislation allows higher fees so it's wise to call ahead.
- Present the required forms of photo identification or nonphoto identification, in addition to your Social Security card. (Alabama provides examples of acceptable forms of identification online.)
- Present an acceptable school enrollment form or proof of graduation if you're younger than 19 and are applying for the first time.
- Show up with a licensed driver and a properly insured and registered vehicle if you're taking the driving test (see below).
- Pass a vision exam.
- Have your picture taken.
NOTE: Alabama doesn't require you to complete driver's license applications. If any other forms are necessary for your age group or license class, your driver license office will issue them to you.
The written test is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, French, Greek, German, Russian, Arabic, and Farsi.
NOTE: Alabama uses automated testing equipment to provide oral exams, as well as exams using American Sign Language, for applicants with special needs. These special exams may not be available at every driver license office, so be sure to specify your needs when you make an appointment.
Once You Pass
Once you pass the written test, your next move depends on your age. If you're younger than 18, you must hold your permit for six months before taking the driving test. If older than 18, you can generally take the driving test on the same day.
But, if you're just 18 years old and want to take your driving test the same day, you must meet one of the following requirements:
- Be enrolled in school.
- Be graduated from school.
- Be a new mother.
If You Fail
Your driver license office will allow you to take the written test twice in one day. You must pay the fee of $5 each time you take the test.
While your driver's ed class or training course may provide a vehicle, you'll need your own once it's time to take your driving exam.
In addition to making sure your vehicle is properly registered and insured, you need to make sure your vehicle is one that fits your lifestyle needs. If you travel a lot, a car that offers good gas mileage is key. If you have a big family, look at vehicles with plenty of room.
And, if you don't want to spend a fortune, you may want to consider purchasing a used vehicle. Getting a vehicle history report is an excellent way to make sure you're getting the best value for the vehicle you're considering.
Alabama requires all drivers to cover their vehicles with liability insurance, and carry proof of such insurance when they drive. Visit our Insurance Center for details about Alabama's minimum car insurance requirements.
If you've moved to Alabama from another state, and your out-of-state license is valid or hasn't been expired for more than one year, you don't have to take the driving test.
You simply need to make an appointment with your nearest driver license office and present your out-of-state license, your Social Security card, and one other primary form of identification (Alabama provides examples of acceptable forms of identification online). You'll also need to pay $5 for transferring and $23 for your new license.
First-time drivers must take the driving test. Alabama requires all testers to make an appointment and show up with a licensed driver and a properly registered and insured vehicle. Our Insurance Center can help you make sure your policy meets Alabama's minimum liability requirements.
NOTE: Driver license offices don't administer driving tests on rainy days. Be prepared to reschedule if it's raining on the day of your appointment.
Once You Pass
If you pass your driving test, your driver license office will take your picture and issue you a temporary license once you pay the appropriate fee. Your temporary license is valid for 30 days and allows you to legally drive while you wait for your permanent driver's license to arrive in the mail.
If You Fail
Your driver license examiner will determine the length of time between the day you fail your driving test and the day you take the test again, and that time depends on your performance during your initial test.
For example, if you only made a few mistakes your driver license examiner may allow you to retake the test in just a few days. At the same time, if you make several mistakes, or mistakes of great magnitude, the examiner might suggest you hold a permit for a while longer.
You should receive your license in the mail within 30 days, so make sure your driver license office has your most up-to-date mailing address. If you don't receive your license after 30 days, contact your driver license office for further instructions.
You can drive in Alabama for one year, provided you have a valid foreign driver's license and an International Driver's Permit. This permit, issued by your home country, is not a substitute for the foreign license, but a translation of it that makes things easier for U.S. officials to understand.
How to Apply as a Non-Citizen
- Schedule an appointment with your nearest driver license office.
- Present your valid foreign passport with an acceptable visa or your valid resident alien card.
- Present verification of your Social Security number or a letter of non-eligibility from the Social Security Administration.
- Present documentation that shows you have at least 160 days remaining to stay in the United States.
- Present an acceptable school enrollment form or proof of graduation if you're younger than 19.
- Pay the test or transfer fee of $5. Checks aren't allowed.
Please note that Alabama provides a complete list of acceptable documents to meet all requirements.
After the one-year bubble expires, you must complete the same application process as other drivers complete (see above).
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