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  • Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers) in Alabama

    Introduction

    Your first Alabama driver’s license is an exciting and important milestone towards independence. Since the process can sometimes be confusing for a first-time driver, we’re here to help you through each step and get you behind the wheel safely and responsibly.

    New to Alabama?

    The Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS) Driver License Division handles the licensing process for the state. If you already have a valid driver’s license from your previous state, you must transfer it for an Alabama driver’s license within 30 days of residency. Visit your local DPS Driver License office with:

    • Your out-of-state driver’s license.
    • Your Social Security card.
    • One form of primary identification, such as a birth certificate or U.S. passport.
    • One of the following proofs of school enrollment or graduation (if you are younger than 19 years old):
      Enrollment/Exclusion form (DL1/93).
      ―GED or graduation certificate.
      ―Certified letter from your school stating your enrollment.
    • Payment for the $5 transfer fee and $23.50 license fee (no checks allowed; fees may be higher in some counties).

    If you have a learner’s permit from another state, you should be prepared to follow all graduated driver licensing requirements listed below in order to transfer a permit and/or earn an AL driver’s license.

    If you have questions, contact the DPS Driver License Division at (334) 242-4400.

    About the AL Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program

    So as to give Alabama teens sufficient time to safely practice their driving skills before becoming independent behind the wheel, the Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS) has instituted a graduated driver licensing (GDL) program, which requires new drivers to earn their license in a series of stages with driving restrictions imposed before earning a full unrestricted license.

    There are three phases to the Alabama GDL program: a Stage I learner license, a Stage II restricted license, and a Stage III unrestricted/regular driver’s license.

    Driver’s Education in Alabama

    Driver’s Ed is elective in Alabama; however, it is highly encouraged that you enroll in a course if your high school offers one, as it will give you invaluable information and practice necessary to be as safe as possible on the roads. A state-approved Driver’s Ed course includes both classroom time and supervised driving instruction and evaluation with a certified instructor.

    If you choose to take Driver’s Ed, your course will satisfy the mandatory 30 hours of supervised driving required to get your restricted license (see below).

    AL Age Requirements

    • 15 years old: Eligible for learner license.
    • 16 years old: Eligible for restricted license (provisional license).
    • 17 years old: Eligible for unrestricted license.
    • 18 years old: Eligible for unrestricted license (no learner’s permit or restricted license required).

    Alabama Stage I Learner's Permit

    Your first step toward driving in Alabama is obtaining an AL learner license (or learner’s permit). You must be at least 15 years old to apply, and you will need to pass a written knowledge test.

    NOTE: To give yourself extra preparation for your written exam, consider taking an online practice test before you go to the DPS.

    Go to your local Driver License office and:

    • Provide your original U.S. birth certificate.
    • Present your Social Security card.
    • Provide one of the following proofs of school enrollment or graduation:
      Enrollment/Exclusion form (DL1/93).
      ―GED or graduation certificate.
      ―Certified letter from your school stating your enrollment.
    • Take the written knowledge exam.
    • Pay the $5 testing fee and $23.50 license fee (cash or money order only―no checks).

    Once you have passed your DMV written permit test, you will be issued your learner license, which is valid for 4 years. You may now practice driving when supervised by a licensed driver at least 21 years old in the front passenger seat at all times.

    Behind-the-Wheel Requirements

    With your learner’s permit, you will be required to log at least 30 hours of behind-the-wheel practice with a supervised driver before you’re eligible to apply for a restricted driver’s license―unless you complete a state-approved driver’s education course, in which case your course will satisfy the required 30 hours of driving practice.

    If you do not complete Driver’s Ed, your parent/guardian will need to sign the Graduated Driver License form (DL-31) certifying that you completed the mandatory driving hours.

    Learner's Permit Exemptions

    The state of Alabama does NOT require you to obtain a learner's permit if you meet any of the following conditions:

    • You are 18 years old or older.
    • You are 17 years old or older and have held a valid driver’s license for at least 6 months without any traffic violations.
    • You are 16 years old or older, married, and considered the head of your household.
    • You have been legally relieved of minority status (i.e. being below the legal age).

    If you fall into any of the above categories, you may bypass the GDL requirements for a learner's permit, and apply directly for your Alabama unrestricted driver’s license.

    AL Stage II Provisional License

    Once you are at least 16 years old, you are eligible to take your DMV road test and apply for your restricted provisional license. Make sure you have met all requirements during your learner’s permit phase, including completion of 30 hours of supervised driving and/or a state-approved Driver’s Ed course.

    When you are ready, visit your local DPS testing office with:

    • Your valid learner's permit.
    • One form of acceptable primary identification.
    • Your Social Security card.
    • One of the following proofs of school enrollment or graduation:
      Enrollment/Exclusion form (DL1/93).
      ―GED or graduation certificate.
      ―Certified letter from your school stating your enrollment.
    • One of the following documents:
      ―A Graduated Driver License form (DL-31) signed by your parent/guardian certifying that you have completed 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training, and granting permission to drive unsupervised.
      ―Proof of completion of a state-approved driver’s education course.
    • Registration and proof of car insurance for the vehicle you will be taking your driving test in.
    • If you're 16 years old, you must be accompanied by a parent.
    • Payment for the $23.50 driver's license fee (fee may be higher in some counties).

    Once you pass your driving test, you will be issued your restricted driver’s license. You must hold your license for a minimum of 6 months and reach the age of 17 years old before you can apply for a Stage III unrestricted driver's license.

    During the provisional license Stage II, you may drive unsupervised, but you must adhere to the following restrictions:

    • You cannot drive between midnight and 6 a.m. unless:
      ―You are with your parent/guardian, or a licensed driver at least 21 years old who has been designated by your parent/guardian.
      ―You are driving to or from school, work, church, or because of an emergency.
    • You may only have 1 passenger other than your immediate family in the vehicle.
    • You may not use a cell phone or any other handheld device while behind the wheel.

    AL Stage III Unrestricted Driver's License

    Once you reach 17 years old and have held your Stage II provisional license for at least 6 months, you may apply for your unrestricted driver’s license.

    You will need to visit your nearest Driver License office and turn in your Stage II provisional license for the Stage III restriction-free driver's license. While the standard driver's license fee is $23.50, most counties give a discount for transferring a Stage II license to a Stage III.

    Follow our new driver checklist to keep track of your progress along the way.

    Alabama Auto Insurance

    In order to legally drive on Alabama roads, you must have auto insurance for the vehicle you are operating. Depending on what kind of license you have, you may be covered under the insurance of the person riding with you, or you may be required to get your own car insurance.

    Learner's Permit Insurance

    During the Stage I learner's permit phase, you may very likely be covered by the insurance of the adult licensed driver who is supervising your driving practice―but have your parent/guardian contact your insurance company to make sure this is the case before getting behind the wheel!

    If not, it is very important to get an insurance policy that covers a teen driver with a learner's permit.

    Driver's License Insurance

    Teen drivers applying for a Stage II or III driver's license are required to show proof of insurance in order to get their license. You may either have your parents add you to the family policy (or to one of their individual policies), or you may choose to get your own insurance.

    Since teen drivers pose a higher liability risk, adding you to a family policy could potentially cause rates to rise by a great deal. There may, however, be opportunities for you and your family to qualify for discounts from insurance companies. For more information about discounts, rates, and coverage, visit the following pages:

    Other Alabama Teen Driver’s Licenses

    AL Teen Motorcycle & Motor-Driven Cycle License

    Teens can get a license to ride either a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle (commonly referred to as a moped) in Alabama.

    To ride a motorcycle:

    • You must be at least 16 years old.
    • You must pass both a DMV written test and on-cycle driving test
    • You must submit all documentation listed above for a learner license.

    After you have passed your exams, you will be issued a Class M motorcycle license, valid for 4 years.

    To ride a motor-driven cycle:

    • You must be at least 14 years old.
    • You must pass a DMV written test based upon the AL motorcycle manual.
    • You must submit all documentation listed above for a learner's permit.

    You will receive a Class M license with a “B” restriction, allowing you to operate a motor-driven cycle only. At 16 years old, you may transfer your license for the regular Class M motorcycle license. You may need to take the driving test.

    For more information on motorcycle and moped licenses, visit the DMV.org guides on obtaining a motorcycle license in Alabama or Alabama mopeds and scooters.

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