How to Get a Commercial Drivers License in Alabama
An Alabama CDL, or commercial drivers license, is a specialty license that grants motorists authorization to operate commercial vehicles. Motorists need the CDL license to drive commercial passenger vehicles, such as taxis or medical transports, as well as tractor-trailers or tanker trucks. Commercial licenses are not interchangeable with standard drivers licenses, and motorists usually seek to qualify for them when they find themselves needing certification for employment purposes.
CDLs are issued by individual states, just as regular licenses are. Truck driver license holders may only be commercially certified by one state at a time. Each state maintains its own rules and policies on CDL licensing that applicants must follow. In Alabama, this includes submitting medical certifications to state authorities as part of the licensing process. Commercial licensees are held to higher standards of knowledge, safety and conduct than standard license holders, and are more severely impacted by driving infractions than other motorists.
CDL Requirements in Alabama
Alabama CDL license requirements state that motorists must be at least 18 years of age to apply for their CDL licenses, and no fewer than 21 years of age to receive the interstate-specific license. Applicants must pass a series of examinations and prerequisites to qualify, including:
- Residency requirements.
- Passing a DOT medical examination.
- Passing one or more CDL written knowledge tests.
- Passing a three-part driving skills test.
State CDL requirements prohibit motorists from receiving – or keeping – Alabama commercial drivers licenses under certain circumstances. These include if they:
- Are convicted of alcohol or drug violations.
- Leave the scene of an accident.
- Commit a felony.
- Drive a commercial vehicle on a suspended license.
- Lose their regular drivers licenses.
- Are convicted of qualifying traffic violations.
- Lose or renounce United States residency or citizenship.
- Use mobile phones or devices in unapproved manners while driving.
How to Apply for a CDL Permit in Alabama
All motorists must hold an Alabama CDL permit prior to testing for their commercial licenses to drive. With a CDL learners permit, motorists may practice driving commercial vehicles on public roads while under the supervision of CDL license holders and certified trainers. Motorists may apply at DMV Service Centers, just as they would for standard drivers licenses.
However, unlike standard licenses, CDL permit rules state that motorists must not just simply submit their applications. Additionally, they must supply:
- Proof of identification and residency (like a non-commercial drivers license).
- A valid Social Security Number.
- A passed Department of Transportation Medical Examination report conducted by a DOT-approved medical examiner.
- The appropriate fees.
To meet Alabama CDL permit requirements when applying, motorists should make sure to review the state CDL manual in advance, and determined which class of license they need.
CDL Written Test in Alabama
There is more than one CDL written test in Alabama. The CDL general knowledge test, which all applicants must take, contains 50 questions. Applicants must achieve a score of at least 80 percent in order to pass. Test questions cover a variety of material from the state’s CDL licensing manual, including safe driving practices, transporting cargo and passengers, pre-driving vehicle inspections and on-road driving standards.
Additionally, applicants may need to take one or more supplemental written tests to qualify for different CDL classes or endorsements. All written tests may be taken at the same time. Motorists should contact their local DMV offices in advance in order to make testing appointments.
Alabama CDL Training Schools & Practice Tests
A variety of CDL prep options are available to motorists in Alabama. All applicants are encouraged to thoroughly review the state’s CDL handbook, and to take advantage of online CDL practice test opportunities.
Attending a CDL school is not mandatory in Alabama, but may be helpful for some motorists. Students can expect that most CDL training materials or programs, regardless of their method, will cover:
- The application process and requirements.
- Written knowledge test content.
- Driving skills test content.
- Laws related to CDL licenses and commercial vehicle operation.
How to Get a CDL License in Alabama
Motorists need a minimum of two weeks to apply for CDL licenses in Alabama. The process of how to get a CDL begins with completing a CDL application and taking it, along with the necessary supporting documentation, to a DMV service center. Alongside their application forms, motorists will need:
- Their non-commercial drivers licenses.
- Unexpired DOT Medical Examination Reports, issued by approved examiners.
- Their Social Security Numbers.
- Payment for the appropriate fees.
To get your CDL, you will also need to certify at the time of application that you are not in violation of any state motor carrier safety regulations, nor under any other DMV sanctions. Upon receipt of a CDL learners permit, applicants must wait 14 days before taking the licensing tests.
CDL Driving Test in Alabama
An Alabama CDL driving test is comprised of three sections. Applicants must pass a vehicle inspection test, a basic controls test and a road skills test in order to pass. Motorists who pass the driving skills portion of the CDL test can receive their CDL licenses immediately.
How to Get a CDL as a Military Member in Alabama
The United States Armed Forces runs a series of programs intended to help military CDL holders transition their in-service credentials to commercial Alabama CDLs. Recognizing that promoting CDL for veterans can benefit both civilian companies and separated or retired servicemembers, the military offers:
- The Military Skills Test Waiver Program.
- The Even Exchange Program (knowledge test waiver).
- An Army program based in Fort Knox (currently still in demo stage).
Servicemembers interested in transferring or translating their credentials to a CDL may speak to their Base Support Squadrons, or inquire with the DMV.
CDL Medical Exams in Alabama
Alabama CDL medical exam regulations are based on the awareness that commercial drivers operating large vehicles or transporting passengers are responsible for not only their own safety but the safety of those around them. New DOT physical requirements aim to ensure that safety by screening CDL holders for conditions that might interfere with their functional abilities and put people at risk.
The CDL physical is mandatory, and must be completed prior to application for a CDL learners permit. Medical exam reports are valid for 24 months, and may not be expired, or near expiration, at the time of application. Exams must be conducted by an FMCSA-approved DOT medical examiner.
Types of CDL Classes in Alabama
There are three types of CDL licenses available to drivers in Alabama. Motorists should apply for the kind most relevant to the type of commercial driving they expect to do. The three classes are further defined as the following:
- A Class A license is needed when operating combinations of vehicles with gross weight ratings of 26,001 or more pounds
- A Class B CDL license is necessary for motorists driving single vehicles with gross weight ratings of more than 26,000 pounds (with or without anything in tow)
- A Class C CDL license is needed for operating passenger vehicles holding 16 or more people, or when carrying hazardous materials
Types of CDL Endorsements in Alabama
Alabama offers several CDL endorsements as license add-ons. Motorists are only required to test for the endorsements appropriate to their particular licensing and employment needs, however. Options include the below:
- Hazmat Endorsement
- Tanker Endorsement
- Tanker/Hazmat Combination Endorsement
- Motorcycle Endorsement
- Double/Triple Endorsement
- Passenger Endorsement
Interstate vs. Intrastate Commercial Drivers Licenses in Alabama
In addition to classes and endorsements, Alabama CDLs are classified as either intrastate or interstate. Intrastate CDL licenses are for motorists working exclusively within Alabama. For example, bus drivers working local routes.
Motorists who will, at any time, cross into – or pass through – other states while driving must hold the interstate CDL license. Motorists also need interstate commercial licenses if passengers or cargo has been – or will be – transported into, or through, another state at any time on a total journey.
Commercial Driving License Fees in Alabama
The CDL license cost can vary, depending on which types of licenses, endorsements, training and testing motorists need. Standard CDL permit costs include:
- Class A license fees: $66.25
- Class B license fees: $56.25
- Class B school bus license fees: $36.25
- Class C license fees: $36.25