Alabama CDL Requirements
To apply for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Alabama, you must present the following documents to an Alabama Department of Motor Vehicles office:
- current driver’s license
- Social Security card
- Current Department of Transportation long medical form (unless medically exempt)
- Transportation Security Administration background check (if applying for an endorsement to carry hazardous materials)
- If not a U.S. citizen, applicant must provide proof or legal permanent residence
- If driver is transferring from another state, one of the following documents in addition to Social Security card will be required: certified U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, Alabama identification card, Alabama driver’s license, certificate of naturalization, certificate of citizenship, U.S. certificate of birth abroad, resident alien card, value foreign passport with valid U.S. immigration document
- Proof of insurance for any owned vehicles
As outlined in FMCSA regulations, all drivers who plan to apply for a CDL must first apply for a commercial learner’s permit and hold it for at least 14 days before beginning the process of applying for your license.
In addition to providing the documents listed above, you must also be a resident of Alabama, currently living in Alabama; have a current Alabama driver’s license; have a current D.O.T. card; and have a physical exam signed by a doctor. Applicants with health or vision conditions may need to have a driver exemption sheet completed by a doctor. This document is available at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website: fmcsa.dot.gov
When all of the state requirements for applying for a CDL have been met, you are eligible to begin the process of obtaining your license. Applicants are required to take and pass a written knowledge test and a road skills test. The road skills test will include pre-trip inspection, backing up and turning in a confined area, and demonstrating your ability to drive safely in a variety of traffic situations. If you are applying for a hazardous materials endorsement, you will also be required to complete a background check, which costs around $80. Some Alabama CDL testing locations require you to set up an appointment, and available testing hours may vary. Please call the testing location nearest your for hours and availability.
Commercial Driving Laws in Alabama
Alabama is one of the states that has adopted the Federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986. All states that adopt this act follow a standard set of federal regulations that do not vary by state.
Traffic violations in a commercial vehicle that are considered “serious” in the state of Alabama include driving more than 15 miles per hour over the speed limit, improper lane changes, reckless driving, following too closely, and involvement in an accident that causes a fatality. Drivers convicted of two serious traffic violations within a three-year period will have their license suspended for 60 days. For drivers with three or more violations within a three-year period, there will be a 120-day license suspension.
All violations of traffic laws will result in points being added to your driving record. The number of points assigned varies, depending on the severity of the offense. Some of the most common offenses and associated points include:
- Reckless driving: 6 points
- Illegally passing a stopped school bus: 5 points
- Failure to yield right of way: 5 points
- Driving over 85 miles per hour: 5 points
- Driving on the wrong side of the road: 4 points<
- Passing illegally: 4 points<
- Tailgating: 3 points
- Disregarding a traffic signal: 3 points
- Driving on the wrong side of the road: 4 points
- Speeding under 15 miles per hour over the speed limit: 2 points
In addition to traffic violations, there are some requirements that are specific to commercial drivers. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in additional violations that include significant fines, penalties and possibly even jail time. These include:
- Following the International Registration Plan and the International Fuel Tax Agreement as federally mandated.
- Carrying special permits for oversized loads.
- Maintaining a logbook that is up to date and accurately reflects hours driven.
- Driving within the speed limit while towing a trailer.
- Not driving on roads where not permitted due to steep grades.
- Not having more than one CDL.
- Complying with any given out-of-service orders.
- Abiding by railroad crossings requirements.
There are some offenses that are classified as “major” and can lead to losing your license for years or even permanently. These include driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, refusal to comply with a blood alcohol test, leaving the scene of an accident, using a motor vehicle in the commission of a felony, and using a commercial vehicle to transport controlled substances.
It’s important to know that violations committed in your personal vehicle may also affect your CDL. If you lose your license to operate your personal vehicle due to excessive speeding, your CDL will also be suspended for 60-120 days. If you lose your personal license due to an alcohol violation, your CDL will be suspended for one year. If you are convicted of a second alcohol violation, your CDL will be lost for life.
Any traffic violations, whether in your personal or commercial vehicle, must be reported to your employer within 30 days.
If you receive a ticket in Alabama, it’s important to know that you should not just pay the fine without speaking to a legal representative first. By paying the fine, you are basically pleading guilty to a charge that could affect your driving record and, ultimately, your ability to keep driving.