Are you looking to get a regular Alabama driver’s license?
What if you want to get a commercial driver’s license to drive a school bus?
There are all these different Alabama driver’s license classes that you might not be fully aware of.
And if you’re getting a license, it’s a good idea to know what class you need.
That’s why, in this article, we’re going to give you a complete guide to Alabama driver’s license types. We’ll describe each class in detail and give you the requirements on how to get each one.
Plus, we’ll include an FAQ section at the end.
So shall we?
Driver’s License Classifications in Alabama
In total, there are 6 driver’s license types in the state, namely:
- Class D
- Class A
- Class B
- Class C
- Class M
- Class V
Let’s take a close look at each one.
We put this first and foremost as it’s the most common type.
Yes, if you want to drive your private vehicle, then this is the license class you need.
The Class A driver’s license is the highest form of commercial driver’s license in Alabama.
Under a Class A license, you can:
Operate a combination of vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,0001+ pounds. Plus, you can tow vehicles with a GCWR of over 10,000 pounds.
And, since it’s the highest driver’s license, holders are allowed to drive vehicles that fall under Class C, B, and even D.
The Class B license is similar to Class A, so you have to pay close attention to the specific details.
People with this license type can:
Operate a single or combination of vehicles with a GCWR of 26,0001+ pounds. However, they can only tow vehicles with a GCWR of fewer than 10,000 pounds.
If you look closely, you’ll see that Class B can drive single or combination vehicles. And, they are only allowed to tow vehicles LESS than 10,000 pounds, whereas Class A can tow MORE than 10,000 pounds.
Class B license holders can also operate Class C and D vehicles.
Class C license holders can:
Operate single or combination vehicles that do not fall under Class A or B. It is mainly designed to transport 16 or more passengers or transport hazardous materials.
So, like our question earlier, if you want to drive a school bus, then you need a Class C license.
Of course, you must also get the right endorsement, depending on what type of Class C vehicle you drive. For example, if you want to drive a school bus, you must get an S endorsement (more details below).
Simply put, a Class M license will allow you to operate a motorcycle on the highway.
When we say motorcycle, it should:
- Be 3-wheeled
- Have motorcycle-based design or conversion, i.e. handlebar steering and saddle seating
- Have a less than 40-degree turning diameter
- Meet federal on-road vehicle standards
Class V licenses allow you to operate water vessels or motorized watercraft.
We know this isn’t the type of “driver’s license” you were thinking about. But still, it is part of the Alabama classifications, which is why we included it here.
How to Get a Class D License in Alabama
Alabama follows a Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program. This means you’ll have to go through 3 license stages:
- Learner’s permit
- Restricted or provisional license
- Unrestricted or regular license
To get a learner’s permit, you need to:
- Be 15 years old
- Schedule an appointment with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) online (click here)
- Pass a vision test
- Pass the written exam
- Pay the fees
- Get your learner’s permit
And, to get your provisional license, you need to:
- Submit a 30-hour behind-the-wheel verification form. If not a verification form, you can submit a certificate of completion form stating that you completed a State Department of Education (SDE) approved driver’s education course.
- Submit a ‘permission to drive without supervision’ form signed by your parent, grandparent, or legal guardian.
- Pass the road skills exam
- Pay the fees
- Surrender your learner’s permit
- Get your restricted or provisional license
Finally, to get your full, unrestricted Class D license, you need to be at least 17 and have held your provisional license for 6 months. To get the Class D license, simply:
- Visit a local driver’s license office
- Pay the license fee (may vary per county)
- Exchange the restricted license for an unrestricted one
Congratulations! You now have your Class D license!
How to Get a Class A, B, and C License in Alabama
Here’s how to get your commercial driver’s license in Alabama:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a Class D license valid for 1 year
- Choose your CDL type (A, B, or C)
- Get a DOT-approved medical card
- Have an affidavit of self-certification
- Get a commercial learner’s permit (CLP)
- Hold the CLP for 180 days
- Pass a 3 part skills test: vehicle inspection test, basic controls test, and the road test
- Get your endorsements
- Pay the fees (vary between classes)
And there you have it. You can now operate a commercial vehicle.
How to Get a Class M License in Alabama
Before, Alabama was one of the only states that didn’t have a specific license for motorcycles.
Today, however, you need to get a separate license to operate these 3-wheeled vehicles.
That said, these are the basic requirements to get a Class M license in Alabama:
- Be at least 14 years old for a restricted Class M license and at least 16 for an unrestricted license
- Pass a motorcycle knowledge test given by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency
- Complete a motorcycle safety course offered by the Alabama Motorcycle Safety Program
If you satisfy those requirements, you can then:
- Go to your local Alabama DPS office
- Submit identification, residency, and citizenship documents
- Complete the Class M application form
- Proof that you’ve passed the knowledge test OR proof you completed the motorcycle safety course
- Pay license fee
Yay! You can now take your motorcycle on a drive.
How to Get a Class V License in Alabama
If you want to legally drive your motorized watercraft, whether personal or a vessel, then here is how you can get a Class V license in Alabama:
- Be at least 14 years old
- Complete the Alabama boating safety course
- Pass the Boating License Certification exam
- Bring proof of course completion and exam score to the Alabama DPS examining office
- Complete the application form
- Answer the medical questions
- Pay the license fee
- Take the completed form to the Probate or License Commissioner’s office to have the required “V” license
As promised, we’re going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Alabama driver’s license types.
How Much is a Class D License in Alabama?
If we’re talking about the license fee alone, then it will cost you $36.25.
But if you mean the overall expense, then you might have to pay around $600 to $1,000. This includes all the fees, plus the driver’s ed or behind-the-wheel training.
What are the Alabama CDL endorsements?
Here are the most common CDL endorsements in Alabama:
- S – for school bus
- X – for hazardous materials and tanks
- H – for hazardous materials
- N – for tank vehicles
- P – for passenger vehicles
- T – for double/triple vehicles
Do I need a Class D license to get a Class M license in Alabama?
You don’t need a Class D license in order to get a Class M license. You have to get these classes separately if you want to drive both vehicle types.
That said, it is rather simple to get a Class M license (see how to do that above).
Do I need a Class D license to get a commercial driver’s license in Alabama?
Yes. One of the requirements to get a CDL is to have a Class D license that has been valid for 1 year.
So now that you fully understand the Alabama driver’s license types, you know exactly which class to get.
If you want a regular driver’s license that allows you to drive your private vehicle around, then go for Class D.
If you want to drive a commercial vehicle, then you can choose between Class A, B, or C.
If you’re more of a motorbike person, you need to get a Class M license before you can go on that interstate road trip.
Finally, if you want to drive a motorized watercraft, then Class V licenses are for you.
We hope that this article has removed your confusion on the driver’s license classifications in Alabama.
This article is part of our series on Alabama Driving Laws. You can view all these laws here!