Alabama Graduated License Program - AL Graduate Driver License Requirements
Lack of driving experience is a number one risk factor for new drivers and this is especially true for teenage drivers. In order to address the issue, the Alabama Department of Public Safety has developed a graduated drivers license system, which is a set of laws and driving restrictions that were designed to keep teen drivers safe. Although the Alabama graduated drivers license program is somewhat outdated, it still features the same key elements as the graduated license programs in many other states around the country. An extended learners permit holding period, drivers education classes and supervised driving hours - these are the tools utilized by the Alabama graduated driver license program.
Driving is a dangerous activity, this fact must be recognized before you get behind the wheel and go for a ride. When you operate a 3000 pound piece of machinery, the price of your mistake can be your life or the lives of other individuals around you. This is why the Alabama DPS treats traffic safety very seriously and wants you to do the same.
When you think about the risks a driver faces on the road, you come to realize that the biggest risk of all is the driver himself. If you observe the traffic rules, stay attentive at all times and treat driving with due respect, you significantly reduce your chances of being involved in a traffic accident. Unfortunately, most of the drivers who recently got an Alabama drivers license don't have much driving experience so it may be hard for them to apply defensive driving techniques and avoid situations that can potentially become dangerous. Fortunately, most of the older drivers recognize this fact and take steps to compensate for this lack of driving experience - they drive slower, take no risks and avoid challenging traffic conditions.
Sadly, statistics show us that this is usually not the case with teenage drivers. Teen drivers frequently fail to recognize the dangers of driving and to predict the consequences of their actions and this is where the Alabama graduated drivers license program comes in. The graduated driver's license laws and restrictions are called upon to compensate for this lack of experience and conscience among teenage drivers by having them abide to a number of learners permit and drivers license restrictions that were designed to keep them safe. The graduated drivers license program also couples young drivers with their more experienced parents who can coach them in the aspects of safe driving. Although completion of an Alabama drivers education class is not mandatory, the state leaves you the choice between either completing a drivers ed class or driving for at least 30 hours with your parents before you can get a drivers license.
Please remember: the graduated drivers license law applies only to those who choose to obtain a drivers license or an Alabama learners permit before the age of 18. If you are 18 years of age or older, if you are 17 years of age and have held your restricted drivers license without any violations for at least six months or if you are 16 years of age and are married or have been legally emancipated, the Alabama graduated drivers license law does not apply to you.
Alabama Graduated License Stages
In order to ensure that teenage drivers get some driving experience before they get out on the road on their own, the graduate drivers license program divides the licensing procedure into a number of steps or stages. Each one of these stages has its own requirements and the applicant cannot proceed to the next level until all requirements of the current stage were met. Each new stage grants the drivers license applicant with additional driving privileges and the process culminates in the applicant receiving a full Alabama drivers license. At the moment, the graduated drivers license program in Alabama has the following key stages
- Learners permit (also called a learners license)
- Restricted drivers license
- Full drivers license
You can read more about the stages and requirements of the graduated driver license program in the Alabama drivers manual. The handbook contains a lot of additional information about the driving rules you may find helpful.
Alabama Learners Permit
The minimum age for applying for a learners permit is 15 and you are required to pass a vision examination and an Alabama learner permit test before you can be issued with a permit. The permit test is not especially hard, but more than 50 percent of all first time license applicants fail the knowledge exam the first time they take it. If you want to see what the real test will be like, you can take an Alabama permit practice test free of charge on this site.
Once you receive your learners permit, you can start start driving a vehicle, but you must observe the learners permit requirements and restrictions at all times. You are not allowed to drive alone under any circumstances and you must have a supervising driver seated next to you at all times. For those who are under the age of 16, the supervising driver must be at least 21 years of age and hold a valid drivers license or be a licensed driving instructor. Those who are 16 years of age and older can be supervised by any licensed driver.
According to the graduated license requirements, you must hold your learners permit for at least six months before you can take a road test and apply for a restricted drivers license. During this time, you must complete at least 30 hours of supervised driving with a parent or legal guardian or a state-approved drivers education program. In our opinion, you should complete both the supervised driving hours and the drivers education program instead of just choosing one as there is no such thing as too much driving experience or knowing the driving rules too well.
Once the above requirements are met and you are at least 16 years of age, you can apply for a restricted drivers license.
Alabama Restricted Drivers License
If you fulfill the requirements of the previous stage, the DPS gives you the chance to prove that you've gained proficiency in controlling a vehicle by taking the Alabama drivers test. Apart from assessing your control of the vehicle, the instructor performing the test will also check your knowledge of driving rules, so it may be a good idea to revise the drivers license handbook before you take your road test.
Your restricted drivers license allows you to drive without a supervising driver, provided the following conditions are met.
Curfew. You cannot drive between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. unless:
- you are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian
- you are accompanied by a person 21 years of age or older who holds a valid drivers license and who has consent of the licensee's parents or legal guardians
- you are traveling to or from work, school, a religious activity or in case of an emergency
Passenger restrictions. You are not allowed to carry more than four passengers, not counting your parents or legal guardians.
Although there are no fines and you will not lose any points for breaking these rules, there are still consequences. If you are cited for violating the graduate drivers license restrictions, the holding period for the restricted license will be extended for another six months or until you are 18 years of age.
If you are at least 17 years of age and have held your restricted drivers license for at least six months, you can apply for a full unrestricted drivers license. Your parents will need to sign the graduated drivers license form, stating that they consent to you driving unsupervised.
Possible Improvements to The Graduated Drivers License Program
The graduated drivers license program is a great thing and it can be called effective even if it saves one life out of thousands, however we think that the Alabama graduated license law is a little outdated. The program was designed in 2002, traffic conditions and safety requirements have changed significantly since then. Most of the states have raised the minimum permit and license age, introduced compulsory drivers education classes for everyone under the age of 18. Some states like Maryland went even further and have drivers of all ages go through the same steps of the graduated drivers program. We hope that the Alabama DPS will revise the licensing laws in the near future to reflect the current traffic situation.