Types of CDL Licenses in Alabama
CDL license requirements in Alabama are based on the class of license you are seeking. The CDL classes are as follows:
- Class A: Class A vehicles are “combination” vehicles, such as a tractor-trailer
- Class B: Class B vehicles are single or combination vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds, and the vehicle being towed cannot weigh more than 10,000 pounds
- Class C: Class C vehicles carry 16 or more people, or are vehicles with hazardous material placards
Each class of license has a different written exam and has different licensing fees. If you qualify for a Class A CDLdrivers license, you can also drive Class B and Class C vehicles. If you qualify for a Class B license, you can also drive Class C vehicles. Class C license holders can only drive Class C vehicles. All three classes can drive Class D vehicles, which are normal passenger vehicles authorized by non-commercial licenses.
Types of CDL Endorsements in Alabama
Alabama CDL license endorsements allow you to drive different types of vehicles. Alabama has five endorsements:
- Hazardous materials
- Double/Triple trailer
- Tank vehicles, which allows you to haul liquids or liquid gas
- Passenger, which is required for all bus drivers
- School bus
Each endorsement requires a written test. There are also license restrictions, such as not being able to operate a truck with an air brake or with a manual transmission. You must demonstrate your ability to utilize air brakes or drive a manual transmission to have the restrictions lifted from your license.
What qualifications do you need to meet to get a CDL license in Alabama?
Before you consider how to apply to a commercial drivers license qualification in Alabama, you should make sure you meet the requirements. The first step in how to get a commercial drivers license is to obtain a full, unrestricted “regular” drivers license. You must also be a legal resident of the United States and be able to prove you are an Alabama resident.
You must be at least 21 years old to drive interstate routes and to get an unrestricted Class A, B or C license. However, you can get a restricted Class B license if you are at least 18 years old. If you want to get a hazardous materials endorsement for your CDL, you need to be able to pass a Transportation Safety Administration background check. You also should not have any DUI convictions in the past five years, and a good driving record, overall.
The final requirement in getting a commercial drivers license is to pass a medical exam. The medical exam has to be completed by a licensed medical examiner approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Once you pass the exam, you do not need to take it again for two years.
You may be able to obtain a commercial drivers license even if you have health issues, though. There are exemptions available for certain medical conditions, including for diabetes and for seizure disorders. Note that you will need to submit an application to the FMCSA to qualify for an exemption from the medical requirements.
What documents do you need to apply for an Alabama CDL drivers license?
To get a CDL and commercial drivers license endorsements, you will need to provide documentation of your identity and citizenship. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you will need to provide documentation of your Alabama residency. A CDL requires the following documents:
- A valid, non-expired drivers license
- A Social Security card
- Your completed Department of Transportation medical exam form
- Your TSA background check (if you are applying for a hazardous materials endorsement)
- Proof of insurance
- Immigration paperwork (if applicable)
- Proof of Alabama residency
You should bring all the required paperwork whenever you apply for a new class of license, a new CDL endorsement or to have a restriction lifted.
How do you apply for an Alabama CDL license?
Per CDL information in Alabama, the first step in applying for a CDL is to apply for a commercial learners permit (CLP). The CDL qualifications require that you hold a CLP for at least 14 days before applying for your CDL. This allows you ample time to practice before taking your road skills test.
To get your CLP, you will need to visit an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Driver License Office in person. You will need to present your documentation and then take the written tests for the license class and endorsements you are seeking. You will also need to pay the applicable fees by money order or with cash. With a CLP, you can only drive when accompanied by a driver with a full CDL.
You can get a commercial drivers license once you have met the 14-day minimum. You will need to take your road skills test to qualify for a full commercial license. The license examiner determines your route. It may include driving up and down grades, driving on highways or single-lane roads and passing appropriately through railroad crossings. Your examiner will also test you on whether you can conduct a proper pre-trip inspection, and whether you can perform basic maneuvers such as driving forward, driving backward and turning. You may also need to drive around traffic cones.
Once you pass your CDL license road test, you will need to pay the appropriate fee for your license. After that, you will need to renew your license every four years. You must follow traffic rules and regulations carefully, so your CDL is not suspended.