2024 Alabama CDL Requirements Guide

Alabama requires that you’re at least 18 years old and hold a valid Alabama driver’s license to get your CDL. Click here to learn more!
Written by Jessica Gibson
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
background
The state of Alabama requires you to be at least 18 years old and have a valid Alabama driver’s license to apply for a CDL. However, you may be denied if your driving record isn’t clean.
You’re required to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to drive a truck, bus, or any other commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in the state of Alabama. At first glance, applying for an Alabama CDL looks overwhelming, but the requirements are actually pretty standard.
Fortunately, Jerry, the trusted
car insurance
comparison app, is here to review all the CDL requirements from Alabama’s Department of Transportation (DOT). Plus, we’ll include tips for saving money on
Alabama insurance costs
  that you can put toward your CDL application fees!

What is required for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Alabama? 

You’re probably already aware that you’ll need to show Alabama identification and proof of residency to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Alabama. Other essential requirements include being at least 18 years of age, carrying a valid Alabama driver’s license, and passing a CDL skills test covering the specific vehicle class you’re planning on operating.

Alabama CDL classes

Alabama offers three classes of CDL: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Here’s how they break down:
  • Class A: Operate a towing vehicle whose Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) is over 26,000 pounds and for which the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the towed vehicle exceeds 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B: Operate a single vehicle or combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds or more and for which towed vehicles weigh less than 10,000 pounds.
  • Class C: Operate vehicles that transport 16 or more people or vehicles that transport hazardous materials.
For example, if you’re driving a bus or a HAZMAT vehicle, you’ll likely just need a Class C CDL to start. But, if you’re driving a school bus weighing over 26,000 pounds, you’ll need to start with a Class B CDL. If you’re driving a tractor-trailer or livestock carrier, you’ll need a Class A CDL.
A Class A CDL covers all vehicles under Class B or C CDLs and a Class B CDL covers all vehicles under the Class C CDL. No matter what Class CDL you get, though, you’ll need to add further endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles for specific purposes.

Endorsements

Alabama has six kinds of CDL endorsements, which give the driver permission to operate certain kinds of vehicles:
  • H: to transport hazardous materials under Department of Transportation regulations
  • N: to transport liquids in bulk containers of 1,000 gallons or more 
  • P: to transport passenger
  • S: to operate school buses
  • T: for operating multiple trailer haulers
  • X: to transport hazardous materials in a tank vehicle
Keep in mind that to you’ll have to take extra tests to get specific endorsements like the H endorsement, and you might have to meet additional criteria like passing a background check. 

Minimum age requirement

The minimum age requirement for operating a commercial vehicle within the state of Alabama is 18 years. But, if you’ll be transporting people or hazardous materials, or driving across state lines, you must be 21 years of age or older
You’ll typically need to be at least 21 years old to add an S, H, or X endorsement, as well. Always thoroughly review the requirements for your specific endorsements.

Medical requirements

Like most states, Alabama sets specific
medical requirements
for an interstate CDL license. Here are a few of the requirements: 
  • Your blood pressure is 160/100 or better
  • Your blood sugar is less than 200 
  • You’ve got 20/40 vision or better with or without correction
  • You can distinguish between colors on traffic signs
  • You can hear a forced whisper from at least five feet away with or without a hearing aid
  • You don’t use Schedule 1 drugs, amphetamines, narcotics, or drugs that are habit-forming 
Note that you can have diabetes and apply for a CDL, but you must show that you’re controlling it through diet or medication. That said, you won’t be eligible if you use insulin injections to manage your diabetes.
You’ll need to provide a medical examiner’s certificate showing that you fulfill these requirements to get your Alabama CDL. The Department of Transportation will issue you a medical card if you pass the medical exam, which is valid for up to 24 months.

New ELDT requirements

If you’ve never gotten an Alabama CDL, want to upgrade your current CDL or are getting a HAZMAT, passenger, or school bus endorsement, read up on the new regulations for
Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT)
from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
The new requirements, effective February 2022, establish a national standard for getting a CDL. You’ll need to search for a registered training provider in
FMCSA’s registry
and pass their training course before you get your unrestricted Alabama CDL.
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How to apply for a CDL in Alabama

Before you try to apply for a CDL, you’ve got to have a valid Alabama driver’s license and a
clean driving record
. You might have to wait before you’re eligible if you have any traffic violations. Some offenses will permanently disqualify you from getting a CDL, like if you operated a CMV under the influence of alcohol or left the scene of an accident involving a CMV.
You’ll first apply for a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) before you apply for the full CDL. To get your CLP, you’ll need to bring the following documents to your local driver’s license office:
  • Regular Alabama driver’s license (that’s been valid for at least one full year)
  • A Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Proof of residency U.S. citizenship or legal residency
  • Proof of Alabama residency
  • Proof of identity and age
  • DOT-approved medical card
  • Completed affidavit of self-certification
  • Copy of driving records
Complete the application for the CLP and pay the $25 fee to take the CLP test. It includes 50 multiple-choice questions that cover everything in your CDL handbook, from emergency preparedness to right-of-way rules. You must get 40 questions or 80% of the exam correct to pass. You’ll then need to pay an additional $36.25 fee to purchase your CLP.
Once you have your Alabama CLP, you can practice driving on public roads with a CDL holder who is 21 or older. The CLP is valid for 180 days and can be renewed once up to 30 days before expiration. You must have your Alabama CLP for at least 14 days before taking your CDL skills exams for your CDL. 
You’ll also need to complete your entry-level driver training program (ELDT) at this time, if applicable. Then you can make another appointment at your local driver’s license office to schedule your CDL skills and road tests. Bring your CLP, certificate of completion for the ELDT, proof of insurance, and the $20 testing fee. You’ll also be administered a vision test at this time and have your fingerprints and picture taken.
You’ll need to take the skills test in the specific vehicle for your type of CDL. The vehicle must pass a vehicle inspection for safety before you drive it in the test to assess the following skills:
  • Turning the vehicle on
  • Parallel parking
  • Off-set backing
  • Straight-line backing
  • Changing lanes
  • Merging
  • Using the lanes correctly
  • Understanding who has the right-of-way
  • Traffic signs and signals
  • Successfully turning right and left 
  • Approaching and navigating intersections
  • Railroad crossings
  • Driving around curves
  • Roadside stopping/starting
  • Upshifting and downshifting (if it applies to your vehicle) 
After you’ve passed your skills test, you just need to pay the fees for your CDL (ranging from $36 to $66), and congrats! You’ve now got your Alabama CDL. You’ll likely be issued a temporary license in the office and your permanent CDL will arrive by mail shortly after.

How long is a CDL valid in Alabama? 

An Alabama CDL is valid for four years—the same as a standard Class D driver’s license. Note that the school bus endorsement expires at the end of each calendar year, though. You’ll need to attend a four-hour recertification class every year to keep your school bus endorsement.
You’ll pay the same fees you paid for your first CDL to renew:
  • Class A: $66.50
  • Class B: $56.50
  • Class C: $36.50
MORE: How to get cheap commercial truck insurance

How to save on car insurance in Alabama

The application and fees to get your Alabama CDL can add up, but switching car insurance can save you some extra money. If you’re more focused on getting your CDL and don’t have time to
compare dozens of car insurance quotes
, Jerry can help!
Download our
licensed insurance comparison super app
and answer a few simple questions. In just 45 seconds, Jerry shows you real-time quotes sourced from over 55 top-rated insurance providers. Pick the best quote for you, and let Jerry’s team of insurance agents take it from there. 
You’ll free up time and money that could be better spent on getting your CDL.
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