Alabama Traffic Laws You Should Know

Alabama driving laws are important to keep drivers and pedestrians safe—violating state laws can lead to fines, license suspensions, and more.
Written by Andrea Barrett
Edited by Jessica Barrett
All states have a Driving Handbook that educates drivers on the rules of the road. Basic driving behaviors—stopping at a red light, obeying speed limits, wearing seatbelts, and more—are in place to keep drivers safe on the road. But these laws are specific to anyone operating a motor vehicle or motorcycle in
  • All Alabama drivers must have a state-issued driver’s license and be over the age of 16 to operate a motor vehicle.
  • Anyone operating a motor vehicle or motorcycle must adhere to
    Alabama’s minimum car insurance requirements
    of 25/50/25.
  • Alabama has basic speeding laws and absolute speed limits that prevent drivers from exceeding the posted speed limit under any circumstance.
  • Motorcycle drivers in Alabama are subject to the same road rules as motor vehicles.

Driving in Alabama

Whether you’re an Alabama resident, a visitor, or a new driver studying to get your driver’s license, driving is a serious responsibility, and it’s important to know and respect the rules of the road and follow safe and proper driving procedures.
Pro Tip The
Alabama Driver’s Handbook
is a great place to start for non-resident drivers or Alabama residents looking to sharpen their driving skills, but it’s also an excellent study tool for new drivers studying for their
learner’s permit
—it’s full of information that will show up on the written exam!

Driver age laws and testing

driving age in Alabama is 16 years old
, but there are some exceptions to the rule.
Alabama residents who are 15 years old can apply for a restricted Learner's License (Class D License with Y restriction), aimed at teaching teens how to safely and effectively operate a motor vehicle. 
To get your learner’s permit, you’ll need the following:
  • Original or certified U.S. birth certificate (no photocopies accepted)
  • Social Security number
  • Proof of enrollment in school or certificate of graduation
  • Proof of enrolment in a state-approved driver’s education class if you are 15 years old
  • Learner’s permit test fee: $5
  • License fee: $36.25
  • Pass a written test
To get a restricted license in Alabama, you must be 16 to 18 years old and have held a restricted learner’s license for at least six months before applying for your unrestricted provisional license. If you’re older than 18, you can apply directly for an unrestricted license after holding a learner’s permit for at least six months. 
To get your provisional license, you’ll need the following:
  • Hold a learner’s permit for a minimum of six months
  • Complete and verify 50 hours of behind-the-wheel practice, or
  • Verify completion of state-approved driver education course
  • Provide parental, grandparental, or guardian-signed permission to drive unsupervised
  • Pass a road skills exam
  • Two forms of identification (one of which has a photo) or three non-photo ID
  • Social Security card or Medicare/Medicaid card
  • Proof of school enrollment or proof of graduation
When you complete the road skills test for your provisional license, you’ll need to bring a safe vehicle in good working order, and you may be required to show
proof of insurance
If you’re between the ages of 16 and 18 and have had your learner’s permit for at least six months, you can apply for an unrestricted license. If you didn’t complete a road test for a restricted license, you must complete it when applying for an unrestricted license.
Out-of-state drivers looking to transfer their license are only required to take a vision test. To transfer your license, you’ll need the following:
  • Your current out-of-state license
  • Social Security Card
  • Certified Birth Certificate or U.S. Passport
There is a $5 fee for the vision exam and a $36.25 fee for your 4-year Alabama driver’s license.

State insurance laws 

In addition to carrying a valid
Alabama driver’s license
, all drivers must maintain an active car insurance policy that meets The Cotton State’s minimum insurance requirements. 
The minimum liability insurance that each driver must invest in is as follows:
Driving without insurance
in Alabama is considered a misdemeanor. It is punishable by a fine between $500 and $1,000, and the state will
suspend your driver’s license
and vehicle registration for 30 days or until proof of insurance is provided. Depending on the number of offenses on your driving record, you could also face jail time or vehicle impoundment. The penalties for a second or subsequent offense are steeper.
Plus, if you’re involved in a car accident and don’t have insurance, you are liable for paying medical expenses and property damage for the other party.
Keep in mind: Driving without insurance is risky, and if caught, you will be required to file an
SR-22 certificate
. Insurers will charge higher premiums when you purchase coverage or renew your policy, as you’re classified as a high-risk driver.

General Alabama traffic laws

On top of Alabama’s driving laws, there are also standard traffic laws designed to help keep roads safe for drivers.
The chart below outlines some of the most common traffic regulations and their respective rules in Alabama. The Alabama Driver's Handbook provides a complete list of driving laws and traffic signs. 
Traffic regulation
What it means
School buses
Coming from either direction, drivers are required to stop at least 20 feet from a bus when they see signals flashing. Amber flashing lights indicate a pre-warning that the bus is about to stop, while red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is loading or unloading.
Right of way and yield
  • If two vehicles approach an intersection not controlled by signs or stop signals from different roadways at the same time, the vehicle on the left should yield to the vehicle on the right. If you enter an uncontrolled intersection at an unlawful speed, you lose your right of way.
  • All drivers must yield to emergency vehicles when red or blue lights are flashing and sounding a siren or bell. You must pull to the side of the road and stop. If you are at an intersection, clear it before stopping. Only proceed once the emergency vehicle has passed. 
  • You must stop and give right of way at any intersection to a blind person carrying an extended white cane. 
  • Cars entering from a private road or driveway must stop and yield to cars on a public street or highway.
  • If entering an interaction with a yield sign facing you, slow down and, if necessary, stop and yield to vehicles and pedestrians legally crossing on a crosswalk.
  • If entering an intersection on a green arrow, you must yield to other traffic lawfully using the intersection.
Passing zones
On two-lane roads with traffic in both directions, drivers can pass on the left if the pass can be done safely without exceeding the speed limit. All drivers must check for clearance and signal before completing the pass. 
Passing on the right of a vehicle is only permissible on one-way roads and streets and highways marked for two or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction. You can only drive on the shoulder to pass if it is an emergency or when directed by traffic authorities. 
Passing on the center line is not prohibited in the following situations: 
  • On a curve or hill where you cannot see a clear passing distance of at least 500 feet
  • At a highway intersection
  • When a vehicle is oncoming
  • Where signs prohibit passing, or where there is a solid yellow line on your side of the center line. A double solid yellow prohibits traffic from crossing the center line to pass.
Move-over law
When approaching emergency vehicles stopped with flashing lights, motorists on roadways with four or more lanes must vacate the closest lane to the emergency vehicles. If changing lanes is not possible, drivers must slow down to 15mph or less than the posted speed limit. If driving on a two-lane road, move as far away from the emergency vehicle as possible and slow to no more than 15 mph. 
U-turns in Alabama are legal in some instances but not in others. Drivers can legally complete a U-turn if they are in the left-most lane and are turning across a double yellow line, as long as it's safe and there are no signs prohibiting it.
U-turns are permitted at intersections on a green light as long as there is no sign prohibiting the action. 
It is legal to turn right on a red light as long as there are no signs in the intersection prohibiting the action. Making an illegal turn on a red light can land you up to $500 in fines, depending on the offense number.
Railroad crossing
All drivers must come to a complete stop at a railroad crossing when lights are flashing until it is safe to proceed.
If a railroad crossbuck is present, you should slow down and be prepared to stop if a train is approaching.
Construction zones
If lanes are closed in a work zone, you will see large flashing or sequencing arrow panels to guide drivers into certain traffic lanes and inform them that part of the road or street ahead is closed.
Drivers are required to reduce speeds and stay alert when passing through construction zones. If caught speeding in a work zone, fines are doubled.
Disobeying traffic laws or rules of the road in Alabama can lead to hefty fines and potentially driver points on your
Alabama driving record
. You can find a breakdown of driving offenses and their point count on the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency website.
Because points and traffic violations land on your driving record, multiple violations can lead to a license suspension or revocation in more serious circumstances. 

Alabama speeding laws  

Alabama has two types of speeding laws: "basic speeding laws” and “absolute speed limits.” 
Unless otherwise posted, Alabama's absolute speed limits prohibit drivers from going faster than: 
  • 70mph on an interstate
  • 65mph on roadways with four or more lanes
  • 55mph on other roadways (unless marked)
  • 45mph on county roadways (unless marked)
  • 35mph on all non-paved county roads
  • 25mph in residential areas
  • 15mph in school zones
Penalties for an
Alabama speeding ticket
typically range from $150 to $300, but it depends on how fast you were going and the county where the ticket was issued. You can expect fines to be doubled in construction zones with workers present.
Alabama works on a points system, meaning speeding can also lead to
demerit points
on your driving record. If you collect too many points, you may face a temporary suspension of your
Alabama driver’s license
Remember: In Alabama, demerit points remain on your record for two years after a conviction but they will stay on your
driving record
and can continue to affect your insurance rates.
Speeding 1 to 25 mph over the posted speed limit results in two demerit points, while speeding 26 mph over the posted speed limit results in five demerit points. Depending on the circumstance, excessive speeding could also lead to a
reckless driving
If you accumulate 12 or more demerit points within two years, you’ll have your
license suspended
for 60 days or longer:
  • 12-14 demerit points = 60 days
  • 15-17 points = 90 days
  • 18 to 20 points = 120 days
  • 21 to 23 points = 180 days
  • 24 points or more = 365 days 

Alabama driver laws

Alabama law enforcement consistently upholds driver laws outlined in the Alabama Driver’s Handbook to ensure motorists and pedestrians remain safe on the road. Still, they are constantly implementing new laws to keep drivers safe.
As of 2023, Alabama officials implemented an important law:
  • Ban on handheld devices: Senate Bill 301 prohibits drivers from using their cellphones and other devices without a hands-free setup. There are currently no fines in place, but a police officer will issue a warning for people found violating the hands-free law during a 1-year grace period.

Alabama ‘Move Over’ law

Alabama’s ‘move over’ law
requires all drivers to reduce their speed and move over when approaching an emergency vehicle with their emergency lights flashing. Under the
Alabama Move Over Act
(Section 32-5A-58.2), drivers are required to:
  • Move out of the lane closest to the emergency vehicle
  • If it is not safe to change lanes, reduce your speed by at least 15 mph below the posted speed limit unless a law enforcement officer states otherwise
  • If on a two-lane road, the driver must move as far away from the emergency vehicle within their lane and slow to a speed of 15 mph or less than the posted speed limit if the posted speed limit is 25 mph or more, to reduce to 10 mph if the posted speed limit is 20 mph or less
Effective September 1, 2019,
Act 2019-520
increased the fines for drivers violating the move over law to the following:
  • $100 for a first violation
  • $150 for a second violation
  • $200 for a third or subsequent violation

Alabama seat belt and booster seat laws

Alabama seatbelt laws
car seat/booster seat laws
are an important part of vehicle safety for all drivers and passengers. 
  • Alabama laws require that all adults wear a safety belt in a moving vehicle at all times
  • Drivers are responsible for any passenger under the age of 18 who violates the seatbelt law, while passengers over the age of 18 are responsible for themselves
  • If you’re caught violating Alabama seatbelt laws, you will be issued a traffic
    ticket or citation
    and a fine of $25 for the first violation and $50 for all subsequent violations
If transporting a child in a motor vehicle, the child must be properly secured in a child passenger restraint system (car seat or booster steed) that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards. Alabama’s car seat laws apply to children up to 15 and are as follows:
  • Children under one year old or weighing less than 20 pounds must be secured in a rear-facing car seat with a harness. The car seat can only be in rear-facing mode until the child reaches the appropriate age or weight.
  • Children between one year old (or 20 pounds) and five years old (or 40 pounds) must be in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.
  • Children at least five years old (or 40 pounds) must use a booster seat until age six.
  • Children between the ages of six and fifteen must wear a seatbelt.
Drivers violating the car seat laws in Alabama are subject to a fine of $25, which can be lowered to $15 for low-income families. If the driver demonstrates to a judge that they have purchased a restraint system that complies with Alabama law, the fees may be waived. However, a first violation of these laws will also add one point to the driver’s record, with all subsequent violations incurring a two-point penalty.
MORE: 10 tips to keep your kids safe in the car

Alabama car accident laws

If you’re involved in a
car accident in Alabama
, state law requires that you remain at the scene of the accident and follow these steps:
  • Check that you and your passengers are uninjured 
  • Move the vehicle to the shoulder, emergency lane, median, or another safe location if possible
  • Inspect for injuries and call 911 if anyone is injured 
  • Take photographs of the accident and exchange insurance information with the other party involved in the accident
Alabama law also requires that if you are the driver of a vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in death and/or injury, you must immediately contact one of the following:
  • The local police, if the accident is within a municipality
  • The sheriff or the state highway patrol, if not in a municipality
If the accident only results in property damage, you are not required to report it to the police.
If property damage exceeds $1,000, you must report the accident to the Alabama DMV within 10 days of the accident. Failure to do so can result in a suspended license. You can submit the crash form online, in person at your local DMV, or by mail.

Alabama DUI laws

Driving under the influence
of alcohol is dangerous and illegal in all states—including Alabama—and is considered a misdemeanor for the first three offenses and a felony charge if it’s the fourth DUI within 10 years. If a DUI causes serious bodily injury or death, a first offense can be classified as a felony.
In Alabama, operation of motor vehicles is illegal with a blood alcohol level of:
  • 0.08% or higher if you’re 21 or older
  • 0.02% if you’re under the age of 21
  • 0.02% if you are a school bus or daycare driver
  • 0.04% if you’re driving a commercial vehicle
  • Any level, if you are deemed unable to operate a vehicle safely
Alabama DUI laws
are no joke and penalties are serious. If convicted of a DUI, it will remain on your driving record for five years.
License suspension
Ignition interlock device (IID)
1st offense misdemeanor DUI
Up to 1 year
$600 to $2,100
90 days
6 months or 2 years with aggravating factors
2nd offense misdemeanor DUI
5 days to 1 year (or 30 days community service)
$1,100 to $5,100
1 year
2 years or 4 years with aggravating factors
3rd offense misdemeanor DUI
60 days to 1 year
$2,100 to $10,100
3 years
3 years or 6 years with aggravating factors
4th or more offense felony DUI
1 year and 1 day up to 10 years;
Mandatory minimum of 10 days in county jail; remaining sentence could be suspended or probated with completion of chemical dependence program
$4,100 to $10,100
If you’re caught driving under the influence, you’ll also be required to file an
SR-22 certificate
with your local Alabama DMV. The state may require that you also complete a DUI program. The length of the program will depend on the severity of your conviction.
Alabama does not have a
hardship license
or DUI-restricted license—so if your license is suspended, you will lose your driving privileges for the entire suspension period.
Remember: Alabama has a zero-tolerance policy for minors driving under the influence.
Open container laws
state that people under 21 cannot carry alcohol inside a vehicle unless a parent is present and the container is unopened, full, and sealed.

Biking and motorcycle traffic rules in Alabama

As with vehicles, Alabama also implements specific laws to keep cyclists and motorcyclists safe on the road. 

Cyclist laws

Traffic laws are also applicable to people on bikes. Injuries to cyclists are common, so both drivers of motor vehicles and cyclists should be aware of all Alabama traffic laws and obey them. The following laws are specific to people on bicycles: 
  • Every cyclist operating upon a roadway must ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, except when passing another vehicle, preparing to turn left, or when is reasonably necessary to avoid road or traffic conditions (debris, opening of car doors, or pedestrians)
  • People on bicycles can ride two abreast
  • Cyclists are required to ride with the flow of traffic and signal for all turns, lane changes, or stops using hand and arm signals
  • Where a bicycle lane is available, cyclists must use it
  • It is illegal for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk
  • Cyclists under 16 years are required to wear a securely fastened protective helmet when riding on public roadways, other public rights-of-way, public bicycle paths, and in public parks
  • All bicycles must be equipped with a front white light visible from 500 feet away and a rear red reflector visible from 100 to 600 feet away when riding at night

Motorcycle laws

Any driver operating a motorcycle in Alabama must first receive a Class M endorsement on their driver’s license. A class M endorsement allows any Alabama resident at least 16 years old to operate a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle. Residents aged 14 and 15 can apply for a B-restricted motorbike driving license, which allows them to ride lower-speed bikes weighing 200 pounds or less. These bikes are prohibited on the highway.  
You can get this endorsement by passing a motorcycle knowledge exam from the Department of Public Safety and completing a safety class. When you’re ready to get your
M endorsement
, you’ll need to bring the following to your local Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS) office:
  • Identification,
    proof of residency
    , and U.S. citizenship documents
  • Proof of school enrollment (if applicable)
  • A completed application form
  • Proof of completion for a motorcycle safety course OR passed the motorcycle knowledge exam
  • Payment for the testing and application fees ($36.25 for a new license or $31.25 for an endorsement on your current license)
There is also a $5 fee to complete the written exam.
Once you have your M license, it’s important to remember that all of the basic rules of the road outlined in the Alabama traffic code apply to motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, mopeds, and vehicles. 
On top of these laws, there are some laws pertaining specifically to motorcyclists:
  • Must ride only on a permanent seat
  • It cannot carry more than one person unless the motorcycle is designed and equipped with footpegs to carry a passenger
  • Cannot operate a motorcycle while carrying any package, bundle, or other article that prevents the cyclist from keeping both hands on the handlebars
  • Must wear protective headgear at all times when operating a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle
  • Must wear proper footwear (riding barefoot is illegal)
  • Handlebars must be no more than 15 inches above the portion of the seat occupied by the driver
  • No person riding on a motorcycle shall attach themselves or the motorcycle to any other vehicle on a roadway
  • All motorcycles are entitled to full use of traffic lanes
  • Overtaking and passing in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken is prohibited
  • Drivers cannot operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between rows of vehicles
  • Motorcycles should not be operated more than two abreast in a single-traffic lane
  • The State of Alabama also encourages motorcycle drivers to: Use a plastic face shield attached to a helmet and wear appropriate protective clothing (jacket, pants, gloves, and boots or sturdy shoes)
In addition to following motorcycle safety laws, bikers are also required to carry appropriate
motorcycle insurance
at all times. The penalties for
driving without insurance
in Alabama are the same as for motor vehicles—for a first offense, a fine of up to $500, driver’s license and vehicle registration suspension for up to 30 days, $200 reinstatement fees, and possible jail time and vehicle impoundment. 


The state of Alabama implemented distracted driving laws prohibiting drivers from using handheld devices when operating a vehicle unless they are in hands-free mode. State law also prohibits using mobile phones while driving for drivers under 18, even in hands-free mode.
Yes—turning right at a red light is legal in Alabama except when a sign prohibits the turn. If there is no sign, vehicles facing any steady red signal may cautiously enter the intersection to turn right (or left from a one-way street into a one-way street) after stopping.
No, lane splitting is prohibited under Alabama law, as in most U.S. states. This means motorcyclists cannot ride between lanes to navigate slow-moving traffic.
Speeding is illegal under any circumstance in Alabama, including when passing another vehicle. Although some states do allow some flexibility for speed when passing another vehicle, Alabama has what’s called “absolute” speeding laws, meaning exceeding the maximum posted speed limit is illegal under any circumstance, and doing so will result in penalties. 
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