Alabama CDL Requirements
Alabama's commercial drivers are responsible for some of the nation's transport of goods, fuels and livestock from place to place and internationally. Carefully travelling well-known highways such as Alabama's famed U.S. Route 431, and navigating cities such as Hoover, Decatur, and Mobile, drivers must be patient, honest and safety conscious in order to drive for many hours in a row. Alabama is responsible for setting, testing and enforcing federal CDL requirements, and the licenses are closely regulated and can be revoked. To ensure you can easily meet the CDL requirements, use the following information and links found here to learn how to become a truck driver in Alabama.
What CDL Licenses are Available in Alabama?
In partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the state of Alabama trains and licenses CDL candidates for the following license classes:
CDL Class A
Any combination of vehicles that has a gross or total weight rating or actual weight of more than 26,001 lbs. This includes any combination that might include a towed unit 'trailer' with a total (gross) weight rating or actual weight of more than 10,000 lbs. Any operator possessing a Class A CDL may operate a vehicle under Class A, B, C, or D circumstances unless additional endorsements are required.
CDL Class B
Any one vehicle that has a total vehicle weight rating or weight of more than 26,001 lbs, or that is towing a unit that doesn't exceed 10,000 lbs. Any operator possessing a Class B CDL may also operate a vehicle under Class C, or D circumstances unless additional endorsements are required.
CDL Class C
Any one vehicle or combination of vehicles that doesn't fall within Class A or Class B definitions but is designed to transport 15 or more passengers plus driver, or is transporting hazardous, select or toxic material as defined by 49 USC 5103 or 42 CFR Part 73. Any operator possessing a Class C CDL may also operate a vehicle under Class C, or D circumstances unless additional endorsements are required.
If the actual weight exceeds the weight rating, the actual weight will be used in determining CDL classes and violations.
Personal Use Class D
Class D license is the standard non-commercial license that CDL candidates must present when applying for their CDL. Class D licenses people to operate a personal or recreational vehicle, operated for personal matters.
CDL Eligibility in Alabama
In recent years, the health and safety of CDL operators on U.S. roads has been an important conversation that has prompted regulatory changes. The result is a much more comprehensive set of requirements and restrictions that help CDL drivers and Class D drivers share the road.
License and Permits
Alabama residents must hold a Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP) for a minimum of 14 days before applying for the CDL.
To use a CDL in-state (also referred to as ‘intrastate'), operators must be 18 years of age or older.
Interstate (state-to-state) operators must be 21 years of age or older.
Proof of Residence
Ensuring that drivers have a domicile in the state of Alabama increases operator safety and avoids CDL fraud. Be prepared to produce the following documentation when applying for your CDL or permit:
CDL Requirements for Alabama Residents
- Current driver license
- Social Security card
- Proof of insurance
Alabama CDL Requirements for Out-of-State Residents and Transfers
Applicants attempting to transfer from another state should be ready to provide one or more of the following documents in addition to what is listed for Alabama residents:
- Alabama ID card
- Alabama Class D driver's license
- S. birth certificate
- Current U.S. passport
- Certificate of naturalization
- Certificate of citizenship
- S. certificate of birth abroad
- Resident alien card
- Valid foreign passport with valid U.S. immigration documentation
Non-U.S. Citizen Requirements for Alabama CDL
Applicants who are not U.S. citizens must be permanently domiciled in Alabama as well as possess permanent U.S. legal status, and are advised to bring as much original documentation supporting their application as possible, as listed in the Resident and Transfer sections.
Do I Need a CDL?
Military veterans may be exempt from the procedure of obtaining a CDL. Veterans are advised to take all original documentation with them when discussing their application with the CDL office.
Medical and Physical Requirements
Current Department of Transportation long medical form
Thereafter, the Alabama DOT online Medical Self-Certification form
Background Check for CDL Applicants
Should an applicant fail a TSA background check for any reason, they will not be eligible to pursue a CDL in Alabama. Background check procedures vary slightly between jurisdictions, so applicants are advised to consult their local CDL office for details.
CDL Testing in Alabama
Depending on the class of license you need, you will have to take one or more knowledge and skills-based tests as a requirement to earn your CDL in Alabama.
Please note that test fees cannot be paid by check and that appointments are required for skills testing.
CDL Knowledge Tests
- General Knowledge test for each applicant
- Passenger Transport test for bus drivers
- School Bus test for bus drivers
- Air Brakes test for air brakes, AZ, and air over hydraulic braking
- Combination vehicles test
- Hazardous Materials test
- Tanker test for liquid and liquid gases
- Doubles/Triples test for multiple trailers
CDL Skills Tests
Upon passing the necessary knowledge test(s), you are eligible for the CDL skills tests, which can be taken in the type of vehicle you wish to drive.
- Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection test
- Basic Vehicle Control test
- Road test
Alabama CDL Endorsements
With Alabama CDL in hand, the individual or their employer might next require specialization to carry certain types of cargo - this is referred to as an ‘endorsement' and extra testing is required to ensure that the operator knows the additional responsibility of safe handling under the law. The following types of endorsements are common throughout Alabama.
- School Bus
- Tank Vehicles
- Hazardous Materials
Alabama CDL Disqualifications
The state of Alabama disqualifies people from operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) if either their personal or commercial driving record is in violation of industry, federal and state regulations. Disqualifications may result in loss or suspension of the driver's CDL for periods ranging from 24 hours to life:
- Operating a CMV if BAC is 0.04% or more
- Driving a CMV 'under the influence' of alcohol (less than 0.04%)
- Refusal to undergo roadside alcohol testing
- Driving a CMV 'under the influence' of a controlled substance
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving your CMV
- Committing a felony using a CMV
- Driving a rig while your CDL is in suspension
- Causing a fatality through operating a CMV in a neglectful manner
- Speeding greater than 15 mph above the posted limit
- Reckless or erratic driving
- Driving a CMV without the appropriate CDL or CDL Class required
- Violating suspension or 'out-of-service' terms
- Not obeying the letter of the local, state, and federal law in regard to cautiously approaching railroad crossings and taking appropriate and safe action
- Are not a lawful permanent resident of the United States
- Renounce American citizenship
- Are wanted or indicted for certain felonies
- Are convicted of certain felonies in civilian or military court of law
- Posing or thought to pose a security threat
- Possessing a 'failed' background check
- Having any number of personal traffic violations
- Possessing more than one CDL license
- Failing to notify your employer or licensing agency within 30 days of a traffic violation of any sort save parking tickets or fines.
- Failing to notify your employer about a suspended or revoked license or disqualification within 2 business days
- Failing to fully disclose all driving jobs held in the prior 10 years
- Operate a CMV without a CDL
- Failing to surrender a hazardous materials endorsement to its state of issuance within 24 hours if required
- Failing to wear a seatbelt at all times
Please also bear in mind the following:
- Additional disqualifications sometimes vary from state to state
- Penalties increase if you are operating a CMV that is placarded for carrying hazardous materials.
- Penalties increase with subsequent offences
Alabama CDL Salary, Employment and Prospects
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecast over the next decade, the job outlook for truck drivers is favorable with an expected growth rate of 21 percent. For information purposes, the BLS classifies truck drivers into either heavy transport or light trucks.
Heavy Truck Salary
Heavy truck drivers or tractor-trailer drivers typically transport cargo farther distances (interstate) and earn about $18 per hour or $37,500 annually.
Light Truck Salary
Light truck drivers usually do local deliveries and stay within their state of origin. They may also be referred to as pickup and delivery drivers and typically earn a median hourly wage of about $14.50 per hour or about $30,500 per year.
Resources for Alabama CDL Requirements
Learn more about Alabama trucking schools.
Truck Driver Salary in Alabama
|Location||25th Percentile||75th Percentile||Annual Salary|
|Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL||$24,820||$40,000||$31,200|
Table data taken from 2015 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm)