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Alabama New Resident Guide

Welcome to Alabama! As a new driver to this state you will need to be aware of our unique traffic laws and regulations. Here's what you need to keep in mind while driving in Alabama. Some of these rules may be the same as what you're already used to, but others will be drastically different!

Licensing and Residency Requirements



  • License must be obtained within 30 days of establishing residence.
  • Section 40-12-262, Code of Alabama, provides that the owner of a non-commercial vehicle which has a valid registration from another jurisdiction has thirty (30) days from the date the vehicle enters the state to register the vehicle.
  • After changing your address within Alabama, you have 30 days in which to notify the Driver License Division, P. 0. Box 1471, Montgomery, Alabama 36102, giving your full name, your driver license number, and your new address. If you desire to change your address on your license, apply to your probate judge or license commissioner's office. A duplicate fee will be charged for a corrected license. If you wish to change your name prior to license expiration, you should present proper documents (marriage certificate or court order) to your probate judge or license commissioner. A duplicate license will be issued with the corrected information for the normal duplicate fee.


Graduated Licensing Program



Learner's License

Requirements

  • Must be age 15 or older;
  • Must complete a written examination and receive a passing grade.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May operate a motor vehicle while accompanied by a licensed driver 21 years of age or older or a certified driving instructor occupying the seat beside the operator.

Restricted / Intermediate License

Requirements

  • Must be age 16 or older;
  • Must have held permit for 6 months;
  • Must have completed at least 30 hours behind-the-wheel practice;
  • Must pass road test
  • Must have permission from parent or legal guardian to receive a restricted license and drive without supervision.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • Must not drive during the hours of midnight to 6 AM unless:
    • Accompanied by a parent or legal guardian;
    • Accompanied by a licensed driver age 21 or older with parent or legal guardian's consent;
    • Going to or from an event sponsored by school or religious organization;
    • Going to or from place of employment;
    • Driving for the purpose of a medical, fire or law enforcement related emergency.
  • Must not have more than one passenger in the vehicle other than parents, legal guardians, or family members.
  • Must not use any handheld communication devices while driving.

Unrestricted Driver's License

Requirements

  • Must be age 17 or older.
  • If 17, must have held a Restricted License for at least 6 months.
  • If 18 or older, may apply immediately for a Driver's License:
    • Must pass written and road test.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May operate a motor vehicle without supervision.

An Alabama Driver License Shall Not be Issued to:

  • Persons under 16 years of age.
  • Any person whose driving rights or privilege is suspended or revoked in any state.
  • Any person afflicted with or suffering from a physical or mental impairment which, in the opinion of the director of Public Safety or examining officer, will prevent such person from exercising reasonable and ordinary control over a motor vehicle.
  • Any person failing to pass the examination when required.
  • Any person who is a habitual drunkard or addicted to the use of narcotic drugs.
  • Any person who is under the age of 19 that is not in compliance with Alabama Act 93-368, which requires secondary school graduation or current attendance, with limited exclusion.


Violation Point Counts

The amount of points that go against your driver's license for specific types of violations.



2 Point Violations

  • Speeding (1-25 mph over speed limit).
  • Inability to control vehicle.
  • Improper lane.
  • Drinking alcohol while operating a vehicle.
  • Improper operation of motorcycle.
  • Emergency vehicles.
  • Fail to signal/use incorrect turn signal.
  • Making improper turn.
  • Coasting.
  • Unsafe operation.
  • All other moving violations.

3 Point Violations

  • Following too closely.
  • Disregarding traffic control device (stop sign, traffic light, etc.)
  • Fail to obey construction/maintenance zone markers/flagman/police officer/restricted lane.

4 Point Violations

  • Wrong side of the road/Illegal passing.

5 Point Violations

  • Speeding (26 or more mph over speed limit).
  • Failure to yield right of way.
  • Passing stopped school bus.

6 Point Violations

  • Reckless driving or reckless endangerment involving operating a motor vehicle.
  • Admin per se.
  • Any conviction which resulted from a charge that involved the drinking of alcoholic beverages and the driving of a motor vehicle but did not require mandatory revocation of the driver license.

Time Violations Remain on Record

After a traffic conviction is 2 years old, it loses its point count for suspension purposes but remains on a driver's record.

Point counts at which license is suspended:

  • 12-14 points in a 2-year period - 60 days.
  • 15-17 points in a 2-year period - 90 days.
  • 18-20 points in a 2-year period - 120 days.
  • 21-23 points in a 2-year period - 180 days.
  • 24 and above points in a 2-year period - 365 days.


Insurance Requirements



Drivers May be Required to Show Proof of Insurance:

  • At the time of an accident.
  • When stopped for a traffic offense.
  • At checkpoints.
  • Prior to vehicle registration or renewal.
  • Upon mailed request by the Department of Revenue.
  • Randomly.

Minimum Coverage

  • $25,000 for death or bodily injury to one person.
  • $50,000 for death or bodily injury to two or more people.
  • $10,000 property damage.

Penalties

First Violation

  • Up to a $500 fine plus court costs, and/or a six month driver's license suspension.
  • Vehicle registration suspension plus $200 reinstatement fee.

Second or Subsequent Violation

  • Up to a $1000 fine plus court costs, and/or a six month driver's license suspension.
  • Vehicle registration suspension of at least 4 months plus $400 reinstatement fee.


Headlight Laws



You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle or within 200 feet of a vehicle traveling ahead of you.

You must turn your headlights on:

  • From a half-hour after sunset to a half-hour before sunrise.
  • During other periods of limited visibility when you cannot see clearly for at least 500 feet.
  • When the windshield wipers of the vehicle are in use because of rain, sleet, or snow. Intermittent use of windshield wipers does not require headlight usage.

There is no specific law allowing or prohibiting headlight flashing.



Implied Consent Laws



  • First Refusal - 90 day suspension.
  • Second refusal or DUI violation within 5 years - 1 year suspension.
  • Third or Fourth Refusal or DUI Violation within 5 years - 3 year suspension.
  • Fifth or Subsequent Refusal or DUI Violation within 5 years - 5 year suspension.
  • Refusing to Submit to a Test After an Accident - 2 year suspension.


DUI Penalties



First Offense

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment;
  • $600 - $2,100 fine;
  • Minimum 90 days license suspension;
  • DUI or substance abuse program required for license reinstatement;
  • 2 years ignition interlock if: greater than or equal to .15 BAC; refusal; driving with child under 14; or causing someone to be injured at time of offense.

Second Offense (within 5 years)

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment;
  • $1,100 - $5,100 fine;
  • Minimum 1 year license revocation;
  • DUI or substance abuse program required for license reinstatement;
  • Ignition interlock 2 years.

Third Offense (within 5 years)

  • 60 days - 1 year imprisonment;
  • $2,100 - $10,100 fine;
  • Minimum 3 years license revocation;
  • DUI or substance abuse program required for license reinstatement;
  • 3 years ignition interlock.

Fourth or Subsequent Offense (within 5 years)

  • 1 year and 1 day - 10 years imprisonment;
  • $4,100 - $10,100 fine;
  • Minimum 5 years license revocation;
  • DUI or substance abuse program required for license reinstatement;
  • 5 years ignition interlock.

Other

High BAC

When any person is found to have a BAC of greater than or equal to .15, he/she shall be sentenced to at least double the minimum punishment. If the offense is a misdemeanor, then the minimum punishment shall be 1 year, all of which may be suspended. License revocation shall be for not less than 1 year.

Child Endangerment

The minimum sentence is double the usual sanction if an offender greater than or equal to 21 was operating a vehicle while transporting a passenger

Alcohol Education and Treatment

The court may suspend the remainder of a sentence (after the 10-day mandatory minimum is served), but only if as a condition of probation, the defendant enrolls and successfully completes a State certified chemical dependency program.



Open Container Law



The Open Container Law prohibits possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle, by any occupant of the vehicle, on any public highway or right of way, whether or not the vehicle is in motion.



Red Light Violation Fines



  • Traditional enforcement: $100 fine/3 points.
  • Auto enforcement: $110/no points.


Construction Zone Penalties



Speeding violations when workers are present are subject to two times the original fine.



Turn Signal Information



Signal your intention to turn or change lanes at least 100 feet in advance.



Hazard Light Information



Hazard light use is permitted to warn other drivers of the presence of a vehicular traffic hazard requiring the exercise of unusual care in approaching, overtaking or passing.



Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws



Alabama has no state law requiring motorists to yield to a funeral procession.

It is illegal for a driver to:

  • Honk a motor vehicle horn, within 500 feet of the entrance being used for a funeral or memorial service.
  • Block access to a facility being used for the service.
  • Impede vehicles that he or she knows are part of the procession.


School Bus Laws



Requirements

  • Vehicles are required to stop unless on the opposite side of a 4 lane divided highway.
  • Vehicles must stop at least 20 feet from the bus.

Penalties

  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a $150 to $300 fine for a first offense.


Bicyclist Passing Distance



There is no specific law regarding minimum safe passing distance.



Motorcycle Laws



Licensing

  • A driver's license issued pursuant to state law suffices to operate a motor-driven cycle.
  • A person 14 years of age or older may obtain an operator's license for motor-driven cycle and must register with the Director of Public Safety.

Protective Gear

  • Protective headgear and shoes required for motorcycle operators and passengers. No parent or legal guardian of juvenile shall knowingly permit or allow juvenile to operate or ride motorcycle without protective headgear or shoes.
  • Eye protection is not required.

Headlights

  • Not required in daytime.

Sharing the Road

  • Two motorcycles may travel side-by-side in a single lane.
  • Lane splitting is not authorized.


Using the Shoulder to Pass



You may not drive off the roadway to pass on the right.



Passing Laws



Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of or traversing any intersection or railroad grade crossing;
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.

When Being Passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle;
  • The overtaking vehicle may signal by honking its horn;
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.


Speed Limits



  • 30 mph in any urban district;
  • 35 mph on any unpaved road;
  • 45 mph on any county-maintained paved road in an unincorporated area;
  • 55 mph on highways (except interstate highways or highways with four or more lanes);
  • 70 mph on interstate highways;
  • 65 mph on a highway with four or more lanes;
  • 55 mph for vehicles carrying explosives, flammable liquids or hazardous wastes except as authorized by the Governor


Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws



Safety Belts

  • Occupants who are age 15 or older and are sitting in the front seats must wear safety belts.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.

Child Seats

  • Children younger than 1 or less than 20 pounds must be in a rear-facing infant seat.
  • Children ages 1 - 4 or 20 - 40 pounds must be in a forward facing child safety seat.
  • Children age 5 but not yet 6 must be in a booster seat.
  • Children ages 6 - 14 must be restrained, and may use an adult safety belt.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $25.
  • Points will be assessed for a violation of this law.


Emergency Vehicle Laws



Move Over

When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:

  • Law enforcement or emergency vehicle;
  • Wrecker;
  • Utility service vehicle;
  • Garbage or recycling collection vehicle.

You must do the following:

  • When driving on a highway with two or more lanes traveling in the direction of the stopped vehicle, vacate the lane closest to the vehicle. If it is not safe to move over, slow to at least 15 MPH less than posted speed limit.
  • When driving on a two lane road, move as far away from the vehicle as possible within your lane. If the posted speed limit is 25 MPH or greater, slow to at least 15 MPH less than the posted speed limit. If the posted speed limit is 20 MPH or less, slow to 10 MPH.

Following

Do not follow any emergency vehicle traveling displaying visual or audible signals closer than 500 feet, or stop within 500 feet of an emergency vehicle when it is stopped in answer to an emergency call.

Collision Procedures

Stop

  • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled.

Provide Information

Provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or to any police officer at the scene of the crash:

  • Driver's name and address;
  • Vehicle registration number;
  • Show driver's license upon request.

Render assistance

  • Provide assistance to any injured person, including transporting them or making arrangements for transportation to a hospital or doctor, if necessary or requested.

Notify authorities immediately

  • If the crash resulted in injury or death, drivers involved must notify the local police department, county sheriff, or state highway patrol immediately.

Unattended vehicle or property

  • If you have collided with a vehicle that is unattended, locate and notify the operator or owner of the driver's name and address and the owner's name and address. If you are unable to do so, leave a written notice providing this information and a statement of the circumstances.
  • If you have collided with other unattended property on or adjacent to a highway, locate and notify the owner of the driver's name and address, the vehicle registration number, and show your driver's license if requested. You must also report the accident in writing.


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