Your First-Time Alabama Drivers License Guide

by Jim Thompson | Last Updated: May 12, 2021

If you’re looking to get your Alabama drivers license, we’re here to help. Welcome to our step by step guide to get you off of your couch and out onto the road. We know you have a lot of questions, so let’s get going.

No matter your age, getting your license can be an exciting, scary, and confusing time, sometimes all at the same time. First off, let’s clear up some ALEA (Alabama Law Enforcement Agency) terms. In some cases, it seems they’ve gone out of their way to make it confusing.

Terms (and abbreviations) you should know:

See? I told you they made it confusing!

Who Must Take Alabama Drivers Ed?

Alabama is one of the few states with no drivers ed requirement. However, it’s probably not a bad idea for anyone to take a drivers ed course before getting their first license. You can enroll in drivers ed at age 15. 

The Path to an Alabama License in a Nutshell

The quick and dirty looks like this:

Now let’s take a look at what it’ll take to get those four steps done.

Step 1—Take Drivers Ed

Again, while there is no requirement for drivers ed, it can help in some key areas.

  1. The Classroom Instruction Phase will make passing the knowledge test easier than just studying the Alabama driver manual.
  2. The Behind-the-Wheel Instruction Phase will not only get you ready for your road skills examination, but it will also allow you to get your required practice driving out of the way.
  3. If offered at your school, you can get all of this accomplished during the school day and will earn elective credit toward graduation.

The 30- hour classroom portion of an Alabama drivers ed course teaches topics like:

Alternatively, the classroom portion of Alabama drivers ed can be completed at an approved driving school or online.

Perhaps the easiest way is to complete the classroom portion of drivers ed is online. Taking drivers ed online means you can complete this portion at a pace and on a schedule that works best for you. Some online courses can even qualify you for high school credit, just as if you were taking it on campus.

If you think completing a course online might be a good fit, here’s a list of some great Alabama online drivers ed providers.

Best Alabama ALEA Approved Online Drivers Ed Course Providers




Register NOW!


#1 Choice





If you (or your folks) would prefer a traditional driving school experience, check out our guide to selecting the best driving school. 

Step 2—Getting Your Learner’s License

If you are 15, you can apply for your learner’s license so you can begin your practice driving.

Important Note: If you are enrolled in drivers ed, you can put off this step, but you will only be allowed to practice drive with your drivers ed instructor. This option is not available if you choose to take drivers ed online.

Application for a permit will happen at your local DPS office. You’ll need to make an appointment.

When you arrive, be sure to have the following with you:

Check out the ALEA list of acceptable documents to see exactly what you should bring.

You’ll also need to bring:

Now it’s time for your written permit test

To pass the 30-question multiple-choice test, you’ll need to score 80%. Here are some suggestions on how to prepare.

Another way to give yourself a leg up on passing the permit test is to consider one (or more) of the following:

A permit practice test has everything the “real” test does, except the pressure. That’s because practice tests feature questions taken from actual ALEA exams. It’s like seeing all the answers before the test even begins! Don’t head for your test without a dress rehearsal, you want to pass the first time.

What If Your Test Didn’t Go Like You Planned?

What if you get to the testing center and, despite all your best preparation, your nerves get the best of you, and you wind up failing the test? First, don’t panic. Nearly 1 out of 3 test-takers fail on their first attempt.

If you do happen to fail, the ALEA will give you two more chances to pass. If you don’t get it on the last try, you’ll have to start the application process all over again. 

Another Note—If you’re new to Alabama and started this whole license dance somewhere else, here are some tips that might help.

Step 3—30 Hours of Practice Driving

Now it’s time to put that learners license to good use, and you are required to use it for six months before you can apply for your license. While practice driving, you must have a parent, guardian, or licensed driving instructor in the passenger seat when driving

While you might be nervous at first, do your best to enjoy this time and always pay close attention to what’s going on around you. You never know the kinds of things, good and bad, that you might learn from the drivers around you. Also, do yourself the favor of driving in as many conditions as you can, places like:

It’s better if you don’t see these things for the first time on your own. 

BTW—If you are planning a family road trip, you may get the chance to do some practice driving in another state. Check this out to see if you can.

Step 4—Pass a Driving Test

Finally, the last hurdle, your driving test. It’s all good. You got this.

Just like when you applied for your permit, you’ll need to schedule an appointment for your driving and skills test. 

Be sure to arrive in a car that is properly registered and insured, and that can pass a basic safety inspection.

The best way to prepare for the road skills test would be to familiarize yourself with the road test study guide. You should start reviewing this document soon after you begin practice driving so that you can feel comfortable performing all of the skills you will be tested on. You will most likely be asked to perform maneuvers like:

Using Your New License

Per the rules of the Alabama Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program, your new Stage II license will come with some restrictions concerning when you can drive and who you can have in the car with you. 


You may not drive from midnight to 6 A.M. unless traveling:


You may not transport more than one passenger other than parents, legal guardians, or family members.

You can apply for an Unrestricted (Stage III) license when you are 17 or have held your Stage II license for six months.

A Final Note

Any licensed driver will tell you that you will never face a driving situation as complicated, nerve-wracking, and time-consuming as getting your license. By no means should you let your guard down once you’re behind the wheel but, rest assured. You’ll never face anything on the road that will compare with the process it took to get you your license.

Good luck as you work your way through this. Can’t wait to see you out on the road!

A Final Final Note

If you’ve made it this far, may we suggest you bookmark this page? You’ll probably be coming back to it often as you work your way through this!