Alabama Driving Laws for Seniors and Older Drivers

Learn about driving provisions and special programs focused on keeping both Alabama's older drivers and roadways safe.

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Unlike most states, Alabama does not impose conditions or restrictions specifically targeted to older drivers. The myriad rules and regulations enforced by the Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS) simply apply to drivers of all ages and stages.

However, state licensing authorities can act if:

  • They perceive that a person has a physical or mental disability that may affect the ability to drive, denying him or her a license or issuing one with tailored restrictions on it.
  • A licensed doctor requests that a driver be retested or have his or her license revoked.

License Renewal Rules

License renewal rules apply to all Alabama drivers.

Time limits: Drivers must renew every four years in person at a local probate judge's office.

Vision test: Required at in-person renewal only if licensing authorities believe a physical or mental condition or limitation may affect the ability to drive safely.

Written test: Required at in-person renewal only if licensing authorities believe a physical or mental condition or limitation may affect the ability to drive safely.

Road test: Required at in-person renewal only if licensing authorities believe a physical or mental condition or limitation may affect the ability to drive safely.

Possible License Restrictions

The Director of Public Safety can require a person who appears to have some physical or mental impairment which might affect driving to furnish a statement from a doctor showing medical history and present condition potentially affecting driving ability.

He or she may also be required to appear before a driver license examiner to prove the ability to drive safely. Those who fail to report for such a driver test or to submit any required medical statements may have their licenses revoked.

A person who has a physical or mental impairment that the Director of Public Safety or examining officer decides will prevent him or her from exercising reasonable and ordinary control over a motor vehicle may be denied a license, or may be issued a license that contains specific restrictions.

The most common restriction for older drivers is to require glasses or corrective contact lenses.

Other common restrictions include:

  • no freeway driving
  • driving a vehicle with an additional right side mirror
  • no nighttime driving
  • time of day restriction—for example, no driving during rush hour traffic
  • using adequate support to ensure proper driving position, and
  • geographic area restrictions.

How to Request an Unsafe Driver Investigation

The Alabama driver licensing authorities can act only on a written request from a licensed doctor that a driver should be retested or that his or her license be revoked because of physical or mental limitations that might make driver unsafe. Such written requests should contain the patient’s name and license number and be mailed to:

Alabama Department of Public Safety

Medical Unit

301 South Ripley Street

Montgomery, AL 36104

Doctor Reporting Requirement

A doctor who determines that a patient has a chronic illness or physical impairment has the responsibility to inform that patient of any driving limitation that may be appropriate.

How to Get a License Reinstated

A driver who wishes to have a license reinstated should print and compete a Request for Reinstatement Requirements and mail it to the address on that form.

If the department refuses to issue a permit or license or arbitrarily questions a person's abilities based on physical appearance or speculated inability to operate a vehicle safely, the person has a right to an impartial hearing before the Director of Public Safety. At the hearing, the person shall have the right to be represented by counsel and to present witnesses including a physician of choice.

How to Get Parking Placards or License Plates for a Disabled Driver

Disabled person parking placards and license plates can be issued to drivers with impaired mobility if a licensed physician certifies the condition.

The placards and plates are available for those who:

  • cannot walk 200 feet without stopping to rest
  • cannot walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, cane, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assistive device
  • are severely restricted by lung disease
  • use portable oxygen
  • have a severe cardiac condition, or
  • are severely limited in the ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition.

Steps required to obtain a disabled placard or plate are:

  • Complete and sign an Application for Disability Access Parking Privileges.
  • Have a licensed doctor sign the Physician’s Certification portion of the application.
  • Include a fee of $23 if the application is for disability access parking privileges for a private passenger car; there is no charge for disability access license plates.
  • Mail the original application to the address on the form.

Learn More About Alabama Driving Rules for Seniors

The Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS) contains some basic information for Alabama drivers. Of special interest is the downloadable manual, Alabama Driver, which describes licensing requirements and rules of the road.

Where to Find a Lawyer for Help

You can use Nolo’s Lawyer Directory to find a local lawyer experienced in representing older people who need help with auto accidents or traffic tickets in Alabama.

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