Sobriety checkpoints, DWI checkpoints, and/or DUI checkpoints have been controversial since their inception. As is often the case when two strong competing interests clash, the matter ends up in court. In 1990, the US Supreme Court held that despite the Fourth Amendment concerns, sobriety checkpoints were a valuable tool as a means to control the dangers of drunk driving and were legally permissible if strict rules were followed. However, the matter remains unsettled 25 years later.
Are checkpoints effective in curtailing DUI?
The numbers suggest no. In general, most analysis of checkpoint data shows approximately a one percent rate of arrest among all the drivers passing through a checkpoint. Further, when compared to other DUI arrests, the conviction rates for those arrested at a checkpoint are typically lower. This is primarily due to the ability of an experienced DUI lawyer to attack the constitutionality of the checkpoint.
So checkpoints are allowed in all states?
No. Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, 12 states do not permit sobriety checkpoints based on state statute or state interpretation of the Constitution. If you live in one of the 38 states other than those listed below or in the District of Columbia, you may experience a DUI checkpoint:
Do the police have to tell drivers when a checkpoint will be in operation?
Yes. The place and time must be publicized in advance for two purposes: (1) to increase the deterrent effect and (2) to minimize the obtrusive impact on drivers.
How is it decided where the checkpoint will be established?
The location is supposed to be determined by policy makers not field officers based on several factors, among which are:
Statistical evidence citing where heavy DUI arrests have occurred
In a place that is clearly visible to drivers
In a place that the safety of the drivers and laws enforcement personnel can be best assured
Is every car subject to a stop?
It depends. As the law has evolved over the years through various court cases, there were concerns about who was being stopped. Courts have ruled that the driver of every car can be subject to some method of examination or a formula that is pre-determined will be employed. For instance, the police will stop every fourth car and the driver will be asked a few questions.
What if I see a checkpoint and don’t want to pass through it?
The law requires the checkpoint to be established in a manner that allows a driver to clearly see in advance of the stoppage and have the opportunity to avoid it without consequence. As a practical matter, however, it is not unusual for law enforcement to monitor very closely those drivers who turn around and proceed in another direction.
What rights do I have if I am ordered to pull over?
If the police have followed the letter of the law in conducting the checkpoint, they still must have reasonable suspicion of a DUI to actually conduct a stop of a driver. This could be based on any number of factors such as the method of driving, an odor of alcohol on the driver’s breath or bloodshot eyes.
Do I have to submit to testing?
It is a common misconception that field sobriety tests are mandated by law. A driver is perfectly within his or her rights to refuse such testing. Often times the police use the results of FSTs to provide the probable cause for an arrest. However, in many instances, an arrest will nonetheless result even if the driver refuses to take the FST, and every state has what is known as implied consent laws that require a driver who has been arrested for suspicion of DUI to submit to blood alcohol content testing.
A sobriety checkpoint must be properly established and conducted in a manner consistent with the law to be valid. If not, evidence that was gathered as a result may be challenged in court. The police do make mistakes; if you have been arrested at a DUI checkpoint, it is prudent to contact a knowledgeable DUI lawyer as soon as possible.
Driving a motor vehicle is a serious responsibility, not only to you, but also to all others on the road. To be a good, safe driver you must know the rules and respect them, know and follow proper driving procedures, and have a good = attitude. The proper attitude toward the laws and toward others on the road is extremely important. Courtesy toward others should be practiced at all times.
GOOD DRIVING HABITS
It is just as easy to develop good driving habits as it is to fall into bad habits. Safety techniques begin the moment you step into the car. Start by forming good habits immediately and use them for EVERY trip, whether it’s for just a few blocks or for several hundred miles.
ENTERING THE CAR
Develop a routine for entering and leaving your car. Adjust the seat, mirrors, and check passengers to be sure they are properly seated and do not interfere with your driving. Before switching on the ignition, buckle your safety belt and see that all passengers do likewise. If you are driving a hand-shift vehicle equipped with a manual transmission, push in the clutch before turning the ignition key. If you have an automatic transmission, be sure the indicator is in park or neutral and depress the brake pedal as you turn the key.
POSTURE AND STEERING
Good posture at the steering wheel is important. It will result in better vision, control, and ability to maneuver in an emergency. You should sit erect, comfortably gripping the outside rim of the steering wheel with both hands. Don’t grip the wheel so tightly as to restrict reflexes but keep a firm grip to maintain control. Always keep both hands on the wheel except when it is necessary to remove one for signaling or for another purpose necessary to the operation of the vehicle.
STARTING FROM A PARKING PLACE
In preparing to leave a parallel parking spot, look over your shoulder as well as in rear view mirrors and wait until the way is clear before pulling into traffic. Indicate your intention by signaling. Enter traffic in the nearest lane and remain in that lane until it is safe to change into another lane.
ON THE ROAD
You must drive within a single traffic lane without weaving from one lane to another or straddling the lane marking. You are in a traffic lane whenever driving on any street or highway. A traffic lane is part of a street or highway wide enough to permit safe operation of a vehicle or line of vehicles. Often lanes are not marked, but they are there whether marked or not.
RULES FOR TURNS
These are some of the rules for making safe, courteous and legal turns:
Prepare for the turn before you get there. Don’t make the decision to turn at the last moment. Observe and be alert.
Get into the proper turn lane well ahead of the place where you will make your turn. Be sure it is safe to make the change.
At least 100 feet before making the turn, signal your intentions.
Continue the signal until you are ready to make the actual turn. Signals are given to inform both pedestrians and drivers of your intentions.
Both hands should be on the steering wheel when actually turning. Pedestrians have the right of way over the motor vehicle.
Reduce speed before making turns.
Always finish your turn in the proper lane.
Make sure in advance that it is safe to turn. Check to the front, rear, and sides for cars and pedestrians, and also watch for situations developing in the street you will enter upon turning.
Be certain your signals are discontinued after completing a maneuver.
During the daytime, hand and arm signals may be used in addition to signal lights. Reflection of bright sunlight may make it difficult for other motorists to see your flashing signal light.
TURNING FROM FOUR-LANE HIGHWAYS
In making a right turn from a four-lane or divided highway, enter the right lane well in advance of the turn and make a tight turn into the right lane of the cross street.
For a left turn, move to the lane nearest the center line or traffic divider and turn from the inside lane. Avoid a wide swing during your turn. Enter the cross street just to the right of the centerline. Some intersections are marked to permit turns from more than one lane and you may make your turns as indicated by signs or pavement markings.
PROPER TURNING RULES
Be in the proper lane well before the turn (follow proper steps to change lanes).
Signal the direction you plan to turn.
Reduce your speed and check for persons and vehicles in your turning path.
Turn into the proper lane (see Turning Diagrams).
Adjust speed to the flow of traffic.
When making a three-point-turn, turning your vehicle around so that you are driving in the opposite direction from the direction that you were traveling, the three-point-turn must be made without endangering other traffic. They are normally permitted where your vehicle can be seen for a great distance and where traffic is such that making a three-point-turn would not constitute a hazard. Three-point turns are not permitted on interstate freeways, on curves, or near the top of hills where you cannot be seen by drivers of other vehicles approaching from either direction within 500 feet.
Three-point turns are governed by local ordinances and there may be no signs to warn you. Prohibitory signs are usually posted at hazardous locations.
Slow down before entering curves because of the danger of running over the center line or leaving the roadway. A driver should enter a curve slow enough to enable him to accelerate slightly when actually rounding the curve.
SHARING THE ROAD WITH MOTORCYCLES
The increasing popularity of motorcycle riding is evident by the variety of riders and two-wheeled motor vehicles appearing on our streets and highways. Motorcycle accident statistics show that a substantial percentage of the accidents involve riders with limited experience.
Motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on public roadways as other highway users. While legally everyone must abide by the same traffic laws, there are special situations and conditions drivers need to be aware of so they can share the road safely with those who choose to use two wheels instead of four.
Why is it so important to be aware of motorcycles and their operation? Primarily because motorcycles are not easily identified in traffic. Motorcycles are only about two feet wide compared with the five-to-six-foot width of an automobile. Even when seen, it’s difficult for some drivers to judge how far away motorcyclists are.
Finally, even when seen and the distance away is correctly judged, some drivers can’t tell how fast motorcyclists are traveling. Being alert to this special perceptual problem and how motorcyclists react in specific situations can help to avoid colliding with motorcyclists in traffic. The following are a few of the specific situations that call for special attention by motorcyclists and the driver.
Left turns in front of an oncoming motorcyclist account for a large percentage of car/cycle injury producing accidents. The problem of not seeing the motorcyclist is two fold: car drivers may fail to pick the cyclist out of the traffic scene, or drivers may fail to judge the speed of the oncoming motorcycle. The correct behavior is to:
LOOK AND LOOK AGAIN. MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THE SPEED OF THE MOTORCYCLE BEFORE MAKING A LEFT TURN.
Turn signals are not automatically self-canceling on most motorcycles. At times, the rider may forget to turn the signal off. Before making a turn in front of any vehicle, BE SURE THE VEHICLE IS TURNING and not continuing straight with a forgotten turn signal still blinking.
Following distance behind the motorcyclist should be the same 2-second following distance given any other vehicle. Following too closely may make the rider nervous, causing the rider’s attention to be distracted from the road and traffic ahead.
Lane usage for the motorcyclist is critical. Motorcycles are entitled to the same full lane width as all other vehicles. A skilled motorcycle operator is CONSTANTLY CHANGING positions within a lane to maximize being seen, to see the roadway better, and to compensate for objects on or near the road. Drivers should never move into the same lane alongside a motorcycle even if the lane is wide and cyclist is riding far to one side. It is not only illegal, but extremely hazardous.
Inclement weather and slippery surfaces can be real problems for motorcycles. Drivers should allow even more following distance for motorcyclists when it’s dark, raining, or the road surface is wet and slippery. Skilled motorcycle riders will slow down under these conditions. Remember that motorcycles only have two wheels compared to four for a car. Be alert to the problem of glare that rain and wet surfaces create, especially at night. It is easy to lose sight of a motorcycle and its rider under the best of circumstances.
Rain, wind, dust, and smog affect the cyclist’s vision. The cyclist’s face shield, windshield, or goggles help but cannot completely overcome all the vision limitations under these conditions.
Cross winds can be hazardous to motorcyclists. Windy conditions can actually move a motorcycle out of its lane of travel. Areas to look out for are wide-open, long stretches of highways and bridges. Fast-moving, large trucks have been known to create windblasts, which can startle a motorcyclist, and under certain conditions, actually move the motorcyclist out of the path of travel. Drivers should be alert to these conditions to prepare themselves for the possible quick change in speed or direction of the motorcycle. Road surfaces and things in the road that do not normally affect other vehicles can create problems for the cyclist. Gravel, debris, pavement seams, small animals, and even manhole covers may cause the motorcyclist to change speed or direction.
Railroad grade crossings may be rough or cross the road at an angle. The rider may slow down or change direction so the tracks can be crossed head on. The cyclist may rise off the seat to help cushion the shock of a rough crossing. Metal or grated bridges create a wobbling sensation in the front tire of the motorcycle greater than the feeling experienced in a car. This wobbling sensation may cause the inexperienced motorcyclist to quickly change direction or slow down.
Grooved pavement, when first encountered by a motorcyclist, may create a similar wobbling sensation. To overcompensate for this feeling, the rider may slow down or change lanes suddenly. Regardless of who is legally at fault in car/cycle accidents, the motorcyclist usually is the loser. The driver’s general awareness of motorcycles in traffic, combined with special attention in the situations described above, can reduce motorcycle accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
SHARING THE ROAD WITH LARGE VEHICLES
When sharing the road with trucks, buses or other large vehicles, there are some special tips that are important to remember:
No-Zones are danger areas around trucks and buses where crashes are more likely to occur. Some of the No-Zones are blind spots where your car “disappears” from the view of the truck or bus driver:
Side No-Zones: Don’t hang out on either side of trucks or buses! They have large blind spots on both sides. If you can’t see the driver’s face in the side-view mirror, the driver can’t see you. If that driver needs to change lanes for any reason, you could be in big trouble. This is especially true if there is an accident situation and the driver must take evasive action. When passing a truck or bus, always try to pass on the left and do it as quickly as possible. Get your vehicle ahead of the vehicle you are passing so the driver can see you. Do not ride alongside a truck or bus.
Rear No-Zones: Avoid tailgating! Unlike cars, trucks and buses have huge no-zones directly behind them that may extend as far as 200 feet. The truck or bus driver can’t see your car and you can’t see what is occurring ahead of you. If the truck or bus driver brakes suddenly, you have no place to go. When following a large vehicle at night, always dim your headlights. Bright lights will blind the driver when they reflect off the side mirrors of the bus or truck.
Front No-Zones: Pass safely! Don’t cut in too quickly after passing a large vehicle. Look for the entire front of the vehicle in your rear-view mirror before pulling in front and don’t slow down. Truck and bus drivers need nearly two times more room to stop. A National Safety Council study of reaction time and braking distance found that at speeds of 55 miles per hour, a passenger car needs 193 feet to stop safely and a loaded truck needs 430 feet.
Backing No-Zones: Pay closer attention! Never cross behind a truck or bus that is backing up. Hundreds of accidents occur each year because motorists and pedestrians ignore a backing vehicle. Drivers of large vehicles cannot see directly behind them. They may not be able to see you.
Turning No-Zones: Avoid the “squeeze play”! Truck and bus drivers need to swing wide to the left to safely make a right turn. Watch the driver’s signal. When the right turn signal is blinking, do not attempt to pass on the right. The driver will not be able to see you and you will become trapped. It is best to wait until the truck or bus has completed the maneuver before proceeding.
Any vehicle left standing along a rural highway for any reason must be moved off the paved or main traveled portion of the roadway. If the vehicle cannot be moved, you must take lighting and marking precautions to eliminate danger to other traffic.
PARKING ON A HILL
When parking on a hill you must make sure your car does not roll into traffic if the brakes do not hold. Always set the hand brake. Shift to the PARK position if you have one. If not, shift to reverse or low gear. If you park where there is a curb:
Facing downhill, turn your wheels toward the curb and shift into reverse gear or PARK. Facing uphill turn your wheels away from the curb and shift into low gear or PARK. If there are no curbs, turn your wheels toward the edge of the road, whether facing uphill or downhill.
A. Downhill with or without a curb, turn wheels toward curb. B. Uphill with curb, turn wheels away from curb. C. Uphill without curb, turn wheels to the right.
Parking is NOT allowed at the following places:
On a crosswalk or a sidewalk.
Within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an uncontrolled intersection.
Within 30 feet of any flashing beacon, stop sign, or traffic control signal located at the side of a roadway.
Within 50 feet of the nearest rail of a railroad crossing.
Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant.
In front of a driveway.
Upon any bridge or in a tunnel.
On the roadway side of any vehicle parked at the curb or the edge of a highway.
Beside a curb that is painted yellow, or where official signs prohibit parking.
A. Car 2 pulls even with car 1. B. Car 2 maneuvers gently toward the space. C. Car 2 turns wheels sharply. D. Car 2 begins straightening wheels. E. Wheels on car should be turned parallel to the curb.
Traffic laws also apply to bicyclists, but sometimes both adults and children cyclists appear unaware of the seriousness of their responsibilities. Some of the younger children do not know all of the rules that apply to bicycle driving; therefore, adult cyclists should be fully aware of the state’s traffic laws and set a good example by obeying them.
Motor vehicle drivers should also be aware of specific laws, which apply to bicycle drivers. Every bicycle driver operating upon a roadway shall ride as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, except under the following situations:
When passing another vehicle.
When preparing for a left turn.
When reasonably necessary to avoid road or traffic conditions such as debris, opening of car doors, pedestrians, etc.
Bicycle drivers may ride two abreast unless they impede the normal flow of traffic.
Bicycle driversarerequired to signal forall turns, lanechanges, or stops by using the same hand and arm signals as motor vehicle drivers.
Bicycle drivers and passengers under the age of 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.
Since cyclists travel under their own power, it is important for motor vehicle operators to be especially aware of them to prevent collisions. Following are special situations motor vehicle drivers must be aware of:
Whenever a bicycle lane has been established on a roadway, any person operating a motor vehicle on such a roadway shall not drive in the bicycle lane except to park where parking is permitted, to enter or leave the highway, or to prepare for a turn.
When turning across a bicycle lane, the driver shall drive the motor vehicle into the bicycle lane prior to making the turn and shall make the turn so long as such preparation for a turn shall not encroach upon the safety of the bicycle driver in the lane.
Be especially careful when passing bicycle drivers. Make sure there is enough room between the side of your vehicle and the bicycle. When traveling at higher speeds, motor vehicles create strong wind currents which can batter a bicycle rider. Operators of such motor vehicles need to be especially cautious and courteous when passing cyclists.
If the road is narrow and you are unable to safely pass a cyclist, do not follow too closely and do not blast the driver with your horn. Remain behind at a safe interval and warn the cyclist that you wish to pass. If possible, use an adjacent lane.
Remember that a bicycle is sometimes difficult to see amid other traffic. Be especially watchful at intersections, when crossing sidewalks, or when entering or leaving alleys or driveways.
During wet weather, the braking ability of a bicycle is greatly reduced. Motorists should be prepared to compensate for the cyclist’s decreased ability to slow or stop.
Since some bicycles may not be equipped with lights or reflectors, the hours of darkness or poor visibility are potentially dangerous.
SAFETY BELT AND CHILD RESTRAINT LAWS
Alabama’s safety belt law requires that all front-seat occupants, regardless of age, be restrained.
Alabama’s child restraint law requires that children through age 15 must be restrained when riding in motor vehicles in Alabama. The law applies to occupants of front and back seats of passenger cars, pickup trucks, vans (with seating capacity of 10 or fewer), minivans and sport utility vehicles. Violators will have points assessed against their driver record, in addition to incurring a fine of $25.
The law requires the following size appropriate restraint systems:
Infant-only seat or convertible seat used in the rear-facing position until an infant is at least 1 year of age or 20 pounds.
Convertible seat in the forward position or forward-facing seat until a child is at least 5 years of age or 40 pounds.
Booster seat until a child is 6 years of age.
Seat belt until a child is 15 years of age.
WEARING SEAT BELTS IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO REDUCE HEALTH AND SERIOUS INJURIES IN TRAFFIC CRASHES
You are responsible for obeying all Alabama traffic laws. If you are arrested for violating Alabama driving law and convicted, you may, in addition to the punishment handed down by the court, lose your driver’s license through cancellation, revocation, suspension, or disqualification.
Cancellation of Driver License
Alabama law authorizes the Director of Public Safety to cancel any driver’s license upon determining that a person was not entitled to the license.
Failing to give required or correct information on a driver’s license application or committing any fraud in making an application is a violation of Alabama driving law and is also grounds for license cancellation.
Revocation of Driver License In Alabama
A driver license may be revoked if a driver is convicted of certain offenses of Alabama traffic laws. After the period of revocation has expired, the driver may apply for a new driver license and will be required to take and pass the complete examinations.
According to Alabama driving law, the Director must revoke your license upon receiving a record of your conviction for:
Manslaughter or homicide resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle.
Driving or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor upon a second or subsequent conviction.
Driving a motor vehicle while a habitual user or under the influence of a controlled substance to a degree rendering you incapable of safely driving a motor vehicle upon a second or subsequent conviction.
Using a motor vehicle in the commission of a felony.
Failures to stop, render aid, or identify yourself in the event of a motor vehicle accident resulting in the death or personal injury of another.
Perjury or the making of a false affidavit or statement under oath to the Director regarding driver license laws or under any other laws relating to the ownership or operation of motor vehicles.
Three reckless driving convictions within 12 months.
Unauthorized use of a motor vehicle belonging to another.
Suspension of Driver License
The Alabama driving law states that a driver license may be suspended if a driver is convicted of certain offenses or is judged incompetent to operate a motor vehicle.
After the period of suspension, the driver’s license will be reinstated unless it expired during the period of the suspension, or unless all the requirements of the suspension and Alabama traffic laws were not met.
In accordance with Alabama driving law, your driver license may be suspended if you:
Have committed an offense for which mandatory revocation of license is required upon conviction.
Have been convicted of violating Alabama driving law with such frequency of serious offenses against traffic regulations governing the movement of vehicles to indicate disrespect for traffic laws, and a disregard for the safety of other persons on the highways.
Are a habitually reckless or negligent driver of a motor vehicle as established by a record of accidents or other evidence.
Are incompetent to drive a motor vehicle.
Have permitted an unlawful or fraudulent use of your license or mutilated such license.
Have committed an offense in another state which, if committed in this state under Alabama driving law, would be grounds for suspension or revocation.
Are convicted of fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer.
Are convicted of racing on the highways.
Fail to answer a traffic court summons on time.
Are ages 15 through 18 and withdraw from school under certain conditions prior to graduation.
In accordance with Alabama traffic laws, after a traffic conviction is 2 years old, it loses its point count for suspension purposes but remains on a driver’s record.
The Alabama Point System
The point system has been instituted in Alabama driving law as a means of identifying the problem driver (one who continually disobeys the motor vehicle laws).
Points are assessed for various violations as follows:
Any conviction for violation of Alabama driving law 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 – 6 Points
Reckless Driving – 6 Points
Speeding In Excess of 85 MPH (86 or above) – 5 Points
Under the laws of Alabama, every person (with some exceptions) must be licensed to operate a motor vehicle upon public streets and roadways. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Driver License Unit, issues driver licenses. This page will cover the Alabama driver license requirements for residence.
This chapter tells you who may qualify and what you must do to obtain an Alabama driver license. If applying for a motorcycle license, you should study the motorcycle manual.
Every Alabama resident who operates any motor vehicle (except a farm tractor or implement of husbandry temporarily upon any street or highway) must have a driver license. All applicants who have not been licensed in Alabama or whose Alabama license has been expired for over three years must pass the required driver examination. A holder of an out of state license which has not been expired over one year does not have to pass a driver examination.
AN ALABAMA DRIVER LICENSE IS NOT REQUIRED FOR THESE PEOPLE
The following persons may drive a motor vehicle upon the streets or highways in Alabama without an Alabama driver license.
Any person in the employ or service of the United States Federal Government
while driving or operating a motor vehicle owned or leased by the United States Federal Government.
Any person while driving any farm tractor or implement of husbandry temporarily operated or moved on the highway.
A resident at least 16 years old who has in his immediate possession a valid driver’s license issued to him in his home state or country. This includes military personnel from other states and their families stationed in Alabama, even though their assignment in Alabama may be of long duration.
A non-resident at least 16 years old whose home country does not require licensing of drivers may operate a motor vehicle as a driver of not more than 90 days in any calendar year if the vehicle operated is duly registered for the current year in the home country of the non-resident.
A non-resident who has a valid driver’s license from the state of the previous residence may drive without an Alabama license for 30 days after becoming a resident of the state.
Any non-resident full-time student properly enrolled and registered in a school, college, university, or trade school in this state, who holds a valid license from his home state or country.
WHO CANNOT BE LICENSED
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 ALEA 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 exclusions.
All applicants for an original Alabama driver’s license or identification card must submit proof of authorized presence in the United States as authorized under federal law. This will help us safeguard the accuracy and integrity of the Alabama Law Enforcement Driver License documents and reduce the high cost involved as a result of using fraudulent identification in obtaining goods and services.
Applicants for an Alabama Driver License or Identification card must:
1. Present two (2) forms of identification, at least one of which contains a photograph, (one form must be from the “Primary Listing”).
2. Present three (3) forms of non-photo identification (one form must be from the “Primary Listing”).
3. Applicants transferring an Out of State driver license must present their Out of State driver license, Social Security card (or one of the other acceptable documents for social security number) AND one other form from the “Primary Listing”. For the purpose of administering the licensing of non-working authorized foreign national applicants for an Alabama driver license and non-driver identification cards, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency presumes their status in the United States to be unauthorized until the applicant presents documents evidencing, to the satisfaction of the Department, that their presence in the United States is authorized. In addition to the identification requirements above, an applicant who has been deported from the United States must present proof from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that their legal presence status has been restored.
Legal Date of Birth Requirements
All applicants for any type of Alabama driver license or non-driver identification card must meet the age requirements relevant to the license or permit.
A record existing on the driver license database, as a result of a previously issued Alabama driver license or Alabama non-driver identification card may be considered proof of birth date. If no such record exists, only an original or certified copy of one of the “Primary Listed” documents could be accepted as proof of birth date.
Only a document, which is an original or a copy certified by the issuing agency, will be accepted. If a document is a copy, the certification attached to it must be original. A document would be unacceptable if:
(a) Correction fluid (white-out) has been used on pertinent informa-
(b) Erasure markings appear on pertinent information.
(d) Pertinent information is illegible.
(e) Alterations appear in pertinent information.
(f) A fold, crease, tear or hole obliterates or distorts pertinent information
(g) A staple obliterates or distorts pertinent information.
(h) The document is not properly signed.
Social Security Number Requirements
Proof of Social Security Number must be presented by the applicant under the following circumstances, unless the number is already in the database: (a) When applying for any class driver license, driver license renewal, vessel license, or non-driver identification card, whether or not the applicant wishes to have the number appear on the license.
An original of one of the following documents is required as proof of a Social Security number:
(a) Social Security Card
(b) A certified letter (on letterhead) from the Social Security
Administration stating the person’s name and Social Security number. (c) United States Military Identification Card.
(d) United States Military form DD 214.
(e) Medicare/Medicaid Identification Card (if Social Security number is followed by the letter A). (f) W2 Tax Form.
(a) The notary’s seal or stamp must be affixed to the document and must be legible.
(b) The notary’s name must be legible.
(c) The notary’s signature must be present.
(d) The complete date that the notary’s commission expires must be legible and must have been current on the date the document was
(e) The state in which the notary is commissioned must be legible.
Acceptable documentation for proof of name, date of birth and authorized presence documents must be original or copies certified by issuing agency. Unless otherwise noted, documents must be current or be of the type that does not expire. Immigration documents must reflect at least 160 days allowable time remaining in the United States.
All applicants under the age of 19 must present a current Student Enrollment/Exclusion Form (DL-1-93). Forms may be obtained at your school or any driver license office. Forms must be completed and signed by authorized personnel.
Social Security card (Required for all applicants who have been assigned and/or are eligible for the assignment of a social security number by the Social Security Administration.)
Certified U.S. Birth Certificate issued by an agency designated by state or federal authority
US Passport (current)
Alabama Identification Card
Alabama Driver License
Certificate of Naturalization
Certificate of Citizenship
US Certificate of Birth Abroad
Resident Alien Card
Valid Foreign Passport with a valid United
States Immigration Document
U.S. State Issued Driver License
Non-Driver ID Card
Current International Driver License/Permit
US Armed Forces Driver
US Military DD-214
Professional License Issued by a State or Federal Agency
Selective Service Card
Medical Insurance ID Card
United States Military ID Card
ID card issued by School with Photo
School Enrollment Form (DL-1/93) Certified School Record.
Most recent report card
Certified Letter from School
Certificate of Graduation
W2 Tax Form along with a copy of the previous year’s filed tax forms Documents from Court of Record
Divorce Decree Adoption Decree Name Change Decree Bankruptcy Decree.
Probation or release documents issued by State or Federal Departments of Correction with Photo ID cards issued by the same authority or Felon ID card issued by the Sheriff of the county of applicant’s residence
ACCEPTABLE VISA CLASSIFICATIONS
Any person lawfully present in the United States in the following nonimmigrant categories is eligible to apply for an Alabama driver license/learner license/non-driver identification card/vessel license: A, B, except B-1, E, F, G-4, H, I, J, K, L, M, NATO, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TN, TD, TPS or U or V visa categories.
Note: F and M visa holders must also present Form I-20; J-1 and J-2 visa holders must also present Form DS-2019 or IAP-66.
Driver License written examinations are available in foreign languages: Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese. Information on the administration of these tests may be obtained at the Driver License District Office.
HEARING IMPAIRED EXAMINATIONS
The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, in cooperation with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, has made it possible for driver license written examinations to be administered to the hearing impaired in American Sign Language. This is administered using our automated testing equipment and is available only at certain Driver License offices. Information on the administration of these tests may be obtained at the Driver License District Office.
Examinations are available for applicants that are unable to read and comprehend the knowledge tests. Oral Examinations may be administered using our automated testing equipment.
THE LEARNER LICENSE AND RESTRICTED LICENSE
Alabama Drivers License Graduated License law became effective October 1, 2002. Contact your local driver license office for information or log on to www.alea.gov. The minimum driving age in Alabama is 16. There are certain exceptions and restrictions:
RESTRICTED LEARNER LICENSE – Any person 15 years of age may obtain a restricted Learner License for the purpose of learning to safely and effectively operate a motor vehicle. The examination for the license is taken from information in the Alabama Driver Manual. Upon passing the required examination, the applicant will be issued a Class D Alabama driver license with a “Y” restriction. The “Y” restriction indicates that the holder may operate a motor vehicle while accompanied by a person who is 21 years
of age or older and, who is duly licensed in this state or a licensed or certified driving instructor occupying the seat beside the operator. After the holder’s sixteenth birthday, the holder may operate a motor vehicle with any licensed driver occupying the seat beside the driver. This Learner License is valid for four years, and can be renewed once.
LEARNER LICENSE Any person 16 years of age or older who, except for his lack of instruction in operating a motor vehicle, would otherwise be qualified to obtain a driver license, may obtain a Learner License upon passing the required examination. The examination for this license is taken from information in the Alabama Driver Manual. After passing the required examination, the applicant will be issued a Class D Alabama driver license with a “Y” restriction. The “Y” restriction indicates that the holder may operate a motor vehicle with a licensed driver occupying the seat beside the driver. This license is valid for four years.
A Learner License may be suspended or revoked in the same manner and for the same cause as a driver license and may also be revoked for any violations of the terms and conditions on which it was issued.
DRIVER LICENSE – Any person 16 years of age but under 18 years of age who has held a Learner License (to include a comparable license issued by another state) for six months or until their 18th birthday and has developed the necessary skills to safely operate a motor vehicle may present himself to his local driver license examiner for the road test. He must surrender his Learner License at the time of the road test. Upon passing the road test, the applicant will be issued a new regular license with the “Y” restriction removed for the remainder of the four year period. This will be at no cost to the applicant.
MOTOR DRIVEN CYCLE LICENSE – Any person 14 or 15 years of age may obtain a restricted license to operate a motor driven cycle weighing not more than 200 pounds, nor exceeding 150cc engine displacement. The examination for this license is taken from the Alabama Motorcycle Manual. Upon passing the required examination, the applicant will be issued a Class M Alabama driver license with a “B” restriction. The “B” restriction indicates that the holder may operate a motor driven cycle only. This license is valid for four years.
MOTORCYCLE LICENSE – Any person 16 years of age or older may obtain a license to operate a motorcycle. A motorcycle is defined as a motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground but excluding a tractor. The examination for this license is taken from the Alabama Motorcycle Manual. Upon passing the required examination, the applicant will be issued a Class M Alabama driver license. Class M indicates that the holder may operate a motorcycle only. The license is valid for four years.
In addition to the above licenses, the Director of ALEA has the authority to impose restrictions on your driver license when it appears that these restrictions are necessary for you to operate a motor vehicle safely. A common restriction is the requirement of wearing corrective lenses while driving. Another is the use of mechanical devices that aid physically impaired persons. Operation of a motor vehicle in violation of restrictions may result in the loss of your license.
VESSEL LICENSE – Any person 12 years of age or older may obtain a vessel license upon passing the required vessel examination at your local driver license office. You may also present an approved Certificate of Completion of a Boating Safety Course. Applicant must meet identification requirements.
Those restricted to corrective lenses must wear them when taking the road test.
If, as a result of the vision examination, it is found that lenses are needed to improve eyesight, you will be required to wear corrective lenses while driving. If you don’t pass your vision examination, you will be required to have your eyes examined by a licensed eye specialist and return the report to the examiner. If the report shows that you can see well enough to operate a motor vehicle safely, you will be allowed to take the remainder of the test.
The fee for each knowledge test is $5.00, no checks accepted. This test contains questions on Alabama traffic laws, road signs, and rules of safe driving. The test will be taken from material found in this booklet. This manual can also be found in digital format on the ALEA web site at: dps.alabama.gov.
If you are applying for a learner license and pass the knowledge test, the examiner will issue your learner license upon payment of the required fee. If you are applying for a regular driver license and pass the road test, you will
be issued your driver license upon payment of the required fee If you are applying for a motor driven cycle license and a learner license, you will be required to take both the motor driven cycle and the learner license examination. If you are applying for a motor driven cycle or a motorcycle license, you will need to study the material found in the motorcycle manual. You may pick this manual up at a Driver License Examining Office, State Trooper Office, Probate Judge or License Commissioner Office.
Automated testing is available to all applicants taking the driver license knowledge test.
THE ROAD TEST
The road test is the final step toward qualifying for the privilege of driving on public streets and highways. A driver license examiner will administer the road test. You must furnish a vehicle for the road test. Sixteen year old applicants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. A seventeen year old applicant doesn’t have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The examiner will check the vehicle before the test begins. It must be in safe operating condition and have the required equipment or the road test will not be administered. You must furnish a vehicle with required documents, proof of insurance and vehicle registration, for the road test.
The equipment required for the examination includes rear view mirror, horn, windshield wipers, two separate methods of applying brakes, muffler, headlights, rear tail lights, valid license plate, stop light, directional signals, seat belts, and, if applicable, window tint compliance sticker. The license examiner may refuse to give the road test in event of hazardous weather, road conditions or an inability to effectively communicate.
The driving test will determine your ability to operate a motor vehicle properly under traffic conditions. Ordinary maneuvers may include:
Right and left turns
Signaling (hand or approved electrical devices) • Use of marked and unmarked lanes of traffic
Backing of vehicle
Observance of traffic signs and signals
Making a quick stop
General control of vehicle
Three-point turn. Stop the vehicle at the right edge of the curb. When safe, make a sharp left turn; back vehicle. Move forward in the right lane. Do not bump the curb or use the driveway.
Parking (uphill or downhill)
During the test, you should turn your head when you observe traffic and look over your right shoulder while backing to indicate to the examiner you are aware of conditions around you. The examiner must mark items during the test indicating “acceptable” or “needs training.” Do not be distracted by the scoring, as it does not indicate you are receiving all bad marks. No passengers or pets are permitted in the vehicle during the road test. Loose items like cameras or radios should not be in the car during the road test.
Causes for immediate failure and termination of the road test are:
Violation of a traffic law.
A dangerous action.
Any accident which you could have prevented, regardless of legal fault.
Lack of cooperation or a refusal to perform any maneuver.
If you fail the test, you will be allowed to try again after you have had time to improve your driving skills.
Unless you already have a legal right to drive in Alabama, you must come for the road test in a vehicle driven by a licensed driver. The licensed driver must remain to drive the vehicle away if you fail.
When you have passed all tests, had your photo taken, and paid the required fees, you will receive a temporary license with your photo that gives you the privilege of driving a motor vehicle. You will receive your permanent license by mail. We must have your current mailing address to receive your license. The license must be carried on your person at all times while driving.
Class A Commercial License
Motor Driven Cycle License
Class B Commercial License
Class C Commercial License
School Bus Only
Class D Operator License
License fees shown above are subject to change and will be slightly higher in counties where local legislation permits a higher fee.
The minimum age requirements for Alabama Driver License and Non-Driver Identification cards are as follows:
Identification Card Class D Learner License Class D Motor Driven Cycle Vessel License CDL Class A Unrestricted CDL Class B Unrestricted CDL Class B Restricted CDL Class C
When it appears that you have some physical or mental impairment which might affect your driving ability, you may be required to furnish a statement from a doctor showing your medical history and present condition as it pertains to your driving ability.
Under some circumstances, you may be required to appear before a driver license examiner at any time after you have been issued a license to prove your ability to drive a motor vehicle. If you fail to report for such a driver test or fail to submit any required statements from your doctor, your driver license can be revoked.
IDENTIFICATION CARDS (NON-DRIVER)
A citizen of Alabama may apply to the local driver license examiner for a non-driver identification card. The same degree of proof of identification required of applicants for driver licenses in the state shall be required of applicants for non-driver identification cards. Identification cards are issued to applicants who do not physically qualify for a driver license, do not have a current Alabama driver license, or who wish to discontinue driving and surrender their license. The non-driver identification card bears a number and the name, date of birth, address, description of the person, and a color photo. The Identification Cards are available wherever driver licenses are available.
RENEWING YOUR LICENSE
Your driver license expires four years after it is issued and the expiration date is shown on the license. The license may be renewed at any time within 60 days prior to expiration at your Probate Judge or License Commissioner’s Office.
Military personnel, their dependents, students attending college, or other licensed Alabama drivers who are temporarily out of state due to their job requirement may be eligible to apply if you have obtained an Alabama driver license with your picture and signature in the last four years. Application available on www.alea.gov/driver license.
You must submit the required fee of $36.25 for renewal license or $31.25 for duplicate license by money order payable to the Driver License Unit. No personal checks. Mail to the Driver License Unit, P.O. Box 1471, Montgomery, Alabama 36102-1471. The licensee’s full name, date of birth, driver license number, social security number and out-of-state address should be included along with documentation providing reason for being out-of-state. A license will be issued, provided a photo and signature are on file and mailed to the licensee’s out-of-state address. The license must bear an Alabama address. This does not apply to holders of a commercial driver license.
Alabama law provides a grace period of 60 days after expiration date of a driver license for the purpose of driver license renewal and the driver license shall be valid for this time period. An Alabama driver license may be renewed without examination within a 3-year period after expiration. A license issued under these circumstances will be valid for a four-year period from the last expiration date instead of four years from date of issue. Even though license renewal is possible up to three years after expiration, a person cannot legally operate a motor vehicle with an expired license.
DUPLICATING YOUR LICENSE
If your license is lost, destroyed, or becomes illegible, but has not yet expired, you should apply for a duplicate license at your Probate Judge or License Commissioner Office. No examination is necessary but proof of identity such as a certified birth certificate is required at time of application. Any person making a false affidavit in obtaining a duplicate driver license may be charged with Forgery (Title 13A-9-3), Perjury (Title 13A-10-102) or both under the Criminal Code of Alabama and punished accordingly by fine, imprisonment or both.
CHANGE OF NAME, ADDRESS
If you wish to change your name, you should present proper documents (marriage certificate or court order) to your probate judge or license commissioner. A duplicate fee will be charged for a corrected license. Commercial Driver License operators must go to a Driver License Office.
After changing your address within Alabama, you have 30 days
in which to notify the Driver License Unit, P. 0. Box 1471, Montgomery, Alabama 36102-1471 or contact the department thru the web site at www. alea.gov. To update your address on your driver license or non-driver identification card, apply for a duplicate license at a driver license examining office or renewal office (judge of probate or license commissioner’s office). A $31.25 fee will be charged for the corrected, duplicate license. Before leaving the office, be sure and confirm your correct mailing address to ensure you will receive your license or non-driver identification card. Alabama driver licenses and non-driver identification cards are not forwarded.
ORGAN DONOR PROGRAM
The Alabama Organ Center (AOC) is the federally designated organ procurement organization for the state of Alabama. The Alabama Organ Center (AOC) encourages all Alabamians to make an informed decision about organ and tissue donation. Anyone can register to be a donor via the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) or through our website, alabamaorgancenter.org. It is important for people to share their donation decision with their families. If you are a minor, under the age of 18, you can register your wishes to be a donor, but a parent’s consent is required for donation to take place. For more information, please contact the Alabama Organ Center toll-free at 1-800-252-3677
SPECIAL RESTRICTIONS MAY APPLY
If you drive a commercial vehicle that falls into one of the following classifications, you must secure an Alabama Commercial Driver License (CDL).
CLASS A – This classification applies only to “combination” vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) exceeding 26,000 pounds, provided the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed exceeds 10,000 pounds.
The holder of a Class A license, which includes any appropriate endorsements, may operate all vehicles included in Class B, C, & D.
CLASS B – This class includes single or combination vehicles where the GVWR of the single vehicle exceeds 26,000 pounds. The vehicle in tow must not exceed 10,000 pounds. Class B licensees, with appropriate endorsements, may drive all vehicles in Class C or D.
CLASS C – Vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, and vehicles placarded for hazardous materials, that do not meet the criteria for Class A or B above fall under this classification and may drive all vehicles in Class D.
CDL Endorsements are required for double/triple trailers, tanker vehicles, passenger vehicles and vehicles placarded for hazardous materials.
N – Tanks 1,000 gallons or greater H – Hazardous materials X – Tanks and Haz Mat T – Double/triple trailers
P – Greater than 15 passengers including driver S – School bus
Commercial Drivers Manuals and information are available at your local driver license office.
In 1994, the Alabama Boating Safety Reform Act was passed requiring operator certification for all operators of motorized watercraft. Persons ages 12 years old and older may obtain a vessel license.
In 2001, The Boating Safety Enhancement Act was passed mandating anyone who turned 12 years old after January 1, 2002, may, after obtaining a vessel license, operate a vessel only if an adult 21 years old or older with a vessel license, is onboard and in a position to take immediate control of the vessel. A licensed operator, 14 years old or older, may operate alone.
Persons born before April 28, 1954 are exempt from examination but are required to go to their driver license office to have vessel class issued. Vessel manuals are available at your local driver license office. The same identification is required for first time applicants getting a vessel license if they do not already have an Alabama Driver License or Non-Driver Identification Card.
PRESENT YOUR LICENSE
In Alabama, a driver must have an appropriate driver’s license (or learner permit) in his or her possession while operating a motor vehicle and be prepared to present that driver’s license to any law enforcement officer upon his or her request.
This guide will cover the horn, headlight, and emergency signal laws in California.
Horn, Headlights, and Emergency Signals
Use Your Horn
Only when necessary, to avoid collisions.
To try to get “eye contact” with other drivers. You may tap your horn to alert another driver who might turn in front of you and cause a collision.
On narrow mountain roads, where you cannot see at least 200 feet ahead of your vehicle.
Don’t Use Your Horn
If a driver or bicyclist is going slowly, and you want him or her to drive faster or get out of your way. The driver or bicyclist may not be able to safely go faster, due to illness, being lost, intoxication, or having mechanical problems with the vehicle.
To alert other drivers that they made a mistake. Your honking may cause them to make more mistakes or to become angry and retaliate.
Because you may be angry or upset.
To honk at pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists unless necessary to avoid a collision. Remember that your horn sounds much louder outside a vehicle.
NOTE: Honking your horn may startle other drivers. It is safer to slow down or stop instead of honking your horn.
Use Your Headlights
When it is cloudy, raining, snowing, or foggy. If weather conditions require you to use your windshield wipers, you must turn on your low-beam headlights — it’s the law.
On frosty mornings, when other drivers’ windows may be icy or “fogged.”
Any time conditions (clouds, rain, snow, dust, smoke, fog, etc.) prevent you from seeing other vehicles. Other drivers may have trouble seeing you, too.
On small country or mountain roads, even on sunny days. This helps other drivers see you and may help you avoid a head-on crash.
When necessary to get another driver’s attention.
Use Your Emergency Signals
If you can see a collision ahead, warn the drivers behind you by turning on your emergency flashers or tapping your brake pedal quickly three or four times. You can also use the hand signal when slowing and stopping.
Never stop on the road, unless necessary for safety or to obey a law. If you need to stop, then start braking early as a signal to the cars behind you. If your vehicle breaks down on the road, make sure that other drivers can see it. If you experience vehicle trouble, and need to stop, follow these rules:
Pull off the road away from all traffic, if possible.
If you cannot get completely off the road, stop where people can see you and your vehicle from behind. Do not stop just over a hill or just around a curve.
Turn on your emergency flashers if you are not moving. If your vehicle doesn’t have emergency flashers, turn signals may be used instead.
If it is safe, lift the hood to signal an emergency.
Give other drivers plenty of warning. Place emergency flares or triangles 200–300 feet behind the vehicle. This allows other drivers time to change lanes, if necessary. Be very careful when using flares. They may cause fires, especially when used near flammable liquids.
If you do not have emergency flares, follow the rules listed above and stay in your vehicle until help arrives. Be careful for your safety and stay off the road. Remember: Do not try to change a tire if it means you have to stand in a traffic lane.
Text Messaging and Cell Phones
It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communication device to write, send, or read text messages, instant messages, and e-mailsunless you are 18 years of age or older and using an electronic wireless communications device designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to text-based communications when operating a vehicle.
Although hands-free devices are permitted (except for minors), drivers should minimize distractions to focus on safe driving practices.
Call for help in emergencies only.
If your cell phone rings, do not answer it. Let the call go to voicemail if you have this feature.
If you must make a call, pull safely off the road and stop before making the call.
Keep telephone conversations short or if possible, have a passenger make the call.
Here is a quick guide on California vehicle turn signal laws.
Signaling Laws In California
Always signal when turning left or right, changing lanes, slowing down, or stopping; it lets other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians know your intentions.
Signals may be given by hand-and-arm positions or by using the vehicle’s signal lights. If bright sunlight makes the signal lights hard to see, also use hand-and-arm signals.
SLOW OR STOP
Motorcyclists often use hand signals to make themselves more visible. Bicyclists may give right turn-signals with their right arm held straight out, pointing right.
During the last 100 feet before reaching the turning point (left or right turn). Caution!—Even though you signal, do not automatically assume that the space you want to occupy is clear.
Before every lane change. Check your mirrors, look over your shoulder, and check your blind spot before changing lanes.
At least five seconds before you change lanes on a freeway.
Before pulling next to the curb or away from the curb.
When you change directions.
Even when you do not see other vehicles. A vehicle you do not see may suddenly appear and hit you.
If you plan to turn beyond an intersection, start signaling when you are in the intersection. If you signal too early, the other driver may think you plan to turn into the intersection and he or she may pull out in front of you.
Remember to cancel your signal after turning.
Steering Control – Modern vehicles require very little effort to turn. Look at the steering wheel as a clock face and place your hands at 9 and 3 o’clock or slightly lower at around 8 and 4 o’clock. These are the desired hand positions that reduce the possibility of turning the wheel too sharply.
To reduce forearm and hand injuries, your hands should be placed on the lower half of the steering wheel, with your knuckles on the outside of the wheel, and your thumbs stretched along the rim of the steering wheel.
Pull-Push Steering – Use pull-push steering for most turning maneuvers. Pull down with one hand and push up with the other. This results in smooth steering and reduces the potential for over steering, which can lead to loss of control. Keep your hands and thumbs on the outside of the wheel.
Hand-Over-Hand Steering – Use hand-over-hand steering when steering movements are critical, such as when:
Performing sharp right turns.
Correcting a skid.
Use quick movements on entry to the maneuver, and then use slow, smooth movements when straightening the wheel.
One-Hand Steering–Use one-hand steering for:
Backing maneuvers that do not require full left or right turns, or
When operating vehicle controls for information, safety, or comfort.
Most California parking laws and rules are regulated at a local level, so every city is a little bit different. However, this guide covers general parking laws in California.
Laws For Parking On A Hill In California
When you park:
On a sloping driveway, turn the wheels so the vehicle will not roll into the street if the brakes fail.
Headed downhill, turn your front wheels into the curb or toward the side of the road. Set the parking brake.
Headed uphill, turn your front wheels away from the curb and let your vehicle roll back a few inches. The wheel should gently touch the curb. Set the parking brake.
Headed either uphill or downhill when there is no curb, turn the wheels so the vehicle will roll away from the center of the road if the brakes fail.
Down Hill Up Hill No Curb, Up Hill or Down Hill
Always set your parking brake and leave the vehicle in gear or in the “park” position.
Parallel Parking Laws In California
How to parallel park safely:
Find a space. Look for a space at least 3 feet longer than your vehicle to safely park in the space without striking another vehicle or object. When you find a space, signal your intention to park.
Pull your vehicle alongside the vehicle in front of your space, if any, 2 feet away from it and bumpers aligned. Check your rearview mirror and look over your shoulder for approaching vehicles. You can brake gently so approaching vehicles behind you will see the brake lights and stop to allow you to park. Keep your foot on the brake and put the vehicle in reverse. Maintain the turn signal.
Lift your foot off the brake. Check your mirrors and look over your shoulder to make sure the street is clear of traffic before you begin to back up. Look over your shoulder at the space to make sure it is clear of any objects, pedestrians, animals, etc. Begin to back up while turning the wheel hard toward the curb; you want the angle to be sharp but not too sharp.
Once the back of your seat is aligned with the rear bumper of the vehicle in front of the empty space, begin turning the steering wheel away from the curb.
Straighten out. Your vehicle should now be about 6 inches from and parallel the curb. You might have to adjust your vehicle forward or backward before you put your vehicle in park and turn off the engine. Check your mirrors and look over your left shoulder for oncoming traffic or bicyclists before you exit.
How to Parallel Park Properly
Bring your car to a stop alongside the car at the front of the space.
Reverse into the space with an S motion.
Once the car is parallel with the curb, pull forward to center your car within the space.
Parking At Colored Curbs In California
Painted colored curbs have the following special parking rules:
White–Stop only long enough to pick up or drop off passengers or mail.
Green–Park for a limited time. Look for a posted sign next to the green zone for time limits, or locate the time limit painted on the curb.
Yellow–Stop no longer than the time posted to load or unload passengers or freight. Drivers of noncommercial vehicles are usually required to stay with the vehicle.
Red–No stopping, standing, or parking. (Buses may stop at a red zone marked for buses.)
Blue–Parking is permitted only for a disabled person or a driver of a disabled person who displays a placard or a special license plate for disabled persons or disabled veterans. Disabled people with a placard or special plates may park in special areas for unlimited periods of time, regardless of time restrictions. No one other than a disabled person or a driver of a disabled person may park there. A crosshatched (diagonal lines) area adjacent to a designated disabled parking space is a no parking area. Qualified persons may apply at any DMV office or visit the DMV website atwww.dmv.ca.gov to obtain a form for a parking placard or special plates. An identification card will be issued to holders of disabled person or disabled veteran license plates.
Example of crosshatched (diagonal lines) area
NOTE:Placard abuse results in the loss of special parking privileges. It is also a misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment in county jail for up to six months, or both.
Examples of placard abuse:
Using a placard after it has been reported lost or stolen without reporting that the placard was found.
Loaning your placard to friends or family members (disabled or not).
Interchanging placards with friends or family members.
Using a placard when the person it was issued to is not in the vehicle with you (disabled child, family member, disabled employer, etc.).
Using a deceased person’s placard.
NOTE: Disabled plates and/or a placard must be surrendered or returned to the nearest DMV within 60 days of the death of the disabled person. The plates and/or placard can also be mailed to the following address:
DMV PO Box 942869 MS D238 Sacramento, CA 94269-0001
Illegal Parking In California
Never park or leave your vehicle:
Where a “No Parking” sign is posted.
On a marked or unmarked crosswalk, sidewalk, partially blocking a sidewalk, or in front of a driveway.
Within 3 feet of a sidewalk ramp for disabled persons or in front of or on a curb that provides wheelchair access to a sidewalk.
In a disabled person parking space, unless you are disabled and display a placard or special plates.
In the space next to a disabled person parking space, if it is painted in a crosshatched (diagonal) pattern (CVC §22507.8(c)(2)).
In a space designated for parking or fueling zero-emission vehicles which display an identifying decal.
In a tunnel or on a bridge, except where permitted by signs.
Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant or a fire station driveway.
On or within 7½ feet of a railroad track.
Between a safety zone and the curb.
“Double parked.” (Parking in the street when all legal parking places at the curb are taken.)
On the wrong side of the street.
At a red curb.
On a freeway, except:
In an emergency, or
When an officer or device requires a stop, or
Where a stop is specifically permitted. A vehicle (even if disabled) that is stopped, parked, or left standing on a freeway for more than four hours may be removed (CVC §22651(f)).
NOTE: If you must stop on a freeway, park completely off the pavement and stay in your vehicle with the doors locked until help arrives. Leave enough space for other vehicles to freely pass by your vehicle. Your vehicle should be visible for at least 200 feet in each direction.
Special Parking Rules In California
When you park alongside a curb on a level street, the front and back wheels must be parallel and within 18 inches of the curb. Park parallel to the street if there is no curb.
Never leave your vehicle while the engine is still running; stop the engine and set the parking brake.
When you are ready to exit your vehicle, look carefully for passing vehicles, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. Do not open the driver’s side door unless it is safe to do so and you do not interfere with traffic. Do not leave the door open any longer than necessary.
Left turns–To make a left turn, drive close to the center divider line or into the left turn lane. Begin signaling about 100 feet before the turn. Look over your left shoulder and reduce your speed. Stop behind the limit line. Look left, then right, then left again, and make the turn when it is safe. When you turn left, do not turn too soon and “cut the corner” of the lane belonging to the vehicles coming towards you.
Example of a left turn
Safety suggestion: While waiting to turn left, keep your wheels pointed straight ahead until it is safe to start your turn. If your wheels are pointed to the left and a vehicle hits you from behind, you could be pushed into oncoming traffic.
A left turn against a red light can only be made from a one-way street onto a one-way street. Signal and stop for a red traffic light at the marked limit line. If there is no limit line, stop before entering the crosswalk. If there is no crosswalk, stop before entering the intersection. You may turn left into a left-moving, one-way street if there is no sign to prohibit the turn. Yield to pedestrians, bicyclists, or other vehicles moving on their green light.
Right turns–To make a right turn, drive close to the right edge of the road. If there is a bike lane, drive into the bike lane no more than 200 feet before the turn. Watch for bicyclists or motorcyclists who may get between your vehicle and the curb.
Begin signaling about 100 feet before the turn. Look over your right shoulder and reduce your speed. Stop behind the limit line. Look both ways and turn when it is safe. Do not turn wide into another lane. Complete your turn in the right lane.
Example of a right turn
Right turn against a red light–Signal and stop for a red traffic light at the marked limit line. If there is no limit line, stop before entering the crosswalk. If there is no crosswalk, stop before entering the intersection. You may turn right if there is no sign to prohibit the turn. Yield to pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, or other vehicles moving on their green light.
No turn against a red arrow–You may not turn right or left against a red arrow.
Examples Of Right and Left Turns
The numbers on the cars in the diagrams refer to the numbered sentences on this page. Always use your turn signals.
1. Left turn from a two-way street. Start the turn in the left lane closest to the middle of the street. Complete the turn, if safe, in either lane of the cross street (shown by the arrows). Use the center left turn lane if one is available. A left turn may be made from the other lane, if permitted by signs or arrows.
2. Right turn. Begin and end the turn in the lane nearest the righthand curb. Do not swing wide into another lane of traffic. Watch for pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists between your vehicle and the curb. Sometimes, signs or pavement markings will let you turn right from another lane as shown by the graphic 2.
3. Left turn from a two-way street into a one-way street. Start the turn from the lane closest to the middle of the street. Turn into any lane that is safely open, as shown by the arrows.
4. Left turn from a one-way street into a two-way street. Start the turn from the far left lane. Turn into either of the lanes that are safely open, as shown by the arrows.
5. Left turn from a one-way street into a one-way street. Start the turn from the far left lane. Watch for pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists between your vehicle and the curb because they can legally use the left turn lane for their left turns. Turn into any lane that is safely open, as shown by the arrows.
6. Right turn from a one-way street into a one-way street. Start the turn in the far right lane. If safe, you may end the turn in any lane. Sometimes, signs or pavement markings will let you turn right from another lane, as shown by the graphic 6.
7. Turn at a “T” intersection from a one-way street into a two-way street. Through traffic has the right-of-way. You may turn either right or left from the center lane. Watch for vehicles, motorcyclists, and bicyclists inside your turn.
Legal U-Turns In California
A U-turn is turning your vehicle around in the street to go back the way you came. To make a U-turn, signal and use the far left lane or the center left turn lane. You may make a legal U-turn:
Across a double yellow line when it is safe and legal.
In a residential district:
If there are no vehicles approaching you within 200 feet.
Whenever a traffic sign, light, or signal protects you from approaching vehicles.
At an intersection on a green light or green arrow, unless a “No Uturn” sign is posted.
On a divided highway, only if an opening is provided in the center divider.
Illegal U-Turns In California
Never make a U-turn:
At or on a railroad crossing.
On a divided highway by crossing a dividing section, curb, strip of land, or two sets of double yellow lines.
Where you cannot see clearly 200 feet in each direction because of a curve, hill, rain, fog, or other reason.
Where a “No U-Turn” sign is posted.
When other vehicles may hit you.
On a one-way street.
In front of a fire station. Never use a fire station driveway to turn your vehicle around.
In business districts. Areas with churches, apartments, multiple dwelling houses, clubs, and public buildings (except schools) are also considered to be business districts. Turn only at an intersection, unless a sign prohibits it, or where openings are provided for turns.
Lane control laws in California are similar to most other states. However, in this guide we’ll cover some of the specific laws and regulations.
Examples of lane markings
(1) Solid yellow line: No passing if solid yellow line is on your side. (2) Double solid lines: DO NOT pass. (3) Broken yellow line: May pass if movement can be made safely.
Driving & Roadway Line Colors In California
Solid yellow lines mark the center of a road used for two-way traffic.
Broken yellow lines indicate that you may pass if the broken line is next to your driving lane.
Two solid yellow lines indicate no passing. Never drive to the left of these lines unless you are:
In a carpool lane/High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane that has a designated entrance on the left.
Instructed by construction or other signs to drive on the other side of the road because your side of the road is closed or blocked.
You may turn left across a single set of double yellow lines to enter or exit a driveway, make a U-turn, or into or out of a private road.
Two sets of solid double yellow lines spaced 2 feet or more apart are considered a barrier. Do not drive on or over this barrier or make a left turn or a U-turn across it except at designated openings (see diagram).
Solid white lines mark traffic lanes going in the same direction, such as one-way streets.
Broken white lines separate traffic lanes on roads with two or more lanes in the same direction.
Double white lines are two solid white lines that indicate a lane barrier between regular use and a preferential use, such as a carpool/HOV lane. Never change lanes while in these lanes; wait until a single broken white line appears. You may also see these parallel lines in or near freeway on and off-ramps.
Properly Choosing A Lane
Traffic lanes are often referred to by number. The left or “fast” lane is called the “Number 1 Lane.” The lane to the right of the “Number 1 Lane” is called the “Number 2 Lane,” then the “Number 3 Lane,” etc.
Example of numbered traffic lanes
Drive in the lane with the smoothest flow of traffic. If you can choose among three lanes, pick the middle lane for the smoothest driving. To drive faster, pass, or turn left, use the left lane. When you choose to drive slowly or enter or turn off the road, use the right lane.
If there are only two lanes in your direction, pick the right lane for the smoothest driving.
Do not weave in and out of traffic. Stay in one lane as much as possible. Once you start through an intersection, keep going. If you start to make a turn, follow through. Last-minute changes may cause collisions. If you miss a turn, continue until you can safely and legally turn around.
Laws For Changing Lanes In California
Changing lanes includes:
Moving from one lane to another.
Entering the freeway from an on-ramp.
Entering the road from a curb or the shoulder.
Before changing lanes, signal, look in all your mirrors, and:
Check traffic behind and beside you.
Glance over your left or right shoulder to make sure the lane you want is clear.
Check for vehicles, motorcyclists, and bicycle traffic in your blind spot.
Be sure there is enough room for your vehicle in the next lane.
Laws Regarding Passing Lanes In California
Before you pass, look ahead for road conditions and traffic that may cause other vehicles to move into your lane.
Never drive off the paved or main-traveled portion of the road or on the shoulder to pass. The edge of the main-traveled portion of the road may have a painted white line on the road’s surface. Passing other vehicles at crossroads, railroad crossings, and shopping center entrances is dangerous.
Pass traffic on the left. You may pass on the right only when:
An open highway is clearly marked for two or more lanes of travel in your direction.
The driver ahead of you is turning left and you do not drive off the roadway to pass. Never pass on the left if the driver is signaling a left turn.
Laws For Carpool / High-Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) Lanes In California
An HOV lane is a special lane used only for carpools, buses, motorcycles, or declared low-emission vehicles. You may use a carpool/HOV lane or on-ramp if your vehicle carries the posted minimum number of people required for the carpool lane, or you drive a low-emission vehicle displaying a special DMV-issued decal. If you operate a low emission and/or hybrid vehicle, you may be exempt from all toll charges on high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes. Motorcycle riders may use designated carpool/HOV lanes unless otherwise posted.
Signs at the on-ramp or along the freeway tell you the minimum number of people per vehicle required for the carpool/HOV lane(s). These signs also list the days of the week and the hours when the carpool/HOV requirement applies. The pavement in this lane is marked with a diamond symbol and the words “Carpool Lane.” These lanes are also known as high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. Do not cross over double parallel solid lines to enter or exit any carpool/HOV lane except at designated entry or exit places.
Laws For Center Left Turn Lanes In California
A center left-turn lane is located in the middle of a two-way street and is marked on both sides by two painted lines. The inner line is broken and the outer line is solid. If a street has a center left-turn lane, you must use it to prepare for or make a left turn, or to prepare for or make a permitted U-turn (CVC §21460.5 (c)). You may only drive for 200 feet in the center left-turn lane. This lane is not a regular traffic lane or a passing lane. To turn left from this lane, signal, look over your shoulder and drive completely inside the center left-turn lane. Do not stop with the back of your vehicle blocking traffic. Make sure the lane is clear in both directions and then turn only when it is safe. Look for vehicles coming toward you in the same lane, preparing to start their left turn.
When turning left from a side street or driveway, signal and wait until it is safe. Then you may drive into the center left turn lane. Enter traffic only when it is safe.
Laws For Turnout Areas and Lanes In California
Special “turnout” areas are sometimes marked on two-lane roads. Drive into these areas to allow cars behind you to pass. Some two-lane roads have passing lanes. If you are driving slowly on a two-lane highway or road where passing is unsafe, and five or more vehicles are following you, drive into the turnout areas or lanes to let the vehicles pass.
End-of-Lane Markings In California
Freeway lanes, as well as some city street lanes, which are ending will usually be marked by large broken lines painted on the pavement. If you are driving in a lane marked with these broken lines, be prepared to exit the freeway or for the lane to end. Look for a sign that tells you to exit or merge, etc.
Shared Roadway Bicycle Markings (Sharrows) In California
Sharrows are used to indicate lanes that bicyclists are lawfully allowed to occupy.
Sharrows are used to assist bicyclists with positioning on a shared roadway. They also alert motorists of the location a bicyclist may occupy within the traveled roadway.
Laws For Bicycle Lanes In California
A bicycle lane is a designated traffic lane for bicyclists, marked by a solid white line, typically breaking into a dotted line ending before it reaches the corner. Different from a simple white line showing the edge of the road, a bicycle lane follows specific width requirements and is clearly marked as a bike lane.
Treat a bicycle lane the same as other traffic lanes.
Do not turn into the lane if there is a bicyclist in the bike lane.
Do not obstruct bicycle traffic by reducing the width required for safe bicycle passage, typically 3 to 4 feet.
When you are making a right turn and are within 200 feet of the corner or other driveway entrance, you must enter the bicycle lane only after ensuring there is no bicycle traffic, and then make the turn. Do not drive in the bicycle lane at any other time.
You may park in a bicycle lane if your vehicle does not block a bicyclist and/or there is not a “No Parking” sign posted.
Drivers of motorized bicycles should use bicycle lanes carefully to avoid collisions with bicyclists.
Speeding tickets are the most common type of traffic violation in California. Here are some updated speed limit laws in California for 2021.
Speed Limits In California
California has a “Basic Speed Law.” This law means that you may never drive faster than is safe for current conditions. For example, if you are driving 45 mph in a 55 mph speed zone during a dense fog, you could be cited for driving “too fast for conditions.”
Regardless of the posted speed limit, your speed should depend on:
The number and speed of other vehicles on the road.
Whether the road surface is smooth, rough, graveled, wet, dry, wide, or narrow.
Bicyclists or pedestrians walking on the road’s edge or crossing the street.
Whether it is raining, foggy, snowing, windy, or dusty.
Maximum Speed Limit In California
The maximum speed limit on most California highways is 65 mph. You may drive 70 mph where posted. Unless otherwise posted, the maximum speed limit is 55 mph on two-lane undivided highways and for vehicles towing trailers.
Other speed limit signs are posted for the type of roads and traffic in each area. All speed limits are based on ideal driving conditions. Construction zones usually have reduced speed zones.
High speed increases your stopping distance. The faster you go, the less time you have to avoid a hazard or collision. The force of a 60 mph crash is not just twice as great as a 30 mph crash; it’s four times as great!
Below are some reasons you’ll need to reduce your speed below the posted speed limit.
Heavy Traffic or Bad Weather
You must drive slower when there is heavy traffic or bad weather. However, if you block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic by driving too slowly, you may be given a ticket. If you choose to drive slower than other traffic, do not drive in the “Number 1 lane” (the fast lane) (refer to “Choosing a Lane”). When traveling below the speed limit and another driver is close behind you and wishes to drive faster, always move to the right.
Towing Vehicles, Buses, or Large Trucks
When you tow a vehicle or trailer, or drive a bus or three or more axle truck, you must drive in the right hand lane or in a lane specially marked for slower vehicles. If no lanes are marked and there are four lanes or more in your direction, you may only drive in either of the two lanes closest to the right edge of the road.
Driving Around Children
When driving within 500 to 1,000 feet of a school while children are outside or crossing the street, the speed limit is 25 mph unless otherwise posted. Also, if the school grounds have no fence and children are outside, never drive faster than 25 mph. Some school zones may have speed limits as low as 15 mph. Always drive more carefully near schools, playgrounds, parks, and residential areas because children may suddenly dart into the street. Also, many children have not yet developed the ability to judge speeds and distances well enough to cross streets safely when cars are moving fast.
All vehicles must stop
Near schools, look for:
Bicyclists and pedestrians.
School safety patrols or school crossing guards. Be sure to obey their directions. For the crossing guard’s safety, allow him or her to safely get to the side of the road before driving ahead.
Stopped school buses and children crossing the street. Some school buses flash yellow lights when preparing to stop to let children off the bus. The yellow flashing lights warn you to slow down and prepare to stop. When the bus flashes red lights (located at the top front and back of the bus), you must stop from either direction until the children are safely across the street and the lights stop flashing. The law requires you remain stopped as long as the red lights are flashing (CVC §22454). If you fail to stop, you may be fined up to $1,000 and your driving privilege could be suspended for one year. If the school bus is on the other side of a divided or multilane highway (two or more lanes in each direction), you do not need to stop.
California Speed Limit Laws For Blind Intersections
The speed limit for a blind intersection is 15 mph. An intersection is considered “blind” if there are no stop signs at any corner and you cannot see for 100 feet in either direction during the last 100 feet before crossing. Trees, bushes, buildings, or parked cars at intersections can block your view to the side. If your view is blocked, edge forward slowly until you can see.
Speed Limit Laws For Alleys In California
The speed limit in any alley is 15 mph.
Speed Limit Laws When Driving Near Near Railroad Tracks In California
The speed limit is 15 mph within 100 feet of a railroad crossing where you cannot see the tracks for 400 feet in both directions. You may drive faster than 15 mph if the crossing is controlled by gates, a warning signal, or a flag man.
At railroad or train crossings:
Look in both directions and listen for trains. Many crossings have multiple tracks; so, be ready to stop before crossing, if necessary. Cross railroad tracks only at designated crossings and only when it is safe to do so.
Expect a train on any track at any time traveling in either direction. If you need to stop after crossing the tracks, wait until you can completely cross the tracks before proceeding. Make sure your vehicle clears the tracks before you stop.
Never stop on the railroad tracks. Remember that a train cannot stop quickly or swerve out of the way. If you are on the tracks, you risk injury or death.
Watch for vehicles that must stop before they cross train tracks. These vehicles include buses, school buses, and trucks transporting hazardous loads.
Remember that flashing red lights mean STOP! Stop at least 15 feet, but not more than 50 feet, from the nearest track when the crossing devices are active or a person warns you a train is coming. Stop if you see a train coming or you hear the whistle, horn, or bell of an approaching train.
Do not go under lowering gates or around lowered gates. Flashing red lights indicate you must stop and wait. Do not proceed over the crossing until the red lights stop flashing, even if the gate rises. If the gates are lowered and you do not see a train approaching, call the posted railroad emergency toll-free number or 9-1-1. Be ready to give a detailed description of your location.
Light Rail Transit Vehicle Crossings
The same rules apply to light rail transit vehicle crossings as to train crossings. Do not proceed across the tracks until you can see clearly in both directions and are sure there are no light rail transit vehicles or trains coming. Do not go around or under any lowered gate.
NOTE: Light rail transit vehicles are very quiet and accelerate more quickly than freight trains.
Near Streetcars, Trolleys, or Buses
The passing speed limit, when safe to pass, is no more than 10 mph. This speed limit applies at a safety zone or an intersection where a streetcar, trolley, or bus is stopped and traffic is controlled by a peace officer or traffic signal. A safety zone is marked by raised buttons or markers on the road and is set aside for pedestrians. You will most often see safety zones in areas where street cars or trolleys and vehicles share the roadway.
California Speed Limit Laws For Business or Residence Districts
The speed limit is 25 mph, unless otherwise posted.
Speed Limit Laws For Driving Near Animals In California
If you see animals or livestock, slow down and follow directions from the person in charge of the animals. If you see a stray animal in your path, slow down or stop if it is safe.