The state of Alabama offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch in the past, or are current active military members.
License and registration tax and fee exemption
Service-connected disabled veterans, National Guard and Reserve forces are exempt from paying the license tax and registration fee on one passenger vehicle. In order to be eligible for the exemption the vehicle owner must be disabled as a result of former military service, or be an active or retired member of the Alabama National Guard, or be a member of the United States Armed Forces Reserve, as well as an Alabama resident at the time the exemption is claimed.
Driver’s license veteran designation
Alabama veterans may display proof of their military service on their driver license. There’s no additional fee for adding this designation when applying for a first license, or when renewing a license. If a driver wishes to add the military designation to an Alabama driver license before their renewal date, standard duplicate license fees apply. Veterans seeking such designation must furnish the Alabama Department of Public Safety driver license office with a DD-214 or Record of Separation indicating honorable discharge, or “general under honorable conditions”.
Military honor plates
Alabama offers a wide variety of distinguished military honor license plates commemorating the different military branches, service medals, specific campaigns, and individual battles. Eligibility for each of these plates requires certain criteria be met, including proof of current or past military service (honorable discharge), proof of having participated in a specific battle, or discharge papers or U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs documentation of the award received.
Available military plate designs:
- Active Reserve
- Air Force
- Alabama State Defense Force
- Atomic Nuked
- Battle of the Bulge
- Bronze Star
- Cost Guard
- Desert Shield/Desert Storm
- Disabled Veteran
- Global War on Terrorism
- Korean War
- Legion of Valor
- Marine Corps
- Medal of Honor
- Merchant Marine
- National Guard
- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Pearl Harbor Survivor
- Prisoner of War
- Purple Heart
- US Armed Forces Retired
- Vietnam Veteran
- WWII American Campaign
- WWII Asiatic Campaign
- WWII European Campaign
While some military plates are free, others cost an additional $3 on top of normal registration fees (this fee supports veterans funds). Honor plates can also be personalized at an additional cost.
Military skills test waiver
In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration instituted a provision allowing SDLAs (State Driver Licensing Agencies) to allow U.S. Military drivers to leverage their service-related truck driving experience in lieu of the skills test to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver License). In order to be eligible to skip this portion of the testing, you must apply within a year of leaving a military position which required you to operate a commercial vehicle (or within the past year, if still active). You must also have had two years such experience in order to qualify for the waiver program.
Applicants must certify to an SDLA:
His or her experience as a safe driver
That he or she hasn’t held more than one license (excepting a U.S. Military driver license) in the previous two years
That he or she has not had their driver license (issued by their base state) suspended, revoked, or cancelled
That he or she has not been convicted of a motor vehicle violation that would disqualify them from obtaining a CDL There is a range of offenses that can disqualify military personnel from participating in the skills waiver program; these include things like DUI, hit-and-run accidents, or using a CMV to commit a felony. The Military Skills Test Waiver program in Alabama and every other state is the result of collaboration between the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators in order to make the process of getting a CDL easier for veterans.
Military personnel with applicable experience can download and print the waiver here. Applicants must still -complete the written CDL test.
Military Commercial Driver’s License Act of 2012
This legislation provides authority for states to issue a CDL to active military members, including the Reserves, National Guard, Coast Guard, or Coast Guard Auxiliary, even if they are not Alabama residents, as long as their base (temporary or permanent) is in the state.
Driver license renewal while deployed
There are a number of provisions for allowing deployed military personnel to renew their license. The license may be renewed up to 60 days prior to the expiration date. Alternatively, personnel who are stationed out of the state or country may renew by mail, as long as the DMV has a photo and signature on file from within the last four years. This is done by sending the application, found here, money order for the amount of the renewal fee along with full name, birthdate, driver license number, social security number, and out-of-state address along with documentation providing the reason the driver is out of state to:
Driver License Division
P.O. Box 1471
Montgomery, AL 36102-1471
In addition, Alabama offers a 60-day grace period following license expiration, during which time the license is valid.
Non-resident military personnel driver license and vehicle registration
Alabama does not require military personnel stationed in Alabama to register their vehicles with the state, provided the owner has current registration and insurance from their home state. The state also honors out-of-state driver licenses for non-resident military members.
Active or veteran military personnel can read more at the state’s motor vehicle division website here.