Transportation & Driving

DRIVING IN ALABAMA

Drivers must carry with them at all times a valid Driver’s License from their home country with a valid International Driver’s License/Permit, a valid Driver’s License from another US state, or a valid Alabama Driver’s License. Driver’s Licenses from other states, other country driver’s licenses, and International Driver’s Licenses are valid for use within the State of Alabama for up to one year.

While it is possible to drive on a valid foreign or out-of-state license, it is advisable to obtain an Alabama State license. This will help to avoid problems if you are stopped for a traffic violation or at some other time when you need to present a driver’s license. In addition, if you do not have a US driver’s license, many car insurance companies will not insure your vehicle, or will insure you through a “high risk” pool at much higher rates.

Alabama Driving Regulations: All drivers, regardless of where they received their license, must obey the driving laws of the State of Alabama while driving in Alabama. The Alabama Driver’s Manual is available here.

STEPS TO GET A LICENSE IN ALABAMA
(adapted from http://www.dmv.org/al-alabama/apply-license.php, a private, non-governmental site; for the official site, visit the Alabama Department of Public Safety – http://dps.alabama.gov/Home/wfContent.aspx?ID=30&PLH1=plhHome-DriverLicense)

Everyone needs a valid driver’s license of some sort before driving. Even if you’ve moved to Alabama from another state, you need to exchange your out-of-state license for an Alabama license.

Class D Licenses, which are available to 16-year-olds with restrictions and to older drivers without restrictions, are the licenses discussed here.

NOTE: YOU MUST HAVE 160 DAYS REMAINING ON YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS (E.G. I-20, DS-2019, H-1B, etc.) TO APPLY FOR A DRIVER’S LICENSE, ID OR DRIVER PERMIT.

If you are on a Tourist Visa (B-1/B-2 or WB/WT), you are not eligible for an Alabama Driver’s License.

1)      Take a Driver’s Education Course – Drivers who are at least 18 years old don’t have to take a driver education course, but it’s always a good idea for anyone who has never driven before to get supplemental driver training.

2)      Prepare for the Test – In addition to studying the Alabama Driver’s Manual and possibly taking a supplemental driver training course, you can also prepare for your test when you take a few practice tests.

3)      Prepare Documents – Letter of Enrollment, Social Security Number, & Immigration Documents:

a. First, complete a “Request for Verification of Eligibility” form in International Student and Scholar Services so that you may obtain a “letter of enrollment.”  This letter is required for F-1 and J-1 students as well as for their dependents.
b. Gather your immigration documents (I-20/DS-2019/H-1B Approval Notice, passport, I-94 card), Letter of Enrollment (for F-1 and J-1 students), and Social Security Card or Social Security Denial Letter.

IF YOU DON’T HAVE A SOCIAL SECURITY CARD:

i.      If you are employed, you can obtain a Social Security Card by having your on-campus employer provide an employment letter and having it verified by International Student and Scholar Services.
ii.      If you are unemployed or a dependent spouse or child (F-2, J-2, H-4, etc.), you are not eligible for a Social Security Number and will need to request a “Denial Form” from the Social Security Administration.  The Driver’s License Office requires a “Denial Form” if you don’t have a Social Security Card.

 4)      Locate a Driver License Office – You will need to take both your written test and your driving test at your local driver license office. Call ahead to make an appointment.

TUSCALOOSA TROOPER OFFICE
2645 Skyland Blvd E.
Tuscaloosa, AL 35405

Open Monday – Friday; 8 am – 5 pm
Phone: 205-553-0729

Other locations in Alabama

5)      Make Test-Day Preparations – On the day of your Class D driver’s license test, be prepared to:

a. Pay the written test fee of $5, and/or the driver license application fee of $25. Note that checks are not accepted, and some driver license offices are in areas where legislation allows higher fees so it’s wise to call ahead.
b. Present the required forms of photo identification or non-photo identification (Alabama provides examples of acceptable forms of identification online)
c. Present your valid foreign passport with an acceptable visa or your valid resident alien card.
d. Present verification of your Social Security number or a letter of non-eligibility from the Social Security Administration.
e. Present documentation that shows you have at least 160 days remaining to stay in the United States.
f. Present an acceptable school enrollment form or proof of graduation if you are younger than 19.  (a support letter for your license can be obtained from International Student and Scholar Services)
g. Come to the driver’s license office accompanied by a licensed driver and in a properly insured and registered vehicle if you’re taking the driving test (see below).
h. Pass a vision exam.
i. Have your picture taken.

6)      Take the Written Test
Alabama takes information from the Alabama Driver’s Manual to create test questions, so it’s wise to study the manual in addition to any driver education course you complete.

The written test is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, French, Greek, German, Russian, Arabic, and Farsi.

NOTE: Alabama uses automated testing equipment to provide oral exams, as well as exams using American Sign Language, for applicants with special needs. These special exams may not be available at every driver license office, so be sure to specify your needs when you make an appointment.

Once You Pass
Once you pass the written test, your next move depends on your age. If you’re younger than 18, you must hold your permit for six months before taking the driving test. If older than 18, you can generally take the driving test on the same day.  But, if you’re just 18 years old and want to take your driving test the same day, you must meet one of the following requirements:  Be enrolled in school. Be graduated from school. Be a new mother.

If You Fail The Test
Your driver license office will allow you to take the written test twice in one day. You must pay the fee of $5 each time you take the test.

7)      Get a Car
While your driver’s education class or training course may provide a vehicle for you to use while practicing, you will need your own vehicle to use to take your driving exam.  Make sure your vehicle is properly registered and insured.

8)      Get Car Insurance
Alabama requires all drivers to cover their vehicles with liability insurance, and carry proof of such insurance when they drive. Insurance requirements are listed below

9)      Take the Driving Test
If you have moved to Alabama from another state, and your out-of-state license is valid or hasn’t been expired for more than one year, you don’t have to take the driving test.  You simply need to make an appointment with your nearest driver license office and present your out-of-state license, your Social Security card, and one other primary form of identification (Alabama provides examples of acceptable forms of identification online) You will also need to pay $5 for transferring and $25 for your new license.

First-time drivers must take the driving test. Alabama requires all testers to make an appointment and show up with a licensed driver and a properly registered and insured vehicle. Our Insurance Center can help you make sure your policy meets Alabama’s minimum liability requirements.

NOTE: Driver license offices don’t administer driving tests on rainy days. Be prepared to reschedule if it’s raining on the day of your appointment.

Once You Pass
If you pass your driving test, your driver license office will take your picture and issue you a temporary license once you pay the appropriate fee. Your temporary license is valid for 30 days and allows you to legally drive while you wait for your permanent driver’s license to arrive in the mail.

If You Fail The Driving Test
Your driver license examiner will determine the length of time between the day you fail your driving test and the day you take the test again, and that time depends on your performance during your initial test.  For example, if you only made a few mistakes your driver license examiner may allow you to retake the test in just a few days. At the same time, if you make several mistakes, or mistakes of great magnitude, the examiner might suggest you hold a permit for a while longer.

10)  Receive Your License in the Mail
You should receive your license in the mail within 30 days, so make sure your driver license office has your most up-to-date mailing address. If you don’t receive your license after 30 days, contact your driver license office for further instructions.

CAR INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS
PLEASE NOTE: IT IS ILLEGAL TO DRIVE IN ALABAMA WITHOUT AUTO INSURANCE.

Alabama Liability Insurance Requirements for Private Passenger Vehicles
If you choose to purchase traditional liability coverage from an insurance carrier rather than obtain a Motor Vehicle Liability Bond or Certificate of Cash Bond, your policy must include:

• $25,000 injury liability for one person
• $50,000 for all injuries in one accident
• $25,000 property damage in one accident

Purchasing basic liability coverage ensures you’re meeting the state’s minimum financial responsibility requirements, but you should consider insurance coverage that includes more protection for yourself, your passengers, and your car, including uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (which protects you in case someone hits you and does not have auto insurance).

Proof of Insurance and Financial Responsibility
You must carry proof of insurance in your vehicle at all times when driving. There are several ways you can show proof that you’re meeting the state’s financial responsibility requirements:

• An insurance card, premium receipt, binder, declarations page, or a certificate of liability policy from your provider.
• A copy of your liability insurance policy.
• A copy of the proof of vehicle purchase and the old insurance card for the vehicle your purchase replaced (only valid for 60 days after purchasing the new vehicle).
• A copy of the rental agreement if you’re renting the vehicle.
• A copy of your Motor Vehicle Liability Bond.
• A copy of your Certificate of Cash Bond.

Penalties for Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility
The Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) can suspend your vehicle’s tag registration if you fail to maintain financial responsibility. The steps to reinstate the registration depend on the offense number:

1. First Offense: You must obtain and provide proof of liability insurance and pay a reinstatement fee of $100.
2. Second Offense: Your registration will stay suspended for four months, you must obtain and provide proof of liability insurance, and you must pay a reinstatement fee of $200.

Need more information about the state’s financial responsibility requirements, penalties for no proof of insurance, and how to reinstate your vehicle registration? Contact the MVD at (334) 242-3000 or the MVD website

 BUYING A CAR

PARKING
Parking on campus is restricted and requires that students and employees register their vehicles with the UA Parking Services for a parking hangtag and lot assignment.  The Parking Services website is: http://bamaparking.ua.edu/

BUYING A CAR (Information adapted from the DMV website)
When you buy a used car, you will need to transfer registration with the state, apply for a title, and pay taxes on your purchase. Take the following information to the tag office, usually located in your county courthouse:

  • The original title signed over to the buyer from the seller on the back of the title
  • Bill of Sale
  • Applicable fees and taxes

The title fee is $15. Sales tax, ad valorem, and license fees vary in each county. Transfer fee is $1.25.

A few tips for buying a car:

  • Do your homework. Figure out what kind of car you want or need to fit your lifestyle and budget. Read consumer reports, comparison guides, and forums to learn about the car you are researching.
  • The next step is to check the classified ads in local newspapers or shop at various used and new car dealerships.  Also, many vehicles are posted for sale on fliers around campus and on Craigslist http://tuscaloosa.craigslist.org/cta/.
  • Test drive each car. You’ll want to know if you are comfortable behind the wheel. Climb in the backseat to check for leg room and head space.
  • Check on insurance rates for the vehicle you are exploring. Rates vary greatly depending on make, model, year, and body style.
  • Once you decide on a car, get a car report on it (such as Carfax). This car report will provide a title search, accident report, lemon report, odometer check, and registration details.
  • Have a mechanic examine the car to warn you of any damage or problems with the vehicle.
  • Negotiate a price. Don’t pay more than you should. Most sellers do not expect the buyer to pay their original asking price. Offer a dollar amount lower than you are willing to pay, then work upwards as the seller makes a counter-offer. To compare prices of new and used vehicles, check Kelley Blue Book – http://www.kbb.com/.
  • You have 20 days to register your new car. A title application must be completed before the registration can be processed.

Finally, you can get help with the bill-of-sale and title transfer through the UA Civil Law Clinic.  It is extremely important to make sure that when you purchase your car, you get all of the documents needed to be able to get a title and show proof of ownership of the car.  The UA Civil Law Clinic can help you.

CAR INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS
PLEASE NOTE: IT IS ILLEGAL TO DRIVE IN ALABAMA WITHOUT AUTO INSURANCE.

Alabama Liability Insurance Requirements for Private Passenger Vehicles
If you choose to purchase traditional liability coverage from an insurance carrier rather than obtain a Motor Vehicle Liability Bond or Certificate of Cash Bond, your policy must include:

• $25,000 injury liability for one person
• $50,000 for all injuries in one accident
• $25,000 property damage in one accident

Purchasing basic liability coverage ensures you’re meeting the state’s minimum financial responsibility requirements, but you should consider insurance coverage that includes more protection for yourself, your passengers, and your car, including uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (which protects you in case someone hits you and does not have auto insurance).

Proof of Insurance and Financial Responsibility
You must carry proof of insurance in your vehicle at all times when driving. There are several ways you can show proof that you’re meeting the state’s financial responsibility requirements:

• An insurance card, premium receipt, binder, declarations page, or a certificate of liability policy from your provider.
• A copy of your liability insurance policy.
• A copy of the proof of vehicle purchase and the old insurance card for the vehicle your purchase replaced (only valid for 60 days after purchasing the new vehicle).
• A copy of the rental agreement if you’re renting the vehicle.
• A copy of your Motor Vehicle Liability Bond.
• A copy of your Certificate of Cash Bond.

Penalties for Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility
The Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) can suspend your vehicle’s tag registration if you fail to maintain financial responsibility. The steps to reinstate the registration depend on the offense number:

1. First Offense: You must obtain and provide proof of liability insurance and pay a reinstatement fee of $100.
2. Second Offense: Your registration will stay suspended for four months, you must obtain and provide proof of liability insurance, and you must pay a reinstatement fee of $200.

Need more information about the state’s financial responsibility requirements, penalties for no proof of insurance, and how to reinstate your vehicle registration? Contact the MVD at (334) 242-3000 or http://www.ador.state.al.us/motorvehicle/index.html

Car Insurance for International Students
If you are looking for competitive insurance coverage that meets all legal requirements, visit SureGo Insurance at https://www.suregoinsurance.com/.

 BUSSES, BIKES & TAXIS

TUSCALOOSA – CITY TRANSPORTATION

TUSCALOOSA BUS AND TROLLEY SYSTEM – http://tuscaloosatransit.com/
Tuscaloosa has an affordable public bus system which serves the UA campus and the city, but bus routes are limited to the most popular destinations.  For bus schedules, routes, maps, and rates, please visit the Tuscaloosa Transit Authority website: http://tuscaloosatransit.com/ or download the route map here: http://www.tuscaloosatransit.com/routeInfo.php.

CRIMSONRIDE – UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA’S BUS SYSTEM – http://www.crimsonride.ua.edu/
The University of Alabama is a large campus, and CrimsonRide provides quick and easy access to all areas of campus, whether you live on- or off-campus.  To find route maps, visit: http://crimsonride.ua.edu/maps/.

BICYCLES
Bikes are cheap, efficient, and great exercise.  When riding a bicycle, please use the utmost care.  Cyclists are to obey the same traffic regulations as cars, which means not riding on the sidewalk. Remember to yield to pedestrians and automobiles.  Be sure your bicycle is in good working order, especially the steering and brakes.  Bike Safety information, bike maps, and bike laws and regulations can be found here: https://urec.sa.ua.edu/outdoor-recreation-news/bike-safety/.

The UA Rec Center has a pro bike shop where you can rent bikes https://urec.sa.ua.edu/outdoor-recreation-news/bamabikes/ or have your bike repaired: https://urec.sa.ua.edu/outdoor-recreation-news/bike-shop/

Bikes can also be found for sale at local pro bike shops: http://velocityprocycle.com/ ; https://www.facebook.com/Queen-City-Cycles-Inc-185748958165064/; and https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-bike-shop-tuscaloosa-2 and also on Craigslist: http://tuscaloosa.craigslist.org/bik/.

TUSCALOOSA TAXIS
There are several taxi services in the Tuscaloosa area. Rates for transportation are generally much more expensive than public transportation.

TAXI COMPANY CONTACT
Alpha/Omega Taxi Service (205) 242-8936
Bianey Nuevo Consepto (205) 333-8404
Deluxe Taxi (205) 750-9025
Dixie Cab Service (205) 310-2819
Druid Cab Company (205) 345-5688
Easy Rider Pedicabs info@easyridercabs.com
Everett’s Cab Company (205) 233-1777
On Time Transportation (205) 752-6603
Radio Cab Service (205) 758-2831
YellowCab of Tuscaloosa (205) 331-5016

LONG DISTANCE TRANSPORTATION

AIRPORT
Most international students fly into the Birmingham International Airport.  The city of Birmingham is approximately 60 miles from the UA campus.  In general, transportation to and from the Airport is done by personal vehicle.  ISSS recommends that students seeking transportation from Birmingham first contact their respective student nationality organization, which can be found in the listing of organizations here: http://thesource.ua.edu/.

GREYHOUND BUS LINES – http://www.greyhound.com/
Tuscaloosa is served by the Greyhound bus line.  Fares vary depending on the date and time that you travel. Schedule and fares are subject to change without notice. For more information, call Greyhound at (205) 758-6651 or 1-800-231-2222 ext. 9 (www.greyhound.com).  Please note that you will need to make arrangements to get from the Birmingham Airport to the bus station as well as from the Tuscaloosa bus station to campus.

STATION ADDRESS PHONE
BIRMINGHAM GREYHOUND STATION 618 N 19th Street, Birmingham, AL 35203 (205) 252-7190
TUSCALOOSA GREYHOUND STATION 7022 HWY 82 East,  Tuscaloosa, AL 35401 (inside BP Country Mart) (205) 758-6651

 

AMTRAK TRAIN SERVICES – http://www.amtrak.com/ Information/Reservations (800-872-7245)
Please note that you will need to make arrangements to get from the Birmingham Airport to the train station as well as from the Tuscaloosa train station to campus.

STATION ADDRESS PHONE
BIRMINGHAM AMTRAK STATION 1819 Morris Avenue, Birmingham, AL 35203 (205) 752-3200
TUSCALOOSA AMTRAK STATION 2105 Greensboro Avenue, Tuscaloosa, AL 3540 (205) 758-3578

 

AIRPORT SHUTTLES

Most international students fly into the Birmingham International Airport.  The city of Birmingham is approximately 60 miles from the UA campus.  In general, transportation to and from the Airport is done by personal vehicle, bus, or shuttle.  ISSS recommends that students or scholars seeking transportation from Birmingham first contact their respective student nationality organization, which can be found in the listing of organizations here: http://thesource.ua.edu/.

  •  “Birmingham Door-to-Door” Shuttle Service
    Birmingham Door-to-Door (http://www.birminghamdoortodoor.com/; telephone 888-349-1544 or 205-591-5550) operates a shuttle service from the Birmingham Airport to Tuscaloosa. Reservations are required. The shuttle (van) is located just outside the baggage claim area of the Birmingham Airport, and it is very easy to find. The words “Shuttle Service” are clearly written on the side of the van. The service is available Monday – Friday and all fees must be paid in cash. Travel to a hotel in Tuscaloosa is $95 (plus tip). Travel to any other location in Tuscaloosa is $105 (plus tip). A higher fee is charged for travel after 8:45. Important: If you make a reservation and your travel plans change, you should notify Birmingham Door-to-Door as soon as possible (telephone 888-349-1544 or 205-591-5550)
  • UA Housing and Residential Communities Shuttles 
    University of Alabama’s Housing and Residential Communities Shuttles (https://housing.sa.ua.edu/services/break-shuttle/) run during breaks in the academic year (e.g. fall break, Thanksgiving break, winter break, spring break).  Space, times and dates are limited and require a reservation: 205-348-6676; http://uahousing.tix.com/.
  • ACR Express Shuttle
    ACR Express (http://www.acrexpress.net/) provides bus service between the UA campus and the Birmingham Airport, Monday-Friday. They are currently using the schedule for Run #3. For more information, call 662-244-5773.
  • Scuttle Shuttle
    Scuttle Shuttle provides one-way and round-trip transportation from Tuscaloosa to the Birmingham Airport.  For more information visit https://www.scuttleshuttle.com/ or call 205-471-7433.
  • UBER (https://www.uber.com/airports/bhm/)

TAXI SERVICE FROM BIRMINGHAM TO TUSCALOOSA
Although it is more expensive than the shuttle service, taxi service is also available from the Birmingham Airport to Tuscaloosa. The cost is approximately $100-120 (plus tip). Taxis are normally waiting outside the baggage claim area of the airport. You should ask the driver for the price and agree to the price before you get in the taxi.

LIMOUSINE SERVICE
These services are especially beneficial for a group of people. Rates generally depend on what type of vehicle you request. Reservations should be made in advance.