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Law passed that would allow 18-year-olds to get CDLs

The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill this week that would lower the age requirement to obtain a commercial driver’s license from 21 to 18.

Rep. Wes Allen, R-Pike, cosponsored the bill.

“The trucking industry is vital to the health of our economy,” Allen said. “It’s an important industry in District 89 and this common sense bill will help meet the needs of trucking and help our economy. I was proud to co-sposnor this bill.”

The bill, HB479, passed 96-1 out of the House on April 30 and out of the Senate 24-0 on May 15. The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Ivey.

Katie Thomas, spokesperson for Southeast Alabama Works, said it’s unclear what effect the new law will have on the industry in the region as employers adjust to the new rule.

“While we are following the legislation closely that would allow drivers to operate with a Class B CDL at the age of 18 within state lines, we are unsure of the implications it will have on the trucking industry,” Thomas said. “A shortage of qualified drivers remains the biggest workforce challenge in transportation and distribution, and lowering the age would make strides to retain young people who are interested in trucking careers who are typically lost to other industries while they wait to turn 21 and enter CDL.

“To date, the businesses and trucking companies we have spoken with are hopeful that this legislation could produce more truck drivers for their companies, but still have much to debate internally. Typically a company requires one to three years of driving experience for new hires, and those who do not require past experience often feel that hiring someone 18-years-old would increase their insurance rates.”

Sponsored by Rep. Dexter Grimsley, R-Abbeville, the bill was carried in the Senate by Sen. Donnie Chesteen, R-Geneva.

Grimsley said the bill was proposed to help relieve a shortage of truck drivers in the state.

“This was something that would be a way to, in years to come, be able to have someone start at 18 and by the time they’re 21 be well trained and be ready to go into the truck driving market,” said Grimsley.