The Alabama Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a bill aimed at addressing a shortage of truckers by lowering the eligible age for a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
HB 479 by Rep. Dexter Grimsley, D-Newville, would permit Alabama to issue Class A CDL for intrastate travel to applicants at least 18 years of age. Younger drivers would still be required to comply with state and federal laws and safety regulations and would be prohibited from hauling hazardous materials or pulling over-sized loads.
The current age restriction bars anyone under 21 from operating the standard tractor-trailer combination in Alabama, and many drivers are lost to other industries by the time they reach that age. Alabama is one of only two states that restricts a Class A commercial driver’s license to those who are 21 years or older.
“Our country is facing a severe shortage of truckers,” said Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “This impacts the ability of farmers and forest landowners to get equipment and supplies in a timely manner, as well as market their products. This legislation is a step in the right direction and will benefit all families, businesses and industries.”
The Federation joined a coalition of groups supporting the legislation, including the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), Alabama Beverage Association, Alabama Retail Association, Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives, Alabama Trucking Association, Alabama’s chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, and Manufacture Alabama.
“It is a workforce development bill, plain and simple,” said BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt. “This commonsense legislation will open the door of opportunity for young adults who are looking to find a good-paying job, and at the same time, it addresses a dire need for Alabama businesses that rely on trucks to move their products. I applaud Rep. Grimsley and Sen. Chesteen for their leadership in this effort.”
The Senate passed the bill by a 24-0 vote. Sen. Donnie Chesteen, R-Geneva, carried the companion bill in the Senate. Gov. Kay Ivey is expected to sign the measure into law.