In Alabama, anyone 16 and older with a regular driver’s license can also drive a motorcycle in the state, said Capt. Guy Rush, chief examiner of the Driver License Division for the Alabama Department of Public Safety. Rush said an oversight in the 1990s led to the gap in the law and DPS is supporting legislation to remedy that mistake.
The Alabama Senate has already passed a bill requiring a Class M endorsement, however a similar bill in the House of Representatives failed during the first half of this legislative session.
The Senate bill originally required all motorcycle operators to pass a knowledge test for the class M endorsement, however, the bill was amended to limit the testing to only those under 19 years of age.
Rush said he supports a mandatory skills test but observers say that's not likely to happen anytime soon.
As of 2010, 40 states required a skills test for a motorcycle license, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
As for the Class M endorsement on the license, many Alabama drivers already have the designation and might not even know it. Rush said when new driver’s license classes were assigned in 1995 those who already had licenses were “grandfathered” and given the M endorsement.
Those who don’t have the Class M endorsement are only legal driving a motorcycle as long as they are riding in Alabama, Rush said.
When lawmakers return April 2nd, they will have only 15 meeting days to reconcile the two bills and present a measure to the Governor for his signature.
Political insiders say the bill is likely to reach Gov. Bentley's desk who is expected to sign it into law.