How do I obtain my "Commercial Driver License" (CDL)?

Exam: Test Prep CDL - Commercial Drivers Licence


A commercial Driver license is required for those who wish to drive a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) rather than a non-commercial one. A lot of practice, skill, experience and physical strength and effort are required to drive a commercial vehicle. The candidate must be at least 18 year of age to apply, thou applicants under the age of 21 are limited to certain rules.

The candidates must be citizens of United States and are required to have a valid Permanent Resident Card.

The drivers are expected to carry commercial drive license at all times when plying Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) on the road.Home State license are issued to the drives that drive in the State only. Carrying an illegal license, which also includes having a license from another State and not your home State, can prove to be very costly.

Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) includes:

  • Truck with double or triple trailers
  • Truck with a tank
  • Truck carrying hazardous materials
  • Passenger vehicle

It is the duty of the driver to be alert and responsive; he should adhere to the rules of the road and follow them infinitely. Certain rules have to be complied with before you apply for CDL.

1. Mandatory to have at least one-year experience as a class 5 driver.

2. A medical application form completed by an authorized family doctor, needs to be submitted. These forms are available at Driver Examination Centre or Motor Registration Office.

3. Vision test accompanied by written commercial test needs to taken after submission of medical from. If you are applying for those vehicles, which have air brakes, air brake endorsement is a must.

4. Authorized permit will be issued in your name. You will get instructions with respect to the class of license you want to apply for, form a Licensed Commercial Driver.

5. Schedule an appointment at a “Driver Examination Centre” for taking the test.

CODE “W” Restriction

At the time of application, it is mandatory for every candidate, holding Class 1, 2, 3 or 4), to provide their medical report and keeping it up-to-date. Canada and United States comply with each other’s medical certificate. However, the United States has imposed certain restriction to those give below.

  1. Drivers who do not meet the hearing standards by the U.S.
  2. Drivers suffering from epilepsy or seizures.
  3. Drivers having monocular vision.
  4. Diabetic drivers dependent on insulin.

Applying procedure:

Step 1:

Every State follow a set of rules designed to grant a CDL. In order to avail the license it is important to get hold of State’s Commercial Driver’s Licensing (CDL) Manual. A downloadable file can be found on their website and can be printed or else, it can be physically availed at their field locations. 

Step 2:

The driver is required to give his driving detail information and the CMV he will be driving.

Step 3:

Commercial Learner’s Permit

To obtain a CDL you need to practice on the road with a qualified CDL holder. With a Leaner’s Permit you are legally allowed to practice on the road. You must carry your driver license at all times even thou you are sitting next to a CDL holder.

A requisite time of 180 days is allotted to become a CDL holder. You are expected to finish your training within the given time period. It can be extended to the next six months if you cannot complete the training.

One has to be at least 18-year old in order to ply CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle) carrying goods, within the state; and 21-year old, to carry people. Once you have decided the kind of CMV you wish to drive, you should now be ready to take a knowledge test, which will test your ability to drive.

The test includes:

>General Knowledge Test on Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV).

> Transporting passenger test required for all the bus drivers

>Air brakes test, only mandatory for those vehicles, which have air brakes, installed.

>Endorsement of school bus test and transporting passenger test required for all the school bus drivers

>Tanker test; these are required by those who transport liquid from one place to another.

>Combination vehicle test

>Hazardous material test; those vehicles, which carry and transport hazardous materials.

>Doubles/triples test; some drivers drive vehicles to which 2 or more trailers are attached.

Step 4:

DOT Physical

A periodic physical examination is required by all the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders, the Department of Transport (DOT) has made this mandatory which will be administered by DOT medical examiner. The examiner examines the previous records as well as the current ones to ensure safety. It is beneficial for both the CDL drivers and those on the road to operate the CMV with care. The drivers are issued a medical examiner’s certificate also known as DOT medical card, thus certifying the CDL holder.

Requirements for a CDL holder:

  • At least 20/40 correctable visions in each eye. The driver can use glasses or contact lenses.
  • He/she must not be on needle-injected insulin if diabetic.
  • The blood pressure should be ideal; if it is over 180/110 the driver is disqualified.
  • Being on narcotic or similar form of drugs will get you disqualified.
  • Sugar level must not exceed 200.
  • If you are dealing with any cardiovascular disease, medical certificate is required from your doctor.

CDL holders are needed have an “Operators License” and are required to go through a vision test, skill test, vehicle inspection test, basic controls test, and the road test.

CLASS A

Class “A” License is needed when:

>Operating trucks weighing 26,000 lbs or more

>Towing a vehicle weighing 10,000 lbs or more

Tests to be taken on

-  General Knowledge

-  Air Brakes

-  Basic Skill

-  Pre-Trip

-  Desired Endorsements

-  CDL Road Test

-  Combination vehicle test

CLASS B

Class “B” License is needed when:

Operating straight trucks and buses weigh 26,000 lbs or more

Tests to be taken on

-  General Knowledge

-  Air Brakes

-  Basic Skill

-  Pre-Trip

-  Desired Endorsements

-  CDL Road Test

CLASS C

Class “C” License is needed when:

Operating vehicles, which carry more than 15passengers and transporting hazardous materials, weighing less than 26,000 lbs.

Tests to be taken on

-  General Knowledge

-  Air Brakes (if required)

-  Basic Skill (if required)

-  Pre-Trip (if required)

-  Desired Endorsements

-  CDL Road Test

ROAD TEST

Class: 1 & 3

  • Pre-trip inspection.
  • Reverse 90 degree angle parking.
  • Uncoupling and coupling (Class 1)
  • 60 minute road test in traffic. (The commercial vehicle is supposed to stop at the railway crossing)

Class: 2

  • Uncoupling and coupling (Class 1)
  • 60 minute road test in traffic. (The commercial vehicle is supposed to stop at the railway crossing).
  • The Driver Examiner will supervise the diver’s operating skill on the Stop Arm and will also conduct overhead flashing lights test.
  • Pre-trip inspection in accordance with the working on the vehicle.

Class: 4

  • Pre-trip inspection in accordance with the working on the vehicle.
  • 30 minute road test in traffic. (The commercial vehicle is supposed to stop at the railway crossing).
  • The Driver Examiner will supervise the diver’s operating skill on the Stop Arm and will also conduct overhead flashing lights test.
  • Since it is applicable for “Taxi Only” a road test is not mandatory. Thou restrictions will be applicable, stating, “taxi only” on the driver’s license.

Once when you have successfully complied with all the above requirements you are to apply at the DMV CDL office and pay the fee. It may take some time to issue a CDL or it can be issued to you on the same date provided the information and requirements have been fulfilled.