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General Requirements for a Commercial Driver’s License

Many drivers who have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) have gotten it for employment purposes. It is required to operate certain types of larger equipment. If a driver is operating in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce with a commercial motor vehicle that meets the requirements of a CDL, they must carry one.

There are three classes of CDL: A, B, and C. There are also endorsements and restrictions attached to the class. Several requirements must be met before someone can earn a CDL. Each class may have specific standards to meet, but they all include the main general conditions below.

Traffic Record

Infractions under your non-commercial driver’s license may impact your CDL eligibility. Once you are licensed, CDL traffic tickets can lead to suspension. For many, this can disrupt their livelihood. When it comes to the rules, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are the two main regulating bodies. Private trucking companies may have their own standards to meet as well.

Physical Condition

To receive a CDL, a driver must have excellent vision and hearing. Drivers must have at least 20/40 vision and at least 70 degrees peripheral vision in each eye. Hearing aids are permitted.

Certain medical conditions may prohibit you from CDL eligibility. Some examples are diabetes, irregular blood pressure, and sleep apnea issues. Upon passing a physical, the DOT will provide you with a medical card.

Criminal Record

Criminal acts may prevent you from getting a CDL. Drivers must pass a background check before obtaining a CDL. The license can also be suspended after it’s issued for reasons like traffic violations, changes in health, or driving under the influence.

Age and Residency

You must be at least 18 years old to receive a CDL for intrastate driving and 21 years old to cross state lines. There are no maximum age requirements. Proof of citizenship will need to be provided.

Written and Road Test

Drivers will need to pass a written knowledge test. It will cover topics such as CDL rules, driving a commercial vehicle safely, and transporting cargo. You can study your state’s handbook and take practice tests to prepare. You will also need to pass a road skills test using the commercial vehicle you will be driving with the CDL.

In addition to Federal requirements, each state will have its own application, forms, and fees. Acquiring your CDL can be a tedious process, but the result is safe drivers on the nation’s highways.

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