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CDL Qualifications

Last Updated: Nov 11, 2015

What New Drivers Need To Know About Qualifications For Getting A CDL:

Driving interstate commercial motor vehicles will require meeting certain minimum standards.

The FMCSA sets federal guidelines for CDL drivers age and physical requirements.

Legal qualifications for being a CDL driver will vary from state-to-state, and may be more restrictive than Federal rules. Always checks with your state DMV or licensing bureau for specific state regulations.

State CDL Manuals And Motor Vehicle & Licensing Information

Qualifications For New CDL Drivers:

In order to be eligible to drive commercial motor vehicles (CMV), you will have to meet certain requirements:

  • Minimum Age For Getting Your CDL:

    In most states, drivers can get a CDL at age 18. However, federal regulations set 21 as the age which drivers can legally drive CMV's across state lines. Most over the road (OTR) carriers will require a certain amount of OTR experience, without having to be re-trained. Driving strictly intrastate routes would not normally qualify as OTR. Always check with your individual state DMV for specifics on your state's requirements.

    In addition, drivers will generally need at least a year of "regular" driving experience to get hired by most trucking companies, and some states require it.

  • General Driver's License:

    Most trucking schools and companies, and some states, will require that drivers hold a regular passenger car license for at least 1 year before getting their CDL

  • Education Requirements:

    Most truck driving schools and trucking companies will require CDL trainees to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent before accepting them into their programs.

  • Past Legal Issues Or Felonies:

    Federal requirements do not specifically address the issue of past legal problems. Potential drivers who have records for things like DUI's, felony convictions of any sort, drug convictions, etc., should expect trucking companies to examine a drivers hirability a bit closer than normal.

    See Also: Trucking Companies That Hire Drivers With Felonies

    Most companies will require a minimum number of years to have passed since the issue occurred. As almost all carriers will run thorough background checks before hire, drivers should expect a criminal past to follow them. As always, you should be up front and honest when dealing with trucking schools and companies. Generally, a minimum of 7-10 years having passed is a requirement for most companies to hire you.

    In addition, drivers with a poor or shaky driving history should expect that they may run into problems getting hired. The liability of poor drivers piloting an 80,000 lb vehicle down America's highways is too much for many trucking, and insurance, companies to bear. Different companies will have different standards, so these are general guidelines. Check with individual companies for driving record requirements.

    Especially hard to overcome is any DUI record. Drivers will normally need a minimum of 5-10 years to have passed before a company will even consider hiring them, and even then may have a hard time getting doors to open.

    See Also: Trucking Company Policies For Drivers With DUI-DWI

  • Medical and Physical Requirements:

    As a CDL driver, you will be required to submit to regular DOT physical exams in order to be medically certified to drive. The FMCSA has issued regulations regarding the medical and physical condition of truck drivers.

    Most frequently, drivers run into issues with high blood pressure (hypertension), as if it is too high it can medically disqualify CDL drivers. Properly managed hypertension , with or without medication, should not be an issue for most drivers.

    Most trucking schools and all companies will require physical exams before attending school or being hired.

    See Also: DOT Physical

    See Also: Truck Drivers and High Blood Pressure

  • English Language Requirements:

    As the official language in the U.S. is English, CDL drivers are required to be able to read and speak it well enough to converse with the general public, understand traffic signs and signals, respond to official inquiries, and to fill out forms and records.

See Also: Qualifications For CDL Drivers

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Commercial Motor Vehicle:

A commercial motor vehicle is any vehicle used in commerce to transport passengers or property with either:

  • A gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
  • A gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more which includes a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds
  • CSA:

    Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

    The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

    FMCSA:

    Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

    The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

    What Does The FMCSA Do?

    • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
    • Data and Analysis
    • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
    • Research and Technology
    • Safety Assistance
    • Support and Information Sharing

    DOT:

    Department Of Transportation

    A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

    State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

    CMV:

    Commercial Motor Vehicle

    A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

    • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
    • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
    • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
    • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
    • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

    Interstate:

    Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

    Intrastate:

    The act of purchasers and sellers transacting business while keeping all transactions in a single state, without crossing state lines to do so.

    Hypertension:

    Abnormally high blood pressure.

    BMI:

    Body mass index (BMI)

    BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

    • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
    • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

    It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

    Dm:

    Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

    The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

    Fm:

    Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

    The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

    DMV:

    Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

    The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

    DUI:

    Driving Under the Influence

    DWI:

    Driving While Intoxicated

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