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CDL Driver Disqualification

Last Updated: Nov 23, 2016

What New Drivers Need To Know About Commercial Driver's License (CDL):

Most drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMV's), or those wanting to, will be required to obtain some class of Commercial Driver's License (CDL).

CDL drivers are required to get a CDL from their declared state of residency, and state laws vary on residency requirements.

While licensing is done by states, the Federal government sets minimum testing and licensing requirements.

Pulling certain types of freight, or certain types of trailers, will require drivers to test for and obtain additional license "endorsements".

Military CDL drivers are exempt from having to get a CDL , and individual states are authorized to exempt emergency, farm, and government workers, as well as drivers of recreational vehicles. These exemptions may vary state-to-state.

Do I Need A Commercial Driver's License (CDL)?

Driver's will need a CDL in order to operate any of the following vehicles or combination vehicles:

  • A single vehicle with a GVWR over 26,000 lbs.
  • A combination vehicle with a GVWR over 26,000 lbs, towing a unit over 10,000 lbs GVWR.
  • A passenger vehicle designed to carry 16 or more people, including the driver.
  • Any size vehicle requiring hazardous material (Hazmat) placards, or carrying a select agent or toxin listed in 42 CFR Part 73.

What Are The Classes Of CDL's Required To Operate CMV's? As a Class A license with all available endorsements will allow you to legally drive any commercial motor vehicle , TruckingTruth highly recommends getting them all as soon as possible to increase your job opportunities.

  • Class A:

    Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight of 26,001 pounds or more, with trailer(s) weighing 10,000 pounds or more.

  • Class B:

    Any single vehicle having a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing another weighing 10,000 pounds or less.

  • Class C:

    Any vehicle or combination of vehicles not meeting the definition of Class A or Class B, designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver), or any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded to carry hazardous material:

  • Class D:

    Many states issue a "Class D" license, which is not part of the FMCSA standards. Some use it to classify regular, passenger car drivers licenses, while some use it to classify specific weights or types of vehicles. This varies from state-to-state.

How Do Drivers Get Their CDL?

See Also: Steps to getting your CDL
  • Decide That You REALLY Want To Become A Truck Driver:

    As with many career changes, it is a life-altering process, and drivers need to be prepared both mentally and physically.

    See Also: TruckingTruth's Truck Driver's Career Guide.

  • Choose Your Method Of Truck Driver Training:

    Most new drivers will have attended either a private trucking school or a company-sponsored driving school. Getting a CDL on your own is generally not recommended, and may make it more difficult to find a job driving trucks.

  • Written CDL Knowledge Exam:

    Drivers will be required to pass a written CDL knowledge exam.

  • CDL Skills Test:

    The physical driving test, inside an actual truck. Just like any other driving test, but on a much bigger scale.

  • DOT Physical:

    The FMCSA has issued guidelines on the physical requirements for over the road (OTR) CDL drivers. Additionally, regular drug and alcohol testing should be expected.

Why Is A CDL Required to Drive Commercial Motor Vehicles?

Driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) requires a higher level of knowledge, experience, skills, and physical abilities than that required to drive a non-commercial vehicle.

These higher standards require passing a higher level of knowledge and skills tests, and hold CDL drivers to higher standards when operating a CMV.

Piloting an 80,000 pound vehicle down the road is a definite public safety concern. Before 1986, CDL standards were set by individual states, and many drivers held CDL's in several states to spread out any violations.

The FMCSA has devised a specific set of rules regarding CDL drivers and the requirements for interstate driving of Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV's), as well as standards, restrictions, and penalties for alcohol and drug use and testing.

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act (CMVSA), along with the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS), standardized CDL requirements that had varied wildly from state-to-state.

See Also: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

See Also: Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act (CMVSA).

Who Is Exempt From Getting a CDL?

FMCSA regulations specifically exempt only military personnel with comparable safe-driving experience from getting CDL's. States are authorized to provide exemptions for the rest of the following at their own discretion: States are also allowed to waive hazmat requirements for part-time drivers in the pyrotechnics industry. If you're doing that, you pretty much rock too hard to be bothered with a CDL, anyways.

  • Military Vehicle Operators:

    States must exempt individuals who operate vehicles for military purposes from the requirements for CDL drivers. This exemption includes active military, reserves and members of the National Guard. This exception does not apply to U.S. Reserve technicians.

    Service members who are or were employed within the past year (12 months) in a military position requiring the operation of a military motor vehicle equivalent to a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) and who want to drive CMV's in civilian life can apply for a Skills Test Waiver to get their CDL.

    See Also: Military Skills Test Waiver

  • Farm Equipment Operators:

    Covering actual farm-to-market operations, not commercial grain haulers. Drivers must be 21 years old, and vehicle must have farm plates. Farm workers are not required to have a CDL to operate vehicles:

    • Controlled and operated by a farmer, a member of his family, or an employee.
    • Used to transport farm products, equipment or supplies to or from a farm.
    • Used within 150 air miles of the farm.
    • Used in a nursery or agricultural operations.
    • Not used in the operations of a contract motor carrier.
  • Firefighting Equipment Operators:

    Those who operate CMV's necessary to preserving life or property, or performing emergency governmental functions, have signals that can be seen and heard, and are not subject to normal traffic laws. These include fire trucks, foam or water transport trucks, police SWAT team vehicles, ambulances and any other emergency vehicles.

  • Recreational Vehicle Operators:

    Drivers operating recreational vehicles (RV's) for their own non-commercial use can be exempted from CDL requirements.

  • Township or Government Workers Exemptions:

    Many states will have specific CDL exemptions that apply to workers in smaller towns or to state and local government employees in general. You will have to check with your specific state regulations.

Types Of CDL Endorsements And How To Get Them:

Pulling certain types of freight and trailers will require CDL drivers to hold certain license endorsements. As always, TruckingTruth recommends getting every available endorsement in the interest of having more job opportunities.

  • Double/Triple Endorsement
  • Passenger Endorsement
  • Tank Vehicle Endorsement
  • Hazardous Materials
  • School Bus
  • Hazardous and Tank Combined
  • Metal Coil Endorsement (New York State only)

See Also: CDL Endorsements and Restrictions.

CDL Restrictions

CDL drivers can also have certain restrictions placed on them, depending on circumstances such as taking their skills test in a vehicle without air brakes, or with automatic transmission, or in a lower class vehicle.

Endorsements and restrictions will appear as a letter code on a drivers license.

See Also: CDL Endorsements and Restrictions.

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

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.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.

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.

    GVWR:

    Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

    GVWR is the maximum operating weight of a vehicle as specified by the manufacturer, minus any trailers.

    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).

    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.

    CDLIS:

    The Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) is a nationwide computer system that enables state driver licensing agencies (SDLAs) to ensure that each commercial driver has only one driver’s license and one complete driver record.

    A drivers file will include their driving record as well as their medical certification status.

    HOS:

    Hours Of Service

    HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

    OWI:

    Operating While Intoxicated

    OOS:

    When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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