Arizona CDL Overview

Arizona's Commercial Driver's License program is at the Driver Services page.
Information specific to the CDL is on the License Information page.

Arizona's CDL Program is Divided into Three Classes

  • A Class A CDL is required to operate a combination vehicle (truck and trailer) if the gross combined weight rating (GCWR) is 26,001 or more pounds when the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the trailer, which is added to the GVWR of the power unit (the truck), is 10,001 pounds or more.
  • A Class B CDL is required to operate any vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more. A trailer may be towed if the GVWR of the trailer is 10,000 pounds or fewer.
  • A Class C CDL is required to operate any vehicle with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds or fewer if the vehicle is required to be placarded to transport hazardous materials or if the vehicle transports 16 or more passengers, including the driver. An applicant must also have a passenger (P) or hazardous materials endorsement (HME) to obtain a Class C CDL.

Information about CDL endorsements here.

Getting an Arizona Commercial Driver's License

In compliance with the Federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986, Arizona issues commercial driver's licenses through the Motor Services Division of the Arizona Department of Transportation. As part of the process of issuing CDLs, the MVD conducts knowledge and road skills tests at its CDL Offices (See list), as well as participating in the Medical Review Program, which examines and monitors the physical qualifications of commercial drivers.

What Are Qualifications for Arizona's CDL Program?

APPLICATION: To apply for a commercial driver license, you will need to complete a Commercial Driver License Application.

AUTHORIZED PRESENCE: Arizona law and FMCSA regulation 49 CFR 383.71 require that you submit proof that your presence in the United States is authorized under federal law. See CDL Documentation Requirements for a listing of acceptable proof.

  • You need at least two documents listed – one must have a clear photo of you
  • Or three documents listed with no photo
  • One must be listed under the Primary column
  • All must be originals or copies, in English, certified by the issuing agency
  • Additional documents needed for a name change (e.g., marriage certificate, divorce decree). You must first change your name with the Social Security Administration.

IDENTIFICATION AND PROOF OF AGE: Arizona state law requires that all applicants for an original driver license or identification card present two forms of identification. One form must have your photo, or you must present three forms of identification if no photo identification is available. See the full list of Identification Requirement. All forms of identification must be originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. MVD cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. All forms of identification must be in English.

SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER VERIFICATION: You are required by A.R.S. §§ 28-3158(D)(5) and 28-3165(F), under the authority of 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(c)(2)(C) and 666(a)(13)(A), to provide your Social Security number. It will be used to verify your identity and to comply with federal and state child-support enforcement laws. It will not be used as your license number.

STATE OF DOMICILE: To qualify for an Arizona CDL, your state of domicile must be Arizona. The state of domicile is defined as the state of your true, fixed and permanent home and principal residence; it must be where you intend to return after being away.

You have 30 days to change your CDL when you change your state of domicile to Arizona. Federal and state laws require that you surrender all previous license credentials.

LICENSE/PERMIT CANCELLATION: Your CDL or permit may be canceled for any of the reasons listed below. MVD may determine other additional reasons to cancel your driver license or permit.

  • Failing to give correct information on the application.
  • Applying while your license/driving privilege is disqualified, suspended, revoked or canceled in Arizona or another state.
  • Falsely stating your age as 21 or over.
  • Not meeting the medical requirements.
  • Failing, refusing or neglecting to pay fees, taxes or assessments to MVD

What if You Have a CDL From Another State?

Arizona MVD says you have 30 days to change your CDL if you have changed your state of domicile to Arizona. Federal and state laws require that you surrender all previous license credentials. You must visit a CDL office (some CDL offices require you to call and schedule an appointment) and have the following documents before you pay any fees:

  • Properly completed Medical Examiner Certificate or ADOT card (available at any CDL office)
  • Social Security card
  • Valid CDL credential

Arizona law and FMCSA regulation 49 CFR 383.71 require that you submit proof that your presence in the United States is authorized under federal law. See CDL Documentation Requirements for a listing of acceptable proof of authorized presence.

  • You need at least two documents listed – one must have a clear photo of you
  • Or three documents listed with no photo
  • One must be listed under the Primary column
  • All must be originals or copies, in English, certified by the issuing agency
  • Additional documents needed for a name change (e.g., marriage certificate, divorce decree). You must first change your name with the Social Security Administration.
  • CDL documentation requirements may change without notice.

These are the fees for transferring a CDL:

  • Class A or B, no endorsements: $25
  • Class C: $12.50 (must have a Passenger or Hazmat endorsement)
  • Doubles/triples trailers endorsement: $10
  • Tank endorsement: $10
  • Hazardous materials endorsement (HME): $10 (A new knowledge test is required.)
  • Motorcycle endorsement: $ 7
  • School bus endorsement: No fee
  • Passenger endorsement: $10

Do you Need a CDL Instruction (Learner's) Permit?

Arizona requires a CDL Instruction Permit to operate a commercial vehicle on the highway for first-time CDL applicants. Applicants must be 21 to drive outside of Arizona, 18 within the state. The permit is valid for six months. Go to the Arizona MVD Instruction Permit page for further information.

What are the Fees for Getting an Arizona CDL?

New or Transfer from Another State

  • Class A or B: $25
  • Class C (must include a P endorsement or HME): $12.50
  • Add $10 for each endorsement you require (hazmat, tanker, doubles/triples or passenger). Motorcycle endorsement is $7. Please see the Commercial Driver License FAQ for additional fees.
  • Duplicate $12

Renewal

  • Class A or B: $15
  • Class C: $10
  • HME: $10 (knowledge test required)

Required Road/Skills Tests

  • Class A or B vehicle: $25
  • Class C vehicle: $12.50
  • Passenger or school bus endorsement: $5 (when adding to an existing CDL)

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In order to obtain a Arizona CDL there are a list of requirements that must be met, and getting your Arizona CDL involves several steps. There are medical requirements and residency requirements, along with knowledge and skills requirements. The basic requirements for getting your cdl in Arizona include:

  • You must be at least 18 years old to hold a Arizona CDL and drive a commercial vehicle within the state of Arizona.
  • You must be at least age 21 to drive a commercial motor vehicle across Arizona state lines, carry hazardous materials, or transport any passengers.
  • You must not have more than one driver’s license, and your driving privileges must not be suspended, revoked, canceled or disqualified in Arizona or any other state.
  • You must meet the medical requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
  • You must pass a set of written exams to obtain your Arizona Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP). You can study for these exams using our High Road CDL Training Program.
  • You must prove citizenship in the state of Arizona and have permission to work in the United States, showing legitimate personal identification which may include a Social Security Card, a Birth Certificate, or a Green Card
  • You must certify that you are not subject to any of the CDL disqualifications for drivers (listed below)
  • You must be able to speak and read the English language

Below we will list more general requirements, qualifications, disqualifications, and restrictions for getting a CDL in Arizona.

Who Is Required To Hold A Arizona CDL?

You will need a CDL to operate any of the following 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 Different Classes Of CDL In Arizona?

  • 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.

Knowledge And Skills Test Requirements For Getting A CDL In Arizona

Each basic knowledge test covers the 20 general areas outlined in 49 CFR 383.111(a). The knowledge test shall contain at least 30 items. A separate test for drivers seeking to operate CMV's with air brakes in Arizona must cover the 7 areas outlined in 49 CFR 383.111(b).

To pass the knowledge tests (general and endorsement); applicants must correctly answer at least 80 percent of the questions.

To pass the Arizona CDL skills test, applicants must successfully perform all the required skills (listed in 49 CFR 383.113 through 49 CFR 383.123). The skills test must be taken in a vehicle representative of the type of vehicle that the applicant operates or expects to operate.

Federal standards require the state of Arizona to issue CDLs to certain commercial motor vehicle drivers only after the driver passes the knowledge and skills tests administered by the State. The vehicle you take the CDL test in must also relate to the type of vehicle the driver expects to operate.

Restrictions are placed on a Arizona CDL when a driver takes the Skills Test in a vehicle which lacks critical equipment present in particular types of CMVs. Therefore, to avoid restrictions, drivers should take the Skills Test in the same type of vehicle for which they are seeking a Arizona CDL to operate.

Drivers are required to obtain and hold a CDL in Arizona if they operate in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce and drive a vehicle that meets one or more of the classifications of a CMV are also described below.

Military Skills Test Waiver Program

The state of Arizona has the authority to substitute two years of experience safely operating trucks or buses equivalent to civilian commercial vehicles for the skills test portion of the Arizona commercial driver license (CDL) test. U.S. Military drivers must apply within one year of leaving a military position requiring operation of a commercial vehicle. The latest information (February 2017) indicates that more than 19,000 current and former military have taken advantage of the Skills Test Waiver, making them immediately eligible for employment.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation 49 CFR 383.77, requires the applicant to certify to an SDLA:

  • His/her safe driving experience;
  • That he or she has not held more than one license (except a U.S. Military driver’s license) in the past two years;
  • Has not had his/her Arizona driver license suspended, revoked or cancelled; and,
  • Has not had convictions in any type of motor vehicle for the disqualifying CDL offenses listed elsewhere in the regulations.

Here you will find the Application for Military Skills Test Waiver form

Medical Requirements For Obtaining A Arizona CDL License

All commercial drivers of vehicles in interstate commerce with a maximum gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 pounds are required to obtain and maintain a valid Medical Examiner's Certificate (ME Certificate). CDL holders in Arizona must provide their SDLA with a copy of their ME Certificate.

Self Certification

All Arizona CDL holders must declare to their State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) that they only operate or expect to operate commercially in 1 of 4 possible categories with their CDL. This process is called self-certification. The four categories are:

  • Interstate non-excepted: You are an Interstate non-excepted driver and must meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements (e.g. – you are "not excepted").
  • Interstate excepted: You are an Interstate excepted driver and do not have to meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements.
  • Intrastate non-excepted: You are an Intrastate non-excepted driver and are required to meet the medical requirements for the state of Arizona.
  • Intrastate excepted: You are an Intrastate excepted driver and do not have to meet the medical requirements for the state of Arizona.

Hearing Requirements

A person is physically qualified to drive a CMV if that person: First perceives a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than five feet with or without the use of a hearing aid or if tested by use of an audiometric device, does not have an average hearing loss in the better ear greater than 40 decibels at 500Hz, 1000HZ and 2,000 Hz with or without a hearing aid when the audiometric device is calibrated to the American National Standard Z24.5-1951.

Vision Requirements

You must meet the following vision requirements:

  • A distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in each eye without corrective lenses or visual acuity separately corrected to 20/40 (Snellen) or better with corrective lenses;
  • A distant binocular acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in both eyes with or without corrective lenses;
  • A field of vision of at least 70 degrees in the horizontal Meridian in each eye;
  • The ability to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green, and amber.

Blood Pressure Requirements

  1. Your blood pressure needs to be under 140/90.
  2. Stage 1 hypertension, blood pressure between 140/90 - 159/99: 1-year medical certificate, must be renewed every 12 months.
  3. Stage 2 hypertension, blood pressure between 160/100 - 179/109: 3 month medical certification. Full disqualification if not under control after 3 months, until controlled. Will be required to renew every 12 months.
  4. Stage 3 hypertension, blood pressure at or over 180/110: Automatic disqualification, 6 month certification once blood pressure is under control, must be renewed every 6 months.
  5. Blood pressure can be controlled with or without medication.

Urinalysis Testing

Your urine sample will be tested in a lab for blood, sugar, and protein, which might indicate hidden health problems.

Physical Impairments

Drivers with physical impairments, which affect their ability to safely operate CMVs, must obtain a "variance" from the state of Arizona in order to be approved to drive commercially. The variance document must be carried with the commercial driver whenever they are operating a commercial motor vehicle. A Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) is a special type of "variance" required for drivers with impaired or missing limbs (e.g., a hand or finger, an arm, foot, or leg). Drivers with missing limbs, if eligible, must obtain an SPE certificate. The commercial driver must always carry the SPE certificate at all times.

About The Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Program

The Skill Performance Evaluation program is for CMV drivers who drive in interstate commerce. The SPE certification allows drivers with missing or impaired limbs to drive CMVs across state lines if they have been fitted with (and are wearing) the right prosthetic device, and the driver can demonstrate the ability to drive the truck safely by completing on-and off-road activities. If the driver passes the Arizona commercial vehicle driving test, he or she will receive a SPE certificate. Over the years, FMCSA has granted more than 3,000 SPE certificates to truck drivers who have shown that they can drive safely on the nation's highways.

Implied Consent to Alcohol Testing

Any person who holds a Arizona CDL is considered to have consented to such testing as is required by the state of Arizona or any State or jurisdiction in the enforcement of being under the influence of a controlled substance or using alcohol, be under the influence of alcohol, or have any measured alcohol concentration or detected presence of alcohol, while on duty, or operating, or in physical control of a commercial motor vehicle. Consent is implied by driving a commercial motor vehicle.

Prescription Drugs

Although the driver has a legal prescription, he/she may be disqualified if the medication could adversely affect the driver's ability to drive a CMV safely.

Who Is Exempt From Getting A Arizona 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:

  • Arizona Military Vehicle Operators:

    The state of Arizona 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

  • Arizona 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.
  • Arizona 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.

  • Arizona Recreational Vehicle Operators:

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

  • Arizona 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.

Arizona CDL Disqualifications

The FMCSA regulations specify certain circumstances that will disqualify a driver from legally operating a CMV, temporarily or permanently.

Issues resulting in disqualification apply only to CDL or CLP holders, or those required to have a CLP or CDL in the vehicle they are operating. Tickets, DUI or DWI, and other legal issues that happened before a driver was issued a CDL or CLP, or to non-CDL or CLP holders, who were not required to have one, will affect drivers only as far as company policy, with the exception of getting the Hazmat endorsement.

See Also: TSA Disqualifying Offenses & Factors

In extreme cases, the FMCSA may disqualify drivers deemed to be an "imminent hazard", and remove them from the road.

See Also: Disqualification of drivers determined to constitute an imminent hazard.

Some circumstances will result in a lifetime disqualification from operating CMV's, with some being eligible for reinstatement after 10 years. A driver who uses a CMV in the commission of a felony involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance is disqualified for life with no possibility of reinstatement.

Disqualification For Major Offenses

  • Being under the influence of alcohol as prescribed by State law.
  • Being under the influence of a controlled substance.
  • Having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater while operating a CMV.
  • Refusing to take an alcohol test as required by a State or jurisdiction under its implied consent laws or regulations
  • Leaving the scene of an accident.
  • Using the vehicle to commit a felony, other than felony involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance.

CDL Driver Disqualification For Serious Traffic Violations:

  • Speeding excessively, involving any speed of 15 mph or more above the regulated or posted speed limit.
  • Driving recklessly, as defined by State or local law or regulation.
  • Making improper or erratic traffic lane changes.
  • Following the vehicle ahead too closely.
  • Violating State or local law relating to motor vehicle traffic control.

CDL Driver Disqualification For Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Offenses:

  • The driver is not required to always stop, but fails to slow down and check that tracks are clear of an approaching train.
  • The driver is not required to always stop, but fails to stop before reaching the crossing, if the tracks are not clear.
  • The driver is always required to stop, but fails to stop before driving onto the crossing.
  • The driver fails to have sufficient space to drive completely through the crossing without stopping.
  • The driver fails to obey a traffic control device or the directions of an enforcement official at the crossing.
  • The driver fails to negotiate a crossing because of insufficient undercarriage clearance.

CDL Driver Disqualification For Violations Of Out-Of-Service Orders:

An out-of-service order stipulates that a CDL or CLP holder not drive a commercial vehicle for a certain period of time, or until such time as they are re-instated to service.

In addition to disqualification, drivers who violate out-of-service orders will be fined a civil penalty of at least $2,500 for the first offense, and $5,000 for any additional offenses.

Follow this link to learn more about CDL Driver Disqualifications

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