Montana CDL Overview

Getting your CDL in Montana

The first step to getting your CDL in Mississippi is to obtain a Learner’s Permit, for which you need to provide proof of identity, proof of Social Security number, proof of authorized presence, and valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate. You must pass all applicable written tests before you can schedule a CDL road test. Once you have passed the written tests, you will be issued a learner’s license, which you must have for 14 days before you can take a road test.

Commercial driver license (CDL) written tests are given at all driver license stations. All driver exam stations require appointments for CDL testing; you can schedule your CDL written test and skills test through the Montana Motor Vehicle Division online appointment scheduling system. Not all stations provide commercial road tests, and some stations only provide road tests for specific classes. The appointment scheduling system will only offer road test appointments at stations that accommodate the class your are applying for. Note that you cannot take a CDL skills test in a Hazmat vehicle, but you can still obtain a Hazmat endorsement. There is a test for each individual endorsement, as well as a general knowledge test taken by all applicants. After the knowledge tests are passed, there will be skills tests.

You must be at least 18 years of age to drive within state lines (intrastate), and must be at least 21 years old to drive commercial vehicles across state lines (interstate) and to haul hazardous materials. It is advised that all new applicants for any type of CDL use the CDL Manual and CDL Requirements Guide to prepare for testing.

See the Montana CDL Manual before testing

Find your CDL testing location

Montana law allows a qualified veteran add the word VETERAN to the front of their driver license or identification (ID) card. This designation not only recognizes your service; it may also help you qualify for veteran discounts offered by some businesses.To apply for this designation, complete and submit Application to Add Veteran Designation to Driver License or ID Card (form 21-3000). This application explains the two steps needed to have VETERAN printed on your license or ID card.

Military CDL Skills Test Waiver

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) allows qualifying military veterans to bypass the road skills test required to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL). Eligibility requirements are extensive. Qualification is determined by the commanding officer, who typically certifies the qualification before the service member is discharged. The CDL written test cannot be waived. School bus, passenger, and hazardous materials endorsements cannot be transferred. The application for Military CDL Skills Test Waiver form CDL-SK TST WV may be used by service members who are currently licensed and who are or were employed within the last twelve months in a military position requiring the operation of a military motor vehicle equivalent to a commercial motor vehicle.

See more information about the Military CDL Skills Test Waiver and other military resources for the Montana CDL

Classes and endorsements

CDL Classes available:

  • Type 1 Interstate allows a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.
  • Type 2 Intrastate (Montana only) allows a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle in intrastate (only within the state of Montana) commerce.
  • Class A: required to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, to include a towed vehicle that is heavier than 10,000 lbs. This includes tractor-trailers, truck and trailer combinations, tractor-trailor buses, tankers, livestock carriers, and flatbeds.
  • Class B: required to operate a single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or heavier, and/or any vehicle as described above that is towing another vehicle weighing UP TO 10,000 lbs. This includes straight trucks, large buses, segmented buses, box trucks, and dump trucks with small trailers.
  • Class C: may be required if the vehicle you intend to drive does not meet the criteria for either a Class A or Class B license, and is meant to transport either at least 16 passengers (to include you, the driver), or hazardous material (HAZMAT) as laid out by federal guidelines. Vehicles requiring a Class C CDL include small HAZMAT vehicles, passenger vans, and small trucks towing a trailer.

The class A CDL allows you to drive Class B and Class C vehicles as well, and the class B allows you to drive Class C vehicles.

Endorsements available:

  • (H) Hazardous Materials (note that for this endorsement, you must submit fingerprints to the TSA and undergo an FBI criminal history records check and other security checks)
  • (N) Tank Vehicle
  • (P) Passenger Transport
  • (S) School Bus
  • (T) Doubles/Triples (LCV's or long combination vehicles are combinations of multiple trailers attached to one truck, as opposed to standard 5-axle semis)

There are also restrictions possible, including NT/no tractor-trailer (for a Class A license in which the towing unit used for testing does not exceed 26,000 pounds); and an air brake restriction which prohibits the driver from operating a vehicle with air brakes until that portion of testing is passed. This allows you to drive some, but not all vehicle types and still have a CDL in the interim before passing further testing.

Medical requirements and self-certification

You must pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) medical examination. Only a licensed medical examiner may conduct your examination.

Certified medical examiners can be found on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) National Registry. Medical examiner's certificates are valid for a maximum of 2 years.

By regulation, Specific Medically Disqualifying Conditions Found Under 49 CFR 391.41 are Hearing Loss, Vision Loss, Epilepsy and Insulin Use. Drivers who require a Diabetes or Vision exemption to safely drive a CMV in addition to those pre-printed on the certification form are disqualified until they receive such an exemption.

Visit the FMCSA’s website for detailed information on medical requirements

All Commercial Driver's License (CDL) holders are required (under federal regulation) to inform the Motor Vehicle Division of the Montana Department of Justice of the type of commerce they plan to operate within (interstate or intrastate) and whether or not they are required to hold a medical certificate. This notification is called self-certification. It is called self-certification because the driver alone needs to determine the self-certification category he/she falls into based on his/her driving information.

Costs

Common CDL costs in Montana are:

  • $44.29 for a 5-year intrastate (travel within the state only) CDL license, for persons aged 21-70
  • $52.02 for a 5-year interstate (travel across state lines) CDL license, for persons aged 21-70

In Montana, there are different costs for many individual ages, and for different levels of CDLs.

See the complete fee schedule if you are under 21 or over 70.

Apply For Paid CDL Training Through TruckingTruth

Did you know you can fill out one quick form here on TruckingTruth and apply to several companies at once for paid CDL training? Seriously! The application only takes one minute. You will speak with recruiters today. There is no obligation whatsoever. Learn more and apply here:

Apply For Paid CDL Training

In order to obtain a Montana CDL there are a list of requirements that must be met, and getting your Montana 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 Montana include:

  • You must be at least 18 years old to hold a Montana CDL and drive a commercial vehicle within the state of Montana.
  • You must be at least age 21 to drive a commercial motor vehicle across Montana 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 Montana 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 Montana 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 Montana 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 Montana.

Who Is Required To Hold A Montana 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 Montana?

  • 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 Montana

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 Montana 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 Montana 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 Montana 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 Montana 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 Montana CDL to operate.

Drivers are required to obtain and hold a CDL in Montana 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 Montana 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 Montana 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 Montana 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 Montana 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 Montana must provide their SDLA with a copy of their ME Certificate.

Self Certification

All Montana 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 Montana.
  • Intrastate excepted: You are an Intrastate excepted driver and do not have to meet the medical requirements for the state of Montana.

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 Montana 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 Montana 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 Montana CDL is considered to have consented to such testing as is required by the state of Montana 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 Montana 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:

  • Montana Military Vehicle Operators:

    The state of Montana 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

  • Montana 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.
  • Montana 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.

  • Montana Recreational Vehicle Operators:

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

  • Montana 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.

Montana 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

Join Us!

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

Apply For Paid CDL Training Through TruckingTruth

Did you know you can fill out one quick form here on TruckingTruth and apply to several companies at once for paid CDL training? Seriously! The application only takes one minute. You will speak with recruiters today. There is no obligation whatsoever. Learn more and apply here:

Apply For Paid CDL Training

About Us

TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

Read More

Becoming A Truck Driver

Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

Learn More