What New Truck 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.
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
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.
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.
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