Applying for a Florida CDL - Class B License

by Joshua on September 22, 2014

In the United States, a different class of license is required in order to drive large or special vehicles. There are a few exceptions, but most vehicles that are over 26,001 pounds in Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to drive. A Class B license allows you to drive any commercial class vehicle that exceeds this weight, and also allows you to tow a load that is less than 10,000 pounds GVWR. Having a Class A license is only required if you want to tow loads greater than 10,000 pounds.
Once you have your CDL , you can apply for additional privileges, which come in the form of endorsements. If you wanted to say, drive a passenger vehicle that carried 16 or more people, you would need to get an Endorsement P .

Eligibility and Preparation for a Class B CDL in Florida

You must be at least 18 to apply for an intrastate (in-state) license, and 21 to apply for an interstate license. You must have a clean driving record, a valid driver’s license, and be able to pass a vision test (20/40 vision in both eyes, corrected or uncorrected), a hearing test, and a medical evaluation. You will need proof of residence, two forms of ID, and a social security card.
Medical eligibility for interstate commercial driving is uniform for all states via the regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration . You must be examined by a qualified, licensed practitioner, and have your medical form filled out which affirms that you are free of any disqualifying medical conditions, which include disabilities involving the extremities, insulin-dependent diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, high blood pressure, arthritic, orthopedic, or neuromuscular conditions that could impede with vehicle operation, and epileptic or other conditions that can cause a loss of consciousness.
The state of Florida uses the FMCSA criteria for their in-state licensing. Therefore, you will use the FMCSA form to be filled out by a medical practitioner, and hand that in at the Florida DMV. To drive in-state, you must declare on your application that you plan to drive in-state, and must then meet state requirements. If you declare that you want to drive inter-state, you must meet the FMCSA requirements. In Florida, the required medical form is the same for both.

Obtaining a Class B CDL in Florida

You will need to apply directly at a Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (HMSV) office . You will need to have all of the documents mentioned in the previous section, along with a $75 fee for a first-time application. There are additional feeds for special circumstances involving things past drug and alcohol offenses. This fee does not include vehicle registration fees, or the cost of a third-part skills test.
In addition to passing the eligibility requirements, you must pass the general knowledge test , and an air brakes test, if applicable to you. Class B applicants are not required to pass the test on combinations knowledge. Tests for any requested endorsements must be passed at this time as well.
Upon passing the written test and paying all fees, you will qualify for a permit, which allows you to drive a commercial class vehicle that you have successfully applied for, provided someone 21 years or older is in the passenger’s seat, and is appropriately licensed for that vehicle.
Once you have gotten a permit, all that is left is to pass the hands-on skill test, which is typically handled through any number of approved third-party organizations. When you pass the skills test, you will get an interim license while your plastic license arrives in the mail.

CDL Disqualifications in Florida

Florida is more lenient than many other states when it comes to penalties for traffic, alcohol, and drug offenses. The only permanent disqualifying offense is DUI (Driving under the Influence [of drugs or alcohol]) manslaughter along with a previous DUI conviction.
Traffic offenses can result in 60-120 day suspensions and a reinstatement fee. Penalties for first or future DUIs, and a first DUI with manslaughter range from revocation of your license for 6 months to 5 years, and 10 years in certain cases. Multiple convictions result in additional barriers to re-applying for a new license. Other alcohol or drug related offenses will result in a 1 year or longer suspension.

Other Information for Obtaining a Class B CDL in Florida

The standard advice usually includes studying and practicing well for your exams so that you don’t waste time and money taking re-tests. It is recommended to make an appointment well in advance so that you can schedule a time for both the application process and the testing process that is convenient to you.
Licenses are good for 4 years, and cost $75 to renew. The renewal process is fairly simple, and generally requires a retaking of a vision and hearing test, along with an updated medical examination form and certificate. Certain endorsements like Endorsement H require a re-test.

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