How to Get Your Class A CDL License

by Joshua on December 20, 2013
Tags: CDL Class A

A Class A CDL is commercial driver’s license and it allows holders to operate a combination of vehicles that has a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 lbs or more with vehicle or trailer being towed with a gross vehicle weight rating in excess of 10,000 lbs. A Class A CDL operator may operate a Class B or Class C vehicle, but Class B and Class C operators cannot operate the letter level above them. Class A CDL operators are the only ones who can drive an eighteen wheeled semi tractor- trailer. It also enables holder to transport hazard materials with added endorsements to their license. Extra endorsements are also required to operate vehicles designed to transport sixteen passengers or more, vehicles with air brakes, school buses, double or triple trailers, and tankers (bulk liquid).

The United States government established minimum requirements for all CDL licenses, and the requirements are part of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 This law became gives the states the right to issue CDL with stricter rules than the federal minimums. The purpose of this law was to ensure the safety of the highway by making all CDL drivers meet minimum requirements, and to remove unqualified drivers from the roads.

Requirements for CDL

  • Driver must be at least 21 years of age for interstate travel; some states will issue a CDL to a driver at least 18 years of age for intrastate travel.
  • Driver must be able to speak and read English well enough to write report, answer official inquires, read road signs.
  • Driver cannot be disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle because of previous motor vehicle law violations.
  • Driver must successfully complete driver’s road test.
  • Driver must pass a medical physical and receive a completed medical form to turn into the DMV.
  1. Step 1

You must visit your local DMV to fill out an application. Most states require several forms of identification when applying such as current driver’s license and proof of residency. Pick up the information booklets provided by the DMV to study for the knowledge test.

  1. Step 2

Study for the general test and the knowledge tests that you are seeking endorsement for endorsements are Hazardous Materials (H), Double/Triple Trailer (T), Tank (N), Passenger (P) and Tank and Hazardous Materials combination (X). Once you have successfully passed the test(s) you wish to take, you will receive a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). It will allow you to practice driving a commercial motor vehicle on public roads under the supervision of a CDL driver with a current, valid license, who is at least 21 years of age,

  1. Step 3

Practice, practice, practice!!! Make sure you are practicing in a Class A vehicle. If you want to hone your skills, consider enrolling in a CDL school, or this is another option if you just don’t know a CDL driver who can oversee your driving You may not have any passengers with you while driving on a permit with the exception of your instructor or up to three other permit holders who are also taking instruction. A class can also give you access to a Class A vehicle if you do not have on to train in.

  1. Step 4

You are now ready to take the skills test. During the skills test you will be tested over three areas: pre-departure vehicle inspection, basic control over the vehicle, and driving. The vehicle inspection portion of the skills tests will make sure you understand what to inspect, how to inspect it before each trip, and why you inspect it. The vehicle control portion of the tests covers how you can maneuver the vehicle. You are typically asked to go forward in the vehicle, backward, and make a turn in a set area. All of this has to be done while you obey traffic lanes, cones and barriers.

The final step of the skills test is driving on the road. You will be observed while you drive through different traffic situations. It typically includes several right turns and left turns. It may also include different types of intersection, curves, different grades of roads, single lane and multi-lane roads and railroad crossings.

  1. Step 5

After successfully completing step 4, the DMV will issue you a Class A CDL!!


There are some more federal rules that affect CDL drivers. To ensure that all driver’s follow these rules, all states operate under one computer system to check CDLs. This allows states to make sure a driver is following the rules across the country.

  • You may only have one license, and it should be from your home state. A violation of this rule can cost you up to $5,000 in fines or jail time.
  • If you receive any traffic violations you must notify your employer within 30 days of your conviction. You must also notify your DMV. This does not include parking tickets, but it means tickets received even if you were not driving a commercial motor vehicle.
  • If your CDL is revoked, canceled or disqualified for any reason, you must notify your employer within 1 day.
  • You must provide your employer with your driving work history for the past 10 years.

You do not get to decide where to drive; you are instructed by the examiner where to drive. The test must be taken in a Class A vehicle.

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