How to get your Commercial Drivers License (CDL) in Michigan

by Joshua on May 29, 2013

There are many types of Commercial driving careers. Before you decide to take your test, you should know at least two areas of this type of transport that you would be interested in applying for after receiving your license. Michigan requires Commercial drivers to obtain specific endorsements, in addition to the standard CDL if you wish to transport selective types of materials. One in particular is the hazardous material endorsement required for any driver wishing to carry materials listed in the state of Michigan as dangerous.

You will need to meet certain requirements before you will be allowed to apply for a Commercial Drivers license in the state of Michigan. These include:

  • Have a current, valid driver’s license
  • Be in good physical shape and able to pass a physical exam
  • Have a clean driving record in any state you have held a drivers license
  • Be at least 18 for in-state driving
  • Be at least 21 if you intend to cross state lines.
  • Be able to provide proof of citizenship status with a Social Security card.
You will also need to obtain a physician’s form from the local Department of Motor Vehicles office. You must have a physical and your physician must fill out the form to be returned with you when you apply for the test. Michigan now requires this physical in order to be allowed to test for your CDL.

How Should I Prepare for the Test?

Apply with the Michigan DMV for your Commercial driver’s instruction permit or CDIP. Come with proof of residency in the form of a valid license, and proof of citizenship with your social security card. You cannot learn to drive a commercial vehicle without this permit. You will take a written permit test, similar to the final drivers test to receive your CDL.

Begin by studying the Michigan CDL Handbook for the essential information you will need to know to pass. Take some of the CDL practice permit tests to analyze your knowledge before taking the actual test to better your chances of passing the first time you take it. Some topics covered on the test will be:

  • Drivers Safety when in different common situations such as night driving, driving in dangerous weather and hazards in the road.
  • Driving Mechanics such as controlling your speed, staying alter and using your limited line of site.
  • Multiple choice questions on road simulation questions. These questions could include:
  • How to handle road rage/aggressive drivers
  • Stopping in the event of an emergency
  • Vehicles questions about your brake system and hauling cargo.
Upon passing the written test, you will receive your CDIP and be allowed to practice on the road.

Take the CDL Drivers Training Course

With your CDIP you are now allowed to enroll in a CDL drivers training course. There are hundreds of third-party companies that conduct this course for a fee through out Michigan. Some community colleges also offer the classes. Check with your DMV for the complete list of schools in the area. Make sure you shop around as Michigan does not regulate the pricing.

Under the supervision of a trained CDL holder, you will practice driving skills necessary to be a safe commercial driver and pass the DMV portion of the testing. Your drivers training will follow certain guidelines and teach you:

  • How to control your commercial vehicle
  • How to perform a safety inspection correctly
  • How to maneuver your rig on the road
  • How to properly break and park your commercial vehicle

Taking Your Written and Road Test

The final step in obtaining your CDL in the state of Michigan is to take the written and road tests through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Only the Michigan DMV can issue these tests. Be sure you study the state CDL Handbook before returning to the DMV for the actual written test to be sure you have everything you need to know to receive a passing grade. The test is not timed, and usually consists of 70 multiple choice questions on the any of the following subjects:

  • Basic control of your vehicle and braking
  • Identifying your blind spots
  • How to perform a safety inspection
  • Night driving and driving in foggy conditions
  • Winter and hot weather driving
  • Dealing with hazards and road rage
  • Your brake system
  • Handing rail road tracks and highway driving
  • Driving emergencies
  • Drugs, Alcohol and driving

If you are applying for a special endorsement in addition to the standard CDL, you will then take the appropriate test associated with the certification. You must pass both the CDL standard test and your skills tests in order to be allowed to continue onward to the road test. The Michigan CDL handbook covers everything you will need to pass both the test and skills assessments.

The final portion of this testing will be the road test issued by the Michigan DMV. You will be tested on the following aspects of driving a commercial rig:

  • Demonstrate a full safety inspection correctly.
  • Be tested on the off-road site for vehicle control and proper driving.
  • Demonstrate correct driving in the on road portion of the test.

Once you have passed the written and road test, as well as your skills tests for endorsements, you will receive your temporary CDL license. You will be required to drive with this for 90 days before receiving your permit, picture CDL in the mail.

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