What To Know Before Acquiring Your CDL

by Joshua on October 29, 2013

Owning a commercial driving license is becoming a common trend in the United States. People have realized that owning a commercial driving license, commonly referred to as CDL,is a sure way of making quick bucks. Truck drivers are known to make good money from their jobs and people are realizing this and have started investing on commercial driving licenses. Also, truck driving is seen as one of the best jobs for people who are looking to travel as opposed to those who prefer seating behind a desk in an office. For more on CDL and DMVs, visit DMVCheatSheets.com

Owning a CDL: CDL General Knowledge Test

Before you obtain your CDL, you must go through a series of tests. These are just to ascertain your mastery on the road and they include both written and practical. The person applying for the CDL must undertake a written exam, which mostly consists of 30 questions randomly generated from a database with millions of questions, and score above 80%. Then, the candidate will be subjected to a road test with the kind of vehicle he/she is applying the CDL for. The written exam is known to deny most people the opportunity to own a CDL but if prepared well, the candidate should have no problem acing the exam in the first round. Here are some guidelines that you can use in preparation for the written exam:

  • Get a handbook from the local DMV. Using the handbook as a weapon to prepare for the exam— read it from cover to cover. Do not assume any part in the handbook. Take special note on the color coded notes in the handbook. After reading through the handbook, try the question at the back. Make sure that you can answer all the questions correctly.
  • Make notes on what you read. Jot down some of the points you think you will forget or those that you don’t understand and re-read them frequently. Recite what you have read to a friend or anybody near you and ask them to challenge you with questions.
  • Take practice tests online. There are many websites online which have questions similar to those which will be in the final exam. Try them out. This will help you familiarize yourself on how the questions are set and also help you to manage your time when undertaking your exam. An example would be DMVcheatsheets.com

CDL classes

When getting a CDL, make sure you know exactly which class of the CDL you want. CDL classes are divided into different categories and each category has its own characteristics. Some of the most common classes of CDL are:

Class A – This class includes any motor vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds (approximately 11,793 kg) or more provided the gross weight of the vehicle being towed is 10,000 pounds (approximately 4536 kg) or more.
Class B – This class includes any motor vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds (11,793 kg) or any vehicle that is towing a vehicle less than 10,000 pounds (4536 kg).
Class C – This class includes any vehicle that does not fall in either class A or B, but is designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver, or is placarded for use of hazardous material.

Contents of a CDL

A CDL must contain some information which is used to describe both the owner and the car. These include:

  • A declaration statement that the license possessed is a “commercial driver’s license”, except when specified further.
  • The full name of the custodian, signature and his/her contacts.
  • Any other information that might be used to describe the custodian of the CDL, e.g. D.o.B, sex,
  • Height, weight, etc.
  • A colored passport photo of the custodian.
  • The custodian’s state license number.
  • The name of the state issuing the CDL.
  • The date of issue and the expiry date of the CDL.
  • A group or groups of vehicles that the custodian is allowed to drive using the CDL class chosen.
  • The endorsement(s) for which the custodian has qualified. E.g. T for double/triple trailers, P for passengers, N for a tank vehicle, S for school bus and further on.
  • Additional discretion that the state might issue for its convenience.

Suspension of a CDL

There are some factors that might get your CDL suspended. Some of the reasons include:

  • The candidate cannot at any one time own two licenses. If by any chance you have two of them and get caught, they will both be suspended.
  • The candidate must clearly specify the type of vehicle he/she will be using when applying for the CDL. If found using a vehicle outside the class specified, the CDL might get suspended.
  • Failure to follow the state laws when driving.
  • Reckless driving.
  • Driving under influence

Fines Incurred When State Laws are Violated

When found violating the state laws, you are bound to pay fines. Some of the offences and fines are listed below:
Driving without a CDL or a suspended CDL will incur a civil penalty of up to $25,000 or criminal penalties of up to $5,000 with or without jail time. Reckless driving or violation of traffic laws can lead up to 3 years jail time and 90 days to 5 years CDL suspension. DUI or leaving the scene of an accident can lead to up to 3 years suspension of the CDL. Be sure to check out DMVCheatSheets.com for more about CDL and DMVs.

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