Getting your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) requires a high level of skills, knowledge and physical ability. Driving a commercial vehicle is a BIG responsibility and that is why applicants must seek out several steps before attaining a license.
Preliminary Steps to a CDL
Class A: Any combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds provided the GVWR of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds. The Class A license allows you to drive trucks with trailers of any size.
Class B: Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR. Class B license allows you to drive a truck of any size but you are not allowed to pull a large trailer behind a Class B truck.
Class C: Any single vehicle or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is placarded for hazardous materials.
2 Required Steps to a CDL
DOT Medical Card: A Department of Medical Transportation physical examination must be conducted by a licensed “medical examiner” listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) National Registry. A DOT physical exam is valid for up to 24 months and if the examiner finds that the applicant is physically qualified to drive they will issue a DOT Medical Card. https://nationalregistry.fmcsa.dot.gov/NRPublicUI/Drivers.seam
How long does it take to get your CDL? It will depend on the individual state because some states require an applicant to take a training course. Although the majority of states do not, Georgia is an example of a state that does require schooling. Most CDL training programs from certified and reputable truck driver training schools last about 3-12 weeks, depending on the program. Once you pass the exam, you receive your license the same day!
How long is a CDL good for? Although each state sets its own lifespan on a CDL, it will expire in a regular cycle. Most states require a CDL to be renewed between 4 -5 years after it was issued. Some states even require a current DOT physical exam. Be sure to check your state’s guidelines.
DOT Log Book: The purpose of a DOT log book is to provide a written record of the driver’s hours of service. According to the log book rules, drivers must keep track of their location and time spent on and off duty. By law, the driver must submit a completed copy of their log book to the motor carrier within 13 days. A DOT log book consists of:
Endorsements: For a driver to receive certain endorsements, a CDL holder must complete and pass additional testing. Endorsements might include; School buses, tanks, hazardous materials, trailers, etc.
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