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March 18, 2015

Road Warriors: How to Obtain a CDL

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

  • Obtain a copy of your state’s Commercial Driver’s Licensing (CDL) Manual
    • Each state has its own process to getting a CDL and you will want to be well informed of your state’s regulations. Some states require a training course prior to applying for your permit/license.
    • Decide which type of vehicle and what kind of driving you want to get licensed for
      • There are 3 Classes of CDL’s with certifications for specialized qualifications for vehicles like school buses, tank trucks, tractor trailers, etc. Each type of CDL will require you to pass a skills test.

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

  • Get a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)
    • The CLP will authorize you to practice on public roads with a qualified CDL holder sitting next to you. To be able to obtain the permit you must show that you are eligible to drive and your driving record is checked within the last 10 years in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Your state will require proof that you are medically qualified and require a DOT Medical Card and DOT physical.

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.


  • Get a Commercial Drivers License (CDL)
    • You are required to possess the CLP for 14 days before taking the Skills Test for your CDL. Some states require successful completion of CDL training prior to testing. There are 3 parts to the Skills Test; The Vehicle Inspection Test, Basic Controls Test and the Road Test
    • Once you have passed the test, some states will issue you the CDL the same day! In most cases, you will receive an interim CDL to use while you wait for your official CDL to arrive in the mail.

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:

  • Date
  • Name of Carrier
  • Truck Number
  • Total of miles driven within a 24 hour period
  • Starting time of the 24 hour period
  • Names of all co-drivers
  • Shipping /Transport documentation
  • Detail of activities during the drive

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.

For additional information, please visit:


Hype’s Must Have Apps for Road Warriors/Tour Drivers: 

  • Trucker Path: This app shows all major and independent truck stops, truck parking, rest areas, open/closed weigh stations, Walmart stores with truck parking, scales, truck washes, hotels and restaurants nearby. The information is constantly being verified and updated by other Trucker Path users and the team to ensure its accuracy. $Free
  • All StaysTruck Stops and Travel Places: This app has been providing online truck stop information since 2003. Truck & Travel checks your location and displays all points on a map view. You can also use the offline manual lookup to find locations by type, state and city even when you do not have service!  $9.99
  • Waze: This app is one of the most popular community-based traffic and navigation app. Join other drivers in the area you are travelling who share real-time traffic and road information. $Free