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How to Obtain a Truck Driving License

Prior to federal intervention, many states allowed drivers to operate trailers and buses without special licensing. However, with the establishment of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act the federal government enacted minimum standards for drivers to earn a trucking license. A truck driving license is called a commercial driver's license, or CDL. A CDL is required to operate a vehicle weighing more than 26,000 pounds, designed to transport more than 15 people or that transports hazardous materials. Obtaining a CDL requires a specific application process that varies from state to state



1) Obtain a commercial driver's license application and medical examination certificate at your local Department of Motor Vehicles. A downloadable version of the federal medical certificate is available in the "Resources" section of this article. However, verify your state's acceptance of this form before use.



2) Complete the application. Order a medical examination from a licensed physician. Have the physician perform the examination and complete the certificate.



3) Obtain the application fee. Application fees vary by state. Submit the completed application, medical certificate and application fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles.



4) Take the written knowledge exam. Some states require payment of an additional fee for the exam. You must receive a passing score in order to continue the CDL application process. Federal regulation mandates a minimum score of 80 percent; however, states are allowed to increase the required minimum.



5) Get an appointment to take the skills test, also known as the road test, at your Department of Motor Vehicles. Take and pass the skills test. Some states allow drivers with a good driving record and truck driving experience an exemption from the skills test. Check your state's requirements before beginning the application process.