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How Do I Earn a CDL License?

Article Details
  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 21 May 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Driving a commercial vehicle usually requires you to earn a commercial driver’s license (CDL). You can begin the process by bringing the correct documents, paying the fees, and passing preliminary health exams that make sure you can see well, are in acceptable physical shape and are not using illegal substances or prescription medications that could pose a problem when driving. You then typically need to take an exam that tests your knowledge of driving a commercial vehicle, which enables you to get your permit. Once you have satisfied these requirements, you typically can earn a CDL license by passing a driving test.

You first need to make sure that you qualify to take the necessary tests, which usually means you need to be over 18 or 21 years old, depending on how far you plan to drive the commercial vehicle and the requirements of the area in which you will be working. You also usually have to have a regular driver’s license, and you typically need to pass both a vision exam and a drug test. You also may need to be able to prove your full legal name and address before you are allowed to take the test necessary to get a CDL license. Once it is determined that you qualify, you will need to pay any related fees.

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The next step is to get your CDL license typically is to take an exam to test your general knowledge regarding driving a commercial vehicle. In many cases, this requires that you know the basic rules of the road when driving a truck, but you also may have to take additional tests if you wish to drive a particular type of vehicle. For example, if you want to transport hazardous materials, then you will need to take a separate test that ensures you know how to safely do so. If you want to transport passengers or large amounts of cargo, or if you wish to drive a truck with air brakes, then you likely will need to take additional exams. Once you pass all the required tests — a step that can be made easier by taking a truck driver training course — you typically can get your permit, which allows you to practice driving a commercial vehicle before you return to get your CDL license.

When you are comfortable driving a truck, you can take the road skills test, which usually starts with making sure your vehicle is safe to drive after an inspection. You then typically will be tested on how well you can control your truck, to prove you know how to handle it. The final section of the test involves driving on the road, usually using the route and destination provided by the examiner. As long as it can be determined that you know how to safely drive in traffic, you likely will be given a CDL license.

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