Important Information for Getting Your Commercial Driver’s License.

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is crucial for hotshot truckers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the rules and requirements for commercial drivers across the country. Each state has its own application process, all states must adhere to federal requirements set forth by the FMCSA.


To be eligible to apply for a commercial driver’s license you must:

  • Be 21 years old too:
    • Drive across state lines or operate a vehicle containing hazardous materials.
  • Have no prior disqualifying criminal offenses.
    • Certain criminal felonies may disqualify you from CDL eligibility.

Basic Steps

The basic steps required by every state in accordance with FMCSA regulations to receive a commercial learner’s permit and a commercial driver’s license include:

  1. Test for and obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP).
  2. Hold your CLP for a minimum of 14 days.
  3. Take the road skills test for your commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Note: If you are applying for any endorsements on your CDL, you may have additional knowledge and road skills exams.

Commercial Learner’s Permit

In addition to any state-specific forms, tests, and identity/citizenship documents, the FMCSA requires all CLP applicants to provide:

  • Your current driver’s license.
  • A 10 Year Driver History.
    • Your state may check this electronically in their system, or require you to bring in a copy of your driving record.
  • A Medical Examination certification form.
    • This documentation is needed to certify from a qualifying medical examiner that you will be physically able to operate a commercial vehicle.
  • Pass a knowledge and skills test.
    • Tests may vary slightly according to state. However, minimum federal requirements require:
      • A minimum of 30 questions with a passing score of at least 80%.
  • Pay the associated fees.
    • These will vary according to your state.

Commercial Driver’s License

Once you have met the requirements listed above and practiced on the road with a driver possessing a CDL license, you may then apply for a CDL.

Federal regulations state that you must:

  • Hold your commercial learner’s permit for at least 14 days.
  • Provide a vehicle for your skills test of the same type that you plan to test for and drive once licensed.
  • Pass the CDL skills test, which consists of 3 parts:
    • Vehicle inspection.
    • Basic controls exam.
    • Road test.

Some states may require additional steps, such as the completion of a CDL training course.

CDL Endorsements & Waivers

If you plan to add an endorsement to your CDL, additional testing, applications, and security checks may be needed. Examples of endorsements include:

  • Tank vehicles.
  • Passenger vehicles or school buses.
  • Carrying hazardous materials.

If you are a veteran of the armed services with experience driving military vehicles, you may be eligible to have your CDL skills test waived.

Other industries that states have the right to waive some of the CDL requirements for include:

  • Farming.
  • Emergency medical.
  • Firefighters.
  • Workers removing snow and ice.

Contact your local commercial driver licensing office for details if you work in any of these industries.

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