Gianni Evangelisti Authored By: Gianni Evangelisti

CDL License RequirementsCDL License Requirements will vary by state. Visit our Directory of CDL State License Agencies to find the agency for your state.  In general, though, each state must meet a set of federal CDL requirements that are governed by the US Department of Transportation.  The requirements for your CDL deal with your age, driving record, and health. The intent of the CDL license requirements is to insure the safety of the highways and to remove unsafe operators.

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These requirements specify:

  • You must be at least 21 years of age for interstate operation
  • You may be allowed to be licensed at 18 years of age for intrastate (within the state) operation
  • You must obtain a Medical Card if you plan on operating your Commercial Motor Vehicle in non-excepted Interstate or non-excepted Intrastate operation.
  • You must pass a General Knowledge CDL written test, any applicable endorsement tests and pass a Skills test
  • You must have sufficient knowledge of the English language
  • You must present proof of Social Security Number and U.S. Citizenship
  • You must present proof of residence in the state your are being licensed in
  • You must qualify for the license based on your current driving record. You will be disqualified for a CDL for the following reasons:
  • If you posess a license in another state
  • If you are currently subject to any disqualification in any state
  • If your license is currently cancelled, denied, revoked or suspended
  • If you have a conviction for operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle while impaired

Many state provide exemptions for very specific vehicle usage. You should determine the specific exemptions from your State CDL License Agency.  Typical exemptions exist for the following categories:

  • Military Vehicles - You may be exempt if you operate a military vehicle as an active duty military personnel or a civilian who is required to meet the Code of Military Justice standards.
  • Farm Vehicles - You may be exempt if you drive farm vehicles that are controlled and operated by the farmer, used to transport agricultural supplies, products and machinery to and from a farm, not used in common or contract carrier operations and not driven more than 150 miles from the farm.
  • Emergency Vehicles - You may be exempt if you drive emergency equipment or firefighting equipment utilized in emergency response operations involving the preservation of property or life.
  • Recreational Vehicles - You may be exempt if you are driving a vehicle that is used exclusively to transport family members and personal possession for non-business recreational purposes.

The state specific regulations and requirements are based on federal standards.

According to federal regulations (§391.11), a CDL driver must meet the following general qualifications.

A person shall not drive a commercial motor vehicle unless he/she is qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle. Except as provided in §391.63, a motor carrier shall not require or permit a person to drive a commercial motor vehicle unless that person is qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.

Except for limited exemptions, you are qualified to drive a motor vehicle if you:

  • Are at least 21 years old.
  • Can read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records.
  • Can, by reason of experience, training, or both, safely operate the type of commercial motor vehicle you drive.
  • Are physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
  • Have a currently valid commercial motor vehicle operator’s license issued only by one State or jurisdiction.
  • Have prepared and furnished the motor carrier that employs you with the list of violations or the certificate as required by §391.27.
  • Are not disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle under the rules in §391.15.
  • Have successfully completed a driver’s road test and has been issued a certificate of driver’s road test in accordance with §391.31, or has presented an operator’s license or a certificate of road test which the motor carrier that employs you has accepted as equivalent to a road test in accordance with §391.33.

Complete details on the CDL General Qualifications can be found here


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