A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting a Commercial Driver’s License in 2020

Strong Tie Insurance July 6, 2020 StrongtieInsurance

Getting your CDL license is something you’ll have to do if you plan on becoming a truck driver. If you’re a diesel mechanic or have another job where you’ll have to be able to work on trucks or drive them, no matter how far, a CDL will be necessary. All CDL licenses have the same requirements. 

However, there are additional items depending on the license class (A, B, and C). You’ll also need commercial truck insurance and possibly owner operator insurance if you’re a truck driver or owner-operator. In this article, we’ll discuss getting a CDL in 2020.

Steps to Get a CDL

In order to get your CDL, you must:

1. Be At Least 21 years old

Depending on your state’s requirements, if you will be driving intrastate, you may be able to get your CDL if you are 18-20 years old as well. However, if you’ll be traveling interstate, you will need to be 21.

2. Submit a CDL Application and Pay Fees to Your State

You will have to fill out a simple CDL application with your state and pay any associated fees in order to get approved for a Learner’s Permit.

3. Provide Identity, SSN, and Proof of Residency

Your local government will have to confirm that you live in the state from which you are getting your license, along with your identity. Make sure to bring all of your necessary documents along to your DMV or Secretary of State.

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4. Submit a Medical Examination Report Form and Medical Examiners Certificate Form

In order to get your CDL, you’ll have to pass a physical that says you’re healthy enough to be on the road. If you have a pre-existing condition, this could pose a problem since truck drivers are often on the road alone for long hours. You will also be drug tested to ensure that you’ll be a safe driver.

5. Pass a Vision Test

Of course, the most important sense when it comes to driving is your vision. You will have to pass a short and simple vision test in order to be approved for a CDL.

6. Pass a Knowledge Exam

Driving a truck is different from driving your car or SUV. In fact, many people easily pass their driving test without knowing much about a car. However, when it comes to trucks, you’ll need to know a lot about the commercial vehicle you’ll be driving in order to drive it properly. A knowledge exam will demonstrate to the state that you know enough to be an efficient and safe truck driver.

7. Be Issued a Commercial Learner’s Permit

Just like when you get your regular driver’s license, you will be issued a learner’s permit for truck driving. This allows you to practice before becoming an official licensed driver. Make sure to get as much practice as necessary so that you pass your road test the first time around.

8. Take the Road Skills Test

You can schedule your exam 14 days after you are issued your commercial learner’s permit. However, it may be beneficial to take a few extra days to hone your skills.

9. Pass a Pre-Trip Inspection

The pre-trip inspection proves to the person administering your test that you know about the vehicle. You must perform these inspections before every instance of driving the truck, so it’s important that you can prove the order in which things must be done to ensure that the truck drives well and is a safe vehicle. Missing just one step can put your life and other motorists in danger.

10. Pass the Road Skills and Driving Exam

After the pre-trip inspection, you’ll hop in the truck and begin your driving exam. Expect to drive for a little bit on the main roads and then on the expressway, where you’ll be doing most of your traveling. A lot is hanging on this, but don’t let the pressure and nerves distract you here.

11. Pay Any Necessary Fees

Depending on your state, you’ll have various fees you have to pay to get your CDL. Make sure you understand each fee and keep track of payments.

12. Get Commercial Truck Insurance

Once you have your commercial driver’s license, you’ll need to find the right commercial truck insurance quote for your needs. Depending on whether you’re going to work for a company or you’ll be an owner-operator, you will want to look into the different policies available in your area.  These policies will depend on your class of CDL and the type of work you do.

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Forms You’ll Need

As we have mentioned, in order to get your CDL, you’ll need two forms:

  • Medical Examination Report
  • Medical Examiner’s Certificate

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that truck drivers must maintain a current Medical Examiner’s Certificate to legally drive. As part of your physical, you’ll fill out the medical history portion of this form.

The Medical Examiner’s Certificate is the form that states whether or not a driver is physically qualified to drive a commercial truck. 

Forms You’ll Need

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that truck drivers must maintain a current Medical Examiner’s Certificate to legally drive. As part of your physical, you’ll fill out the medical history portion of this form.

The Medical Examiner’s Certificate is the form that states whether or not a driver is physically qualified to drive a commercial truck. 

Do You Need to Take a Class?

While it can be helpful to take a commercial driving class to get your CDL, it is not necessary. But depending on your truck insurance company, it may be beneficial for keeping your rates low, especially when you’re first starting out. 

Simply put: taking classes to get your CDL is not required by federal law. You will need to practice with a licensed driver, though, in order to get your learner’s permit. If you don’t know any licensed truck drivers, taking a CDL class allows you to work with an instructor to learn everything that will be on the road test and general skills test. Not to mention, it gives you access to a licensed driver so that you can get your permit. 

Getting your Commercial Driver’s License is simple as long as you put in the time and remain determined. Whether you want to own your own business or are becoming a truck driver to travel the United States, your CDL will open you up to a world of possibilities. 

To learn about which type of commercial truck insurance you need, call us today.