Obtaining Your First Commercial Drivers License
If you are considering getting a commercial driver's license, you will need to look carefully at the requirements for the vehicles you want to be able to drive. A lot of different things can affect the type of license you wish to obtain, so you must understand the requirements of the license you want.
Commercial Truck Licenses
Since the state regulates commercial driver's licenses that issue the license, the requirements and license types can vary from state to state. There are federal regulations that drivers need to follow, especially if they are crossing state lines, but the state rules supersede these rules in most cases.
The state you live in will set the requirements of your license, and you will need to maintain their requirements to keep the license once you get it. Many times the state will break commercial licenses into subgroups, so you need to have one level of licensure for a heavy dump truck, but you would need to have a different license for a tractor-trailer.
The groups are typically broken down by the gross vehicle weight, but they can also use the number of axles on the vehicle or a combination of the two for each license level. Other considerations can also come into play, like whether or not the vehicle has air brakes on it.
In many states, your commercial license is just the base license, and if you want to add more to it, you can though endorsements that the states test you for separately. Often things like cargo types or trailer lengths fall into these endorsements.
A driver that wants to haul hazardous materials, for instance, will need to take a test that applies directly to the hazardous material so that they can demonstrate the knowledge of how to deal with these loads.
In some states, a commercial license allows you to drive a heavy truck, but if you want to drive a tractor-trailer with double or triple trailers, you will need to test and obtain an endorsement for those trailers.
Enforcement of Commercial Licenses
The Department of Transportation in each state regulates the licenses in their state, but just because you meet the requirements in one state does not mean you automatically do in other states. Most states do offer reciprocity across states lines, but you still need to be sure that you are carrying the right license and the proper endorsements if you are going to travel across the country regularly.
Check with the states you are traveling in and make sure you're covered with your current license before you head out across the country with your commercial vehicle.
For more information, contact a commercial driving license service.