If you are looking to obtain a Commercial Driver License (CDL) in Florida, you have a few more items to check off with the DMV than someone applying for a standard driver license. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets the national standards, it’s the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) and the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) that enforces them.
There are three classes for commercial driver licenses, A, B, and C, as defined by the FMCSA.
- Class A: This type of CDL is required to operate any combination of vehicles with a total gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more of which 10,000 pounds or more is a towed vehicle. This includes things like tractor-trailers, tankers, flatbeds and more.
- Class B: This type of CDL is required to operate a vehicle with GCWR of 26,001 pounds or more. Such a vehicle can be towing another vehicle up to 10,000 pounds. This includes things like box trucks, dump trucks, and more.
- Class C: This type of CDL is required when your vehicle does not meet the requirements for a Class A or B and you are transporting 16 or passengers or you transporting hazardous material (HAZMAT) as outlined by federal guidelines. This includes things like passenger vans and more.
Special authorization or, Endorsements, are required to drive certain types of vehicles even if requirements of a particular class are met. These endorsements include:
- (Placarded Hazmat) – Issued to those who will transport placarded hazardous materials and have passed the required written and skills tests.
- (Tank Vehicles) – Issued to those who will drive tank vehicles and have passed the required written and skills tests.
- (Passengers) – Issued to those who will drive passenger vehicles and have passed the required written and skills test.
- (School Bus) Issued to those who will transport pre-primary, primary or secondary school students from home to school, from school to home, or to and from school-sponsored events. (Does not include a bus used as a common carrier.) The P endorsement is also required and drivers must pass the required written and skills test.
- (Double/Triple Trailers) – Issued to those who will drive double or triple tractor- trailer vehicles and have passed the required written and skills tests and who. Triple trailers are not allowed on Florida roads so the endorsements are required for interstate CDLs.
- (Placarded Hazmat & Tank Vehicles) – Issued to those who qualify for the H and N endorsements.
In addition to having the correct class, you will need to apply for either an intrastate or an interstate CDL depending on whether you will be operating only within the state of Florida or if you will be crossing state lines.
Completing a Commercial Driver License Requirements
When applying for a CDL license, the first thing to take into consideration is age. You have to be 18 years of age or older for an intrastate CDLand 21 years of age or older for an interstate CDL. If you meet the age requirements, here are some of the tests you may be required to take depending on the type of vehicle you intend to drive:
- A General knowledge test is required by all candidates.
- A Passenger transport test is required if you will be operating a bus.
- An air brake test is required if the vehicle you will operate has air brakes.
- A combination vehicle test is required if you intend to operate combination vehicles like tractor-trailers.
- A HAZMAT test is required if you will be transporting hazardous materials. You will also be required to do a fingerprint test as well as a background check with the TSA.
- A Tank vehicle test will be required if you will be transporting liquid or gaseous materials
- A Double/triple trailer test is required if you intend to travel with more than one trailer at a time.
- A School bus test is required if you will be operating any school bus in the state.
You can find free online practice tests for many of these. Once you’ve completed these knowledge tests, you may be required to take skill based tests such as road examinations and demonstration of basic vehicle control.
There lots more to know about CDLs in Florida. Use this FLHSMV guide for full details. Safe Driving!