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Specific Pennsylvania CDL Information


Anyone who drives a commercial motor vehicle. The definition of a commercial motor vehicle is: Commercial motor vehicles do not include:

Every driver who currently has a commercial driver's license, as well as every driver applying for a commercial learner's permit, must self-certify the type of driving in which they operate or expect to operate in i.e., Non-excepted Interstate; Non-excepted Intrastate; Excepted Interstate; or Excepted Intrastate. The self-certification process will identify commercial drivers that operate in Non-excepted transportation, therefore identifying which drivers are required to submit a copy of their valid Medical Examiner's Certificate to PennDOT.

Yes, the following persons are not required to obtain a CDL in order to drive a specified commercial motor vehicle:

In accordance with the licensing requirements of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act, the license classifications are:

The operation of certain vehicles also require the drivers to possess commercial endorsements in addition to possessing the proper class of license.

You will need to pass the Knowledge Tests that are required for the class of license, restriction, and endorsements you wish to possess. A general knowledge test for the Class A or Class B and C license must be successfully completed by all CDL applicants. The information needed to pass these tests is contained in the CDL driver's manual. This manual is available free of charge at any PennDOT Driver's License Exam Center or on PennDOT's website. Please read and study this manual carefully.

Certain Oral and Spanish tests are available (by appointment only)

After obtaining knowledge test authorization(s) and passing the required knowledge test(s) , you will also need to take a skills testin the class and type of vehicle you intend to drive. The skills test includes a pre-trip inspection, and off- the-road maneuver, and vehicle parking exercise. Once again, a more detailed description of this test can be found in the CDL Driver's Manual.

Skills testing cannot be taken until 15 days after the class A, B, or C knowledge testing is passed and a permit is issued. However, you may call the number below to schedule skills testing immediately after passing a knowledge test or schedule on-line.

For more information, call the PennDOT CDL Unit at: 1-800-932-4600

For the most complete and accurate official Pennsylvania state CDL information, go to the Official Pennsylvania CDL Website.

What is a CDL?
A "CDL" is a Commercial Drivers License. It meets certain minimum "standards" that are the same for every state. It differs from the Pennsylvania "operator's" or "chauffeur's" licenses. It is required if you drive certain kinds of commercial trucks or buses.

What is the COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY ACT OF 1986 (CMVSA/86) administered by the FMCSA?
It is a law passed by the United States Congress which requires ALL the individual states to comply with certain standards in regards to the licensing of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. Pennsylvania driver licensing standards comply with the law, requiring CMV drivers to obtain a Pennsylvania Commercial Driver's License (CDL) when driving applicable trucks and buses. A CDL license can ONLY be issued in the driver's STATE OF LEGAL RESIDENCE, and if you have a CDL, you can have NO OTHER DRIVER'S LICENSE in ANY other state.

When do I need a Pennsylvania CDL instead of my regular Pennsylvania Drivers License?
A Pennsylvania CDL is required if you operate any of the following CMV's . . .
1. A vehicle with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 lbs.
2. A vehicle towing a unit with a manufacturer's GVWR of more than 10,000 lbs. when the GCWR exceeds 26,000 lbs.
3. A vehicle used to . . .(a.) carry 15 or more passengers (excluding the driver), or (b.) carry (15) or less people (including the driver) when carrying children to or from school and home regularly for compensation.
4. A vehicle carrying hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding.

What are the eligibility requirements to obtain a Pennsylvania CDL?
1. You must be 21 years old. (18 years if all commercial driving is done within Pennsylvania and if no hazardous materials requiring placarding are transported and if you do not drive double or triple trailer rigs).
2. You must be physically capable (in accordance with the MCSR 49 CFR 391.41 Physical Qualifications for Drivers regulations) of obtaining a valid DOT medical examiner's card (before being issued a CDL permit or taking any CDL skills test).
3. You must otherwise qualify for the license based on your driving record. Any of the following will disqualify you from obtaining a Pennsylvania CDL . . .
* If you possess a license from any state other than Pennsylvania.
* If you are currently subject to any disqualification of your commercial driving privilege from Pennsylvania or any other state.
* If your license is currently suspended, revoked, denied, or cancelled.
* If you have a conviction for operating a commercial motor vehicle while impaired in the 24 months immediately preceding application.
* other technical rules, and further restrictions that pertain only to Pennsylvania are covered in detail within the Course.

How do I obtain a Pennsylvania CDL?
1. Show your Pennsylvania driver license.
2. You must take and pass all Pennsylvania examinations that apply to your license class and endorsement requirements.
3. Show proof of social security number.
4. Meet Pennsylvania driver record eligibility requirements as determined by the State.
5. Fill out an application including certifications.
6. Provide a DOT medical certificate and pass the required CDL knowledge and vision tests (BEFORE a CDL Temporary Instruction Permit will be issued).
7. Pay the Pennsylvania CDL fees.
8. Schedule, take, and pass your Pennsylvania CDL skills test.

A separate booklet is included in the Pennsylvania CDL Course package which covers information such as fees, locations, contacts, procedures and other items specific to Pennsylvania for the written and skills examinations for ALL classes of CDL and ALL available endorsements.

What is a CDL "Skills Test" and how do I take it?
A "skills" test is the practical portion of the exam and includes . . .
1. A vehicle inspection test to measure your ability to perform a vehicle safety check.
2. A basic control skills test.
3. A driving test.
The skills test is normally given at an approved third party testing site in your area. This can vary and the latest procedures are indicated in the Pennsylvania CDL Course.

So let's say I get a Pennsylvania CDL. Can I use it Out-of-State?
Yes! It is good throughout the entire United States.

Can my Pennsylvania CDL be suspended or revoked?
Yes, there are MANY reasons that your Pennsylvania CDL can be suspended or revoked. Improper use of alcohol or drugs, traffic violations, and failure to notify top the list. The Course details ALL of the rules regarding suspension or revocation. The point to remember is that alcohol or drug use is not tolerated and your record WILL FOLLOW YOU THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES FOREVER!!!

So let's say that my Pennsylvania CDL is revoked. Can't I just apply for a CDL in another State?
No!!! Those days are gone.

Are there any exemptions to being required to have Pennsylvania CDL?
Yes, a few . . .
1. Active Duty Military . . . with military licenses operating military vehicles.
2. Firefighters . . . meeting approved training standards and operating authorized emergency vehicles.
3. Farmers . . . in certain cases.
4. Individuals ....operating motor homes or other vehicles used exclusively to transport personal possessions or family members, for non business purposes.

What do the terms Class A, Class B, and Class C mean on my Pennsylvania CDL?
It refers to the type of vehicle that you may operate . . .
CLASS A . . . allows you to operate vehicles which tow trailers or other vehicles with a GVWR over 10,000 pounds. A Class "A" license also allows you to operate Class B and C vehicles.
CLASS B . . . allows you to operate single vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs or more OR a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, towing trailers/vehicles rated at 10,000 pounds GVWR or less. A Class "B" license also allows you to operate Class C vehicles.
CLASS C . . .allows you to operate vehicles under 26,001 lbs. GVWR, that would normally not require a CDL; except when they are designed to transport 16 or more persons including the driver; or that carry 15 or less people (including the driver) transporting children to or from school and home regularly for compensation, or carry hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding. Applicable endorsements are required.

What are Endorsement Codes and when do I need them on my Pennsylvania CDL?
Endorsements are necessary for certain commercial driving requirements as follows . . .
(P) PASSENGER. For vehicles which are designed to carry 16 or more people (including the driver); or those which carry 15 or less people (including the driver) transporting children to or from school and home regularly for compensation.
(N) TANK VEHICLES. For vehicles designed to haul liquids or liquefied gases in bulk in permanently mounted tanks or portable tanks rated at 1,000 gallons or more.
(H) HAZARDOUS MATERIALS. To carry hazardous materials in amounts requiring placards.
(X) Endorsement code designating a Tank (N) vehicle that carries Hazardous Materials (H).

I'm over 18 years old, but not 21 years old yet. Can I get a Pennsylvania CDL license?
Yes . . . with restrictions. You are limited to INTRAstate driving of commercial vehicles (you cannot drive a commercial truck or bus out of Pennsylvania). You cannot drive a vehicle requiring HAZ MAT placarding, cannot drive double or triple trailer rigs and cannot drive a School Bus with children on board until you turn 21 years of age.

We could go on and on with FAQs but I hope this covers most of your GENERAL questions. Please be assured that the Course answers EVERYTHING that you need to know to obtain ANY or ALL of the available CDL licenses and endorsements in an easy to understand manner. The material is presented in three different ways to reinforce your retention. GOOD LUCK !!

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