A commercial drivers license (CDL) involves passing a physical examination, obtaining a learner's permit and passing a skills test. There are several classes of CDLs that require special qualifications.
Specialized licenses are required for three classes of CDLs such as school buses, tank trucks and tractor trailers. All CDLs have a skills test associated with each class. Some tests are written along with an on-road drivers test.
The first step to getting a CDL is obtaining a commercial learner's permit, CLP. The CLP allows the learner to train on public roads with a licensed CDL holder. To gain a CLP, a background check, a driving record going back 10 years and a physical examination is required.
A student driver holding the CLP must train for at least 14 days before becoming eligible to take the skills test. There are three parts of the test: A vehicle inspection, basic controls and a road test. The student driver must pass all three parts of the test before qualifying for a CDL.
It is illegal to hold a CDL from more than one state. In many states, there are special qualifications for driving a truck with double or triple trailers, a truck with a tank or a truck carrying hazardous materials.