What is a CDL? Commercial Driver’s License Guide
A CDL is a commerical driver’s licence and every truck driver is required to be licensed with one in his state of principal residence, with a driving record kept in a centralized computer for access by each state. According to federal law, each state is required to adopt uniform testing standards for commercial drivers prior to being issued a commercial driver’s license.
A CDL is required to operate the following vehicles:
- Any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the GCWR of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds;
- Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more people, including the driver; and
- Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded with transporting hazardous materials.
However, a State may waive CDL requirements for the following vehicles:
- Farm equipment operators;
- Vehicles used to transport farm products, equipment or supplies to and from a farm;
- Vehicles used within 150 air miles of a farm;
- Vehicles not used in operations of a contract carrier;
- Individuals operating motor homes or other vehicles used exclusively to transport personal possessions or family members for non-business purposes;
- Police and firefighters operating authorized emergency vehicles; and
- Firefighting equipment operators, military vehicle operators and recreational vehicle operators, if the vehicle is primarily used for personal use.
For certain vehicles, special endorsements are required:
- Double/triple tractor-trailers,
- Passenger vehicles,
- Tank vehicles,
- Semi-trucks carrying hazardous materials,
- Combination tank and hazardous materials, and
- Vehicles with air brakes.
Commercial driver’s license (CDL) violations
A commercial driver’s license is normally valid for four years, but there are a number of CDL violations that can cause a truck driver to lose his or her privileges. Most safety violations will involve alcohol and drug abuse, fatigued driving, not following a proper pre-trip inspection, and general unsafe truck driving practices.
Proving these safety violations is an important part of any truck accident case in Michigan, especially when a truck driver who has negligently caused a crash denies responsibility.
Careful questioning by an experienced truck accident lawyer during the deposition of a truck driver or company safety director and access to the driver file will often prove negligence and cause many defense attorneys and insurance companies to re-evaluate their positions.
About Commercial Driver’s Licence Tests
There are several steps involved in obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Michigan.
1. Physical exam
The truck driver must pass a physical examination by a qualified medical practitioner on the national registry to prove that he has the physical capability to handle a large truck without medical restrictions.
2. Drug test
The driver must also take a drug test. If the driver passes the exam, he receives a medical certificate that’s valid for two years.
3. Written test
The next part is a written test modeled after the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administration guide. Most states, including Michigan, use this written test.
4. Additional certifications
There are additional tests a truck driver may be required to take for combination vehicles, air braked vehicles, double or triple tractor-trailers or hazardous materials.
5. Road skills test
Once the written exam is completed, the driver then takes a road skills test, which consists of three parts:
- Understanding the pre-trip inspection.
- Learning about basic vehicle controls.
- Successfully completing the actual road skills test.
Get free accident lawyer advice
To speak with one of our experienced lawyers today, call us at (800) 777-0028, or fill out our contact form for a free lawyer consultation. There’s no fee or obligation.
For more information on how Michigan Auto Law can help you, take a look at our testimonials from other truck accident victims.You can also read about our 100 percent client satisfaction guarantee and view our settlement amounts from truck accident cases we have settled.