FREE CA CDL INFO - 2019 Commercial Drivers License

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CA CDL  School Bus

How to apply for a California commercial driver license (CDL)

A commercial driver license is a license issued in accordance with Federal Regulations that allows an individual to operate a commercial vehicle. Federal regulations require that an applicant be 18 years or older to apply for a California commercial driver license (CDL) and be issued a commercial instruction permit.

You must be at least 21 years old to drive a commercial vehicle across state lines (interstate commerce) or hazardous materials or wastes (intrastate or interstate commerce). You may drive for hire within California if you are 18 years of age or older and do not engage in interstate commerce activities. (VC 12515) (VC 12516)

10 Year History Record Check

The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999, and applicable Federal Regulations requires all commercial driver license applicants including renewal applications to disclose whether he or she has been issued a driver license in the same or different name to operate any type of motor vehicle in another state or other jurisdiction within the previous ten years. If the answer is "Yes" to the ten year history record question, a 10 Year History Record Check form (DL 939) complete and submitted with the Commercial Driver License Application (DL 44C).

Starting May 31, 2005, new federal regulations require a person who is applying for a California commercial driver license with an original or renewal Hazardous Materials (HazMat) endorsement to undergo a security threat assessment. The USA Patriot Act requires the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to complete a security threat assessment (background records check) before the Department of Motor Vehicles issues a HazMat endorsement.

TSA's Process

You start the TSA background records check after you apply for your CDL at DMV, successfully complete all appropriate law tests, and submit a valid Medical Examination Report form (DL 51). Go online www.hazprints.com or call 1-877-429-7746 to make an appointment with a TSA agent. You must submit a $94 federal fee and any additional required information to the designated TSA agent. The TSA agent will advise you of the fingerprint requirement. You must also provide the TSA agent with a DMV Commercial Instruction Permit and one of the following identification documents:
  • A California driver license and/or California identification card
  • An out-of-state driver license

A commercial vehicle is a motor vehicle or combination used for hire to transport passengers or property or which:
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed, used, or maintained for carrying more than 10 passengers, including the driver
  • Tows a vehicle or trailer, which has a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Transports hazardous materials, which requires placards
  • Tows any combination of two trailers or vehicle and trailer

To apply for a commercial permit, you will need to:
  • Visit a DMV office (make an Appointment(s) for faster service)
  • Complete a California Commercial Driver License Application form DL 44C. (An original DL 44C form must be submitted. Copies will not be accepted.)
  • Complete a 10 Year History Record Check form (DL 939) if you have been issued a driver license in the same or different name to operate any type of motor vehicle in another state or other jurisdiction within the previous ten years
  • Give a thumb print
  • Have your picture taken
  • Provide verification of your social security number. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
  • Verify your birth date and legal presence (you may use your California driver license) If your current name no longer matches the name on your birth date/legal presence document, see "True Full Name" and "How to Change Your Name" for more information.
  • Pay the application fee for a 5-year license
  • Pass a vision exam
  • Submit a completed Medical Examination Report form DL 51. DMV will only accept a Medical Examination Report form DL 51 with a revision date of 1/2014 or later.
  • Pass the traffic laws and sign tests for the class of vehicle you will drive. You have three chances to pass the test.

Note: To allow you sufficient time for testing DMV will not be administering written or audio exams after 4:30 p.m.

Once you have passed your tests, you will be issued a permit. You can only drive with a person who has a valid California driver license in the class of license that your permit is for and is the specific age required for that class of license.

To apply for your commercial driver license you will need to:
  • Call a California DMV CDL office and make an appointment for a driving test. (Commercial driving test appointments cannot be made online)
  • Bring the type of vehicle for the class you want to drive
  • Pass a pre-trip inspection (You have three chances to pass the pre-trip)
  • Pass a skills and driving test (You have three chances to pass the skills and driving test)OR
  • Submit to California DMV a Certificate of Driving Skill (DL 170) if your employer is authorized by California DMV to issue such certificates. Both you and your employer sign this form.

After you pass your driving test or submit your certificate, you will be issued an interim license valid for 90 days until you receive your new photo license in the mail. Double check your address before you leave California DMV and tell the DMV representative if you have moved or if your address is incorrect. If you have not received your license after 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 to check the status. Have your interim license with you to provide information when requested.

California CDL Written Knowledge Tests
You will need to pass the California 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 FREE California CDL Handbook. Please read and study this manual carefully.
  • Class A - 70 Questions (50 GK + 20 Combination Vehicles) - Skills test required.
  • Class B - 50 Questions - Skills test required.
  • Class C - 50 Questions - Skills test required for bus, school bus and air brakes vehicles..
  • Passenger Endorsement - 20 questions - Skills test required in bus.
  • School Bus Endorsement - 25 questions - Skills test required in school bus.
  • Doubles/Triples Endorsement - 20 questions - No additional skills tests.
  • Tank Vehicle Endorsement - 20 questions - No additional skills tests.
  • Hazardous Materials Endorsement - 30 questions - No additional skills tests.
  • Air Brake Restriction Removal - 25 questions - Additional skills test in vehicle with Air Brakes.

Classes of California CDL and Required Tests

CDL Class Tests Required Possible Endorsements and Required Tests
Class A
(Combination
vehicle endorsement required)

General Knowledge Written Exam

Combination Endorsement Written Exam

Road Exam

H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
T - Doubles/Triples Written Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam
Class B

General Knowledge Written Exam

Road Exam

H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam
Class C

General Knowledge Written Exam

Road Exam

Note: If upgrading to a Class C from a Class D, no road test is required UNLESS the endorsement requires one.
H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam

California CDL Endorsements

Exam Time Allowed (Minutes) # of Questions on Exam # of Correct Answers Needed to Pass
General Knowledge 60 50 40
Air Brakes 25 25 20
HazMat 30 30 24
Tank 20 20 16
Passenger 20 20 16
Doubles/Triples 20 20 16
Combination Vehicles 20 20 16
School Bus 20 20 16

Quickly access the most complete and accurate Official California CDL Information

California CDL Manual, CDL California Handbook
California CDL Requirements

Access Official Federal CDL General Information

Access Official Federal CDL Medical Requirements Info

Access Official Federal CDL Hazardous Materials Info

Click on the items above to find answers to your California CDL questions

  • What is a Commercial Drivers License (CDL)?
  • How to get a California CDL (Commercial Driver's License)
  • How old do you have to be to get a California CDL (Commercial Driver's License)
  • How to get a California CDL HazMat (Hazardous Materials Endorsement) Permit
  • What is the difference between Interstate and Intrastate?
  • How to get a free California CDL Study Guide
  • How to get a California School Bus CDL
  • How much does a California CDL cost?
  • Where is my nearest California DMV CDL office located?
  • Where can I find California CDL (commercial drivers license) forms?
  • What are the California CDL Medical Requirements?

. . . and answers to many more California CDL questions!

California CDL Class A, B, C plus Endorsements Selector Tool
If you need help . . .
determining what Class of CDL you need based upon the type of vehicle you will drive (A, B or C) or are not sure which CDL Endorsements you need based upon the type of loads you will carry use the free CDL Selector Tool . . .
California
Go to CDL Selector Tool
(Use only for a new CDL)
Not sure which CA CDL Tests you need to pass? Use this tool to determine what Class of CDL and which CDL Endorsements you require.

Are YOU ready to get YOUR California CDL?
Prepare for YOUR California CDL Tests NOW . . .

 California CDL License
In addition to the California CDL (commercial driver's license) information found in our website covering the California CDL and in the free California CDL Handbook (which is quite boring and a bit confusing - and doesn't have a single multiple-choice question in it that is asked on the actual tests), the complete online California CDL Practice Test prep program will prepare you to easily pass your California CDL written exams to get your California CDL permit. The skills test modules are invaluable to give you a head start before doing your behind the wheel work, possibly saving you a lot of money. The California CDL test prep program includes the following features . . .
  • Covers ALL Eight California CDL written tests.
    • In separate study modules - you won't need all of them - don't waste time on what you don't require.
  • Covers ALL Three California CDL skills tests.
    • In separate study modules - you won't need all of them - don't waste time on what you don't require.
  • 670 practice California CDL test questions with actual answers.
  • Access to CDL videos covering written and skills tests.
  • CDL study guide in both text and audio - listen as you read along.
  • CDL study Quick Reviews.
  • Interactive online CDL Quizzes.
  • and much more!
May your new CAREER be prosperous!!!

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Michael Hamilton
Director