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COMMERCIAL DRIVER'S LICENSE PROGRAM
Who Must Obtain a CDL
Idaho's Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Program is designed to improve safety on our highways while meeting federal requirements for testing and licensing of all commercial drivers. You must have a CDL to operate any of the following commercial motor vehicles (CMV):
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is the manufacturer's assigned weight rating for the vehicle (truck, bus, or trailer), not the vehicle registered weight. On trucks, the GVWR is usually found on a plate or sticker inside the driver's door. On trailers, it may be found anywhere but is commonly found on the front of the trailer on the trailer tongue or frame. For Idaho, in the absence of a GVWR, the actual weight of the vehicle plus its heaviest load is considered to be the GVWR. The sum of the GVWR of the tires can also be used to determine approximate GVWR. Other states may use other definitions.
- Combination vehicle with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, provided that the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the towed unit is greater than 10,000 pounds
- Single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds
- Vehicle designed to transport 16 or more persons (including the driver)
- Any size vehicle that requires hazardous material placards
Gross combined weight rating (GCWR), is figured by adding the GVWR of each unit of a combination vehicle.
Exemptions from CDL Requirements
Even if your vehicle is a commercial vehicle according to the definition above, you may qualify for one of the CDL exemptions. There are four categories of CDL exemptions.
Recreational vehicle exemption - applies to drivers of vehicles used exclusively to transport personal possessions or family members for non-business or recreational purposes.
Military vehicle exemption - applies to military vehicle operators who are considered active-duty military personnel and to civilians who are required to wear uniforms and are subject to the Code of Military Justice.
Emergency vehicle exemption - applies to drivers of firefighting or other emergency equipment used in response to emergencies involving the preservation of life or property.
Farm vehicle exemption - applies to drivers of farm vehicles, including family members and farm hands, under certain conditions only. The farm exemption applies to drivers of farm vehicles which are:
The farm exemption is intended for small farm-to-market operations only. Unless Idaho is involved in a reciprocity agreement with the other state(s), the farm exemption does not extend beyond the boundaries of Idaho. It does not include farmers who are transporting other farmers' products if they are receiving any compensation for the services.
- Controlled and operated by the farmer,
- Used to transport agricultural products, supplies, and machinery to or from a farm,
- Not used in common or contract carrier operations, and
- Not driven more than 150 miles ("as the crow flies") from the farm.
CDL License Classes
There are three classes of commercial driver's licenses: Class A, B and C. Drivers of vehicles that do not fall in Classes A, B, or C will be issued Class D (non-commercial) licenses.
Class A - Combination vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is greater than 10,000 pounds. Drivers with a Class A license may, with the proper endorsements, operate vehicles requiring a Class B, C or D license.
Class B - Single vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle 10,000 pounds GVWR or less. A driver with a Class B license may, with the proper endorsements, operate vehicles requiring a Class C or D license.
Class C - Vehicles with a GVWR or GCWR less than 26,001 pounds. Class C is strictly for vehicles designed to carry 16 or more people (including the driver), or carrying hazardous materials requiring the vehicle to display placards. A driver with a Class C license may also operate vehicles requiring a Class D license.
You must have the appropriate endorsement on your CDL if you haul hazardous materials, pull double or triple trailers, or drive tank or passenger vehicles.
Double/Triple (T) - Required for drivers of vehicles pulling two or three trailers. (A dolly or load divider, sometimes referred to as a "jeep," is considered to be one trailer.)
Hazardous materials (H) - Required for drivers of vehicles transporting hazardous materials requiring placards per the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act. A written test and Transportation Security Administration threat assessment clearance (background check) are required at each driver license renewal date.
Passenger (P) - Required for drivers of vehicles designed to carry 16 or more passengers including the driver. Both written and skills tests are required to obtain this endorsement.
School Bus (S) – Required for drivers of vehicles used to transport preprimary, primary or secondary school students from home to school, from school to home, or to and from school-sponsored events. Drivers of school buses must have both the Passenger and School Bus endorsements. Both written and skills test are required to obtain this endorsement.
Tank vehicles (N) - Required for drivers of any commercial motor vehicle that is designed to transport any liquid or gaseous materials within a tank or tanks having an individual rated capacity of more than 119 gallons and an aggregate rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is either permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or the chassis. A commercial motor vehicle transporting an empty storage container tank, not
designed for transportation, with a rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is temporarily attached to a flatbed trailer is not considered a tank vehicle.
Tank Vehicles/Hazardous Materials (X) - The X endorsement represents the combination of both the tank vehicles (N) and hazardous materials (H) endorsements. A CDL may show either an X or an N and H.
K Restriction – Operating Intrastate Only. If a driver self-certifies to operating intrastate only, the (K) restriction will be placed on their driving record. The next time the CDL is issued it will include the (K) restriction and notification that the driver is only authorized to operate in Idaho. To remove that restriction before issue of the CDL, the driver will have to self-certify they are operating interstate and possibly submit a DOT medical card to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
L Restriction - Prohibits driving of vehicles with air brakes. The CDL will carry this restriction unless you pass an air brakes knowledge test and a skills test in a vehicle equipped with air brakes.
M Restriction – Except Class A Bus - The (M) restriction prohibits a driver with a passenger endorsement from operating a Class A bus if a Class A bus was not used for the skills test. A driver with a Class A CDL who also has a (P) endorsement will typically have the (M) restriction. Class A busses are not commonly found in the United States.
N Restriction - Prohibits the driver from operating Class A or B passenger vehicles (buses). A Class A or B CDL with the passenger endorsement will carry this restriction unless the driver obtains a passenger endorsement by successfully completing a skills test in a Class B passenger vehicle (bus).
Z Restriction - Prohibits the driver from operating Class A or B school buses. A Class A or B CDL with the passenger and school bus endorsement will carry this restriction unless the driver obtains the school bus endorsement by successfully completing a skills test in a Class B school bus.
A Seasonal CDL is available to qualified seasonal drivers for certain farm-related service industries such as custom harvesters, farm retail outlets and suppliers, agri-chemical businesses, and livestock feeders.
The Seasonal CDL is only valid within 150 miles of the business or farm being serviced. The Seasonal CDL is valid (with a Class D license) for 180 days in a 12 month period, and can only be obtained twice in a lifetime. The Seasonal CDL is not valid for driving Class A (combination) vehicles or passenger vehicles designed to carry 16 or more people including the driver. The Seasonal CDL is not valid for driving vehicles carrying hazardous materials requiring placards except for diesel fuel in quantities of 1,000 gallons or less, liquid fertilizers in vehicles or implements of husbandry with total capacities of 3,000 gallons or less, or solid fertilizers that are not mixed or transported with any organic substance.
If you are interested in this type of license, contact us for additional information.
How to Obtain an Idaho CDL
- CDL license (4-year) $40.00
- CDL instruction permit $29.00
- Duplicate CDL or permit $15.00
- License upgrade $25.00
- Endorsement addition (after issuance of a CDL) $15.00
- Written tests (each) $ 3.00
- Skills test ($10 to Driver's License Office, $60 to Skills Tester)$70.00
To apply for a CDL, you must be at least 18 years old and either have a valid Idaho non-commercial license (Class D) or have passed all tests required to obtain one. You may be able to take your Class D license tests and your CDL tests at the same time. However, you must have one year of driving experience in order to obtain a CDL.
If you want to obtain a CDL, study Idaho's "Commercial Driver's License Manual" which may be obtained from a county driver's license Office. This manual provides you with the information necessary to pass all CDL written tests. Information regarding the skills test requirements is also included.
To apply for your CDL, go to your county driver’s license office. Take your current driver's license, Social Security card, proof of Idaho residence and money to pay your fees. Applicants who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals will be required to provide proof of lawful presence in the United States. You will be asked if you are subject to and in compliance with the requirements of Part 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (Qualifications of Drivers). You will be asked to declare (self-certify) what type of driving you intend to do: Interstate or Intrastate (within Idaho only) and whether the type of driving you plan to do will require a DOT Medical card or not. When applying for your CDL, your driving record will be checked, fees will be collected, and you are required to pass the vision and knowledge tests.
After passing the written tests, you must make an appointment with a CDL Skills Tester to take the skills test. A list of Examiners is available at the County DMV and online at www.itd.idaho.gov Some testers have vehicles that you can rent. When you go to the skills tester, you will need to take proof of identification, proof of insurance, and your receipt showing you have passed the written tests and paid the skills test receipt fee.
The skills test has three parts: the vehicle inspection, the basic control skills test, and the road test. The skills test will take two to three hours to complete and must be taken in a vehicle that is representative of the license class you wish to obtain. If the vehicle used for the test is not equipped with air brakes, your CDL will show a restriction stating that you are not licensed to operate vehicles equipped with air brakes.
After you have passed all required written and skills tests, you do not have the authority to operate a commercial vehicle until you obtain your CDL from the County DMV. You will be issued a temporary license from your county driver's license office and your permanent license will be sent to you by US Mail. It is very important your mailing address is current and accurate. If you move after your CDL is issued, you must notify Idaho Transportation Department of your new address.
All test results remain valid for one year. If the appropriate license is not issued within the one-year period, the tests must be re-taken. If you do not pass a test, you must wait three (3) days before retaking the test. Test fees must be paid again.
CDL tests are not required at renewal time, with the exception of the Hazardous Materials test which must be passed prior to each renewal.
CDL Instruction Permit
A CDL instruction permit allows you to practice driving a large commercial vehicle on public roads. This permit is available by taking the appropriate written tests for the type of vehicle you will operate. An instruction permit is valid for up to 180 days. You must be at least 18 years old, hold a valid Idaho Class D driver’s license, have at least one year of driving experience to obtain a CDL Instruction Permit. To use the permit, you MUST be accompanied by a driver properly licensed to operate the vehicle you are driving, and this person MUST occupy the seat beside the driver.
Commercial Learner’s Permit
New Federal laws require that a CDL Instruction permit will soon be referred to as a “Commercial Learner’s Permit” and will be mandatory for all drivers upgrading from a Class D to a commercial license.
Other Laws Affecting CDL Drivers
Most drivers subject to CDL requirements are also required to participate in a controlled substance and alcohol testing program. These requirements include random, reasonable suspicion, post accident, return-to-duty, and follow-up testing for controlled substances and alcohol. Pre-employment controlled substance testing is also required.
CDL holders are subject to the laws affecting all drivers. In addition, there are federal and state laws that specifically affect CDL drivers. Violations of these laws can result in both civil and criminal penalties or may disqualify you from driving commercial vehicles. Following are some important laws:
- You cannot have more than one license, and the license you do have must be issued from the state in which you reside. If you move to a new state, you must obtain a CDL from that state within thirty (30) days.
- It is your responsibility as an Idaho driver to keep a current address on file with the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD). If you move, you must notify ITD Driver Services in writing of the old and new address within 30 days.
- You are required to declare (self-certify) the type of type of driving you intend to do: Interstate or Intrastate (within Idaho only) and whether the type of driving you plan to do requires a DOT Medical card or not.
- You are required to submit a copy of your DOT medical card if you are required to have one for the type of driving done in either interstate or intrastate operations.
- You must notify the ITD Driver Services within 30 days if you are convicted in any other state of any traffic violation (except parking). This is true no matter what type of vehicle you were driving at the time of the violation.
- You must notify your employer within 30 days of a conviction for any traffic violation (except parking). This is true no matter what type of vehicle you were driving.
- You must notify your employer if your license is suspended, revoked, or canceled, or if you are disqualified from driving.
- When you apply for a commercial driving job, you must give your potential employer information on all driving jobs you have held for the past 10 years.
- No one can drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) without a valid CDL. A court may fine you up to $5000 or put you in jail for breaking this rule.
- Your employer may not let you drive a CMV if you have more than one license or if your CDL is suspended, revoked or disqualified. A court may fine the employer up to $5000 or put him/her in jail for breaking this rule.
In addition to the above laws affecting CDL drivers, you are also subject to CDL disqualification rules and laws. Your CDL privileges may be withdrawn for varying periods of time based on the type of offense committed. The following information identifies the offenses and disqualification periods.
Serious Traffic Violations - You will lose your CDL privileges for 60 days if you are convicted of two serious traffic violations while operating a CMV, or 120 days if convicted of three serious traffic violations while operating a CMV in a three year period. The term "conviction" includes forfeiture of bail or bond and withheld judgments. The following are serious traffic violations:
Violation of an Out-of-Service Order - An out-of-service order issued by an authorized enforcement officer is defined as a temporary prohibition against operating a commercial motor vehicle. The order is issued in response to a violation of federal regulations, compatible laws, or to the North American uniform out-of-service criteria (CVSA). A person who is convicted for a violation of an out-of-service order is disqualified for:
- Excessive speed (15 or more miles above the posted speed limit)
- Reckless driving
- Improper or erratic lane changes
- Following the vehicle ahead too closely
- Texting or talking on a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a commercial motor vehicle
- Violation of any other motor vehicle traffic control laws which result in a fatal traffic accident.
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle without obtaining a CDL,
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle without a CDL in the driver’s possession,
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle without the proper class of CDL and/or endorsements for the specific vehicle group being operated or for the passengers or type of cargo being transported.
If transporting hazardous materials or driving a bus (designed to carry 16 or more people) at the time, the driver is disqualified for:
- 90 days for a first conviction,
- One year for a second conviction in 10 years, and
- Three years for subsequent convictions in 10 years.
Disqualification for Conviction of a Railroad-Grade Crossing Violation – If you are convicted for a railroad grade crossing violation as specified in 49 CFR part 383 or applicable state laws while driving a commercial motor vehicle, your commercial driving privileges will be disqualified for:
- 180 days for a first conviction, and
- Three years for subsequent convictions in 10 years.
Disqualification for Controlled Substance or Alcohol Violations, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, and Felonies (Major Offenses)- You will lose your CDL for at least one year for a first time offense:
- 60 days for a first conviction
- 120 days for a second conviction during any three year period
- One year for a third or subsequent conviction during any three year period.
You will lose your CDL for at least three years for a first offense if any of the above offenses occur while you are operating a commercial vehicle that is transporting hazardous materials that are required to be placarded by the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.
- If you are a CDL holder or are operating a CMV and are convicted of a DUI, refuse to submit to testing or submit to and fail and evidentiary test for BAC or drugs, you will be disqualified from operating a CMV for one (1) year for the 1st offense. The BAC threshold while operating a non CMV is .08 and is .04 if operating a CMV.
- if you leave the scene of an accident involving a motor vehicle you were driving,
- if you use a motor vehicle to commit a felony,
- if you drive a CMV when, as a result of prior violations committed operating a commercial vehicle, your CDL is revoked, suspended, or cancelled or you are disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle,
- if you cause a fatality through the negligent operation of a commercial vehicle, including but not limited to the crimes of motor vehicle manslaughter, homicide by motor vehicle, or negligent homicide.
You will lose your CDL for life if you are convicted for any of these disqualifying offenses, or any combination of these offenses, for a second time.
You will lose your CDL for life if you use a motor vehicle to commit a felony involving the manufacture, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance.
Any person who drives or is in physical control of a motor vehicle has given their consent to take a BAC or drug test if they are suspected of driving under the influence, under the provisions of Section 18-8002, Idaho Code. If you refuse to take the test when requested to do so by a law enforcement officer or submit to and fail a test for alcohol or drugs your CDL privileges are subject to disqualification under the provisions of Section 49-335 , Idaho Code.
Your driving privileges will be suspended under Section 18-8002A, Idaho Code, if you fail an evidentiary test for any of the following reasons:
The suspension will become effective 30 days from the date the Notice of Suspension is issued upon failure of an evidentiary test.
- Having a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or greater while operating or being in actual physical control of any motor vehicle.
- Having a blood alcohol concentration of .04% or greater while operating or being in actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle.
- Having test results indicating the presence of drugs or other intoxicating substances.
First offense in a motor vehicle (BAC .08% or greater) or a CMV* (BAC .04 or greater):
Second offense in a non-commercial vehicle (BAC .08% or greater) or a CMV* (BAC .04 or greater):
- CDL driving privileges: one year absolute disqualification of CMV driving privileges.
- Class D driving privileges: 90-day suspension with absolutely no driving privileges for the first 30 days. Restricted driving privileges that allow for the operation of a non-commercial vehicle may be requested for the remaining 60 days of the suspension.
* If the failure(s) occurred in a CMV (BAC .04 to less than .08%), Class D driving privileges will remain valid.
These suspensions are separate from any additional penalties or suspensions imposed by the court as a result of being convicted of the offense. Additional information on this law may be found in the Idaho Driver's Manual.
- CDL driving privileges: lifetime disqualification.
- Class D driving privileges: one year suspension with absolutely no driving privileges of any kind.
Need More Information?
Contact the Driver Services section of the Idaho Transportation Department at (208) 334-8736 or by e-mail at: