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Frequently Asked CDL Questions


Are you interested in obtaining a CDL? Do you wonder if you can have a CDL if your personal driver's license is suspended? Or perhaps you are curious why a firefighter does not have to follow the same CDL requirements that a semi truck driver does. Peruse these frequently asked questions for answers to the most common questions.

1. How to new truck drivers get started?

2. Is there a test for a commercial learner’s permit?

  • Yes, there is a written test to obtain the CLP.

3. Are commercial driving schools regulated and/or certified?

  • There are numerous private and state run commercial driving schools. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) itself does not exercise any authority over such schools. Credible commercial driving schools are accredited on a national or regional basis.

4. Why are firefighters exempt from requiring a CDL?

  • Simply put, firefighters petitioned the government for a waiver. At the time of the waiver they had provided data stating that the public would not be put at significant harm if a CDL was not mandatory. The data indicated that firefighter driver training met CDL requirements in all necessary aspects.

5. Is a blood alcohol level of 0.04 a criminal offense when driving a CMV?

  • Every state has its own requirements as to what constitutes driving under the influence. Regardless of that, any CDL owner who is convicted with a 0.04 BAL or more receives an automatic one (1) year disqualification for the first offence. A second conviction means a permanent disqualification from possessing a CDL.

6. Will I lose my CDL if my regular driver's license is suspended?

  • A driver can have one driver's license (DL). A commercial driver's license (CDL) covers both a commercial vehicle and a non-commercial vehicle. The FMCSA only has regulatory control over the CDL portion of a license. Each state will decide according to its own regulations on the loss of a license.

7. What is the penalty for a first conviction of a serious traffic violation?

  • The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act (CMVSA) of 1986 establishes minimum sanctions and penalties that a state must enforce for serious traffic violations. States may enforce penalties above that required by federal law.

8. How is the length of DQ's determined for a subsequent convictions?

  • Federal requirements for disqualifications (DQs)regarding serious traffic violation convictions are on two or more convictions within a three year period (that is a rolling three years). If any convition is more than three years old, it will not be considered in determining disqualifications.

9. What is the CDL requirement that drivers speak English?

  • There is no CDL requirement that a commercial driver be required to speak English. A CDL test may be given in any language. Only a driver's safety knowledge and skills are evaluated, not their comprehension of the English language. However, the FMCSA does have English speaking requirements, which are listed at 49 CFR 391.11(b)(2).

10. Are Canadian or Mexican CDL holders required to speak English?

  • FMCSA 49 CFR 391.11(b)(2) requires that a commercial driver be able to read and speak English sufficiently to speak with the general public, to understand traffic signs and to be able to respond to official inquiries.
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