How do I get a commercial driver’s license?

Jul 5, 2018 | traffic violations for commercial driver's license holders

If the “romance of the road is calling you to become a semi-truck driver in Ohio, you have some work ahead of you. Driving a commercial vehicle is not something to take lightly; it carries a bigger responsibility than other vehicles due to the sheer size of the truck, the cargo it carries and the greater potential for destruction and death should something go wrong. It requires a greater set of skills and knowledge, as well as physical abilities, and commercial drivers are held to a high standard while operating a truck on public roads.

The Buckeye State follows federal guidelines described by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These guidelines categorize commercial driver’s licenses into three classes based on weight and type of vehicle you plan to operate. Additional endorsements are needed to operate trucks with two or three trailers, tanker trucks and those carrying hazardous materials.

You must pass a skills test for each license type, as well as any endorsements, and may also need to pass a written test. Should you fail parts of the test or endorsements, you will have restrictions on your license that could impact your employment, so it is crucial that you put the time into studying and practicing your driving skills.

The first step is to obtain a commercial learner’s permit through the state’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which grants you the ability to practice on public roads, but only if a CDL holder is with you. A CLP is not as simple to obtain as a learner’s permit for another vehicle, however. You must have a clean driving record in all U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia, and you must also pass a Department of Transportation physical.

You must have the CLP for at least 14 days before you can take the skills test and you will need to practice driving maneuvers and inspection tests. The skills test has three parts and you must pass each one to get a CDL. You will be tested on how you conduct a vehicle inspection, how well you know the basic controls and then take a road test.

This article contains general information that is not intended to be taken as legal advice.