Federal Commercial Driver’s License Requirements

A commercial driver’s license is often issued by individual states and requires the adherence of state laws governing the respective licenses. Drivers who plan to travel across state lines will need to secure a Federal CDL to be in compliance with federal law regulating interstate commerce and travel. In some cases, the standards for state CDLs are more lenient than those required for a federal CDL. No matter; a person seeking a federal CDL must meet the standards of the federal license regardless of the standards for his or her particular state of residence.

Your first step in obtaining a federal commercial driver’s license is to obtain and possess a valid state-issued CDL. Your state-issued CDL must identify the class of vehicle for which you are authorized to operate and be in good standing. Your state-issued CDL should also categorize your qualifications regarding the type of vehicles you are authorized to operate and which types of loads are trusted to your care and transport.

Another key in obtaining a federal CDL is that your state-issued CDL contains all of the identification criteria necessary for obtaining the federal license. State-issued CDLs should display the following to be sufficient identification for a federal CDL:

  1. The license must be categorized on the document as a “Commercial Driver’s License” or “CDL.” 
  2. The license must show the licensee’s full name with signature as well as the driver’s current address. 
  3. The driver’s date of birth along with physical identifiers including the driver’s height, weight, and gender. 
  4. A current photograph of the driver is required. 
  5. The license must show the date the license was issued as well as the expiration date for the license. 
  6. The state name must be included in the documentation. 
  7. Any special designation or classification of the driver’s qualifications should be listed on the state-issued CDL.

In maintaining your state-issued or federally issued commercial driver’s license, you are obligated to report incidents concerning your operation of any motor vehicle to your employer in a reasonably timely manner. Any convictions related to a traffic violation – for any type of vehicle – are required to be reported to the licensee’s employer within 30 days of the conviction. Commercial driver’s license holders are required to notify their employers if their privileges are encroached upon in any way, by the end of the business day immediately following the act of encroachment.

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