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California CDL Test Requirements and Endorsements

California CDL
  • A list of courses to enroll in
  • Reasons to obtain a CDL
  • Requirements to secure a CDL

Getting a CDL

Before you can earn a California commercial driver's license, you will need to take various tests regarding knowledge and skills. The type of license and endorsement you wish to obtain will influence the test or tests you'll be required to pass. We will help to educate you on this process.

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Do You Need a CDL?

If you wish to drive a Class A, B, or C commercial vehicle, then you will need to earn a California commercial driver's license. Further endorsements will be needed for double/triple trailers, tanker vehicles, passenger vehicles, and vehicles placarded for hazardous materials. Obtaining a CDL is important for the following vehicles:

  • 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

Applying for a CDL and Passing the Tests

To apply for a CDL, you will need to complete the following steps:

  • Make an appointment at the DMV
  • Bring the type of vehicle for the class you want to drive
  • Pass a pre-trip inspection
  • Pass a skills and driving test

Once you pass the required knowledge test or tests, you will be allowed to take the skills test. During this test you will be judged on the following abilities: pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control, and on-road driving.

  • Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection - You need to know if your vehicle is safe to operate. You will have to explain what you're inspecting and why.
  • Basic Vehicle Control - You will need to know how to control your vehicle. You'll be instructed to move forward, backward, and turn within a specific area.
  • On-Road Test - It's important to be able to safely drive your vehicle in a variety of traffic situations. You may be asked to drive on streets, highways, and/or single or multi-lane roads.

More CDL Requirements

To obtain a CDL, you must be 21 years old and pass a physical examination every 2 years. During the examination, it's important to have good hearing, 20/40 vision with or without glasses or corrective lenses, and a 70-degree field of vision in each eye. You cannot be colorblind.

Going to the DMV

Make sure you only make one trip to the DMV. Bring the following items with you: a current driver's license, a Department of Transportation Physical Examination Form, proof of social security card, and proof of birth date and legal presence.
California ID and Required Documents

Fees

The county you currently live in will influence the fees you'll have to pay in order to obtain a CDL. For current pricing information, visit or call the California MVR.
Driver's License Info on California's Official DMV website

More Information

California CDL Manual: Download California CDL Driver's Handbookpdf

For Federal Requirements for a CDL: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration-licensing/cdl/cdl.htm

For Medical Requirements for a CDL: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/medical.htm