A Commercial Driver's License can be a ticket to many lucrative and rewarding careers for many individuals with the stamina for it. However, getting a CDL isn't like getting your regular driver's license, and with it comes many additional requirements before you can get behind the wheel of one of those massive rigs. Each state handles the testing and distribution of licenses with its own requirements, and Florida is no exception to the rule. Below is a listing of the requirements for a license and those requirements ultimately depend on what type of license you are going for.
Regardless of the type of CDL you are going for, there are certain restrictions in place. For starters, you must already have an Operator's License before applying. For younger applicants keep in mind that you must by at least 18 or older to apply for your CDL, and if you are under 21 you will be restricted to intrastate operations only. Note that while many oral exams may be given in English, Spanish, or Creole, a skills test or hazmat exam will be given in English - making fluency essential for passing.
Class C Requirements:
If operating a vehicle meant for hazardous materials, or meant to transport 15 people or more, and weighing in at less than 26,001 lbs., then all you need is a Class C license to operate the vehicle. It also has the fewest requirements, only needing one to pass a General Knowledge Test, a CDL Road Test, and any applicable knowledge tests if you are seeking additional endorsements (such as hazmat transport endorsement for example). Furthermore, if it applies to the class of vehicle you intend to operate you may also need to pass a basic skills test, as well as demonstrate knowledge of pre-trip checks and use of air brakes - again, if applicable.
Class B Requirements:
For vehicles that weigh in at 26,001 lbs. or more a Class B license is required. All the requirements of a Class C license apply to the test. Furthermore, a basic skills test becomes a requirement regardless of the type of vehicle being operated, as well as a test on pre-trip checks. The air brakes test still is only required if you are planning to operate a vehicle equipped with air brakes.
Class A Requirements:
A Class A license is required for trucks or truck combinations that weigh in at 26,001 lbs. or more, and tow a vehicle or unit that weighs in at over 10,000 lbs. For the Class A license, all of the same testing that is required under Class B is also required under Class A, along with a requirement for air brake certification before a Class A license is issued in the state of Florida.
Those who served in the military and have experience or training that acts as the equivalent to a commercial driver's license must still pass the knowledge and endorsement exams required for the classification of CDL they are attempting to obtain and any other endorsements as well. However, they may bypass the other tests if they can get their commanding officer or designee to fill out a Certification for Waiver of Skill Test for Military Personnel form. This paperwork must be completed while on active duty or within 90 days of separation from military service. The overall process must be completed within 120 days of the applicant's separation from military service.
In addition to requiring a CDL, certain types of vehicles require special endorsement for a driver to be able to operate them. The possible types of endorsements are as follows:
- H (Placarded Hazmat): Transportation of Hazardous Materials
- N (Tank Vehicles): Vehicles that transport tanks
- P (Passenger Vehicles): Transportation of Passengers
- S (School Bus): Transportation of students in pre-primary, primary, or secondary schools from home to school, from school to home, or to school-sponsored events. Also requires a "P" endorsement.
- T (Double/Triple Trailers): Those who will be hauling more than one trailer at a time. Note that while certification for hauling triple trailers is available, these types of trailers are illegal on Florida roads.
- X (Hazmat & Tank): Endorsement for those who are endorsed to haul both hazardous materials and tank vehicles.
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: http://www.flhsmv.gov/ddl/cdl.html
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