Applying for a New CDL in Alaska
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- Temporary or Seasonal Workers
- Commercial Driver's Handbook
- Basic CDL Requirements
- Written Test
- Road Test
- Hazardous Materials Endorsement
- CDL Fees
- Transferring a CDL from Another State
- New Federal Requirements
- Federal CDL Regulations
- CDL Classes for Every State
- Requirements for Medical Certification
- Minimum Training Requirements
- Hazmat Background Checks
If you are a professional driver with a commercial driver's license from another state, or if you are in training to become a professional driver, you will need a commercial driver's license issued by the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles (AK DMV).
If you are working temporarily or seasonally in Alaska, and hold a CDL from another state, you may work using your home state CDL. If you are transferring to a permanent position or will live in Alaska full time, you will need to transfer your CDL.
Alaska has prepared a Commercial Driver License Manual, explaining all the laws, rules, procedures and technical issues covered in the testing for CDL. You may also pick one up in person at your local DMV office.
To apply for a new CDL in Alaska, you must:
- Provide proof of birthdate and identity
- Be 21 years old when you apply if you plan to drive inside and outside of Alaska (interstate), plus, you must have held a regular driver's license for at least one year.
- Be at least 19 years old when you apply if you plan to drive only within Alaska (intrastate).
- Provide your Social Security number.
- Pass the road, vision, and written tests.
- Have a valid medical card. For information on medical cards, call (907) 341-3200.
The first part of the written test is a general knowledge test covering road rules, commercial vehicle laws, basic operation knowledge, and safety procedures. Once you pass the general knowledge test, you will be tested on other technical areas if they are applicable to the vehicle you will drive.
Once you've passed your written tests, you will be required to take a road test, which is broken down into three parts:
- Pre-Trip Inspection
- Basic Skills Test
- Driving Skills Test
Driving tests are given to all new CDL applicants and, in some cases, to those who are transferring a CDL from another state. The Alaska Commercial Driver Manual lists everything you'll be tested on in the pre-trip, basic skills, and driving tests.
You are required to go in person to the DMV office to schedule your road test. In the Anchorage area, the CDL road tests are given at the Center for Employment Education (CEE). In other cities, contact your local DMV office to find the third-party testers in your area.
You must pass the pre-trip inspection before you will be permitted to go on to the basic skills portion of the road test. Don't try to speed through this portion of the road test. You are not being timed here so it's better to slow down a bit and make sure you've covered everything.
Basic Skills Test
This test will cover basic vehicle maneuvers including parallel parking, backing, alley docking, the forward stop, backward serpentine, and straight line backing. You must pass this portion of the road test before you may go on to the driving skills portion of the road test.
Do not get out of the vehicle to check your progress on the parking or baking portion of the test. You are required to remain seated during the entire road test, unless you are asked to do so by the examiner.
Driving Skills Test
In this final portion of the road test, the examiner will ask you to drive over a pre-determined test route and to perform a number of basic and complex driving maneuvers. These maneuvers will include right and left turns, intersections, urban and rural straight driving, urban and rural lane changes, freeway driving, stopping and starting, driving on curves, upgrades, downgrades, railroad crossings, bridges and under/overpasses.
When passing under bridges, make note of the posted clearance height as the examiner may ask you for the number once you've passed under the bridge or overpass.
If you plan to transport hazardous materials (hazmat) in Alaska, no matter what the size of the vehicle, you will be required to carry a CDL with a hazmat endorsement. In order to qualify you must:
- Pass a written hazmat test
- Be fingerprinted
- Pass a background check for hazmat
If you plan to renew your existing hazmat endorsement when your CDL is due for renewal, it is suggested that you begin the process at least 30 days in advance of the expiration to allow enough time for the background check.
Here are the fees involved in the licensing process for a CLD in Alaska:
- Basic CDL fee: $100
- Road test fee: $25
The road test fee is non-refundable; even if you do not pass the road test in the three tries allotted to each applicant.
If you are going to be in Alaska permanently, you will need to transfer your existing CDL to an Alaska CDL within 30 days of your arrival. To do this, you must:
- Surrender the CDL from your previous state of residence
- Pass the written CDL test
- Pass any additional tests for endorsements
- Pass a vision test
- Pay the $100 fee for an Alaska CDL
- If your CDL from another state has been expired for more than one year, you must pass a road test and required written tests applicable to the type of license you wish to obtain
You must self-certify your type of vehicle operation with the Alaska DMV by January 2014. This means you must self-certify one of the following driving categories:
- Non-Excepted Interstate
- Excepted Interstate
- Non-Excepted Intrastate
- Excepted Intrastate
If you choose Non-Excepted Interstate, you must provide the DMV with a federal medical certificate.
Submit a completed self-certification application by:
- Delivering to any DMV office
- E-mailing a scanned copy to: email@example.com
- Mailing to:
- ADL - Medical
- 1300 W. Benson Blvd.
- Anchorage, AK 99503-3689
Questions? Call (907) 269-3770.
The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 was designed to improve highway safety. Its purpose was to ensure that drivers of commercial vehicles are qualified to drive them, and to remove unsafe drivers from the highways. The Act didn't require federal driver licensing―states still license commercial drivers―but it established minimum standards that states must meet when issuing commercial driver's licenses. It required states to upgrade their existing programs to follow the new federal standards.
Before the Act was passed, many commercial vehicle drivers operated vehicles they were not properly trained on or qualified to drive. Even in states that had separate license classes, drivers were not necessarily tested in the types of vehicles they would be driving. States must now test commercial drivers according to federal standards, to ensure that drivers know how to operate the trucks or buses they intend to drive.
The Act also made it illegal to have more than one driver's license. You can hold a regular or commercial driver's license, but not both. You can have one license from the state you reside in, but not from any other states. In the past, bad drivers could more easily hide their driving histories by getting several licenses. Today, all the states are connected to a national database to check driver histories.
To be eligible for a CDL, you must have a clean driving record. Federal regulations require you to pass a physical exam every two years. To operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce, you must be at least 21. Many states allow those as young as 18 to drive commercial vehicles within the state. You must be able to read and speak English well enough to read road signs, prepare reports, and communicate with the public and with law enforcement.
The Act established three separate classes of commercial driver's licenses. Every state issues licenses in these categories:
- Class A: Any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
- Class B: Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR.
- Class C: Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is placarded for hazardous materials.
Many states make exceptions for farm vehicles, snow removal vehicles, fire and emergency vehicles, and some military vehicles.
To be licensed for certain types of commercial vehicles, extra testing is required. If you pass, you will receive an endorsement on your CDL. These are the five endorsements that you can apply for. Each requires between one and five knowledge (written) tests, and two require driving (skills) tests.
- T―Double/Triple Trailers (knowledge test only)
- P―Passenger (knowledge and skills tests)
- N―Tank Vehicle (knowledge test only)
- H―Hazardous Materials (knowledge test only)
- S―School Buses (knowledge and skills tests)
In the interest of public safety on the highways, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations require interstate commercial drivers to be medically fit to operate their vehicles safely and competently. You are required to have a physical exam, have your doctor fill out a medical report, and carry a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)medical certificate if:
- You operate a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) or gross vehicle weight (GVW) or gross combination weight (GCW) of 4,536 kilograms (10,001 pounds) or more in interstate commerce.
- You operate a motor vehicle designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, in interstate commerce.
- You operate a motor vehicle designed or used to transport between nine and 15 passengers, for direct compensation, beyond 75 air miles from your regular work-reporting location, in interstate commerce.
- You transport hazardous materials in quantities requiring placards, in interstate commerce.
You must carry a current copy of your medical examination certificate with you when you drive. Residents of Mexico or Canada who drive in the United States can be certified by doctors in their countries, provided they meet the U.S. requirements.
There are no federal standards in place for on-the-road commercial driver training. The government only requires that you take and pass your CDL knowledge (written) and skills (driving) tests. Longer-combination-vehicle (LCV) drivers must receive training in driver wellness, driver qualifications, hours of service, and whistleblower protection.
Your state's commercial driver's manual is a good place to learn basic information, but you will need to be professionally trained to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
In order to pass your driving skills tests, you will need to learn how to inspect vehicles before driving, learn how to couple and uncouple tractors and trailers, and have plenty of practice driving. This includes driving in different conditions and on different road surfaces, turning, parking, backing up, and braking.
Many motor carriers train their employees, while other drivers take courses at private driving schools, vocational or technical schools, and community colleges. Individual states often approve or certify training courses. The Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) has set minimum standards for training curriculums and certifies driver training courses that meet industry and Federal Highway Administration (FHA) guidelines. Many employers require their drivers to take PTDI-approved training.
Under the USA PATRIOT Act, commercial drivers transporting hazardous materials (hazmat) must pass a background records check and be fingerprinted. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for conducting the background checks for all commercial drivers with hazmat endorsements or who want to add hazmat endorsements to their licenses. The TSA developed this program to carry out the USA PATRIOT Act mandate and protect citizens from the potential threat of terrorists using hazmat cargo. The requirement is a result of the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56, Section 1012) and the Safe Explosives Act (Public Law 107-296, Section 1121-1123), ARS 28-3103(A)(2), and 49 CFR 1572.
If the TSA disqualifies you because of your background, you can appeal their finding or seek a waiver. However, if you are found guilty of a disqualifying crime, you must declare any disqualifying conditions and surrender your hazmat endorsement (if you already have it) to your state's department of motor vehicles or other licensing agency.
Applying for a Hazardous Materials Background Check
After you get a CDL, apply for a background check from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) if you'll be obtaining a hazardous materials endorsement. You may do this online or by contacting a TSA agent. They will ask for:
- Your CDL or CDL permit number.
- Proof of legal status.
- Proof of Identity.
Next, the TSA will ask you to go to a fingerprint office to give your fingerprints. The TSA and the FBI will conduct background investigations. You will pay:
- $38 for fingerprints.
- $34 for the TSA background check.
- $17.25 for the FBI background check.
The TSA attempts to finish background checks within 30 days. You will be notified by mail. If you are approved, you can then go to your state's licensing authority (wherever you got your CDL) to complete your hazmat application process. If you are denied, you can appeal or seek a waiver.
- Hazmat endorsements must be renewed at least every five years.
- Your state might require renewal more often.
- Get a new background check each time you renew your hazmat endorsement.
You must arrange for the background check no less than 30 days before the expiration of your current approval, or your CDL may be canceled.
Conviction of any of the following crimes will disqualify you from being eligible for a hazmat endorsement:
- Assault with intent to murder
- Kidnapping or hostage-taking
- Rape or aggravated sexual abuse
- Immigration violations
- RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) violations
- Unlawful possession, use, sale, distribution, or manufacture of an explosive device, firearm, or other weapon
- Distribution of, intent to distribute, possession, or importation of a controlled substance
- Dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation, including identity fraud
- Crimes involving a severe transportation security incident
- Improper transportation of a hazardous material
- Conspiracy or attempt to commit any of these crimes
Remember that your state also has its own guidelines that may be stricter than the federal ones. For more information, consult your employer, the DMV, or the Federal Motor Carrier Association.
Other Topics in This Section
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- Getting Behind the Wheel of a Big Rig: How to Land a Trucking Job
- Want to Do Even More with Your CDL? CDL Classes and Endorsements
- CDL Holders: Completing the Medical Exam Report Requirement
- How to Apply for a Hazardous Materials Endorsement
- Commercial Driver’s License Requirements: Do You Have What It Takes?
- How to Prepare for the CDL Test
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