Commercial Driver FAQs in California
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- What, exactly, may I drive with my commercial license?
- I'm going to become a firefighter. Do I need a commercial license?
- I haul freight over the road for a big trucking company. If I get a ticket in my private vehicle, will my employer find out?
- I understand that all hazmat endorsement holders must have a background check. Is this correct?
- I drive a bus. Is it OK if my chiropractor completes my medical examination report?
- May I renew my CDL over the Internet?
- My company gave me a road test in one of their vehicles and said that's all I need. Is that correct?
- I have my new medical clearance form. Where do I send it?
- I'm a farmer and often use a one-ton duelie (duel rear wheel) pickup truck and a large trailer. Do I need a commercial driver's license?
- I want to work for a dairy. Do I need a tank endorsement?
- What is expected in the pre-trip test portion of the DMV road test?
That depends on the commercial class designation on your commercial driver's license.
- Commercial Class A:
- Any legal combination of vehicles.
- Commercial Class B:
- A bus (but not a trailer bus), with endorsement.
- A single vehicle with a GVRW of more than 26,000 pounds.
- A three-axle vehicle weighing more than 6,000 pounds.
- A farm labor vehicle, with endorsement.
- Any Class C noncommercial vehicle.
- Commercial Class C:
- Any Class C vehicle carrying hazardous materials that require placards (endorsement required).
Yes, you will need a Restricted Class A or B Fire Fighter License, depending on the fire truck's weight. For a vehicle with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds, you'll need a Class A (which also allows you to drive all Class B fire trucks). If it weighs less than that, you'll get a Class B.
I haul freight over the road for a big trucking company. If I get a ticket in my private vehicle, will my employer find out?
Probably. Employers register all Class A, B, and C commercial vehicle drivers in a program with the California DMV called the EPN (Employer Pull Notice) Program. When you are hired to drive a commercial vehicle, the DMV links your driving records to your employer. There are three instances when a notification will be sent to your employer:
- When your employer enrolls you in the EPN Program.
- Once a year from the date you were enrolled or 12 months from the first report generated.
- If you've had any of the following added to your driving record:
- Failure to appear in court
- License suspension or revocation
- Any other actions taken against your driving privilege
Yes, it is. All hazmat drivers in California must undergo a fingerprint-based background check when they first apply for a CDL and every time they renew their commercial license. This carries another fee of $89.25.
No. The California Vehicle Code requires all drivers of school buses, pupil activity buses, youth buses, general public paratransit vehicle, or farm labor vehicles to have their medical examination report signed by a medical doctor (M.D.) or osteopath (D.O.) only.
If the DMV sent you an Internet renewal notice with a renewal identification number (RIN), you may renew your CDL online with an active Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card for the renewal fee.
My company gave me a road test in one of their vehicles and said that's all I need. Is that correct?
If your company is properly authorized by the DMV, it may test your road skills and issue you a Certificate of Driving Skill (Form DL 170). Be sure to bring the certificate with you when you go for your DMV appointment, and you won't have to take a DMV road test.
The DMV requires commercial drivers to submit an updated medical examination report every two years. Mail it to:
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- Special Certificates Unit
- Mail Station G204
- P.O. Box 942890
- Sacramento, CA 94290-0001
I'm a farmer and often use a one-ton duelie (duel rear wheel) pickup truck and a large trailer. Do I need a commercial driver's license?
No, not if you are using the truck and trailer for agricultural purposes only (not for hire) and you don't drive farther than 150 miles from your farm.
Yes. If you drive a commercial vehicle designed to hold 500 gallons or more of liquid, you must be tested and hold an endorsement for driving a tank vehicle.
The DMV will thoroughly inspect the vehicle you'll drive in your road test, inside and out, including the trailer. Our Commercial Driver Education article describes in detail what you'll need to look at.
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