Applying for a New CDL in Connecticut
A step towards obtaining a Connecticut CDL (Commercial Driver's License) is to complete a written exam. In Connecticut, the written exam is given on a walk-in basis at select DMV offices.
To prepare for the exam, you should study the Connecticut Commercial Vehicle Operator's Manual. You will need to bring the following items with you to the DMV office in order to take the exam:
- Your CT driver's license.
- Your Social Security card (note that laminated or metal cards won't do) or your most recent W-2 form.
- Physical examination dated within the last 2 years, reported on by a physician on an Examination to Determine Physical Condition of Driver form or a US DOT Medical Examiner's Physical Examination Form CO730.
- A completed Application for Commercial Driver's License. This cannot be downloaded; they will mail it to you.
- Printed confirmation of notice of self-certification with DMV.
If you successfully complete the exam, you can obtain a CDL Permit. Also, you can take written exams for specific endorsements, including the following:
- S―School Bus/STV
- N―Liquid Bulk/Tank Cargo
- H―Hazardous Material
Once you have passed the CDL written exam and have the permit, you're halfway to obtaining a license. You still have to pass a road exam, driving the vehicle classification for which you are applying to be licensed.
Once you pass the written exam, you can schedule a road exam through the DMV phone center. You will receive a confirmation via U.S. Mail with an appointment date and time. On that date, you need to show up driving an appropriate vehicle, carrying the following items:
- The appointment confirmation letter that you received in the mail.
- The validated goldenrod (gold) copy of the Application for Commercial Driver's License which must show the $30 validation for the skills test.
- Your Connecticut driver's license.
- Your commercial driver's instruction permit.
The Connecticut road test includes three parts: pre-trip inspection, off-road course, and a road test. Pass the test successfully and you will be awarded a Connecticut CDL.
You must self-certify your type of vehicle operation with the Connecticut DMV. 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.
Connecticut has recently passed new legislation concerning bus drivers. Applicants for a bus driver’s license will now undergo a stringent background check, a check of the state’s child abuse registry, and regular drug testing to ensure the safety of school children.
Under this new law, you will be required to pass a drug test during the license application process. If your license is granted, you will be given random drug tests throughout your employment as a school bus driver. Test failure will lead to job loss.
Detailed background checks will also be done when you make application.
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 (CDLs). 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.
According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), background checks take several weeks to complete. You will be notified by mail whether you are approved. If you are approved, you can then go to your state's licensing authority (usually the Department of Motor Vehicles) to complete your application process. If you are denied, you can appeal or seek a waiver.
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.
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 be responsible for various fees.
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 Safety Association.