Applying for a New CDL in Connecticut
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The first step in 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 the following DMV offices: Bridgeport, Waterbury, Wethersfield and Willimantic. Just make sure to arrive at least an hour before the office is set to close, in order to give yourself time to complete the exam.
The exam has 30 questions and you must get at least 24 correct in order to pass. To prepare for the exam, you should study the Connecticut Commercial Vehicle Operator's Manual. You will need to bring a $46 fee for the written exam and the skills exam, which you will pay for in advance. You will also need to bring the following items with you to the DMV office in order to take the exam:
- Your CT driver's license in addition to any and all other driver's licenses issued in your name by any other state(s).
- Your Social Security card (note that laminated or metal cards won't do) or your most recent W-2 form.
- A recently taken, passport-size color photograph (no hats). You must provide a photo no smaller than 1 1/4" x 1 3/4" and no larger than 2 1/2" x 3 1/4". The DMV will not return your photo.
- Physical examination dated within the last two 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.
If you successfully complete the exam, you can obtain a CDL Permit. But the DMV will charge you another $10 to issue the 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
Each endorsement written exam costs $5. There are 10 questions on each exam and you have to get eight correct to pass.
Once you have passed the CDL written exam and have the permit, you're halfway to obtaining a license, but it's the easy half. 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. All exams are performed at the Hartford Regional Market. 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 (form R-229a) 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. Fail any part of the exam and you will be required to wait seven days and then start all over again by applying for another exam.
You must self-certify your type of vehicle operation with the Connecticut 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.
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. This new law, a basic overhaul of the laws currently in place, is a result of an accident in 2006 when a convicted felon was granted a temporary school bus driver’s license, hired by a school, and then had a fatal accident. It follows the same guidelines as the hiring procedures for teachers, coaches, and administrators.
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. If you fail one test, you will lose your job for a minimum of two years; if you fail a second test, you will lose your job permanently.
Detailed background checks will also be done when you make application. If you’ve been convicted of a serious crime, not completed your sentence, or your sentence was completed within the past five years, you need not apply.
The DMV is now required by law to notify all public transportation providers, including schools, of any and all commercial licenses that have been suspended, withdrawn or revoked and the schools are now required by law to check these reports twice each month and to take action as needed within 10 days of the report. If the school does not release a bus driver whose license has been suspended hefty fines will be imposed on the school district.
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.
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.
According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), background checks take between one and eight 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. 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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