Commercial Driver Education in Connecticut
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Connecticut has no special education requirements to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL). If you meet the basic federal requirements―age and physical―and can pass the written and road tests, you can obtain a CDL without meeting any other criteria. That doesn't mean you shouldn't invest in education, especially before attempting the written and road exams.
If you want a CDL, you're going to have to meet some tough federal and state requirements. The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires you to take and pass a 30-question exam, with a minimum of 24 correct answers. To prepare for the exam, you should study the Connecticut Commercial Vehicle Operator's Manual.
Passing the written exam gets you partway to obtaining a CDL. But you're still going to need to pass a road test to get the full CDL, not including any endorsements. The road test requires that you drive a vehicle with the classification you are looking to obtain. So if you want a Class A classification, it's going to be up to you to find―and learn to drive―a vehicle weighing more than 26,001 pounds. If you haven't extensively driven a vehicle this large before, you will need a lot of practice or else you will absolutely fail the exam.
Most applicants for the CDL will complete a truck driving course with plenty of practice time behind the wheel before attempting the CDL road test. Some companies offer these schools in-house or pay for their employees to attend a commercial school. If you're planning to pay for one yourself, be prepared. These schools are not cheap. But if you want to become a legal truck driver, it's almost essential.
The federal government has some umbrella rules that require all CDL holders across the country be held to national minimum standards of competence. The legislation, passed in 1986, makes it illegal to hold more than one license and requires states to set up their own testing and licensing standards above the national minimum requirements.
You will not be eligible for a CDL in any state if one of the following is true:
- You already have a license from another state. It is illegal to hold more than one license.
- Your license is under suspension, revocation, or cancellation in any state, including Connecticut.
- You are disqualified in any state for reasons including alcohol citations or serious traffic violations.
Drivers of some vehicles are exempt from requiring a CDL. These include:
- Drivers of authorized emergency vehicles
- Drivers of military vehicles
- Farmers transporting goods or machinery within 150 miles of their farms
- Drivers of recreational vehicles
- Drivers of single-unit trucks that are transporting their own goods not for sale
- Employees of public transport systems who move vehicles from one place to another in confined areas belonging to the transport company
To drive hazardous materials, you must get a background check from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This costs $89.25 and will require fingerprinting. See Applying for a CDL for more info.
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