Commercial Driver FAQs in Hawaii
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How do I apply for commercial driver's license (CDL) in Hawaii?
Obtaining a CDL is a little more complicated than applying for a regular license. It takes specific skills to operate unwieldy commercial vehicles, and drivers need to have an expansive knowledge of the special subjects pertaining to those vehicles. But the end result is being able to drive big trucks. We cover how to apply for a CDL in step-by-step detail.
How long is a CDL valid?
In Hawaii, a CDL is valid for six years. After that, you need to renew it. If you're 72 or older, you need to renew it every two years.
What's the difference between a Class A, B, or C license?
Here's the breakdown of Hawaii's CDL classes:
- Class A: Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 or more and the ability to tow more than 10,000 pounds. Holding this license permits you to operate the mammoth 18-wheelers and any other vehicle on the road, because it lets you operate vehicles in the lower classes.
- Class B: GVWR of 26,001 or more but towing capacity under 10,000 pounds.
- Class C: GVWR under 26,001 pounds but intended to carry 16 or more passengers (endorsement needed) or any vehicle that requires a hazardous materials placard (endorsement needed).
For more information you can see the descriptions of the HI license classifications.
I just turned 18 and want to get my CDL. How do I go about applying for it?
Well, if you want it right now then you will have to move to the mainland. Otherwise, you need to wait until you are 21 years old. Unlike many other states, Hawaii does not have the option for you to drive commercially at 18, even only within the state. Instead, in order to apply for a Hawaii CDL, you need to be 21 years of age or older.
I am seeing my doctor for the Department of Transportation (DOT) physical, but I cannot find the form I need anywhere. Do I even need it?
Most physicians, especially if you found them through the company you are getting the CDL for, have a copy of the DOT form. You can also print it out.
I need a background check and fingerprinting for my hazmat endorsement. Can I do that at any driver license office?
No. This is the territory of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The background check can be done online, but you will need to go directly to a local TSA office to provide your prints. Call (877) 429-7746 for locations. The service (background check and fingerprints) will set you back $94.
Can I take the CDL exam through a trucking company or school?
Yes, third-party testing is allowed from authorized companies. Available companies are currently only on Oahu, the Big Island, and Maui. A perk for being tested by a third-party company is that often they can provide (or rent) you the truck to take the test in.
If I get a CDL on Oahu and move to Kauai, do I need to take all the tests again?
No. A Hawaii CDL is valid on all the islands as long as it is current and not expired.
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