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Applying for a New CDL in Idaho

Cruising down the highway behind the wheel of a powerful machine. Is there anything better? How about getting paid for it?

You can, but you'll first have to get a commercial driver's license (CDL).

To do so, you'll have to follow all national regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and get your license through the Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which is a subset of the Idaho Transportation Department.

Who Can Apply for an Idaho CDL?

To be eligible for an Idaho commercial driver's license, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
    • Federal guidelines require drivers under 21 years old to operate commercial vehicles within Idaho only—called intrastate driving.
  • Possess a valid, non-CDL Idaho driver's license.
  • Have at least 1 year of driving experience.
  • Provide proof of your lawful permanent residency if you are not a U.S. citizen. To show this, you can bring in either a:
    • Certificate of Naturalization.
    • Valid, unexpired Permanent Residency Card.

Commercial Learner's Permits

Just as you need a permit before you can drive with a full license, you'll have to get your Idaho commercial learner's permit (CLP) before being issued your commercial driver's license.

The process can get tricky, so it might be helpful to take a CDL education course beforehand—even though this is not a requirement of either the FMCSA or ID Division of Motor Vehicles.

Whenever you feel ready, schedule an appointment with your local DMV office, and:

  • Have all of the proper medical paperwork with you (see below).
  • Bring your regular Idaho driver's license.
  • Provide proof of ID residency.
    • Address must not be:
      • Your workplace.
      • A vacation or part-time residency.
      • A P.O. box, mail drop, or general delivery.
    • Acceptable forms of proof include:
      • Mortgage or lease agreements.
      • Utility bills.
      • School enrollment records.
  • Bring your Social Security card.
  • Pay the applicable fees:
    • Written test: $3.
    • Learner's permit: $29.

Finally, you'll need to take all of the written tests needed for the class of CDL you want. If you're applying for any endorsements, you'll need to take those written exams at this time, too.

Once all of the above is complete, you'll be an official commercial learner's permit holder!

Idaho CLP Restrictions

Getting your CLP is an important first step toward getting your CDL, but you'll have to follow some different rules while you drive with it.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all commercial learner's permit holders to drive on public roads only, and only while accompanied by someone with a full CDL.

Your CLP will be valid for 180 days. The Idaho DMV acknowledges the federal waiting period of 14 days before you can take the skills test to earn your full commercial driver's license, but as of now, it is not enforced in the state.

Still, you should check with your local DMV office to see if they have implemented any type of waiting period.

ID Commercial Driver's License

There's only one more step left to turn that CLP into a CDL: taking your skills exam.

When you're ready, schedule another appointment with your local Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles location. Keep in mind that the skills test typically takes up to 3 hours to complete.

You'll need to bring with you:

  • Proof of identification. Your ID driver's license will work just fine, but you can also bring in:
    • Your birth certificate.
    • A military photo identification card.
    • Your passport.
    • An valid Idaho concealed weapons permit.
  • Proof of auto insurance.
  • Your DMV receipt showing you passed and paid for your written exams.
  • Payment for the $70 skills test fee.

You'll have to arrange to take the test in the same class of vehicle that you want to drive with your CDL. If you can't, you may get a restriction on your commercial driver's license.

The skills exam itself includes a:

  • Vehicle inspection.
  • Basic control skills test.
  • Road test.

If you don't pass right away, that's okay! You'll be able to take the exam again, but you'll have to wait at least 3 days and repay the testing fee.

Once you do ace all your tests, you'll nearly be a full CDL holder!

You'll have to pay the $40 CDL fee at the DMV, where you'll be given a temporary license. Your permanent commercial driver's license should arrive in the mail.

Keep in mind that your CDL will be valid for 4 years. After that period is up, you can choose to renew it.

Seasonal CDLs in Idaho

The DMV also offers seasonal commercial driver's licenses for certain farm-related industries, including:

  • Custom harvesters.
  • Farm retail outlets/suppliers.
  • Agri-chemical businesses.
  • Livestock feeders.

Seasonal CDLs will only be considered legal:

  • For 180 days within a span of 12 months.
  • Within a radius of 150 miles from the farm/business being serviced.

You may obtain a seasonal commercial driver's license 2 times only.

For more information, contact your local Idaho DMV office.

CDL Fees in Idaho

The Idaho Division of Motor Vehicles currently charges the following for CDLs and related services:

  • Testing:
    • Written tests: $3 each.
    • Skills test: $70.
  • Commercial learner's permit: $29.
  • Commercial driver's license: $40.*
    • Adding endorsements: $15 each.
    • Duplicate CDL (or CLP): $15.

*NOTE: Fees may be prorated if you are under 21 years old.

CDL Medical Requirements

Before you can apply for a commercial learner's permit, you must be deemed physically fit for the job.

All applicants will have to inform the ID Division of Motor Vehicles about the type of driving they intend on doing with their CDL, in a process called self-certification. You can self-certify:

If you have any questions about how you should self-certify, you can always check out the information page the DMV put together—or if you're more of a visual learner, there's a helpful chart provided by the Division of Motor Vehicles.

Due to FMCSA regulations, you may also have to submit additional paperwork. Check out the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's guide to medical requirements for more details.

Military CDL Testing Waivers

If you're currently serving in the military or have recently left the service, and have some experience driving commercial motor vehicles for the Armed Forces—or the military equivalent—you may be eligible to have your skills test waived.

The program is offered nationwide by the FMCSA, but implemented individually by each state. Check with the Idaho DMV for details on Idaho's requirements for this waiver.

For more information on what the military CDL waiver is and how to apply for one, check out our guide to the subject.

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