Applying for a New CDL in Kansas
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- Age Requirements
- CDL Written Testing
- Road Testing
- School Bus Drivers
- Where to Take your Test
- New Federal Requirements
- Hazmat Endorsement Investigation
- Federal CDL Regulations
- CDL Classes for Every State
- Requirements for Medical Certification
- Minimum Training Requirements
- Hazmat Background Checks
In order to be issued a commercial driver license (CDL) by the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR), you must be at least 18 years old to drive intrastate (meaning within the state of Kansas only), or 21 years old to drive interstate (which means that you may drive both in Kansas and outside of Kansas).
The standard requirements for CDLs are based on federal guidelines, and each class of CDL is the same from state to state. If you intend to drive certain types of equipment, you are required to hold an additional endorsement for that equipment, including the following. They require extra testing.
- T―Double/Triple Trailers (knowledge test only)
- P―Passenger (knowledge and skills tests)
- N―Tank Vehicle (knowledge test only)
- H―Hazardous Materials (knowledge test only)
- S―School Buses (knowledge and skills tests)
You will also be required to pass a written knowledge test about air brakes, if the vehicle you will drive is equipped with them.
All CDL holders who also hold a hazardous material endorsement (hazmat) are required to undergo a fingerprinting and a background investigation conducted by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA).
The best place to find all the information you'll need in order to pass the tests for your CDL and any endorsements is the Kansas CDL Manual. It covers everything you'll need for the written tests and the three-part road test.
The driving section of the testing is a comprehensive check of your skills by a KS DOR examiner, and is made up of three parts including:
- Pre-trip inspection
- Basic operating skills test
- Basic driving skills test
You will be tested on your knowledge of the vehicle, your pre-trip inspection, your basic maneuvering skills and your overall driving skills. You must pass each section of testing in order to move on to the next section. If you fail your pre-trip inspection, you will not be allowed to continue with the basic skills or the on-road testing.
In the pre-trip inspection, you will be required to show the examiner what you are looking for and why you are looking for it. This inspection is very comprehensive, covering every system or component on, in, under and around the truck and trailer unit that you will use for your driving test, including:
- Fluids, belts, and other items under the hood
- The truck cab, including emergency equipments, dials, gauges, steering, brakes and clutch
- Connections including hitches, air lines, hydraulics, trailer axel placement or fifth wheel coupling
- Tires, wheels, brakes, fuel tank
- Tie-downs, tarps, trailer sides, rigging, trailer frame, and trailer doors
- Cab mirrors, seat, steering, clutch, brakes, emergency equipment, cab doors, communications equipment, and gauges
Basic Skills Test
In the basic skills portion of your driving test, you will be asked to perform the following basic maneuvering skills:
- Drive forward and stop
- Back up
- Alley dock
- Parallel park
- Make a right turn
- Backward serpentine
Stay inside the vehicle at all times while you are performing these basic skills. Do not get out of the driver's seat to check on your progress.
In this section, you will go out to a pre-determined route so that the examiner may check your driving skills. The areas covered in this test will be:
- Urban and rural straight driving
- Urban and rural lane changing
- Expressway driving
- Stopping and starting
- Driving on curves, upgrades and downgrades
- Railroad crossings
- Bridges and overpasses
Remember to check for a clearance height indicator sign before you pass under a bridge; the examiner may ask you for the clearance height number after you've passed under.
If you are planning to drive a school bus in Kansas, you must now have a separate "S" endorsement on your CDL.
Check the Kansas license exam stations. You won't need an appointment for your testing, but not every exam station is equipped to handle CDL testing, so call in advance to see if the office you want to use has a CDL examiner.
Fees for a Kansas CDL are as follows:
- Commercial Class license: $29 (includes $8 photo fee and $3 exam fee)
- Commercial Class license with motorcycle endorsement: $38 (includes $9 endorsement fee, $8 photo fee and $3 exam fee)
- Hazmat endorsement: $10
- Doubles/triples endorsement: $10
- Passenger bus endorsement: $10
- Bulk liquid tank endorsement: $10
- School bus endorsement: $10
You must self-certify your type of vehicle operation with the Kansas Division of Vehicles 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 Division of Vehicles with a federal medical certificate.
All new applicants, and as of May 31, 2005 all renewing hazmat endorsement holders, are required to undergo fingerprinting and a hazardous material threat assessment investigation conducted by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). In order to allow applicants and renewing holders be fingerprinted, the KDOR has made arrangements in several offices.
You must begin the renewal process at least 30 days before your hazmat endorsement is due to expire in order to allow time for the fingerprinting to be processed and for the investigation to take place.
Hazmat Investigation Fees
The fingerprinting and the HazMat background investigation are covered for $89.25.
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.
To be eligible for a CDL, you must have a clean driving record. Federal regulations require you to pass a physical exam every two years. You must be able to read and speak English well enough to read road signs, prepare reports, and communicate with the public and with law enforcement.
The Act established three separate classes of commercial driver's licenses. Every state issues licenses in these categories:
- Class A: Any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
- Class B: Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR.
- Class C: Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is placarded for hazardous materials.
Many states make exceptions for farm vehicles, snow removal vehicles, fire and emergency vehicles, and some military vehicles.
In the interest of public safety on the highways, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations require interstate commercial drivers to be medically fit to operate their vehicles safely and competently. You are required to have a reported physical exam and carry a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) medical certificate if:
- You operate a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) or gross vehicle weight (GVW) or gross combination weight (GCW) of 4,536 kilograms (10,001 pounds) or more in interstate commerce.
- You operate a motor vehicle designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, in interstate commerce.
- You operate a motor vehicle designed or used to transport between nine and 15 passengers, for direct compensation, beyond 75 air miles from your regular work-reporting location, in interstate commerce.
- You transport hazardous materials in quantities requiring placards, in interstate commerce.
You must carry a current copy of your medical examination certificate with you when you drive. Residents of Mexico or Canada who drive in the United States can be certified by doctors in their countries, provided they meet the U.S. requirements.
There are no federal standards in place for on-the-road commercial driver training. The government only requires that you take and pass your CDL knowledge (written) and skills (driving) tests. Longer-combination-vehicle (LCV) drivers must receive training in driver wellness, driver qualifications, hours of service, and whistleblower protection.
Your state's commercial driver's manual is a good place to learn basic information, but you will need to be professionally trained to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
In order to pass your driving skills tests, you will need to learn how to inspect vehicles before driving, learn how to couple and uncouple tractors and trailers, and have plenty of practice driving. This includes driving in different conditions and on different road surfaces, turning, parking, backing up, and braking.
Many motor carriers train their employees, while other drivers take courses at private driving schools, vocational or technical schools, and community colleges. Individual states often approve or certify training courses.
The Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) has set minimum standards for training curriculums and certifies driver training courses that meet industry and Federal Highway Administration (FHA) guidelines. Many employers require their drivers to take PTDI-approved training.
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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