- Location: Maryland
Applying for a New CDL in Maryland
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- Own a standard class driver license.
- Provide identification that establishes your age and the fact that you are indeed a United States citizen.
- Provide two forms of documentation that prove your residency in the state of Maryland.
- Disclose your Social Security number.
- You must be 21 to drive a commercial vehicle beyond the borders of Maryland. Those between 18 and 21 are limited to trying for an intrastate license only.
- If you plan to apply for a hazardous materials (hazmat) endorsement you will also need to be at least 21 years of age.
- Pass a Department of Transportation physical and provide the examiner with the report or card. You can also request a medical waiver in some instances.
Considering the value of a CDL and the fact that owning one opens plenty of career doors, it is no wonder the process involved for getting one is arduous. If you meet the basic requirements and are deemed physically fit to move on to the next level, you will have to bring out your thinking cap.
The testing alone is exceptionally rigorous and may send you out looking for a bit of training before making even a first attempt at the written exam―or exams. There are a wealth of private companies that offer classroom and/or home study instruction specifically designed to aid you in acing any set of tests put in front of you. Some of these courses are not cheap, but then again, neither is getting a CDL. Plus, with so much importance riding on a successful score, a few extra dollars means nothing over the long run.
Every additional endorsement you want (see Federal Guidelines) has a test to go along with it. All applicants are required to take and score a minimum of 80% on any exam taken. The tests can be quite long and cover the spectrum of information discussed in the CDL Handbook, but at least all are of the multiple-choice variety.
So if you are trying to build a solid skill base to make yourself more employable, you may end up taking in the neighborhood of five or six exams. If you fail any of these, you can take them again without having to enter any sort of waiting program. However, if you do not succeed on the second attempt, the third time is always a charm, but you will have to count off seven business days before trying again. That only gives you more time to study.
Tests are administered on a walk-in basis at full-service MVA offices. You are only required to endure one general knowledge test, and passing it will earn you a CDL learner's permit and enable you to move to the next phase.
This is where the process really gets serious. But at this point you have had your permit for a while. You have had a ton of practice and probably even taken some type of course preparing you for the day you actually take a test involving the class of vehicle that your CDL will be good for.
The skills test is divided into three sections. Each is timed and closely scored. If you fail any component, you will not be able to proceed to the next and will have to not only take the test again, but pay for it again, too. So there is a monetary incentive to getting through this also. The test is available by appointment only and only given at certain MVA offices (call to make sure before showing up).
- Pre-Trip Inspection: You'll have 45 minutes to complete a thorough scrutiny of the vehicle.
- Basic Skills/Maneuvering: You have 10 minutes for each task, which can involve backing up to a dock, steering around cones, and braking on a closed course.
- On-Road Test: Basically a 40-minute drive around town putting all of your knowledge to the test in a real-life situation.
- Learner's permit (includes tests) - $90
- License renewal - $50
- Duplicate license - $20
- License correction - $20
- Skills retest - $20
- License conversion (out-of-state to MD license) - $65
You must self-certify your type of vehicle operation with the Maryland MVA 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 MVA with a federal medical certificate.
Submit a completed self-certification application by:
- Faxing to (410) 787-7959
- Scanning the application and e-mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mailing to:
- Maryland MVA
- Attn: CDL Med Cert
- 6601 Ritchie Highway N.E.
- Room 145
- Glen Burnie, MD 21062
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. To operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce, you must be at least 21. Many states allow those as young as 18 to drive commercial vehicles within the state. 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.
To be licensed for certain types of commercial vehicles, extra testing is required. If you pass, you will receive an endorsement on your CDL. These are the five endorsements that you can apply for. Each requires between one and five knowledge (written) tests, and two require driving (skills) tests.
- 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)
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 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.
Some states may specify minimum training guidelines. Check with your state's motor vehicles department to see if there are minimum training requirements to get your CDL.
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.