Applying for a New CDL in Nevada
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- Do You Need a CDL?
- Qualifications for a CDL
- Applying for the License
- Training Resources
- Transferring Your CDL from Another State
- CDL Application Fees
- Federal Guidelines
- CDL Classes for Every State
- Requirements for Medical Certification
- Minimum Training Requirements
- Hazmat Background Checks
To legally drive commercial vehicles in Nevada, you must have a commercial driver license (CDL). Obtaining the license isn't for the not-fully-committed, because there are multiple tests and forms and an overall lengthy process to achieve success. The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, however, has provided a number of valuable resources and training documents, along with information on how to complete all requirements satisfactorily.
But first, who needs a commercial driver's license? Licenses are divided into classes, which regulate what types of vehicles can be legally driven by the license holder. These classes are set at the federal level and are described under the section titled: CDL Classes for Every State. You must obtain a CDL if you want to drive any vehicles within those classes.
Furthermore, even if you obtain a commercial license, sometimes you'll need to qualify for additional specialized endorsements. These can include hazardous materials or school bus allowances. Most endorsements, described below, require further specific testing.
In the state of Nevada, the qualifications to obtain a CDL are:
- You must show proof of Nevada residency and identity.
- You must be 21 to operate a commercial motor vehicle between states, to carry passengers, or to transport hazardous materials. You can obtain a CDL as early as age 18, but your license will have the restrictions R (no passengers or hazardous materials) and 2 (in-state travel only). You must be at least 25 to operate oversize combination vehicles of 70 feet or more.
- You must be physically examined by a doctor every two years and provide the DMV with a Medical Examiner's Certificate.
- When applying for a CDL, you'll need to verify that you don't have a driver license from another state (or if you do, you'll need to surrender it), and provide a list of the states you've held licenses in for the past 10 years. The DMV will run a nationwide driver record check on you before approving your application.
Note: First-time CDL applicants should apply at a designated CDL office (scroll down to see listings for commercial driver license offices). You'll be able to ask all your questions and get the most complete information there. An appointment is not necessary to fill out an application, but you'll need to make one to take the driving portion of your test.
Next, you'll need to take the written knowledge tests. The required tests depend on the type of license and endorsements you want.
Once you pass all the required knowledge tests, you'll move on to the skills (driving) tests. These tests are the same for all CDL applicants; what differs is that you'll take the tests in the class of vehicle you're going to be licensed for. Again, you'll need to make an appointment at the CDL office to take this test. The tests are:
- Pretrip inspection: Demonstrate the ability to tell if your vehicle is safe to drive.
- Basic vehicle control: Demonstrate your control of the vehicle, including going forward, backing up, and turning.
- On-road test: Demonstrate your ability to drive the vehicle in a variety of traffic situations, including intersections, freeway driving, hills, railway crossings, and single-lane roads.
You'll find almost all the information you need to know to pass your knowledge tests in the Commercial Drivers License Handbook, available online in PDF format or in print at your local DMV office. The 213-page manual covers all the general information as well as training for various endorsements. It also highlights the skills you'll be tested on when driving, and the rules of the road.
Actual driving experience can be obtained through a number of third-party course providers. These driving schools are approved by the Nevada DMV to train commercial drivers. You can also check your local yellow pages for "truck driving school" or "commercial driving" to find other providers.
We cover this topic in detail in our article on commercial driver education.
You must obtain an instruction permit before driving a commercial vehicle on the road, even for training purposes. Fill out the Nevada Commercial Driver's Instruction Permit Affidavit and turn it in at your local DMV office. The permit is good for one year.
If you already have a CDL from another state but have moved to Nevada, complete the following within 30 days of becoming a new resident:
- Fill out a Nevada Commercial Driver's License Application.
- Provide a copy of your latest medical certificate.
- Certify that you have just one license and that it's not currently subject to suspension or revocation.
- Provide the following: proof of your Social Security number, current driver license, certified birth certificate, or passport. (If you were born outside the United States, show a passport or immigration card.)
NOTE: If you have a hazardous materials endorsement, it might be necessary to take the required knowledge test again if it's been more than two years since you were last tested. You may also need to undergo another background check (see "Hazmat Background Checks," below).
Fees will be charged at the time of your application:
- Original application or transfer requiring knowledge and skills tests: $87
- Original application or transfer requiring knowledge tests only: $57
- Instruction permit: $57
- Written retest: $3
- Driving retest: $30
NOTE: As of October 10, 2008, Nevada has instituted a Central Issuance policy for driver licenses. While the Central Issuance policy is currently only effective in Carson City and Reno areas, the policy will take effect in all remaining Nevada DMV offices in the coming weeks.
Fees listed in this article reflect the new Central Issuance fees. If you live in an area where Central Issuance is not yet in effect, subtract 75 cents from the fees listed above.
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.
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
We put a lot of effort into making our content helpful & accurate. Please let us know if you see something that isn't clear or correct; we are here to ease any frustrations you may have while navigating DMV topics. We are not a government agency, please reach out to your local DMV, insurance agent, or respective professional for further assistance on specific situations.