Applying for a New CDL in Ohio
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- Do You Need a CDL?
- Obtaining Your CDL Instruction Permit
- Learning the Skills
- CDL Testing Procedures
- Next of Kin Notification
- New Federal Requirements
- Federal CDL Guidelines
- CDL Classes for Every State
- Requirements for Medical Certification
- Minimum Training Requirements
- Hazmat Background Checks
According to the Ohio Revised Code, you will need to have a CDL if you intend to drive any of the following:
- Any combination of vehicles with a combined gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of at least 26,001 pounds, as long as the towed vehicle(s) have a GVWR of at least 10,000 pounds.
- Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, or any vehicle towing a vehicle with a GVWR of less than 10,000 pounds.
- Any single vehicle or combination of vehicles that is designed to transport at least 16 passengers including the driver, or is placarded for hazardous materials.
- Any school bus with a GVWR of less than 26,001 pounds designed to transport fewer than 16 passengers including the driver.
- Any vehicle that is transporting hazardous materials for which placarding is required by federal regulations.
- Any single vehicle or combination of vehicles that is operated on public roads and is considered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to be a commercial motor vehicle (includes cranes, drilling rigs, etc.).
You should note that you do not need a CDL to drive farm vehicles, snow removal vehicles, recreational vehicles, and fire and emergency vehicles.
To obtain your instruction permit, you will need to be at least 18, and have a valid Ohio driver's license. (You should be aware, however, that some employers may have a higher age requirement, and may have additional standards.)
Bring your driver license and your Social Security card with you to any State Highway Patrol examination station.
While there, you'll need to pass both a vision test and at least one written knowledge test before you may be given a permit package. A general written test must be passed by all applicants. Additional tests will be given to those who are applying to drive the following: passenger vehicles, air brakes vehicles, combination vehicles, hazardous materials vehicles, tankers, and double or triple trailers.
You don't need to make an appointment, and there is no charge to take the test. While at the exam station, you'll also have your photo taken as part of your test record.
As long as you don't have any red flags on your driving record (suspensions, revocations, etc.), you will be given your CDL permit at any deputy registrar's office.
- The permit costs $27 and is valid for six months. You may renew your permit one time within a two-year period.
The permit gives you the ability to drive a commercial vehicle only when accompanied by a CDL holder sitting in the passenger seat. The CDL holder must have the appropriate license for the type of commercial vehicle you are driving. Also, the CDL holder must be there for the purpose of giving you driving instruction.
Once you have your instruction permit, you can sign up for a truck driving instruction course. There are many third-party course providers throughout the state. To make sure a provider is approved by the OH DMV, please call (614) 752-7600 before signing up for a class.
After completing your driving course, you will be free to take the driving tests.
You'll need an appointment with one of the skills testing locations to take these tests. The tests may take up to two hours to complete, and you will be required to drive the appropriate vehicle for your license.
There are three sections of the skills test, and each has its own fee:
- Pre-trip vehicle inspection - $10
- Basic vehicle control - $10
- On-road test - $30
For the pre-trip test, you will need to demonstrate that you know that your vehicle is safe to drive. You may be asked to inspect vehicle parts and explain the importance of them to the examiner.
For the control test, you will be required to maneuver the vehicle in various ways within a defined area.
For the on-road test, you will be tested on your ability to safely drive in a variety of traffic situations.
The DMV Can Help
You will probably have already seen the Commercial Driver License Manual in your instruction course. This 139-page volume contains all the basic rules of the road as well as specialized driving skills you'll need to master to obtain your CDL.
You can also pick up a printed copy of the manual at any deputy registrar's branch.
Also check out Commercial Driver Education on this site for more information.
The Final Step and Final Fee
If you pass all the tests, you will be given your CDL.
- The cost for a new CDL is $42.
If you later wish to upgrade a class, add a passenger endorsement, or remove an air brake restriction, you'll need to pass the knowledge and skills tests again.
The BMV now allows drivers to register their emergency contact information with the agency. By doing so, you enable law enforcement officials to more quickly notify a family member, guardian, or friend if you're seriously injured in an accident, or are unable to communicate. Register for this service online or at any license agency location.
You must self-certify your type of vehicle operation with the Ohio BMV 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 BMV with a federal medical certificate.
Submit a completed self-certification application (Form BMV 2159) by:
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
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