Applying for a New CDL in Utah
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To obtain a commercial driver license (CDL) in the state of Utah, you must receive training, obtain a medical certificate, pass a written test, pass a road test, and apply for your license in person at a field office of the Driver License Division of the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS).
In Utah, CDL training is provided by private companies (third parties) certified by the Utah Driver License Division. After you have completed your training, these same companies can provide testing as well. Alternatively, you can take your tests at some driver license field offices.
After you have completed your training and obtained your medical certificate (see Federal Guidelines below), you will undergo two types of comprehensive tests: knowledge tests (written tests) and skills tests (on-the-road tests).
The knowledge tests are not open-book tests. Refer to the Utah Commercial Vehicle Driver Handbook for an idea of what you'll be studying.
You will take different knowledge (written) tests depending on the type of license and endorsements you are seeking:
- All applicants must take the General Knowledge test.
- The Passenger Transport test will taken by all bus driver applicants.
- If your vehicle has air brakes, you will take the Air Brakes test.
- Drivers of combination vehicles will take the Combination Vehicles test.
- The Hazardous Materials test is required if you want to haul hazardous material or waste in amounts which require placarding.
- The Tanker test is required if you want to haul liquids in bulk.
- If you want to pull double or triple trailers, you will take the Doubles/Triples test.
Learner's permits: Once you get a medical certificate and pass the knowledge tests, you may receive a learner's permit, which lets you legally practice for the driving skills test in a commercial vehicle as long as a commercial operator with the appropriate license and endorsements is riding with you.
After you've passed the knowledge tests and you're confident about your ability to drive on the road, you can take the skills tests. The skills tests, in which you actually drive in the type of vehicle you are getting a license for, can be taken either at your local driver license field office or from the same third-party organizations that provide training.
You will be tested in pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control, and on-road driving. You can find detailed information about what you will be tested on in the Utah Commercial Vehicle Driver Handbook.
Documents You'll Need to Bring
To apply for a Utah CDL, you must be at least 18 years old (intrastate only until 21 years old), be a resident of Utah (you might need to bring proof of residency), and have 1 year of driving experience. When applying for a new CDL, bring the following documents with you:
- 1. Your current Utah driver license
- 2. Your Social Security card (metal cards are not acceptable)
- 3. Your valid DOT medical card or "Long Form"
- 4. If you took the skills test from a third-party tester, bring your Certificate of Driver Competency (this means you can take your test before you appear to apply for your license. You can also arrange to take this test at the driver license field office when you apply)
- 5. Application form (you can fill this out at the driver license field office)
- 6. Required application/testing fees
Fees vary based on the number of endorsements you are seeking, as each endorsement requires an additional test:
- General Knowledge test, including Combination Vehicles test and Air Brakes test, if required (written): $40; retakes are $20.
- Skills tests (driving): $60; retakes are $40.
- Endorsement tests: $7 each; retakes are $7. Available tests are:
- Hazardous Materials
- Tank Vehicles
- School Bus (fee includes driving test)
- Tanker/Hazardous Materials
There is also a $25 intrastate medical fee. If you need to reschedule a test, the fee will be $25. Note that the fees can change, so be sure to verify them with your local testing office.
Where to Apply
The Department of Public Safety has driver license field offices all over Utah where you can apply for a commercial driver license. In most cases, you need to make an appointment to apply for a CDL. Hours of operation vary widely from office to office. Some offices provide both written and road testing, but not all do, and most offices require an appointment.
New Federal Requirements
You must now self-certify your type of vehicle operation with the Utah DPS. This means you must self-certify one of the following driving categories:
- Non-Excepted Interstate
- Excepted Interstate
- Non-Excepted Intrastate
- Excepted Intrastate
You'll need to submit a Commercial Driver License Medical Self-Certification document (Form CDL 42). If you choose Non-Excepted Interstate, you must, in addition to the form, provide the DPS with a federal medical certificate.
Check out Utah's Medical Card Requirements page for detailed information.
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.
CDL Classes for Every State
To be eligible for a CDL, you must have a clean driving record. Federal regulations require you to pass a physical exam every 3 years. To operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce, you must be at least 21 years old. Utah does allow those as young as 18 years old to drive commercial vehicles within the state.
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 lbs. or more, provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 lbs.
- Class B: Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 lbs. 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 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.
- 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)
Requirements for Medical Certification
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 Medical Examination Report (Form 649-F) and carry a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) medical certificate if you operate a motor vehicle over 4,536 kgs. (10,000 lbs.) in interstate commerce.
You must carry a current copy of your medical examination certificate with you when you drive.
Minimum Training 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.
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 Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines. Many employers require their drivers to take PTDI-approved training.
Hazmat Background Checks
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.
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. As Utah is a TSA Agent state, you will pay:
- $38 for fingerprints.
- $34 for the TSA background check.
- $14.50 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 5 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 Safety Association.