Applying for a New CDL in Vermont
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Until 1990 Vermont, amazingly, did not have any set commercial driver's license (CDL) standards. Since then, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has developed a comprehensive program.
If you are interested in applying for a CDL, you should first collar a Commercial Driver License Manual. You can either download it in PDF format or find one at any DMV location. This 204-page manual is crammed with everything you will need to know about a Vermont CDL.
You will need a commercial driver's license if you plan to operate any of the following:
- A vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 pounds.
- A trailer with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds if the gross combination weight rating is more than 26,000 pounds.
- A vehicle designed to transport more than 15 passengers, and any size vehicle that requires hazardous materials placards.
Many states make exceptions for farm vehicles, snow removal vehicles, fire and emergency vehicles, and some military vehicles.
- You must be at least 18 years old and hold a valid Vermont Class 1 operator's license to obtain a commercial driver instructional permit.
- You must be at least 18 years old to obtain a commercial driver license and operate a commercial vehicle within Vermont (intrastate commerce).
- You must be at least 21 years old to operate a commercial motor vehicle between Vermont and another state (interstate commerce).
- You must be at least 18 years old to obtain a hazardous materials endorsement for intrastate commerce.
- You must be at least 21 years old to obtain a hazardous materials endorsement for interstate commerce.
A Vermont commercial driver instructional permit is needed in order to receive commercial driving instruction and on-road training. To obtain a permit, you must own a regular Vermont driver license and pass the knowledge (written) test for the CDL you are pursuing.
To schedule a written test, you must make an appointment with Central Scheduling at (802) 828-2085. If you pass, your permit will be valid for six months.
- A Class A license allows you to operate any vehicle with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the vehicles being towed have a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more.
- A Class B license allows you to drive any vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, provided that any vehicle towed has a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less.
- A Class C license permits you to drive any vehicle with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds or less, provided that any vehicle towed has a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less. This license also covers vehicles which carry hazardous materials that require placards, and buses which haul 16 or more people.
- Submit a $20 scheduling fee to the main DMV office in Montpelier.
- Call Central Scheduling at (802) 828-2085 to schedule a skills test appointment. Be sure to call, because walk-ins will be automatically turned away. If you appear on your appointed time and pass the skills test, your $20 test deposit will be applied toward your license fee. If you don't appear and fail to provide 48 hours notice, you will forfeit your deposit.
- Bring every driver license you own, even if it's from out of state.
- Certify whether you'll be driving interstate or intrastate.
- Bring your Social Security number.
- Have two proofs of Vermont residency.
- Have proof of insurance and registration for the rig you'll be testing in.
- Make sure your vehicle has a valid inspection sticker.
- Provide medical forms (see the federal guidelines, below).
The written test will be based on the Commercial Driver License Manual. After you've passed the written test, gotten your instructional permit, and received professional training to hone your driving skills, you'll advance to the on-road tests.
Pre-trip Inspection Test
This will take place before your skills test. If your vehicle does not pass the inspection, you will be automatically disqualified from taking the skills test.
Be sure to arrive in a vehicle that matches the license class for which you are applying. All cargo sections of your truck must be empty.
The exam itself will test your road skills, which will include parking, turning, and passing.
You may be asked to take a vision test by a Motor Vehicle Examiner. If you wear glasses or contacts while you drive, be sure to wear them while you take the test.
- Four-year CDL: $75
- Two-year CDL: $50
- Commercial driver instructional permit: $12
- Skills test scheduling fee: $30
- Each endorsement test: $10
You must self-certify your type of vehicle operation with the Vermont DMV 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 DMV with a federal medical certificate.
Check out Vermont's Medical Self-Certification 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 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 different classes for Vermont commercial driver's licenses listed earlier in this article match the federal guidelines.
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)
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 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.
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.
Vermont'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 Vermont'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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