- Location: Washington DC
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In the District of Columbia, if you would like to apply for a commercial driver's license (CDL) you must already have a regular driver's license. Then your first step is to take the CDL knowledge test, which will determine whether you know the laws governing the operation of commercial vehicles in the district and across the country.
All applicants take a written general knowledge test, which has 50 questions. If you plan to tote either passengers or hazardous materials, those endorsements require an additional knowledge test.
There are several CDL endorsements available. The number of questions on the endorsement-specific portion of the test varies according to the endorsement you choose.
In the District of Columbia, there is no set requirement for classroom and behind-the-wheel training hours before you can take the CDL road skills test.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has outlined some specific requirements for commercial driver education that the states must follow. But these only dictate that the applicant get enough education to correctly answer at least 80% of the questions to pass the knowledge test, and that they must have enough on-road practice to pass the skills test in the same type of commercial vehicle that they wish to be licensed for.
While you might be able to get through the knowledge test after simply reading the Commercial Driver Licensing Manual, there is no way you'll be able to pass the stringent skills test without formal training from a professional commercial driving school. Community colleges and third-party trucking schools offer comprehensive courses in commercial driving, and some employers will put you through their own training programs when they hire you as a driver. Such courses are necessary to teach you how to operate your vehicle on interstate highways safely and professionally.
If you have a revoked or suspended driver's license, certain medical conditions, or unresolved citations or moving violations, you will not be eligible to apply for a DC CDL.