Applying for a New CDL in West Virginia
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Age and Fitness Requirements
- You must be at least 18 years old and have 2 years of driving experience.
- The Federal Motor Carrier Rules require drivers subject to those rules to meet specific physical qualification standards and carry a medical certificate to show evidence of such qualification.
- If you are unable to become medically certified, you may be eligible for a medical waiver.
- Call (304) 926-3801 for information about applying for a medical waiver if you are interested in operating commercial vehicles in West Virginia only.
- Call (304) 347-5935 for information about applying for a medical waiver with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration if you are interested in operating commercial vehicles across all of the U.S..
Ready to Apply?
- Pick up an application and study manual at any WV DMV exam office or regional office. Also, you can download the CDL Handbook in PDF format.
- Gather up your completed application for your CDL and endorsements, a copy of your current medical/physical certification or DLAB-II form(s), and your appropriate fees.
- Skills Test (paid to 3rd party tester): $90
- Per endorsement fee: $10
- Air Brake/Combination: $25
- CDL Class A, B and C (fee depends on length of CDL): $26.25 to $61.25.
- Take everything to the Charleston Division of Motor Vehicles office, or mail it to:
- Division of Motor Vehicles
- P.O. Box 17010
- Charleston, WV 25317
- Once your application, forms, and fees are received, you will get a test card in the mail listing the regional exam locations. Schedule a time to take (and pass!) the written exams.
- After you pass the written exams, you will receive a commercial driver's instruction permit. The CDL instruction permit will allow you 6 months to practice for your road tests.
- When you're ready to take the road tests, contact a third-party examiner (names and contact information for third-party examiners are on the CDL Manual). You will provide the $90 exam fee and the vehicle you'll use to test to the third-party examiner on the day of your exam. This vehicle must be representative of the class of license for which you are testing.
- Once you complete (and pass!) the road skills exam, submit the passed form to the WV DMV exam office or regional office. You will receive your CDL at this time.
Commercial Driver's Instruction Permit
Not ready for a CDL yet? You can apply for a commercial driver's instruction permit. You must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Have held an operator or junior operator license for at least 2 years.
- Have a valid class D license.
- Pass the same vision and/or physical standards and knowledge tests required for a CDL.
Once all steps are completed and tests are passed, you will receive your CDL instruction permit. There are a few things to remember:
- Your CDL instruction permit will only be valid for 6 months, and you will only be allowed to renew it one time.
- If you still need your CDL instruction permit after the initial issue and renewal, you will have to reapply and re-test on the knowledge exams.
- You may only operate the commercial vehicle when you are accompanied by someone who holds a valid CDL, and that someone must be sitting in the seat next to you.
- Your permit must be valid for the type of vehicle you're driving.
The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986
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.
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 or more, 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 physical exam and carry a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) medical certificate if you drive a commercial vehicle.
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 (FHA) 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. Since West Virginia is a TSA Agent state, you will pay $86.50 for the fingerprinting and background checks.
The TSA attempts to finish background checks within 30 to 45 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 retested at least every 3 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 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.