Applying for a New CDL in Wyoming
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What is a Commercial Vehicle?
In Wyoming it is:
- A vehicle that carries a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR} of 26,001 lbs. or more.
- A vehicle specifically manufactured to hold 16 passengers or more, driver included.
- A vehicle, any shape or size, which transports quantities of hazardous materials (hazmat) at levels requiring a warning sign.
For the layperson, commercial vehicles are those massive 18-wheelers or trucks towing multiple trailers, school or city buses, and those gas tankers that have placards pasted all over them.
There are a few exemptions to the rule including:
- Vehicles used by farmers or ranchers for agricultural purposes.
- Emergency vehicles.
- Department of Defense owned military vehicles.
Applying for a CDL
Earning a commercial driver's license (CDL) is quite an involved process. It consists of a battery of written examinations and a rigorous on-road assessment that measures an applicant's overall ability to handle a commercial vehicle. But first, you need to find out if you can even qualify to apply.
Eligibility and Basic Requirements
- Candidate must be at least 18 years old to apply. However, until one reaches the age of 21 years old, the license will be restricted to intrastate driving only, and it will prohibit the transport of hazardous materials.
- Applicant must have a valid Wyoming driver's license and provide a Social Security number or a legal document with the number on it.
- Candidate must provide proof of U.S. citizenship. The state is specific about this, requiring one of the following documents:
―A certified birth certificate*
―A valid U.S. passport
―A consular report of birth abroad
―A certificate of citizenship
―A certificate of naturalization
- Applicant must successfully pass Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS) and National Driver Record (NDR) checks.
- Candidate must have a current Department of Transportation Medical Examination Report, which is available online, proving fitness to drive. Wyoming does not actually require this physical, and many intrastate trucking jobs also do not necessitate it, but if you intend to drive interstate and make yourself more viable for employment it is necessary.
TestingEvery applicant must take and pass ( 80% or higher) a written general knowledge exam and an on-road skills test.
However, if you intend to apply for a bevy of endorsements, a written test must be taken and passed for each. The exams are multiple choice and the majority of questions are culled from WYDOT's CDL Handbook. Refer to our Commercial Driver Education section for information about educating yourself.
The skills test is comprised of three sections: pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle handling, and on-road review.
Unlike many states, at this point in time Wyoming does not require prerequisite training or a prolonged apprenticeship to obtain a CDL. Thus, if you pass the written tests and are issued a permit, you can schedule an appointment for the skills test at that point. An extensive waiting period is not required.
Most skills testing and all written testing is administered at state exam offices. The state does allow third-party testing on the skills exam but these companies can only test their own employees and not the general public. For a fee, though, plenty of third-party businesses offer assistance and programs on acing the various written tests. Check your local phone directory for testing companies in your area.
In order to take a skills test at an exam office you must provide your own vehicle in the class you are testing in, and pay a $40 fee.
A CDL is $25. The fee for a permit is also $25 and it can be renewed once within 2 years.
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 or more lbs., 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 or more lbs., 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 operate a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 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.
The Wyoming 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 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 Wyoming is an approved 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.