Veterans CDL Skills Test Waiver

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) allows qualifying military veterans to bypass the road skills test required to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL).

Here's what you need to know about the eligibility requirements and the steps you'll need to take to apply.

CDL Skills Test Waiver Requirements

To qualify for the veteran skills test waiver, you must meet certain requirements outlined by the federal government. These include:

  • Military truck driving experience of at least 2 years.
    • The military motor vehicle must have been similar to a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).
  • Application within 1 year of discharge.
  • Passing the written knowledge test.
  • Possession of only 1 driver's license within the past 2 years (other than a military license); your license may have never been:
    • Suspended.
    • Revoked.
    • Cancelled.
  • No disqualifying CDL offenses on your driving record, such as:
    • Alcohol or drugs.
    • Leaving the scene of an accident.
    • Operating a vehicle with a suspended license.
    • Any fatalities caused by negligence.
  • No serious traffic violations, including but not limited to:
    • Reckless driving.
    • Speeding a specified number of miles per hour above the speed limit.
      • Differs according to state laws.
    • Operation of a CMV without a CDL.
    • Operation of a CMV without the correct endorsements.

Applying for a Skills Test Waiver

For qualifying veterans, following these general steps to apply for a commercial driver's license (CDL). Keep in mind that the exact process and requirements may differ according to your state of residence.

Please check with your CDL licensing office for exact forms and identification requirements for your state, or consult your state-specific CDL application guide.

Skills Test Waiver Considerations

Though the military skills test waiver can help you obtain a CDL quicker, there are some potential drawbacks and considerations to keep in mind.

  • Most military vehicles use automatic transmissions.
    • If you have not tested for a manual transmission with your military experience, you may have a restriction placed on your CDL license. This can limit your job opportunities through civilian employers.
    • Other restrictions may include:
      • No air brakes (restriction L).
      • Air over hydraulic brakes (restriction Z), which prevents you from driving vehicles with full air brakes.
  • You will only be allowed to drive CMVs that are the same as those you drove in the military.
  • Endorsements may be needed to drive certain types of CMVs, and will require separate skills tests.
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