Commercial Driver FAQs in North Carolina

What are endorsements and restrictions?

Endorsements are additional tests you must pass when you want to be licensed for certain kinds of vehicles. In North Carolina, the following endorsements apply:

  • H - Authorizes you to drive a vehicle transporting hazardous materials (hazmat)
  • T - Authorizes you to drive double trailers
  • P - Authorizes you to drive passenger vehicles
  • N - Authorizes you to drive tank vehicles
  • X - Is a combination of the hazmat and tank vehicle endorsements
  • M - Authorizes you to drive a motorcycle
  • S - Authorizes you to drive a school bus

Restrictions are codes on your license that limit your driving authority:

  • L - Restricts you to driving vehicles not equipped with air brakes

Where is my North Carolina CDL valid?

Your CDL is good throughout the United States. You may only have one driver license, and if your CDL is suspended or revoked, you cannot get one in another state. States are connected to one computerized system and share information about commercial drivers.

If you are 18 years old or over but not yet 21 years old, with a North Carolina CDL you may only operate a commercial vehicle within North Carolina and cannot get a hazmat endorsement.

I already have a CDL from another state. Can I use it when I become a North Carolina resident?

No. Federal law makes it illegal for you to have more than one driver license. When you get your CDL, you will have to surrender all other driver licenses, including any out of state licenses or your regular North Carolina driver license. (You may still drive your car with a CDL.)

How long is a learner's permit valid?

To get a commercial learner's permit, you must be at least 18 years old (or 21 years old for operations that require a medical card) and possess a valid Class A, B, or C license. The permit is valid for 6 months, but there is a limit of 2 permits in 2 years. In other words, if your permit expires before you pass your CDL tests, you may only get one more permit until 2 years have passed.

If your permit is expired for more than 30 days before you apply for another one, you must take all written tests again.

How can my North Carolina CDL be suspended or revoked?

Your North Carolina CDL can be suspended or revoked for many violations, including use of alcohol or drugs, speeding, reckless driving, and failure to notify your employer of any traffic convictions. Your employer should have a copy of the Safety Act so you can be familiar with the laws concerning commercial driving.

If I drive an exempt vehicle do I still need a license?

Certain vehicles do not require you to have a CDL in order to drive them. However, you may still need a non-CDL, Class A or B license. These exempt vehicles include:

  • Recreational vehicles and others used for personal use
  • Vehicles owned or operated by the Department of Defense when they are driven by active military personnel on duty
  • Firefighting or emergency equipment used during emergencies
  • Certain farm vehicles

For greater detail, see the CDL Manual, available online or at any North Carolina driver license office.

Find more answers to CDL-related questions at Applying for a New CDL, Renewing Your CDL, Replacing a Lost CDL, and Commercial Driver Education on this site.

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