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Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

Licensing for Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

In 1986, the United States Congress passed the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act which required a uniformed standard for obtaining commercial driver licensing in the United States.

This act and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations define which commercial motor vehicles require a CDL and are classified into three groups:

  • Hauling hazardous materials
  • Needing to be placarded
  • Any automotive designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver.
Class A
Any combination of vehicles with a gross weight combination rating (GWCR) of 26,001 or more pounds provided the gross vehicle weight rating of the (GVWR) vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
Class B
A single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any automotive towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR.
Class C
A single vehicle or combination weighing less than 26,001 pounds GVWR. This class additionally applies to vehicles which meet the following criteria:

Endorsements can be added to the basic CDL:

T - Combination of vehicles with double or triple trailers.
N - Vehicles used to haul liquids or gaseous materials in permanent tanks or portable tanks having a rating capacity of 1,000 gallons or more.
P - Any vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver.
H - Any vehicle used to transport hazardous materials in placardable amounts.
X - Any tank vehicle used to transport placardable amounts of hazardous materials.

One or more written knowledge tests must be passed before any CDL, or endorsement permit, is granted:

  1. All persons must take The General Knowledge test.
  2. The Passenger Transport Test is optional.
  3. The Air brake test to see if a vehicle has air brakes is optional.
  4. Combination Vehicle testing is optional.
  5. Any driver hauling waste, or hazardous materials requiring placarding, must take the Hazardous Material Test.
  6. If the driver is hauling liquids in bulk he or she must take the Tanker Test.
  7. The Doubles/Triples Test is optional.

A skills test composed of the following three elements is required:

  1. A pre-trip inspection of the vehicle being driven.
  2. A test of basic vehicle control.
  3. An On-road test involving a variety of traffic situations.

A valid medical examination must be presented with any CDL application.

The CDL manual and additional documents can be obtained from the Indiana BMV.

Operators with For Hire Endorsement
(Replaces Chauffeur and Public Passenger Chauffeur)

Effective January 1st, 2017, the BMV will no longer issue Chauffer or Public Passenger Chauffeur licenses. The For-Hire Endorsement to an Operator's license is now required to operate the vehicles listed below. These vehicles are not subject to CDL requirements.

A For-Hire Endorsement is required to operate the following:

  1. A motor vehicle that is:
    • Registered as having a gross weight of at least sixteen (16,000) pounds.
    • Used to transport property for hire.
  2. A motor vehicle that is used to transport passengers for hire.

Vehicles that require an operator's license with the For-Hire endorsement require compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations including (49 CFR 391) physical qualifications, unless exempted under state law (IC 8-2.1-24-18).

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