If you are ready to apply for a commercial driver's license in Hawaii, you should know there is one major requirement that sets Hawaii apart from other states. That is, you must be 21 years of age to apply?period. There is no intrastate option for those between 18 and 21 years of age, as there is in other states.
Of course, in Hawaii the interstate alternative is out of the question anyway. And while the state technically has a grand total of three so-called interstate highways, this is more the product of politics than roads that actually cross state borders.
Thus, if you have an inkling to land a job with one of the sightseeing companies as a tour bus operator, you will have to wait until you are 21. Even if you are coming from another state and already possess a CDL, you will have to wait until turning the proper age before you can put the document to use in Hawaii.
One other thing to keep in mind is that each county has specific offices that handle the CDL examination process. By no means can you just waltz into any office expecting to begin the procedures.
In most cases, there are only one or two sites per island. So make sure you are headed to the right place. The proper office locations are listed below.
Other than these two quirks, the rest of the process, coupled with the information discussed above in the federal CDL overview, is essentially the same as in other states:
- Have a passport-type photo taken, or bring a 2" x 3" head shot that looks official. The photo must be in color.
- Fill out the CDL application.
- Present the examiner with your current driver's license, your Social Security card, and a certified birth certificate to verify your age.
- Supply a DOT medical report proving that you are fit to apply for a CDL.
- Take and pass an eye exam.
- Take and pass the written general knowledge test and any of the written endorsement exams. All of the information on the test is gleaned from the CDL Handbook.
If you make it this far with flying colors, you will be the proud owner of a CDL instruction permit. This document allows you to practice driving in the class of vehicle you intend to take the actual road test in. Of course, you must always be under the supervision of a licensed commercial driver while you are practicing. The permit is valid for six months, but if you need more time to prepare, you can renew it.
Once you have undergone the necessary training or otherwise feel ready to take the next step, you can schedule an appointment to take the skills test. The skills test, or on-road driving test, is administered only at select offices. If you meet with success on the skills test, you simply pay the final fees (see below) and you are ready for the road.
A CDL is valid for six years if you are between the ages of 21 and 71. It is only valid in two-year stretches if you are 72 or older. Once you crest that age, your DOT medical clearance will also be scrutinized more thoroughly.
- General knowledge test: $15
- Endorsement tests: $5 each
- CDL instruction permit or driver's license: $30
- Complete skills test (including vehicle inspection, basic control, and road skills): $50
Depending on the type of commercial license you receive and the endorsements you earn for it, your CDL may come with one or more restrictions:
- Code K: CDL operator cannot drive a commercial vehicle with air brakes. This occurs when an applicant fails to pass the air brake portion of the test with a score of 80% or higher.
- Code O: The CDL applicant is restricted from driving commercial vehicles with automatic transmissions.
- Code X: If you have a "P" (passenger) endorsement , this restriction limits you to only driving B or C class commercial vehicles.
- Code Y: Applies to those with a "P" endorsement who can only drive Class C vehicles.
- Code Z: CDL holder cannot operate a Class A commercial vehicle with combination trailers.
Note: In the rural locations, it might be best to call first to double-check the testing hours and to confirm the site.
Hawaii (Big Island)
- 70 East Kaahumanu Ave., Suite A-17
- Aiona Street and Ala Malama Avenue
- (Definitely call ahead at this location, due to staffing shortages.)