To be eligible for a commercial driver's license (CDL) in the state of Idaho, you must fulfill a few requirements before you head to your county driver's license office.
For starters, you must be at least 18 years old and either possess a valid Class D (non-commercial) license or have passed the necessary tests required to obtain such a license. Keep in mind that if you would like to obtain your Class D license and CDL concurrently, you are required by law to have at least one year of driving experience under your belt.
Once you have fulfilled the below-mentioned requirements and you have adequately studied Idaho's Commercial Driver's License Manual, take a trip to your county driver's license office. A clerk will check your driving record, collect your fees, and administer the appropriate knowledge (written) tests. Be sure to bring your current driver's license, Social Security card, money to pay the necessary fees, and your medical certificate.
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DOT Medical Certificate
As safety is the first priority, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has set in place a physical examination requirement to help determine whether a driver is medically qualified to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.
You can receive this exam through any medical examiner who is licensed, certified, and/or registered with the state to perform such exams, including doctors of medicine and osteopathy, physician assistants, advanced practice nurses, and chiropractors.
Once you pass the physical exam, you'll receive a certificate that is valid for two years. Bring this certificate with you to the county driver's license office when you apply for a CDL. If you are uncertain that you meet the FMCSR qualifications, refer to Section 13 of the Commercial Driver's License Manual. You can download a PDF version of the manual, or obtain a copy of these regulations from:
- Idaho Trucking Association
To best prepare for the knowledge (written) tests and three-part skills (road) test, study the state's Commercial Driver's License Manual as well as the Idaho Driver's Manual. You can also pick up both at your county driver's license office.
Familiarize yourself with all material associated with the written tests. The manual includes everything you will be tested on during the knowledge tests as well as information you will come across during the skills test.
Knowledge Tests and Endorsements
Depending on how you will use your CDL (to haul hazardous materials, to pull double or triple trailers, or to drive tank or passenger vehicles), you will need the proper endorsements. These require additional training and testing.
- Hazardous Materials (H): The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act requires you to obtain placards if you are transporting hazardous materials. In addition, you are required to take a written test as well as to undergo a security threat assessment (background check). If you have an existing CDL with a hazmat endorsement, you will be notified when a security threat assessment is required.
- Double/Triple (T): You only need this if you are pulling two or three trailers. A "jeep" (dolly or load divider), considered one trailer, does not fall under this category.
- Tank Vehicles (N): If you drive a vehicle with tanks that contain liquids or gaseous materials and are either permanently or temporarily attached to your vehicle or chassis (such as portable tanks able to hold more than 1,000 gallons and cargo tanks), you will need this endorsement.
- Passenger (P): If you drive a vehicle that can carry 16 or more passengers (including you), you will need to take written and skills tests to obtain this endorsement.
- School Bus (S): If you drive a vehicle that transports preprimary, primary, or secondary school students to and from home, school, and/or school-sponsored events, you will need to take written and skills tests to obtain this endorsement. Keep in mind that federal law requires you to hold a CDL with a passenger endorsement as well as a school bus endorsement in order to operate a school bus.
After you have passed the written tests, you have two options. First, you can opt for a CDL instruction permit (valid for up to 180 days) to get behind-the-wheel training on public roads and highways. While using this permit, you must either hold a valid regular driver's license or have passed the appropriate vision, sign/symbol, and knowledge tests required to obtain one.
You must also be accompanied by a CDL holder who is licensed to drive the vehicle that you are driving and who occupies the seat right beside you. However, permit holders cannot drive a vehicle transporting hazardous materials.
Your other option is to take the next step to getting your CDL, the skills test.
Simply make an appointment with a CDL skills tester to take the skills test. If need be, you can rent a vehicle from some testers. Be sure you have with you proof of identification, proof of insurance, and your receipts as proof that you have passed the written tests and paid the skills test fee requirement.
Set aside about three hours to complete the skills test, which includes the vehicle inspection, a basic controls test, and a road test. You must take the test in a vehicle of the same class as that which you will eventually operate on the job. For example, if you take the skills test using a vehicle that does not have air brakes, you will get a restriction on your license stating that you are not licensed to operate a vehicle equipped with them.
When you have completed the testing process, give the county driver's license office 24 hours to record your results. After that they will issue you a CDL. Remember, merely passing the exams does not grant you the authority to operate a commercial vehicle. You must first obtain the actual CDL.
Your test results are valid for one year. After that time, if you still do not have the appropriate license, you must retake all exams. If you fail any portion of the tests, you can retest after three days, but you must pay test fees all over again.
- CDL instruction permit: $19.50
- Replacement (duplicate) CDL or permit: $11.50
- Additional endorsements (after issuance of the CDL): $11.50 each
- Knowledge (written) tests: $3 each
- Skills test: $55 ($5 to the driver's license office and $50 to the skills tester