Licensure Requirements for Truck Drivers

Licensure Requirements for Truck Drivers

As with any person that operates a motor vehicle, truck drivers must have the correct license in order to adhere to state and federal regulations. Oftentimes, a regular driver’s license is not sufficient, especially if the vehicle that they are driving is over a certain weight. So what are the particular licensure requirements for truck drivers?

To begin with, truck drivers must possess a valid driver’s license and have a clean driving record. The driver’s license must be valid for that state in which they are applying. Records from other states will be checked in addition to the state that the person is applying in. If the truck driver is driving a vehicle that is 26,000 pounds or over they must also obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) from the state that they live in.

If the truck driver is transporting hazardous material (commonly referred to as “hazmat”) then they have to obtain a CDL no matter what size truck they are driving. In some states, however, an ordinary driver’s license is enough if the driver is simply driving a van or a light weight truck.

In order to get a CDL, a driver has to be at least 21 years old. They must also pass a written examination regarding the rules of the road and then pass a physical examination that shows that they are able to safely operate a commercial vehicle. If a person has had their license suspended or revoked in any state they will ordinarily not be able to qualify for a CDL. In addition to not having a suspended license, the driver cannot have been convicted of drug crime, a felony that involved a motor vehicle, a hit-and-run accident that caused a death, or driving under the influence.

Once the CDL has been obtained then the person has to pass a physical exam every 2 years after that. It is important that they continue to have at least 20/40 vision with glasses or contacts, a 70-degree field of vision in both eyes, and possess good hearing. Those that have epilepsy are generally not permitted to be interstate truck drivers.

Some candidates choose to enroll in truck driving schools or courses so that they can prepare for the CDL and the truck driving jobs in general. Although this is not always mandatory, or necessary, many other skills can be learned during these training sessions as well which could be helpful in assisting the candidate in finding a good job in the business. There are actually some states, however, that do require drivers to take a training course in basic truck driving techniques before they will issue a CDL so it helps to check first.

If a driver is driving hazardous material, not only must they possess a CDL but they must also obtain a hazardous material endorsement. In addition to this, they have to be fingerprinted and go through a criminal background check through the Transportation Security Administration.

Some states will permit those that are 18 and over to drive trucks within their state boundaries but not over state lines. This is important to look into if you are younger than 21 and are considering a truck driving career, especially if you want to be a long-haul truck driver.

In addition to getting the proper licensure, some trucking companies have stricter rules than others. For instance, some companies want their employees to be at least 22 years of age. They also want their employees to be able to lift heavy objects and to have been driving heavy trucks for at least 3 years. Some might also require a high school diploma or GED.