How to Get a Commercial Drivers License in Arkansas
There is more than one type of Arkansas CDL, or commercial drivers license available to interested drivers. Each type authorizes holders to operate a specific type or range of commercial vehicles. While most people are familiar with the idea of a truck driver license, many are not aware that motorists need a CDL to drive large passenger vehicles or to transport passengers and cargo crossing state lines. In some cases, license holders need endorsements on their licenses, as well.
Both state and federal regulations apply to CDL license applications, testing and retention. Prospective commercial motorists must provide the DMV with numerous forms of documentation to prove their eligibility. They must pass written, on-road and medical exams demonstrating their ability to work and drive safely. There are many ways to prep for CDL application and testing, and getting a commercial license does not have to be time-consuming or expensive. Understanding the requirements in advance can significantly simplify the process.
CDL Requirements in Arkansas
Arkansas CDL requirements state that motorists must have regular drivers licenses that are in good standing in order to apply for commercial licenses. Applicants must also be 18 years of age or older, and pass a series of tests, including written and road skills tests and a DOT-mandated physical exam. Applicants must be able to document residency, citizenship and identity, as well. Under CDL license requirements, applicants seeking hazmat endorsements must undergo Transportation Safety Authority background checks before licensing.
Applicants may be disqualified from holding commercial licenses for committing certain offenses. These include, but are not limited to:
- Drug and alcohol violations.
- Leaving the scene of vehicle accidents.
- Committing felonies.
- Serious traffic violations.
- Loss or revocation of their regular drivers license privileges.
How to Apply for a CDL Permit in Arkansas
Applying for an Arkansas CDL learners permit is a key first step to procuring a commercial drivers license. As with regular license learners permits, getting CDL permit credentials grants applicants the ability to practice driving under the supervision of licensed trainers. CDL permit holders may not drive commercial vehicles alone, and may be subject to other restrictions. CDL permit rules dictate that applicants:
- Be 18 years of age or older.
- Hold valid drivers licenses.
- Complete and submit the correct DMV application.
- Provide proof of identity, residency and citizenship.
- Supply documentation of their DOT physical exam
- Pay the associated fees.
Under CDL permit requirements, motorists cannot sit for their licensing exams on the same day in which they apply for their permits.
CDL Written Test in Arkansas
Arkansas CDL licensees cannot take an online CDL test. When they are ready to sit for the CDL general knowledge test, they must take them in person, at a DMV office. CDL permit test questions are taken directly from the manual, and applicants must achieve a score of 80 percent, or better, in order to pass. When taking the CDL written test, motorists applying for certain endorsements, such as the school bus endorsement, may be subject to additional questions or sections on the designated topic(s).
Arkansas CDL Training Schools & Practice Tests
There are numerous CDL training options available to new commercial driving candidates. All applicants need to review the CDL handbook, and are encouraged to use CDL practice test materials to assess their readiness before sitting for licensing exams.
In addition to the CDL book, some prospective licensees may wish to enroll in a CDL school in order to help them prepare. Schools can vary in cost, but may provide vehicles in which students can take their licensing tests and other valuable resources.
How to Get a CDL License in Arkansas
Arkansas applicants exploring how to get a CDL should begin by obtaining a copy of the state’s CDL book, and thoroughly reviewing the material. They should then collect their documents, complete a CDL application form and take both to their local DMV office for processing. To apply for CDL licenses, applicants must:
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Have proof of age, residency and citizenship.
- Have a valid drivers license.
- Provide the DMV with the results of a DOT physical exam.
- Sign any required self-certifications applicable to their applications.
- Pay the associated fees.
- Pass the applicable written and road skills tests.
Some motorists may find that the easiest way to get your CDL is to enroll in a school which provides comprehensive licensing services. However, CDL school attendance is not mandatory in Arkansas.
CDL Driving Test in Arkansas
The Arkansas CDL driving test has three distinct sections. Motorists must demonstrate the ability to conduct a vehicle inspection, show basic control over the vehicle and its functions and complete an on-road test course.
The CDL test may include additional skills or components related to endorsements that licensees wish to receive. Driving tests must be scheduled in advance, and applicants must test in vehicles matching, or approximating, those they will be licensed to operate.
How to Get a CDL as a Military Member in Arkansas
Servicemembers in the United States Armed Forces may qualify for Arkansas military CDL waivers to lessen the CDL requirements. Waivers allow eligible applicants to skip the skills testing portion of the CDL licensing process, and receive their commercial licenses more quickly and cheaply than other applicants. The CDL for veterans program is open only to applicants who:
- Are actively serving in the military, or who separated on honorable terms within the last year.
- Were authorized to drive military-grade vehicles during their service.
- Actively drove military vehicles for a minimum period of time before separating or applying for their CDL licenses.
Waivers must be signed by applicants’ commanding officers, and only exempt applicants from the driving skills portion of testing. Motorists must still take all of the applicable written portions of the CDL licensing exam.
CDL Medical Exams in Arkansas
In accordance with new DOT physical requirements, Arkansas requires that CDL license applicants receive federally-mandated physicals before applying for learners permits. The physicals must be conducted by a certified DOT medical examiner, and applicants must bring the results of their exams to the DMV when applying.
Applicants who fail the CDL medical exam will not be able to test for or receive certain types of CDLs. CDL physical exam results are good for two years, and license holders must continue to pass the exams and keep current results on file with the DMV in order to maintain their licenses.
Types of CDL Classes in Arkansas
In accordance with federal guidelines, Arkansas offers three classes of CDLs. Each class is based on commercial vehicles’ weights and functions. Motorists must apply for specific types of licenses, dependent on their anticipated needs.
With a Class A license, motorists can drive combination vehicles such as tractor trailers with gross weights of 26,001 or more pounds. With a Class B CDL license, motorists can drive single vehicles with similar gross weights, or such vehicles towing other vehicles. A Class C CDL license allows drivers to operate large passenger vehicles or hazmat transportation vehicles.
Types of CDL Endorsements in Arkansas
Arkansas CDL endorsements are additional certifications commercial drivers license holders need in order to drive certain types of commercial vehicles. State endorsement options include the following:
- School Bus Endorsement (S)
- Double/Triple Trailer Endorsement (T)
- Passenger Endorsement (P)
- Hazmat Endorsement (H)
- Tanker Endorsement (N)
- Combination Tank and Hazmat Endorsement (X)
Keep in mind that applicants must test for endorsements when taking their road skills exams.
Interstate vs. Intrastate Commercial Drivers Licenses in Arkansas
In general, commercial motorists can hold intrastate CDL licenses if they expect to work exclusively within the state. On the other hand, residents who expect to cross state lines in commercial vehicles must hold interstate CDL licenses. Arkansas further breaks down these standard categories into:
- Non-excepted interstate licenses.
- Excepted interstate licenses.
- Non-excepted intrastate licenses.
- Excepted intrastate licenses.
CDL license holders transporting only certain types of goods covered under state exemption guidelines may qualify for excepted licenses, and may not be required to pass federal DOT medical exams.
Commercial Driving License Fees in Arkansas
CDL license cost can vary, depending on what types of licenses and endorsements applicants pursue. CDL permit cost in Arkansas includes:
- Commercial drivers license: $42
- CDL license test fee: $50
Arkansas CDL Forms
- Medical Certification Self Certification Affidavit
- Medical Examination Report (MER) Form, MCSA-5875
- Medical Release Form
Note: DMV forms change regularly. The forms provided above are current based on the date of writing.
- Commercial Drivers License Helpdesk from Dfa.arkansas.gov
- CDL Requirements from Dfa.arkansas.gov
- Commercial Drivers Medical Certification from Dfa.arkansas.gov