How to Get a Commercial Drivers License in Colorado
A Colorado CDL, or commercial drivers license, is a DMV-issued authorization for motorists to operate commercial vehicles. These may include large and heavy vehicles, passenger vehicles or specialty vehicles, such as those transporting hazardous materials. Not all commercial motorists are certified to drive all commercial vehicles, however. Motorists can select which type of CDL license is most appropriate for their needs from a variety of classes and endorsements.
To qualify for a truck driver license, Colorado residents must meet numerous state and federal requirements. These include restrictions on age, residency, citizenship, health and driving history. CDL applicants who meet the essential criteria must then pass several tests to earn their licenses. Required exams include written tests, on-road exams and supplemental sections specific to endorsements, as needed. These strict qualifications ensure that motorists operating commercial vehicles are properly trained and equipped to protect themselves – and others – on the road.
CDL Requirements in Colorado
Colorado residents must comply with a series of CDL license requirements to get their licenses. Applicants must:
- Hold valid regular drivers licenses.
- Pass the DOT medical exam.
- Provide their Social Security Numbers, legal IDs and evidence of residency and citizenship.
- Submit the appropriate application forms and fees.
- Pass the tests associated with the type and class of license they seek.
State and federal CDL requirements prohibit motorists from obtaining commercial drivers licenses if they:
- Commit qualifying crimes, violations or offenses.
- Fail required written, on-road or health exams.
- Suffer from medical conditions, including drug or alcohol abuse, which prevents them from safely operating commercial motor vehicles.
How to Apply for a CDL Permit in Colorado
Applying for a Colorado CDL learners permit is the first step to obtaining a commercial license. A CDL permit allows motorists to practice driving commercial vehicles under the supervision of properly licensed and experienced CDL holders or instructors. Motorists can apply for permits at their local DMV offices.
CDL permit requirements state that motorists must hold their licenses for a minimum of 14 days before testing for their licenses. Permits expire after 180 days, unless extended. Note that CDL permit rules prevent motorists from extending their permits more than once.
CDL Written Test in Colorado
Motorists cannot take an online CDL test in Colorado; applicants must complete the CDL general knowledge test in person, at a DMV office. CDL permit test questions are pulled directly from the material covered in the state CDL manual. Motorists must achieve a score of at least 80 percent in order to pass.
Keep in mind that additional CDL written test questions may apply to motorists seeking endorsements on their licenses.
Colorado CDL Training Schools & Practice Tests
Attendance at a CDL school is encouraged in Colorado, but not required. All applicants will need to study the CDL handbook to prepare for testing, but may otherwise conduct their CDL prep however they prefer. Options include:
- CDL training programs and materials available through local facilities or online.
- CDL practice test questions and review.
- Practice driving with a certified trainer.
How to Get a CDL License in Colorado
Applicants exploring how to get a CDL should begin by obtaining a DOT physical exam, since failure to pass such an exam will prevent them from moving forward. Next, motorists should complete the appropriate application form. Along with their exam results and CDL application packets, motorists should take the following to any DMV office:
- Regular drivers license
- Proof of residency, age, identity and Social Security Number
- Payment for applicable fees
Qualified motorists who apply for CDL licenses will be issued CDL learners permits. When they are ready to test for their licenses, permit holders can schedule appointments with the DMV, or their driving schools, to take their tests and receive their licenses.
CDL Driving Test in Colorado
The Colorado CDL driving test consists of three foundational parts, plus any supplemental portions necessary to validate applicants’ desired endorsements. The on-road portion of a CDL test can be administered by the DMV by appointment, or via authorized, third-party testers. Applicants can review a comprehensive list of everything covered in the road test in the corresponding section of the CDL manual.
How to Get a CDL as a Military Member in Colorado
Colorado’s military CDL program is titled Vets-2-Trucks. The program allows eligible United States Armed Forces servicemembers to translate their military vehicle experience into civilian commercial drivers licenses. To participate in the CDL for veterans program, residents must:
- Have no less than two years’ experience driving military vehicles.
- Have waivers signed by their commanding officers.
- Be actively serving, or have separated from the military less than one year ago.
- Pass the written and applicable endorsement exams for a CDL.
- Pay the required fees.
Waiver recipients are exempt from the driving skills portion of the licensing tests, thus reducing the time and expense involved in obtaining their CDLs.
CDL Medical Exams in Colorado
Colorado complies with new DOT physical requirements by mandating that all applicants submit their CDL medical exam results when applying for commercial licenses. Applicants must independently arrange for a CDL physical to be performed by a licensed DoT medical examiner before seeking a commercial drivers license.
Note that motorists who do not pass their exams are not eligible for commercial licenses. Licensed CDL holders must regularly renew their medical certifications in order to keep their licenses current and valid.
Types of CDL Classes in Colorado
Colorado offers three classes of CDL licenses. These include the Class A CDL license, Class B CDL license and Class C CDL license. They are further defined as the following:
- Class A CDL holders may drive combination vehicles
- Class B CDL holders may operate trucks and light tractor-trailers
- Class C CDL holders may drive passenger or hazmat vehicles, with the proper endorsements
Types of CDL Endorsements in Colorado
Colorado CDL endorsements are notations on CDL licenses that permit motorists to operate special types of commercial vehicles. Available options in the state currently include the below:
- Double and Triple Trailers Endorsement (T)
- Tanker Endorsement (N)
- Passenger Endorsement (P)
- School Bus Endorsement (S)
- Hazardous Materials Endorsement (H)
- Tanker and Hazmat Endorsement (X)
Interstate vs. Intrastate Commercial Drivers Licenses in Colorado
Colorado drivers need the interstate CDL license if they wish to operate commercial vehicles across state lines. In some cases, motorists staying within the state may need interstate CDLs if their passengers or cargo will be crossing state borders at some other point in their journeys.
Motorists may hold intrastate CDL licenses, instead, if remaining in Colorado, and transporting only goods and passengers also staying within state borders.
Commercial Driving License Fees in Colorado
Applicants must be prepared to pay the CDL license cost figures at the time of application or testing. The pricing is as follows:
- Commercial license fee: $15.50
- Learners permit: $16.80
- Duplicate licenses or permits: $9
Colorado Commercial Drivers License Forms
Note: DMV forms change regularly. The forms provided above are current based on the date of writing.
- CDL General Information from Colorado.gov
- CDL Endorsements & Requirements from Colorado.gov
- CDL Initial Application Information from Colorado.gov