How to Get a Commercial Drivers License in Florida
A Florida CDL, or commercial drivers license, is separate and distinct from a standard license. Although losing a license or being ticketed on your standard license can impact your CDL license status, both licenses must be applied for using entirely separate processes. Commercial licenses are regulated, not only by the state, but by federal agencies, as well, and therefore, carry additional requirements and restrictions. For example, motorists must be at least 18 years of age to apply for a truck drivers license, and must pass a federally-mandated physical exam to qualify.
Motorists can select from several types and classes of CDLs to find the combination most suited to their needs. Some applicants will need endorsements to drive their intended vehicles, as well. The exact testing and application requirements motorists are held to may vary, based on the endorsements they select. For example, motorists who apply for hazmat endorsements are subject to additional federal standards that do not apply to others.
CDL Requirements in Florida
Florida CDL license requirements state that motorists must be at least 18 years of age to apply for an intrastate CDL, and 21 years of age to apply for an interstate CDL. Applicants must also:
- Hold a valid Florida drivers license.
- Have a clean driving record.
- Pass CDL medical exams and DMV vision exams.
- Have proof of identity, Social Security Number and residency.
State CDL requirements prohibit motorists from receiving CDL licenses, as well. You cannot apply for a FL CDL if you:
- Are convicted of felonies or other violent crimes.
- Fail or lose your medical certification.
- Engage in unapproved uses of mobile devices while driving.
- Hold or attempt to receive CDL licenses in more than one state at a time.
How to Apply for a CDL Permit in Florida
Motorists must apply for the CDL learners permit in person, at the DMV. Before applying, drivers must undergo a CDL physical. They must then take the following to the DMV to apply:
- A valid license to drive
- The CDL medical exam results
- A Social Security card
- Two documents proving legal residency in Florida
As part of getting a CDL permit, applicants may need to sign DMV certifications authorizing background and driving history checks. They will need to take the written portions of their CDL tests, as well.
Under CDL permit rules, once motorists have been issued their permits, they can only drive within state restrictions. These include:
- Driving only under appropriate supervision.
- Not driving commercial vehicles carrying cargo or passengers.
Commercial license permits can be obtained in person or by mail from the DMV.
CDL Written Test in Florida
Motorists cannot take online CDL tests in Florida. Instead, they must take the CDL general knowledge test in person, at the DMV, when applying for their permits. CDL permit test questions cover the material in the state Commercial Drivers Handbook, and motorists must earn an 80 percent, or better, to pass. Strict rules about how the CDL written test may be delivered apply. Applicants in need of interpreters or other accommodations are encouraged to contact the DMV in advance for specifics.
Florida CDL Training Schools & Practice Tests
Florida does not require that motorists attend CDL school. However, applicants may engage in CDL prep as they see fit, including:
- Using CDL practice test
- Getting CDL training from a licensed and capable CDL holder.
- Studying the Florida CDL handbook
How to Get a CDL License in Florida
Florida CDL application forms are available only as hard copies from the DMV. When you apply for CDL permit credentials, you submit all the necessary documentation and signatures needed. To complete the process to get your CDL, you simply need to schedule and pass your road skills test and pay the corresponding fees.
CDL Driving Test in Florida
The Florida DMV no longer offers the road skills portion of the CDL test. To arrange and complete the CDL driving test, applicants who have completed all of the DMV-mediated portions of the application process must contact an authorized, third-party testing site.
All sites will conduct the same key sections of the CDL driving test, including a vehicle inspection, basic controls test and the on-road test. Additional components, such as those required for endorsements, will vary by site and applicant need. Applicants should check with the sites they select for detailed instructions.
How to Get a CDL as a Military Member in Florida
Military CDL holders seeking Florida commercial drivers licenses may be able to skip the road skills portion of the testing requirements by utilizing a military waiver. Waivers are available to applicants who:
- Are serving in the United States Armed Forces Active Duty or have been honorably separated from the same.
- Have a personal drivers license with a clean driving record.
- Have at least two years’ experience driving military vehicles.
To participate in the CDL for veterans program, applicants must have their waivers signed by their commanding officers within 90 days of separating from service. They must complete all steps in the application process, aside from the road skills test, within 120 days of separation. Motorists seeking certain endorsements may not qualify for road skills test exemption, however.
CDL Medical Exams in Florida
Florida motorists must pass a federally mandated CDL medical exam to be eligible for a commercial drivers license. Some motorists who intend to engage only in very limited activities may qualify for “excepted” licenses not subject to passing the CDL physical, but will need their physical results as part of the application process.
These new DOT physical requirements are enforced at the federal level to ensure that motorists with dangerous health conditions do not get behind the wheel of commercial vehicles, endangering themselves or others. All physicals must be conducted by authorized DOT medical examiners, and be made available to the DMV at the time of application.
Types of CDL Classes in Florida
Florida commercial drivers license holders must choose between three classes of licenses: Class A CDL, Class B CDL and Class C CDL. The classes are further outlined as:
- A Class A license will allow them to drive tractor trailers with gross weight ratings of 26,001 or more pounds.
- A Class B license will authorize them to drive single large or heavy vehicles, such as buses, or combination vehicles within certain weight limits.
- A Class C license allows motorists to drive passenger vehicles or vehicles transporting hazardous materials.
Types of CDL Endorsements in Florida
Florida commercial drivers license holders may need CDL endorsements on their licenses to operate specific types of commercial vehicles. Endorsements must be sought and tested for during the application process. Options include the following:
- Double/Triple Trailer Endorsement (T)
- Passenger Endorsement (P)
- Tanker Endorsement (N)
- Hazmat Endorsement (H)
- Combination Tank and Hazmat Endorsement (X)
- School Bus Endorsement (S)
Interstate vs. Intrastate Commercial Drivers Licenses in Florida
Nationally, CDLs are divided into interstate and intrastate licenses. Intrastate CDL licenses authorize motorists only to drive commercially within their own states. Any motorists crossing state boundaries in a commercial vehicle at any time, or transporting goods or passengers that will cross state boundaries must hold interstate CDL licenses.
Florida has subcategories of excepted licenses, in which license holders operating within narrow ranges may be exempt from meeting the federal DOT medical standards usually required to hold a commercial drivers license of either type.
Commercial Driving License Fees in Florida
The Florida CDL license cost can vary, depending on how successful applicants are in their first rounds of testing and which endorsements, if any, they pursue. Common CDL permit cost factors include:
- CDL license: $75
- Endorsements: $7 each
- Written exam retest: $10
- Road skills retest: $20