How to Get a Commercial Drivers License in Georgia
A Georgia CDL license is a distinct class of license that authorizes motorists to operate commercial vehicles not covered by private licenses. Motorists may need a commercial drivers license to legally operate buses, taxis, tractor trailers or vehicles transporting hazardous materials, among others. Most motorists decide to pursue CDL certification to increase their employment opportunities and wage potential. Although drivers must hold the standard drivers license before they can hold a commercial one, they may not hold commercial licenses from more than one state at a time.
The process of applying for a truck driver license is administered at the state level, but is partially regulated at the federal level, as well. Requirements such as the CDL physical exam and TSA background checks, for instance, are mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and implemented by state authorities. Familiarizing oneself with the full licensing process in advance can reduce the time and barriers involved in obtaining a license.
CDL Requirements in Georgia
CDL license requirements are set by both the state and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Per national rules, applicants must be 18 years of age or older to apply for Commercial Drivers Licenses, and at least 21 years of age to drive commercial vehicles that will cross state lines. Other CDL requirements for applicants include:
- Passing written knowledge tests and driving skills tests.
- Passing federal CDL medical exams.
- Documenting identity, age, residency and Social Security Number.
- Having a private drivers license and a clean driving record.
Federal CDL license requirements disqualify motorists from receiving or keeping CDLs if the fail to follow state-enforced rules. Your CDL will be in jeopardy if you:
- Are convicted of drug or alcohol violations.
- Leave the scene of a vehicle accident.
- Commit felonies or other major crimes.
- Commit certain traffic violations.
- Lose your personal drivers license privileges.
How to Apply for a CDL Permit in Georgia
To apply for a Georgia CDL learners permit, applicants must pick up application forms from a DMV Service Center. They must also schedule, complete and pass a CDL physical exam. Applicants can then take their applications, exam results and the following to the DMV:
- Proof of age and identity
- Proof of residency and citizenship
- A Georgia drivers license
- Any waivers that apply to their applications, such as military or school bus waivers
- Payment for required fees
As CDL permit rules mirror regular learner license rules; once applicants have been issued permits, they may drive only in authorized vehicles, and when properly supervised. They must also test for their licenses or apply for permit renewal before their permits expire, or they will be forced to reapply before continuing.
CDL Written Test in Georgia
The Georgia CDL general knowledge test is administered at the DMV when applicants apply for their CDL permits. The CDL written test includes both core material and supplemental sections relative to the endorsements for which applicants are applying. Note that no online CDL test is offered; all written testing must be completed in person.
CDL permit test questions are drawn from the state’s Commercial Drivers Manual. Applicants must answer 80 percent of questions, or more, correctly to pass. Applicants who fail their written tests must wait to take the test again, and pay a new fee for the retest.
Georgia CDL Training Schools & Practice Tests
Georgia applicants are not required to enroll in CDL school as part of the application process. Instead, they are free to rely on alternative CDL prep methods including, but not limited to:
- One-on-one CDL training.
- Independent study of the CDL handbook.
- A trustworthy CDL practice test.
Students who not otherwise have access to the types of vehicles in which they need to practice and test, however, may find a CDL school the simplest and most cost-effective option for their needs.
How to Get a CDL License in Georgia
Drivers in GA apply for CDL licenses when they apply for their permits. They do not need any additional CDL application documents, or to follow further steps, to apply for their licenses. Once you get your CDL permit, the only step necessary to receive a license is to schedule and pass the appropriate road and endorsement tests – when you are ready.
CDL Driving Test in Georgia
The Georgia CDL test of on-road skills must be taken only after scheduling an appointment. Motorists can schedule their tests Tuesdays through Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday mornings before noon. Takers of the CDL driving test must check in at the appropriate DMV center 20 minutes before their appointment times, and have with them:
- The specific vehicle associated with the license class being pursued.
- Proof of car registration and auto insurance for that vehicle.
- Their CDL permits.
- Payment for testing fees.
Motorists who fail their road tests do not need to reapply for the CDL in GA, but will need to schedule retests, and repay the testing fees.
How to Get a CDL as a Military Member in Georgia
Some military CDL holders qualify for exemptions from the road test portion of the Georgia commercial drivers license application process. Eligible applicants must:
- Be authorized to drive military vehicles.
- Be in Active Duty service, or recently released on honorable grounds.
- Have no less than two years’ experience driving military vehicles before applying.
- Have a waiver signed by their commanding officers.
- Pass the CDL written knowledge test(s).
- Pay all associated fees.
Keep in mind that the waivers for CDL for veterans and active-duty personnel will exempt applicants only from the road test section of the application process. Applicants seeking certain endorsements, such as passenger endorsements, may not qualify for waivers, even if they meet all other program criteria.
CDL Medical Exams in Georgia
Georgia applicants must abide by new DOT physical requirements, which mandate physical exams for all prospective CDL holders. The CDL physical exam must be conducted by a certified DOT medical examiner, and the results must be made available to the DMV, as part of the application process.
The purpose of the CDL medical exam is to prevent motorists with health conditions that make it unsafe for them to drive from getting behind the wheel. Medical certifications must be periodically renewed, and motorists who fail their renewals, or allow them to expire, will have their licenses suspended or revoked.
Types of CDL Classes in Georgia
Georgia commercial drivers licenses come in three classes: the Class A license, Class B license and Class C license. Each class applies to certain types or categories of vehicles. The classes are further outlined as:
- Motorists need a Class A CDL to drive tractor trailer combinations with gross weight ratings of 26,001 or more pounds.
- Motorists need a Class B CDL to operate single vehicles, such as buses, with gross weight ratings of 26,001, or combination vehicles towing trailers with a total weight below 10,000 pounds.
- Motorists need a Class C CDL to drive hazmat vehicles or large passenger vehicles.
Types of CDL Endorsements in Georgia
Some types of commercial vehicles require that motorists have not only commercial licenses, but also specific types of CDL endorsements. Common endorsements in the state of Georgia include the following:
- Passenger Endorsement (P)
- Tanker Endorsement (N)
- Hazmat Endorsement (H)
- Double/Triple Trailer Endorsement (T)
- Combination Tank and Hazmat Endorsement (X)
- School Bus Endorsement (S)
Note that those seeking school bus endorsements, who will drive for public school systems, may have their application fees waived if they present signed Form DDS-1233s at the time of application or testing.
Interstate vs. Intrastate Commercial Drivers Licenses in Georgia
Motorists seeking authorization to drive commercially, only within Georgia, may apply for the intrastate CDL license. Local route bus drivers, for example, typically apply for intrastate licenses. Motorists who will cross state lines, or transport goods or passengers crossing state lines, at any time, however, must hold interstate CDL licenses.
Commercial Driving License Fees in Georgia
Georgia CDL license cost figures depend on the service being sought. Commercial licensing costs in GA are as follows:
- CDL application fee: $35
- Road test fee (initial and retest): $50
- License fee: $20
- Endorsements: $5 each