How to Get a Commercial Drivers License in Michigan
A Michigan CDL must be held by all drivers operating commercial vehicles on public roads. The weight and function of an automobile determines whether it qualifies as a commercial vehicle. If you are eligible to apply for a commercial drivers license, you must choose between a standard CDL and an enhanced CDL. Enhanced licenses allow drivers to cross international borders without using a passport. Restrictions may apply.
CDL license fees vary, and must be paid for in full. Additional endorsement fees may be applied to your application. Endorsements allow drivers to operate specific vehicles or carry hazardous cargo. Not all drivers are eligible to apply for a CDL. Furthermore, specific tests must be passed before a license can be issued. Once all of the state-specific requirements are met by a commercial license applicant, he or she can begin driving professionally on state roads, and even beyond.
CDL Requirements in Michigan
All of the state’s CDL license requirements must be met before an application can be submitted. In all cases, drivers must be at least 18 years of age to apply for a CDL. In addition, applicants must be at least 21 years of age to apply for an interstate license or a hazardous materials endorsement. The CDL requirements that must be met, in addition to the above rules regarding an applicant’s age, include:
- Drivers must be citizens of the United States or lawfully allowed to live and work in the country. Residents must be United States citizens to apply for an enhanced CDL.
- Drivers must be residents of the state.
- Drivers must have valid Social Security Numbers.
- Drivers must meet all of the state’s medical requirements, and hold a medical waiver form or a DOT card.
Even if all of the above CDL license requirements are met, you may be disqualified based on your driving record. CDL applicants must not:
- Hold a license in another state.
- Have a suspended license, a revoked license, a cancelled license or a denied license.
- Have a six-point conviction or conviction while impaired in the past 24 months.
How to Apply for a CDL Permit in Michigan
Residents must hold a CDL permit for at least 14 days before applying for a full license. A CDL learners permit is used to practice your driving skills before taking the road test. Permits must be applied for, in person, at your local Secretary of State office. Follow the below steps to submit an application:
- Complete the CDL permit application form
- Provide proof of your Social Security Number
- Provide proof of citizenship or legal presence
- Provide the results of a federal background check, if you are applying for a hazmat endorsement
- Provide your current state-issued driver’s license
- Pass the vision test
- Pass the written examination (depending on the class of license and attached endorsements, you may be required to take more than one written test)
- Pay the permit fee
Once you have received your CDL permit, you may schedule a road skills test. Road skills tests must be scheduled at least two days in advance.
Note: Although an enhanced CDL allows drivers to cross international borders without the use of a passport, an enhanced CDL permit does not provide the same privileges.
CDL Written Test in Michigan
The CDL written test must be taken in person, during your permit application. If required, you may be eligible for oral tests. These are reserved for drivers who have difficulty reading. More than one test may be required if you are applying for additional endorsements. See below for a list of the state’s available tests:
- Class A Permit Test – The CDL general knowledge test requires applicants to answer 70 questions; a combination vehicle test is included in this examination
- Class B and C Permit Tests – Applicants must answer 50 questions
- School Bus, Double Trailer, Passenger and Tank Endorsement Tests – Applicants must answer 20 CDL permit test questions for each endorsement
- Hazardous Materials Endorsement Test – Applicants must answer 30 questions
- Air Brakes Test – Applicants must answer 25 questions; the vehicle used to take your skills test must be equipped with air brakes
Michigan CDL Training Schools & Practice Tests
CDL practice test questions are available in the state’s commercial driver’s license manual. The Michigan CDL handbook is available to all drivers looking to study and prepare for their examinations.
While CDL prep is recommended, drivers are not required to complete a CDL training program to qualify for a license. However, attending a CDL school improves your knowledge and skills as a commercial driver.
How to Get a CDL License in Michigan
Before drivers can apply for CDL licensure, they must hold their permits for more than 14 days. After which, a skills test can be taken. To complete the CDL application process, follow the required steps, which include:
- Bring your commercial vehicle to an approved third-party testing center. Present your DOT medical card or medical waiver to the examiner, if applicable.
- Visit your local Secretary of State branch, and pay the licensing fee.
Once paid, you will get your CDL license within two to three weeks.
CDL Driving Test in Michigan
The CDL driving test consists of three parts: a vehicle Inspection test, a basic control test and a driving test. Drivers must complete the first stage before advancing to the next. If you fail one of the stages, you will receive credit for any tests that you have already passed.
However, you must retake a failed test using the same permit. Search for CDL test centers online, or contact your local Secretary of State office for more details.
How to Get a CDL as a Military Member in Michigan
A military CDL skills waiver may be used to skip the road test when applying for a license. Eligible service members who have operated similar commercial vehicles while in the military must have a commanding officer confirm their commercial driving experience.
Complete a military CDL permit application and submit the completed waiver form with your payment to the Secretary of State’s office. All written examinations must be completed in full, and cannot be waived using this form.
Note: Active service members currently operating a commercial vehicle are exempt from getting a CDL.
CDL Medical Exams in Michigan
The state’s new DOT physical requirements must be met by all drivers applying for a license. If you certify as excepted, you are not required to provide a medical certification. However, you must complete a CDL physical exam and submit a medical examiner’s certificate if you certify as “non-excepted.” All CDL medical exams must be performed by a DOT medical examiner registered with the NRCME.
Types of CDL Classes in Michigan
A Class A license is one of three commercial categories available to Michigan residents. A breakdown of available classes and the requirements for each includes:
- A Class A license must be used to operate vehicles weighing at least 26,001 pounds, including a trailer weighing at least 10,000 pounds. Drivers are allowed to operate vehicles in Group B and C if they hold a Class A license.
- A Class B CDL must be used to operate a single vehicle with a gross weight of at least 26,001 pounds. Drivers are allowed to operate vehicles in Group C if they hold a Group B license.
- A Class C CDL must be used to operate a vehicle weighing less than 26,001 pounds carrying hazardous materials. Additional restrictions may apply.
Types of CDL Endorsements in Michigan
CDL endorsements are added to a license if the driver is carrying certain materials or operating a specific vehicle. Depending on the type of endorsement, you may be required to take additional tests. The following endorsements are available to Michigan residents:
- Hazmat Endorsement (H)
- Tanker Endorsement (N)
- Passenger Endorsement (P)
- Double or Triple Trailer Endorsement (T)
- Double or Triple Trailer and Hazmat Combination (X)
- School Bus (S)
- Intrastate Only (k)
Interstate vs. Intrastate Commercial Drivers Licenses in Michigan
An intrastate CDL restricts drivers to operating vehicles only within Michigan. An interstate CDL, on the other hand, is issued to eligible applicants driving commercial vehicles throughout all 50 states, and across certain international borders. If you are under 21 years old, you are only eligible for an intrastate CDL.
Commercial Driving License Fees in Michigan
The CDL license cost may vary, depending on whether you are applying for the first time or adding an endorsement. Drivers may be subject to additional fees from third-party testing centers. The following fees apply to all Michigan applicants:
- Standard operator’s license: $25
- Enhanced driver’s license: $45
- Standard and enhanced CDL designation (in addition to the above base fees): $25
- Standard and enhanced CDL endorsement: $5 (each)