How to Get a Commercial Drivers License in Montana
A Montana CDL is required to operate commercial vehicles within the state. There are three types of CDL licenses available to residents, depending on the type of vehicle you plan to drive professionally. Additionally, there are several endorsements you can add to your CDL if you plan to do more specific driving for your work. Not all drivers are eligible for a CDL license; in fact, applicants must meet all of the state’s requirements before submitting their applications.
Commercial drivers license tests and examinations must be passed before a permit can be issued. Applicants must take all of the applicable endorsement tests to qualify to add such an endorsement to their licenses. Montana’s CDL fees are based on the number of endorsements added, and the class of license for which you are applying.
CDL Requirements in Montana
All of the state’s CDL license requirements must be met before a permit can be issued. CDL applicants must be at least 18 years old to apply for a permit, and at least 21 years old to apply for an interstate license.
In addition, drivers must complete all applicable written and skills tests to qualify for a CDL license. MT CDL requirements state that all drivers must be citizens of the United States or lawful residents in order to apply. Keep in mind that divers convicted of certain felonies are disqualified from holding CDLs in MT.
All medical CDL requirements must be met to be successfully licensed, and a medical examiner certificate must be provided, alongside the self-certificate application form, if applicable.
How to Apply for a CDL Permit in Montana
A CDL permit must be held for at least 14 days before scheduling a skills test. A CDL learners permit can be issued to a driver with or without a Class D license present. Follow the below steps to apply for a permit in Montana:
- Visit your local MT driver’s license station (appointments must be made for all written tests, so call 866-450-8034 or visit the state’s website)
- Submit a completed self-certification form
- Submit a Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC), if applicable
- Submit proof of lawful presence in the United States
- Submit proof of identity, Social Security Number and Montana residency
- Pass the vision test.
- Pass all applicable written knowledge tests
- Pay the permit fee
CDL permits are valid for 180 days. A road skills test must be applied for within this timeframe. CDL permit rules allow drivers to renew permits at no extra cost. However, permits can only be renewed once.
CDL Written Test in Montana
The CDL written test includes questions on state laws and safety regulations set by the government. If you fail the written test, you may retake the exam the following day. However, written tests can only be retaken three times within a one-year period. One or more of the following tests must be completed by all eligible applicants:
- The CDL general knowledge test must be taken by all applicants
- The passenger transport test is required for all bus drivers
- The air brakes test is required for vehicles with air brakes
- The combination vehicles test is required for all combination vehicles
- The hazardous materials test requires a background check, and must be taken to transport hazardous materials
- The tank CDL written test must be taken if you transport liquid or gaseous materials
- The doubles/triples test is required to pull certain trailers
- The school bus test must be taken by school bus drivers
Montana CDL Training Schools & Practice Tests
CDL practice test questions are listed in the state’s commercial driver’s manual. Applicants are not required to attend CDL school or complete official courses. However, CDL prep is recommended for all tests and examinations. Chapters 10, 11, 12 and 13 of the CDL handbook specifically cover the skills test. Official CDL training is required before obtaining a hazardous materials or school bus endorsement. Note that these courses are provided and scheduled through an employer or representative.
How to Get a CDL License in Montana
Drivers may apply for CDL credentials once they have held their permits for at least 14 days. The road test must be scheduled by calling 866-450-8034, or booked through the state’s website. Applicants must perform the test in the same class and type of vehicle for which they are being licensed. Bring your vehicle to an MT MVD testing center, and present the following items:
- A valid car registration card for the vehicle
- A valid registration card for the trailer, if applicable
- A valid auto insurance card for the vehicle
- Your Medical Examiner’s Certificate
- Your CDL permit
- Your Class D license, if applicable
- Payment for the license
After completing the CDL application and passing the skills tests, you will be issued with a full CDL license.
CDL Driving Test in Montana
The road skills CDL test is divided into three sections. Drivers are asked to complete a pre-trip inspection test, a basic control test and an on-road driving test. Applicants must pass each of the following stages before advancing to the next:
- Pre-Trip Inspection Test – Drivers must identify the vehicle’s operating systems and perform safety checks
- Basic Control Skills Test – Drivers must be able to complete the following maneuvers:
- A 90-degree alley-docking move
- Backing up in a straight line
- Turning while backing up
- On-Road CDL Driving Test – Drivers must perform general driving maneuvers, such as braking, maintaining lane positions and observing traffic laws
If you fail the CDL on-road driving test, you must wait seven days before taking it again. Failure to appear for your appointment will result in a $20 reappointment fee.
How to Get a CDL as a Military Member in Montana
A military CDL waiver may be used to upgrade a standard driver’s license. Active-duty or retired service members may apply for the skills waiver if they operated an equivalent commercial vehicle while in the armed forces. A CDL for veterans can only be issued if the driver was employed by the armed forces within the past 12 months.
If eligible, participants must submit the skills waiver form to the DMV when applying for a license. The military CDL waiver allows drivers to apply for a license without taking the skills test. However, knowledge tests must be completed.
CDL Medical Exams in Montana
The new MT DOT physical requirements must be met before a license can be issued. Commercial drivers who self-certify as non-excepted must submit a Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC) to Montana’s MVD. A certificate is obtained by completing a CDL physical from a DOT medical examiner registered with a state. Your MEC must be kept up-to-date with the DMV at all times. Residents can check their MEC statuses online.
Types of CDL Classes in Montana
While the Class A license allows drivers to operate a combination of vehicles over a certain weight, Class B and C licenses adhere to weight limits set for a single vehicle. An outline of each of the CDL classes includes:
- Class A CDL licenses may be used to operate vehicles in B and C classes. The gross vehicle weight rating of a Class A vehicle must be at least 26,001 pounds. Additional weight limits apply.
- Class B CDL licenses may be used to operate vehicles in C and D classes. Class B licenses cover single vehicles weighing at least 26,001 pounds. Additional weight limits apply.
- Class C CDL licenses cover single vehicles weighing less than 26,001, and carrying hazardous materials or at least 16 passengers. Additional weight limits apply.
Types of CDL Endorsements in Montana
Montana CDL endorsements allow drivers to operate specific vehicles or carry particular cargo. There are five main endorsements available to eligible applicants. Drivers must pass all appropriate tests before being awarded with any type of endorsement. The state of Montana recognizes the following endorsements:
- Hazmat Endorsement (Hazardous Materials)
- School Bus Endorsement
- Passenger Endorsement
- Tanker Endorsement
- Double/Triple Trailer Endorsement
Interstate vs. Intrastate Commercial Drivers Licenses in Montana
Drivers holding a Montana intrastate CDL are restricted to operating commercial vehicles within the state. Interstate CDL license are only available to drivers 21 years old or older. An interstate license allows drivers to cross state lines and travel internationally. The fees for both interstate and intrastate CDLs differ.
Commercial Driving License Fees in Montana
Montana’s CDL license cost is based on the type of license for which you are applying, and the age of the applicant. The CDL permit cost is the same as the full license. See below for a list of Montana’s commercial driver’s license fees:
- Intrastate CDL fees:
- Drivers 18 or 72 years old pay $26.78
- Drivers 19 or 73 years old pay $18.33
- Drivers 20 or 74 years old pay $26.78
- Drivers 21 to 70 years old pay $44.29
- Drivers 75 years old and older pay $35.54
- Interstate CDL fees:
- Drivers 21 to 70 years old pay $52.02
- Drivers 71 years old pay $41.72
- Drivers 72 years old pay $31.42
- Drivers 73 years old pay $21.12
- Drivers 74 years old pay $10.82
- Drivers 75 years old and older pay $41.72