How to Get a Commercial Drivers License in Washington
A commercial drivers license, or CDL in Washington, is required to drive certain commercial motor vehicles, also known as CMVs. A CMV is defined as a single vehicle with a manufacturer’s weight rating of over 26,000 pounds, a combination of vehicles with a gross weight rating of over 26,000 pounds, vehicles used to transport 16 or more people or vehicles used to transport hazardous material that requires placarding. Therefore, you will need to know into which license class the vehicle you plan to operate falls, and whether or not you need to add endorsements to your license.
Before you can get a CDL license, you must get a commercial license permit, or CLP, through the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL). To do so, you must take the necessary knowledge tests. Once you hold a CLP for 14 days, you can take the road skills test. If you pass, the DOL will issue you a full commercial license to drive.
CDL Requirements in Washington
You must meet certain CDL license requirements in Washington, in order to be eligible to apply for a license. These include the following:
- Have a valid, regular Washington driver license
- Be 18 years old to drive an intrastate CDL
- Be 21 years old to drive an interstate CDL
- Provide your U.S. citizenship or permanent residency documentation
- Provide your Social Security Number (SSN)
- Complete a commercial driver training course
CDL requirements also state that a license can be suspended, revoked or disqualified if your state driver license is suspended, revoked, canceled or surrendered for any reason. Additionally, your CDL will be in jeopardy if you commit any of the following:
- Being convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Refusing to submit to a blood or breath test
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving a motor vehicle
- Using any motor vehicle to commit a felony
How to Apply for a CDL Permit in Washington
To apply for a CDL permit in Washington, you must visit a driver licensing office location that offers knowledge tests. Then, you must follow the CDL permit rules for successful application, which are as follows:
- Provide your current driver’s license
- Provide your Social Security Number
- Submit proof of citizenship or lawful permanent residency with a/an:
- Valid U.S. passport
- Government-issued birth certificate
- Valid Permanent Resident card
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Self-certify to the type of CMV operation you plan to conduct
- Submit medical documents, if applicable
You will get a CDL learners permit once you pass the necessary knowledge tests. A CLP is valid for 180 days from the date of issuance. If needed, you can renew your CLP for another 180 days, within 30 days of the expiration date of your original CLP.
CDL Written Test in Washington
In Washington, the CDL written test is available in four languages: English, Spanish, Russian and Serbian-Croatian.
You can take the CDL general knowledge test at any driver license office location that offers testing. There are eight CDL knowledge tests available, and additional tests may be necessary, depending on the CMV you plan to operate, such as a school bus. To prepare for the written tests, you can study the commercial driver guide, which contains information you will need to pass the exam. You can get a study guide online or in person, at any driver license office location. However, note that the guide is only available in English.
Washington CDL Training Schools & Practice Tests
CDL prep is required in Washington if you are getting a CDL for the first time. You can obtain a CDL school certificate of completion from an approved school or registered employer in the state. Once you complete CDL training, you will receive your training certificate. You must make sure that it is approved before you take the skills test. If it is not, you will need to retake the skills test.
How to Get a CDL License in Washington
To apply for CDL credentials in Washington, you will need to visit a driver licensing office location and bring the above documents (listed in the “How to Apply” section) with you. Once you get a CLP, you will need to find a CDL skills test location to take the skills test.
CDL Driving Test in Washington
To take the CDL driving test, you must first hold your CLP for 14 days. Then, you will need to submit your CDL training certificate, schedule a road skills test, and pay the licensing fee.
There are three types of general skills on which you will be tested when you take the WA CDL driving test. These include the below:
- Vehicle inspection, which determines if the vehicle is safe to drive
- Basic vehicle control, which determines how well you control the vehicle
- On-road driving, which determines how well you safely drive the vehicle in traffic situations
You must take these tests in the type of vehicle you plan to be licensed to operate. If you fail to do so, you risk restrictions being placed on your license.
How to Get a CDL as a Military Member in Washington
If you have a military CDL, you may be eligible to apply for a CDL in Washington without needing to take the road skills test. However, this waiver excludes passenger and school bus endorsements. Also, no knowledge tests can be waived if you are seeking a CDL for veterans or active military members.
To determine your eligibility, you must fill out and submit the Military Commercial Driver’s License Skills Test Waiver form. You must also be about to prove employment within the past 12 months in a military position, which required you to operate a military motor vehicle that is equivalent to a CMV.
CDL Medical Exams in Washington
According to new DOT physical requirements, you must self-certify to the type of commerce that you plan to operate. Depending on how you self-certify, you may need to submit an original or certified copy of a Medical Examiner’s Certificate (Form MCSA-5876), which acts as your CDL physical, prepared by an examiner on the National Registry of Medical Examiners. The self-certification must be completed in person, at any driver licensing office in the state.
Types of CDL Classes in Washington
There are three kinds of CDL classes available to interested commercial drivers in Washington State. These include the:
Class A license for CDLs, which allows you to operate:
- A combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of more than 26,000 pounds, as long as the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicles being towed is over 10,000 pounds. (Washington does not recognize Class A passenger vehicles.)
Class B CDL license credentials, which legally allow you to drive:
- Any single vehiclewith a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds.
- Vehicles that tow a trailer with a weight rating of 10,000 GVWR pounds or less.
- Any vehicle listed under Class C, if it is properly endorsed.
Class C CDL license, which enables you to drive:
- Any vehicle that carries 16 or more people, including the driver.
- Any vehicle that carries hazardous materials that need placarding.
Types of CDL Endorsements in Washington
There are different types of CDL endorsements in Washington available, depending on your commercial driving goals. They include the below:
- P: Passenger endorsement
- S: School bus endorsement
- T: Double and triple trailers endorsement
- N: Tanker endorsement
- H: Hazmat endorsement
- X: A combination of the tank vehicle endorsement and hazardous materials endorsement
Interstate vs. Intrastate Commercial Drivers Licenses in Washington
You will need an interstate CDL in Washington to drive a CMV from one state to another state, or within a foreign country. On the other hand, will need an intrastate CDL if you plan to drive a CMV within Washington State, only. If you operate in both intrastate and interstate commerce, you must choose to drive interstate commerce.
Commercial Driving License Fees in Washington
There are various CDL license costs in Washington.
The licensing fees are as follows:
- CLP: $40
- CDL knowledge test: $35
- CDL skills test: $250
- Skills test for school bus endorsement: $100
- Reduced skills test: $225
- Endorsements: $10, and $17 for each year remaining on your license