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Location: Home » DMV Help » Commercial Licenses » TX-Texas
Page Summary: CDL-Commercial Driver License Guide

Commercial Drivers License

A CDL is a Commercial Drivers License. It meets certain standards that are the same for every state. It differs from the Texas operator's, chauffeur's licenses or any other non commercial drivers’ licenses. It is required if you drive certain kinds of commercial vehicles. To obtain your license you must first pass the Texas CDL (Commercial Drivers License) Examinations.

Texas driver licensing standards comply with the law, requiring CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle) drivers to obtain a Texas CDL (Commercial Driver's License) when driving applicable vehicles. A CDL license can only be issued in the driver's state of legal residence, and if you have a CDL, you can have no other driver’s license in any other state.

Commercial Motor Vehicles

A Texas CDL is required if you operate any of the following Commercial Motor Vehicles:

  1. A vehicle with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 lbs.
  2. A vehicle towing a unit with a manufacturer's GVWR of more than 10,000 lbs. when the GCWR exceeds 26,000 lbs.
  3. A vehicle used to (a.) carry 15 or more passengers (excluding the driver), or (b.) carry 15 or less people (including the driver) when carrying children to or from school and home regularly for compensation.
  4. A vehicle carrying hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding.

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Eligibility Requirements

The eligibility requirements to obtain a Texas CDL are:

  • You must be 21 years old. (18 years if all commercial driving is done within Texas and if no hazardous materials requiring placarding are transported and if you do not drive double or triple trailer rigs)
  • You must be physically capable of obtaining a valid medical examiner's card (before taking any CDL skills test)
  • You must otherwise qualify for the license based on your driving record.

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Disqualifications

Any of the following will disqualify you from obtaining a Texas CDL:

  • If you possess a license from any state other than Texas
  • If you are currently subject to any disqualification of your commercial driving privilege from Texas or any other state
  • If your license is currently suspended, revoked, denied, or cancelled
  • If you have a conviction for operating a commercial motor vehicle while impaired in the 24 months immediately preceding application.

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How To Obtain A CDL

To obtain a Texas CDL you must go to a local Drivers License Office and:

  • Show your Texas driver license. If you don't have a regular Texas drivers license when you apply for a CDL, you must first satisfy the requirements for the standard driver's license before applying for the CDL
  • Show proof of identity
  • If you own your own commercial vehicle, provide proof of registration and liability insurance
  • Take and pass all Texas examinations that apply to your license class and endorsement requirements
  • Show proof of social security number
  • Meet Texas driver record eligibility requirements as determined by the State
  • Fill out an application including certifications. Extra forms may be needed for each endorsement
  • Pass the required knowledge and vision tests (before a CDL Temporary Instruction Permit will be issued). You'll want to thoroughly study the Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers handbook before attempting to take the written test
  • Pay the Texas CDL fees
  • Schedule, take, and pass your Texas CDL skills test.

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Exams

The questions for the written exam come from the Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook. You'll want to thoroughly study the handbook before attempting to take the written test.

After you've passed the written test, you have the option of getting a learner's license for $16, $20, or $24, depending on the class of license you seek. With a learner's license, you may practice driving a commercial vehicle, as long as someone with a valid CDL for that class rides along with you. This will help you prepare for the skills (driving) test.

A skills test is the practical portion of the exam and includes:

  1. A vehicle inspection test to measure your ability to perform a vehicle safety check. 
  2. A basic control skills test.
  3. A driving test.

The applicant must provide the commercial motor vehicle.
The skills test is normally given at an approved third party testing site in your area. 
Your Texas Drivers License is good throughout the entire United States.

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New Residents

A new resident moving into Texas, who has a valid commercial driver license from his home state, has 30 days after entry into the state to secure a Texas Commercial Driver License. If you have an EXPIRED out-of-state license (CDL), you will be required to take both the written and driving exams, in addition to a vision test.

There are many reasons that your Texas CDL can be suspended or revoked. Improper use of alcohol or drugs, traffic violations, and failure to notify are the main reasons.  The point to remember is that alcohol or drug use is not tolerated and your record will follow you throughout the United States forever and ever.

If your Texas CDL is revoked, you will not be able to apply in another State.

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Exemptions

There are some exemptions to being required to have Texas CDL:

  1. Active Duty Military with military licenses operating military vehicles.
  2. Fire fighters meeting approved training standards and operating authorized emergency vehicles.
  3. Farmers in certain cases.
  4. Individuals operating motor homes or other vehicles used exclusively to transport personal possessions or family members, for non business purposes.

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Types of CDL Classes

There are different types of classes in your Texas CDL. These refer to the type of vehicle that you may operate.  They are:

CLASS A:  

Allows you to operate vehicles which tow trailers or other vehicles with a GVWR over 10,000 pounds. A Class "A" license also allows you to operate Class B and C vehicles.
 

 CLASS B:  Allows you to operate single vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs or more or a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, towing trailers/vehicles rated at 10,000 pounds GVWR or less. A Class "B" license also allows you to operate Class C vehicles.
 
 CLASS C:  Allows you to operate vehicles under 26,001 lbs. GVWR; that are designed to transport 16 or more persons including the driver; or that carry 15 or less people (including the driver) transporting children to or from school and home regularly for compensation, or carry hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding.
 

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Endorsement Codes

Endorsement Codes are necessary for certain commercial driving requirements as follows:

(T) DOUBLE or TRIPLE TRAILERS.

(P) PASSENGER. For vehicles which are designed to carry 16 or more people (including the driver); or those which carry 15 or less people (including the driver) transporting children to or from school and home regularly for compensation

(N) TANK VEHICLES. For vehicles designed to haul liquids or liquefied gases in bulk in permanently mounted tanks or portable tanks rated at 1,000 gallons or more

(H) HAZARDOUS MATERIALS. To carry hazardous materials in amounts requiring placards

(X) Endorsement code designating a Tank (N) vehicle that carries Hazardous Materials (H)

If you are over 18 but not yet 21 years old, you can get a Texas CDL license with restrictions. You cannot drive a commercial vehicle out of Texas. You cannot drive a vehicle requiring HAZMAT placarding and cannot drive double or triple trailer rigs.

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