There are some questions that arise in our mind before applying for a Commercial Driver's License.

  • What is the Process of Getting a CDL in California?
  • What CDL classes are required before applying for the test?
  • What are necessary CDL requirements in the state?

This article will cover all your questions. It will walk you through a complete 2022 guide on California Commercial Driver's License requirements.

Types of CDL Classes in California That One Can Apply

You need to know which kind of class of CDL you are looking forward to beginning your trucking career with.
You need to choose your CDL class which will determine the type of commercial vehicle you will operate.

There are 3 types of CDL classes.

Class A CDL
The class A Commercial Driver's License (CDL) allows the aspirants to operate any combination vehicle with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds and more. The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the load which is being towed should be more than 10,000 pounds.

Class B CDL
This class of license will allow the driver to operate any combination of vehicles with a Gross combination weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 pounds and the vehicle which is towing the trailer should not exceed a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds.

Class C CDL
The Class C CDL allows the driver to drive any kind of commercial vehicle that is supposed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver). The Class C CDL also includes vehicles that are used in the transportation of materials that are classified as hazardous under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.

CDL Test Requirements To Be Fulfilled by Applicant

The following criteria will determine your eligibility for California CDL requirements.

  • You are at least or more than 18 years of age.
  • If you are planning to drive the Interstate, then you must be at least 21 years of age.
  • You must hold a typical driver's license.
  • You must possess a high school diploma or a General Equivalency Diploma.
  • Your past driving record must be clear of all the infringements.
  • You must be a resident of California
  • You must hold US citizenship
  • You must have a social security card.

The following is a list of important documents, that are required:

  • Certificate of Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT)
  • Behind-the-wheel training certificate for (Class A and Class B CDL), from an accredited commercial driver training school in California
  • Medical Examination Report Form
  • Medical Examiner's Certificate
  • Record check of the history of the past 10 years. The CDL from another state/jurisdiction is also applicable
  • Proof of Social Security Number
  • Documents of Residency
  • Identity Proofs

How To get a CDL in California?

For getting an actual Commercial Driver's license (CDL), you need a commercial learner's permit (CLP).
The following steps will guide you on how to get a Commercial learner's permit.

  • Enrol and complete a fully accredited ELDT program.
    From February 7, 2022, the new CLP applicants in California are required to undergo and complete the full formal training of the ELDT program as approved by the FMCSA.
  • The total of 15 hours of behind-the-wheel training, 10 of which are supposed to be on a public road.
    The behind-wheel- training is only applicable if you are looking to apply for a Class A or Class B CDL. After the completion of 15 hours, you can fill up the DL1236 completion form.
  • Apply for the Commercial Driver's License (CDL)
  • You need to go to your local DMV office and submit all the requisite documents.
    The documents include:
    • ELDT certificate
    • Behind-the-wheel training completion form
    • Complete Medical Examination Report Form
    • Medical Examiner's Certificate
    • 10- year record check
    • Proof of SSN
    • Proof of Identity
    • Proof of Residency
  • You need to pay the $85 fees for Class A and Class B CDL and $50 for Class C CDL.
  • You need to have your thumbprint scanned.
  • You need to have your vision test cleared.
  • You need to pass the knowledge test.
    The knowledge test has several 50 questions out of 40 that must be passed in the given 3 attempts. If someone fails the three attempts, you will need to reapply for the test.
  • Get your CLP
    The steps for acquiring your CDL in California:
    • You need to book an appointment for a skills test.
    • You need to take and pass the skills test.
    • You need to get your interim CDL valid for 60 days.
    • Get your CDL after 45 days.
      The skill test includes all vehicle inspections, basic control skills tests, and road tests. You are required to pass all the 3 to get the CDL.
      The purpose of the basic control skills test is for the evaluation of the skill required in control of the vehicle and judgment of its position when maneuvering through several skills exercises. The judgement and skills required are applied to several driving scenarios.
    The skills test exercises are tested on the following subsets:
    • Straight line backing
    • Offset back/right
    • Offset back/left
    • Parallel Park(driver side)
    • Parallel Park(Conventional side)
    • Alley dock

CDL Related Frequently Asked Questions

What can disqualify me from getting a CDL in California?
If you do not fulfil the basic requisite requirements, you cannot get a California CDL. You need to be 18 years of age and you need to carry a regular driver's license and you must be a California resident. If you have a criminal offense like DUI, or if you have committed a felony, you will be disqualified from getting a CDL in California.

What is the cost of CDL training in California?
The cost of calculating the CDL training in California for Class A and Class B CDL is $85 and the cost for Class C CDL is $50.

What can I expect from the CDL road test in California?
The CDL road test requires its drivers to operate through diverse and difficult traffic scenarios. Therefore, throughout the test, you are required to drive safely and responsibly by not committing more than 30 errors and no mistakes driving. The scores are given according to the driving manoeuvres and other driving skills. The examiner will provide the directions and there is enough time to execute these directions. There are test routes where there might be no traffic, whereas as a driver, you are supposed to navigate through the situation. In the cases of traffic, the examiners will ask to navigate through the situation by making correct decisions.