Suppose you’re having trouble getting a truck driving job. In that case, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the process to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL), what could disqualify you, and what you can do about some disqualifications.
How to Obtain a CDL
The first place you should start to get a CDL in CA, is with the DMV. Some will say you should start with a truck driving school to get your CDL, but what if you have a disqualifier and you pay the school tuition, attend a few classes, and then find out you cannot get a CDL?
You have to meet several requirements to get a CDL. Nearly everything you need to know about getting a CDL is in the DMV’s 2019-2021 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf. This manual is the perfect place to start because all the CA CDL requirements are outlined there.
Plus, the exact driver’s vehicle inspection procedure used by the DMV to test applicants is in there. Why learn another process that might trip you up? You will learn how to get your commercial learner’s permit (CLP) and how to prepare for an exam.
Then, you’ll be ready to attend truck driving school to get trained.
How to Choose a Truck Driving School
Getting into a quality truck driving school is the key to getting your CDL. Before you just jump right in, you should do some research on truck driving schools unless you already have an excellent recommendation.
Even then, it would be best if you considered what they would do for the money you will pay. Do they have a job placement program? Will that company match you up with an experienced driver to help you learn the ropes and make it easier for you to get licensed?
Preparing for the CDL Examination
In addition to training, you’ll need to set aside time to study for the exam outside class. Taking practice tests will help prepare you for the type of questions you will see on the exam. The better you do on those practice tests, the more confident you will feel about taking the exam.
If English is your second language, practice English with a native speaker if possible. Even though you can take the Spanish test in some areas, that won’t help you at the weigh station. You must be proficient enough in English to answer the inspector's questions, or you could fail the inspection and get Compliance, Safety, & Accountability (CSA) severity points.
There’s no time like the present to start practicing.
What Could Disqualify You from a CDL?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and California have standards that must be met for consideration. Once again, look through the DMV commercial drivers handbook. Plus, individual employers will look at your driving record, so make sure it is as clean as possible.
You can request your motor vehicle driving record (MVR) from the DMV here. After you get your MVR, make sure everything in there is yours. Documents get misfiled, convictions or accident reports belonging to a different John Smith or Jose Gonzalez with a similar driver’s license number might be filed in your record.
If there is a conviction for an infraction older than three years, ask the DMV to remove it. If there is a conviction that is a few months from three years, you might want to wait for it to drop off before you apply. Likewise, some serious traffic violations might require an attorney's attention to get removed or expunged. It’s not always possible, but you won’t know unless you ask.
Medical & Physical Standards for a CDL
Getting a CDL requires certain physical standards are met. Hearing and vision problems might exclude you from getting a CDL. Narcolepsy, epilepsy, vision and hearing impairments, sleep apnea, and others might keep you from getting a CDL. Get a physical examination before you attend truck driving school. Then, discuss any irregularities with the company you wish to work for after getting licensed.
Your Criminal Record
Some criminal activity might make you ineligible for a CDL. Likewise, some fleet managers might not hire you based on some misdemeanors or felonies, even when you can get a CDL.
A Clean Driving Record Is the Most Important Consideration
Regardless of your situation, it is crucial to keep a clean driving record. Many employers will look at a speeding ticket, red-light ticket, and others as a sign of immaturity. Before you decide to pay a fine for speeding or another traffic ticket, always consider the total cost, and consult an attorney. The fine might be less than $250, but what about the increase in auto insurance premiums, which for young drivers could be $600 or more per year, and the mark on your record might keep you out of some jobs or prestigious school.
Truck Driving Violations in Kings County, CA
If you have a traffic ticket and a traffic court date in Hanford Traffic Court, call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
We offer CDL and CLP holders an initial consultation free of charge. When we agree to resolve your ticket, we use a flat fee that doesn’t go up regardless of how many court appearances we must make.
The 2019-2021 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf