2023 Arkansas CDL Requirements Guide

To get an Arkansas CDL, you’ll need a valid Arkansas driver’s license and a clean driving record…among a few other requirements.
Written by Macy Fouse
Reviewed by Pat Roache
To get your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in
, you need to be at least 18 years old with a clean driving record and have a valid Arkansas license—plus a few more requirements. 
Whether you want to drive a school bus, a semi-trailer, or a recycling truck, you have to have a commercial driver’s license to do it in Arkansas. Obtaining your CDL in Arkansas can be a complex process, but the requirements are pretty simple. If you’re in decent physical condition, can pass a few exams, and can prove your Arkansas residency, you should be good. 
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What is required for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Arkansas? 

Getting your Arkansas CDL is a bit more complex than getting your standard license.
To qualify, you’ll need to meet the age requirements, have held an
Arkansas driver’s license
for over a year, have a
clean driving record
, provide proof of citizenship, and pass a few tests—but that’s just a basic overview
The specific checklist you’ll have to follow depends on the class of CDL you’re looking to get. 

Arkansas CDL classes

Arkansas has three classes of CDL: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Here is what each of those entails: 
  • Class A: Any vehicle(s) whose Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) is 26,001 pounds or more. The trailer(s) have to be at least 10,000 pounds. 
  • Class B: Any vehicle with a GVWR over 26,001 pounds but with a trailer weighing less than 10,000 pounds
  • Class C: Any vehicle designed to either carry 16+ passengers or used to transport hazardous materials (and doesn’t fit the bill for a Class A or B vehicle)
These classes operate on a tiered system.
With a Class A CDL, you can operate any vehicle classified as Class B or C automatically. With a Class B CDL, you can operate a Class C vehicle but not a Class A vehicle. 
Vehicles like multi-trailer semi-trucks and livestock carriers will require a Class A CDL to drive, while a school bus, delivery truck, or garbage truck requires a Class B CDL. Large passenger vans or small HAZMAT trucks need a Class C CDL.  


Your license class dictates what vehicles you’re allowed to drive with your CDL, but endorsements determine the type of cargo you can carry. In Arkansas, there are six types of endorsements: 
  • H: for transportation of hazardous materials 
  • N: for tank vehicles
  • S: for school buses
  • P: for passenger vehicles 
  • X: for transportation of hazardous materials in a tank vehicle
  • T: for towing two or three trailers over a specific weight
Some classes of CDL only allow certain endorsements. Additionally, if you want to get an S endorsement, you can only do so with a P endorsement.

Minimum age requirement

If you’re planning to drive only within the state (referred to as intrastate commercial driving), you can get a CDL at 18 years old. To drive across state lines (or interstate), however, you must be 21 years or older.  

Medical requirements

To get your CDL in Arkansas, you have to pass a comprehensive medical exam, covering everything from hearing requirements to blood pressure. Here are some of the specifications:
  • Can hear a forced whisper voice from five feet away 
  • No hearing loss of more than 40 decibels
  • At least 20/40 vision 
  • Ability to recognize colors of traffic signals and other devices
  • Blood pressure 140/90 or better 
All CDL holders in Arkansas must provide a valid medical examiner’s certificate to their local State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA). 

Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) requirements

As of February 2022, all drivers wishing to obtain a CDL in Arkansas for the first time—or upgrade to a higher class—are required to complete
Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT)
from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
You’ll have to find a provider from the
FMCSA registry
and complete the training before you can take the written test. 
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How to apply for a CDL in Arkansas

Before you’re eligible for a CDL in Arkansas, you’ll have to get your Conditional Learner's Permit (CPL) first. In addition to the medical exam and ELDT course, you’ll also need to do the following 
When you have everything in order, you can head to your
local Revenue Office
to apply and pay the $50 exam fee. You’ll then schedule your written test, which will cover the content of the
Arkansas Commercial Driver License Manual
Your CPL is valid for up to a year after it’s issued. You can practice driving commercial vehicles in the state as long as you’re accompanied by a driver with a valid CDL. You’ll need to hold your CPL for at least 14 days before you
schedule your skills test
, which is only offered in the following locations:
  • Little Rock
  • Newport
  • Russellville
  • Hope
  • Harrison
  • Lowell
The skills test in Arkansas consists of three phases: an inspection, a closed-course driving test, and a road skills test on the road. You’ll have to provide a vehicle in the specific class you’re testing for. Here’s what you can expect to be tested over:
  • Straight line backing
  • Offset back/right
  • Offset back/left
  • Parallel parking (both sides)
  • Alley docking
  • Lane changes
  • Expressways
  • Turns
  • Intersections
  • Curves
  • Railroad crossings
  • Stop/starts
  • Bridge/overpass
  • Brake usage
  • Steering
  • Turn signals
If you’re looking to obtain or renew a Class A CDL, you’ll also have to pass a
Human Trafficking Prevention Course
. When you’ve jumped through all the hoops, just pay the $42 CDL fee and you’ll be ready to roll!

How long is a CDL valid in Arkansas? 

Your Arkansas CDL will be valid for four to eight years depending on your specific license. Set up an appointment at your local revenue office to renew and review the requirements for your specific Arkansas CDL within a month of its expiration.
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