Everything You Need to Know about the Florida CDL (2024)

You must be at least 18 years old with a clean driving record and a medical examiner's certificate to get a commercial driver’s license in Florida.
Written by Kianna Walpole
Edited by R.E. Fulton
background
If you want to become a trucker, bus operator, or other commercial motor vehicle driver
in the state of Florida
, you must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Drivers must be at least 18 before they can apply for a CDL for $75. 
  • To be eligible for a CDL, drivers must hold a conditional learner’s permit, have a clean driving record for the past 10 years, be at least 18 years of age, and pass a physical exam.
  • Before you take your road test, you must pass at least one general knowledge test. 
  • The total cost for a Florida commercial driver’s license is $75, with additional fees for endorsements and knowledge and skill test retakes.
  • You may be disqualified from getting a Florida CDL if you fail to present valid medical documentation, have an outstanding felony, or hold a traffic violation. 

1. Check your eligibility for a Florida CDL 

After selecting your class, you will then need to make sure that you’re eligible for a Florida CDL. Some of the eligibility requirements are:
  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Hold a valid Florida driver’s license
  • Clean driving record for past 10 years
  • Must be able to speak and read the English language
  • Must meet medical requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
  • Proof of citizenship in Florida with permission to work in the U.S.
As of February 7, 2022, all new applicants are required to complete entry-level driver training (ELDT) before obtaining their CDL. The entry-level driver’s training program consists of a knowledge and skills examination and applies to those:
  • Obtaining a Class A or Class B commercial driver’s license for the first time
  • Upgrading existing Class B CDL for the first time
  • Obtaining a school bus, passenger, or hazardous material endorsement for the first time

What disqualifies someone from getting a Florida CDL?

Serious traffic violations, such as excessive speeding, reckless driving, and erratic lane changes, can disqualify you from obtaining a CDL. You will also not be qualified for a CDL if you have been under a license suspension, revocation, cancellation, or disqualification in Florida or any state.
Other crimes, such as transporting aliens across the U.S. border, could disqualify you from commercial motor vehicle driving privileges. More serious convictions, such as multiple DUI offenses or using a motor vehicle in the commission of a felony, could prevent you from getting a CDL for life.
If you’re unsure if you have any outstanding infractions that may cause you to be disqualified for a CDL, obtain a copy of your driving record either online or in person from your local DMV.

2. Find out what type of Florida CDL you need

There are three types of CDL license classes in Florida: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Class C is the most comprehensive license, and a Class A CDL is the least. Below is a breakdown of what vehicles you can operate with each class along with their exam requirements:
Florida CDL Classes
CDL Class
Vehicles Driven
Exam Requirements
Class A
Any trucks or truck combinations that have a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,0001 lbs or more, and towing a vehicle or unit over 10,000 lbs (i.e. tractor-trailers, triple-trailers, and livestock carriers).
  • General knowledge test
  • Combinations vehicle test
  • Air brakes
  • Pre-trip
  • Basic skill test
  • CDL road test
  • Applicable exams for endorsements
Class B
Any straight trucks and buses weighing 26,0001 lbs or more (i.e. regular truck or school bus).
  • General knowledge test
  • Air brakes
  • Pre-trip
  • Basic skill test
  • CDL road test
  • Applicable exams for endorsements
Class C
Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) under 26,0001 lbs transporting placarded amounts or hazardous materials, or designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver (i.e. passenger van or HAZMAT vehicle).
  • General knowledge test
  • Air brakes (if applicable)
  • Pre-trip
  • Basic skill test
  • CDL road test
  • Applicable exams for endorsements
The exact requirements for a Florida CDL are dependent on which class of CDL you’re applying for. There may be additional requirements, such as medical documentation for some of the endorsements you’ll need to operate specific vehicles.
To apply for a Florida CDL, you will need identification documents, a valid Florida Class E license, a clean driving record, and a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) that can be used to complete your CDL skills test.
Keep in mind: If you obtain a Florida CDL under the age of 21, you are only permitted to drive in-state, regardless of which class you hold. 

3. Pass a DOT physical exam

Before you can attain any commercial driver’s license, you need to pass a department of transportation (DOT) physical. This can be completed by any DOT certified medical professional in your area. 
The DOT physical typically includes: 
  • Vision test
  • Vital check
  • Blood pressure test
  • Mobility exam
After you obtain your CDL, you will need to return for a DOT physical on a routine basis to ensure you’re in top health. For a healthy individual, a physical is typically required every 2 years; for someone less healthy, the expiration date is between once a year to every 6 months to maintain your CDL.

4. Take your written exam to get a CLP

If your license and record are clear, there are a few more requirements you’ll need to meet. To apply for a full CDL, you must first apply for a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). You will need:
  • Proof of ELDT completion
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency
  • Proof of Florida residency
  • Birth certificate
  • Valid passport
  • Self-certification of medical status or medical examiner’s certificate
  • Completed CDL application
  • Class E driver’s license without authorization status
  • Right to work documents approved by Homeland Security
Once you have applied, you will then take the following tests to acquire a permit at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. In order to pass the examination, you need to answer at least 80% of the questions correctly
  • General knowledge test: Around 50 questions
  • Combination vehicles test: Around 20 questions
  • Air brakes test: Around 25 questions
  • Tanker endorsement test: Around 20 questions
  • HAZMAT endorsement: Around 30 questions
You are required to hold the CLP for at least 14 days before completing a series of exams for your CDL. The CLP will be valid for one year from the date it is issued. Within this time, you are authorized to practice in a CMV on public roads while accompanied by a qualified CDL holder who is 21 or older.

5. Take a 2.5 hour road test

After the 14 day time period passes, you can apply for the CDL. Permitted you pass the general knowledge and written test, you will then need to complete a 2.5 hour road test
This test will typically include the following sections and must be completed using the same type of vehicle you are seeking a Florida CDL for: 
  • Vehicle inspection, inside and outside
  • Parking and basic controls test
  • Driving a truck on the road itself
Your parking and basic controls portion of the skills test will generally include:
  • Straight line backing: Backing your vehicle in a straight line in between cones.
  • Offset back/right and offset back/left: Backing into a space to the left or right of your vehicle.
  • Parallel park for driver side and conventional: Parking into a space on your left (for driver side) or on your right (conventional).
  • Alley dock: Backing your vehicle into an alley using side-sights.
While driving on road, you will typically be tested on:
  • Turns
  • Intersections
  • Urban business 
  • Lane changes
  • Expressway or limited access highway
  • Curves
  • Stopping and starting
  • Railroad crossing
  • Student discharge
  • Bridge/overpass
When taking your driving test, your instructor will score you base
  • Clutch usage
  • Gear usage
  • Brake usage
  • Steering
  • Lane usage
  • Regular traffic checks
  • Use of turn signals
If you don’t have a commercial vehicle on hand to practice for your driving test beforehand, there are some other strategies you can use, including reviewing the CDL manual or watching informational videos.
Note that unlike the written knowledge exam, which needs a completion score of 80%, the skill test in Florida must be successfully 100% completed in order to receive a CDL. 
To complete your CDL road test or other CDL testings, you can visit a
third-party statewide CDL certified testing center

Military exemptions and waivers

For military members to obtain a CDL in Florida, the process is slightly different. Those requesting a CDL for military service are exempt from taking skills exams
However, members must still pass all required knowledge and endorsement exams and present a
Certification for Waiver of Skill Test
signed by their commanding officer or designee. 
Keep in mind: This process must be completed along with the CDL issued within 120 days of separation from service.

Who else is exempt from CDL requirements?

Along with military members, other Florida service members can be exempt from a Florida CDL, such as:
  • Florida farm equipment operators: This list includes vehicles used for transporting farm products and equipment, used in a nursery or agricultural operations, and used in 150 miles of the farm. This does not apply to commercial grain haulers. Drivers need to be 21 years of age and the operated vehicle must have farming license plates. 
  • Florida firefighting equipment operators: Those who drive emergency vehicles for performing governmental functions or preserving life.
  • Florida recreational vehicle operators: Personal RVs do not need an operator with a CDL.

Florida CDL endorsements

Endorsements are also an option for you to add to your CDL test. They are essentially extra certifications you can earn so you can drive different types of commercial vehicles. There are 6 types of endorsements in Florida for CDLs: 
  • Placarded hazmat (H): for transporting placarded hazardous materials 
  • Tank vehicles (N): for driving tank vehicles
  • Passengers (P): for driving passenger vehicles with more than 15 people, including the driver
  • School bus (S): for transporting pre-primary, primary, or secondary school students to and from home and school/school-sponsored events
  • Double/triple trailers (T): for driving double/triple-trailer vehicles. Note that triple trailers are not permitted on Florida roads
  • Placarded hazmat and tank vehicles (X): issued to those who qualify for H and N endorsements
You must pass a written test to receive CDL endorsements. You will also need to pass a skills test for the P and S endorsement. 

How much does a Florida CDL cost?

Currently, the price for a Florida issued CDL is $75 for both renewal and new licensing
Your initial written and road tests are free, but if you fail your knowledge or skill exam, it will set you back another $10-$20 for a retake.
Endorsements also come with a charge of $7 per endorsement. 

How to prepare for Florida CDL exam

The Florida CDL examination is detailed and comprehensive. That’s why it’s best to know how to prepare and what is required of you when applying for a commercial driver’s license. 
  1. Collect study materials: Studying for the CDL is key. The most important thing you will need is a
    CDL Manual
    , which can be downloaded from Florida’s DHSMV website.
  2. Test your knowledge: Quiz yourself and have others quiz you to really test your knowledge. Lots of websites offer free CDL flashcards and practice tests designed for specific subjects, and there are some apps, like CDL Prep.
  3. Take a diagnostic exam: If you’re not sure what to study, take a diagnostic exam online. This will not only help you understand what could possibly be on the CDL test, but show you what you do and don’t know, so you can focus on strengthening your skills.
  4. Practice: If you own a commercial vehicle, try practicing on the one you’ll use for your road test. The more practice, the better.
If you find you’re better suited for in-person learning and group learning, also consider enrolling in a CDL apprenticeship.  
As of September 2022, new programs were added to the CDL training to better prepare new applicants for the examination process. Over $8.2 million was allocated to 5 state colleges to help expand CDL training initiatives. 
Similarly, nearly $12 million was sent to Florida school districts, colleges, state universities, and private training companies to build upon registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. 
Through these initiatives, tuition costs, driver training programs and more will be covered, allowing over 3,500 students every year to prepare for the CDL. 

FAQs

Unfortunately, most insurance companies do not provide discounts for those with a CDL license. This is because those holding CDLs don’t necessarily reduce risk—meaning you’re no less likely to get in an accident or be a better driver. 
To obtain your CPL and CDL in Florida, you must go to a DMV. However, you can prepare for the written examination through online mock tests and test your knowledge with online apps. 
To earn your CDL in Florida, it will take approximately 2-6 months. This is due to a number of factors including receiving your CLP and completing your CDL testing. 
Yes, you can self-certify for the CDL. In the state of Florida, all CDL holders need to declare which type of vehicle they will be or expect to be operating in one of the 4 following categories:
  • Interstate non-excepted: You are an interstate driver and meet the DOT medical card requirements and therefore, not excepted.
  • Interstate excepted: You are an interstate driver and do not have to meet the DOT medical card requirements for Florida.
  • Intrastate non-excepted: You are an intrastate driver and meet the DOT medical card requirements and therefore, not excepted.
  • Intrastate excepted: You are an interstate driver and do not have to meet the DOT medical card requirements for Florida.
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