What is required for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in New York?
Before you head down to the DMV to apply for a New York CDL, you’ll need to make sure you’re at least 18 years old, have a valid New York State driver’s license, and can present the required identification documents. You’ll also need a clean driving record.
In most cases, minor traffic infractions won’t affect your ability to get a CDL—but major violations such as
driving under the influence,
reckless driving, or being the perpetrator of a
hit-and-runcould lead to a CDL disqualification. Depending on the severity of your offense(s) a disqualification could last anywhere from 10 years to a lifetime.
You’ll also need to know the type of vehicle (or vehicles) you’ll be driving since that determines which CDL class you need to get and whether or not you need an endorsement.
New York CDL classes
The three types of CDL you can get in New York are Class A, Class B, and Class C licenses.
- Class A: Allows you to drive a tractor-trailer weighing more than a combined 26,000 pounds in which the weight of the towed trailer exceeds 10,000 pounds.
- Class B: Allows you to drive a bus or straight truck that weighs more than 26,000 pounds. You can not tow more than 10,000 pounds with this type of CDL.
- Class C: Allows you to transport up to 16 passengers or hazardous materials in a commercial vehicle that weighs no more than 26,000 pounds
In most cases, driving any type of large tractor-trailer or semi-truck requires a Class A CDL. A Class B CDL usually covers vehicles such as smaller buses, delivery trucks, dump trucks, or garbage trucks. If you want to drive a HAZMAT vehicle or passenger van (such as an airport shuttle) then you only need apply for a Class C CDL.
In addition to the appropriate class of commercial driver’s license, you often need to add specific CDL endorsements before you can operate certain vehicles. There are 10 endorsements available to New York CDL applicants, some of which may require additional criteria or tests.
- F: farm vehicles
- H: transporting hazardous materials
- M: metal coil vehicles
- N: tank vehicles
- P: passenger vehicles
- R: recreation vehicles over 26,600 pounds
- S: school busses
- T: double/triple trailers
- W: tow trucks
- X: transporting hazardous materials in a tank vehicle
Minimum age requirement
If you plan to get your CDL for intrastate commercial driving—driving within New York State lines—then you can apply at 18 years old. However, if you want to be a long-haul trucker or do any other kind of commercial driving that involves crossing state lines, then you must be 21 years old.
To get your New York CDL, you must first self-certify (declare) to the DMV which type of commercial driving you intend to do. You will then be asked to supply a medical examiner’s certificate proving that you:
- Have at least 20/40 vision in each eye without corrective lenses
- Can recognize the colors of standard traffic signals
- Have blood pressure under 140/90
- Do not have physical impairments that affect your ability to operate a commercial vehicle
- Do not use controlled substances
New ELDT requirements
If you’re just beginning the process of applying for your New York CDL, you must follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations for
Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT). New requirements went into effect in February of 2022 which oblige all CDL applicants to complete a driver training course with a provider listed in the
FMCSA registrybefore applying for a CDL learner’s permit.
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How to apply for a CDL in New York
As long as your license is valid and your driving record is clean, you can enroll in a driving training course through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Upon completion of the course, you’ll be eligible to apply for a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) through your
local DMV office.
When you apply, you’ll be asked to prove your legal presence in the United States, and report any states in which you held a driver’s license in the last 10 years. You’ll also need to present your medical examiner’s certificate, and pay a $10.00 fee to take the written exam.
To prepare for the CLP knowledge test, study the
New York State Commercial Driver’s Manual.
Once you get your commercial learner’s permit, you’re allowed to practice driving a commercial vehicle in New York State, as long as you’re accompanied by someone with a valid CDL license. After holding your CLP for 14 days, you can pay the $40.00 fee to
schedule your CDL road test. At your road test, your vehicle will need to pass an inspection, and then you’ll be tested on driving maneuvers such as:
- Straight line backing
- Offset backing
- Parallel parking
- Alley docking
- Lane changing and merging
- Observing the right-of-way
- Making turns
- Using proper signals
- Going around curves
- Railroad crossings
For more details on the CDL road test criteria, read
sections 11 to 13of the New York State Commercial Driver’s Manual. If you fail your CDL road test, you’ll have to pay another $40.00 fee before you can schedule another one.
Drivers who pass the CDL road test will be issued a temporary paper license valid for 60 days, and receive their photo CDL in the mail in approximately three to four weeks.
How long is a CDL valid in New York?
A New York CDL is valid for five years. CDL holders will receive a card in the mail when it’s time to renew their license, and should follow the instructions on the card. It’s important to note that in some cases, this process might be different than
renewing a standard New York driver’s license. If your renewal card instructs you to renew your CDL at a DMV office, you cannot renew your license online.
How to save on car insurance in New York
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