To apply for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in South Carolina, you must be at least 18 years old for intrastate travel or 21 years old for interstate travel. You should also have a clean driving record.
Passenger van drivers, truckers, and other commercial motor vehicle operators must hold the proper license and endorsements to comply with the law. To get the CDL, applicants must pass certain tests. Then, they must provide proof of identity and insurance.
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What is required for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in South Carolina?
The process of getting a CDL in South Carolina is complicated, but no more complicated than in any other state. To be successful, an applicant must have a
clean driving record, proper identification, and access to a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) for the on-road driving test.
Some drivers are allowed to bypass some of these requirements and still operate their vehicle.
Exceptionsapply to certain farm vehicles, military equipment and fire or other emergency equipment. In the case of farmers, the vehicle must have farm plates and the driver must be at least 21 years old.
Be aware that there are some violations which could prohibit you from holding a CDL. If you have ever operated a commercial vehicle without a CDL—or caused a death through negligent or criminal operation of a CMV—you are ineligible to hold a CDL.
Now, let’s get into the details of South Carolina’s CDL requirements.
South Carolina CDL classes
South Carolina DMVoffers three classes of CDL: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Each class allows the license-holder to operate a specific type of vehicle:
- Class A: Any combination of vehicles whose Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) exceeds 26,000 pounds where the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the towed vehicle is over 10,000 pounds
- Class B: Any single vehicle with a GVWR over 26,000 pounds or any combination of vehicles where the GVWR of the towed vehicle is under 10,000 pounds
- Class C: Commercial vehicles designed to transport 16 to 23 passengers or hazardous materials that don’t fall under Class A or B
If you’d like to drive a school bus, you will need a Class B license. To operate a passenger van or a vehicle that transports hazardous materials, you must carry a Class C CDL.
On a commercial driver’s license, there are endorsements that allow the driver to operate specific types of buildings. There are six types of endorsements in South Carolina:
- H: for hazmat vehicles
- N: for tanks
- P: for passenger vehicles (16 or more people, including the driver)
- S: for school buses (must also carry the P endorsement)
- T: for double and triple trailers
- X: for transporting hazardous materials in tank vehicles (combination of H and N)
To earn some of these endorsements, you’ll have to pass additional knowledge tests or learn how to perform threat assessments.
A CDL endorsement may also carry some restrictions. For instance, with an X endorsement, you cannot carry cargo in a CMV tank vehicle.
Minimum age requirement
In South Carolina (and most other states), you must be at least 18 years old to operate an intrastate (in-state) commercial vehicle. To hold a South Carolina CDL and drive a CMV across state lines (or operate a CMV with an H or X endorsement), you need to be at least 21 years old.
Depending on how you plan to use your CDL, you may need to satisfy certain
medical requirementsto earn and keep your license. Those might include:
- Good eyesight with at least 20/40 vision in each eye
- Ability to distinguish colors
- Blood pressure better than 160/100
- Controllable blood sugar without the need for insulin injections
- Ability to hear forced whisper from a minimum distance of five feet
The use of schedule 1 drugs is absolutely forbidden. Once you pass the test, you’ll receive a medical examiner’s certificate.
New ELDT requirements
Before you start filling out paperwork, you need to know about the new
Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT)requirements. These requirements apply to anyone in
South Carolinawho is seeking a new or upgraded Class A or B CDL, or anyone who is applying for an S (school bus), P (passenger), or H (hazardous materials) endorsement for the first time.
To comply, applicants must train with a training provider in the
FMCSA registrybefore taking the skills test.
How to apply for a CDL in South Carolina
Firstly, you must have a valid South Carolina driver’s license with no blemishes on your driving record.
Before you can
fill out the applicationfor a commercial learner’s permit (CLP), gather up some required items:
- Proof of legal immigration status or citizenship
- Proof of South Carolina residency
- Proof of identity
- A Social Security Number (SSN)
- Up-to-date vehicle registration for any vehicles you own
- Proof of insurance for any vehicles you own
- Amedical examiner’s certificate, if required
Once you apply for the CLP, the SCDMV will verify your materials through the SSOLV (Social Security Online Verification). The fee for the CLP is $2.50, and the endorsements on a CLP are limited to N, P, and S.
After you’ve held the CLP for at least 14 days, you can apply for the proper CDL. The fee to apply for a CDL in South Carolina is $15 plus $2 for each knowledge test.
Testsare a critical part of the CDL application. You’ll have to know about South Carolina-specific commercial rules, general knowledge, and facts about specific endorsements you’re seeking.
In addition to the written tests, you have to pass the skills tests. In addition to the pre-trip inspection demonstration, you need to show that you can:
- Park the vehicle in a parallel spot
- Back up in a straight line and off-set route
- Change lanes and merge
- Adhere to right-of-way and traffic sign laws
- Safely handle railroad crossings and curves
- Stop and start on the roadside
Once you’ve passed your skills test, congratulations! You’ve got your South Carolina CDL.
How long is a CDL valid in South Carolina?
A CDL issued on or after November 25, 2019 is valid for eight years in South Carolina. The only exception is if you carry a hazmat endorsement. In this case, your CDL expires in five years.
To renew your CDL, you will need to refresh your medical examiner certificate.
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