How to Get a CDL in Texas

Commercial vehicle drivers can drive most any vehicle on the road today from passenger vehicles to buses and tractor trailers. But they can only do this if they have obtained a Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL. In Texas, individuals can obtain a CDL through the state license offices, but in order to qualify for a CDL, you must pass all the tests and provide all the appropriate documentation.

1. Undergo a DOT physical. Visit your local DOT approved physician and undergo a DOT physical. During this physical, you may be asked to perform a number of simple tasks along with the basic physical examination. This will determine whether or not you are limited in any way. If you pass the physical, you will receive a DOT health certification card. If you have a disease, like diabetes or high blood pressure, you may need to complete a Commercial Driver Fitness Determination certification. Just as with the DOT physical, a licensed physician will complete the report. When completed, mail or fax the entire packet to the Texas Dept of Public Safety.

2. Obtain a Commercial Driver’s permit. A permit will allow you to operate a commercial vehicle while you are in training. Many CDL training programs ask that you obtain your permit prior to attending class so that the majority of your class time can be spent in the driver’s seat, perfecting your driving skills. In order to get your commercial driver’s permit, you will need to study the CDL driver’s handbook and be prepared to take the written portion of the tests. These tests include several different sections and may take a few hours to complete.

In addition to taking the tests, you will need to bring the following documentation with you:
• Proof-of-identity documents such as a military identification card, regular driver’s license or certified birth certificate along with your Social Security card.
Two proofs of residency. This can be in the form of a valid utility bill, tax returns, or other documents. For a full list, please refer to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
• If you moved to Texas within the past 30 days, and you have a valid CDL from another state, turn that license in and apply for an original Texas CDL.
• DOT Health Examination Card
You will be expected to complete an application, take and pass an eye exam with 20/30 vision or better with or without correction and pay the licensing fee. The current Texas CDL license cost is $61.

3. Complete an accredited CDL driver training program.

4. Complete a pre trip inspection and take and pass the road test. It is important to note that you must provide your own vehicle for the road test, so make sure that before you schedule this test, you have access to a commercial vehicle that will satisfy the requirements for the license you are applying and that it meets acceptable DOT safety standards.

Texas CDL License Training
Attending a CDL driver training program is not required in order to obtain your CDL, however it is highly encouraged. Driving a commercial vehicle is significantly different from driving passenger vehicles and learning the proper way to drive the vehicle goes a long way to ensuring your safety and that of those around you. Driver programs can range anywhere from several weeks to several months and the costs can vary greatly.

Some companies offer new drivers the opportunity to get a CDL without having to pay the cost for the training up front, or even at all. In these cases, the company trains drivers in exchange for a one year commitment. If the driver chooses to leave the company prior to the completion of his or her commitment, the full cost of the training is due upon separation.

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