Any Colorado resident wishing to operate a motor vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds, contains hazardous material, or transports 16 or more persons (including the driver) must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Note that if you already possess a valid CDL from another state, it is transferable to a Colorado CDL. If not, follow these steps to obtain your Colorado CDL.
Step 1: Gather the necessary documentation to prove your identity, age, and lawful presence in the United States.
A valid Colorado driver’s license and Social Security card are adequate to do this, although other types of documentation, such as a passport or military ID, are sufficient as well. Note that you must already hold a valid Colorado driver’s license in order to obtain a Colorado CDL. You must be at least 18 years old to hold a CDL, although you will be restricted to operating your vehicle within state boundaries until you are 21 years old. You must also be able to clear record checks with the Commercial Driver’s License Information System and the National Driver Register.
Step 2: Pass the Department of Transportation (DOT) medical exam.
To obtain a Colorado CDL, you must be deemed medically qualified to operate the types of vehicles that fall under CDL classification. Print the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) medical exam report form (available at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/safetyprograms/Medical-Report.pdf) and take it to your physician. Depending on your physician and insurance, there will most likely be a cost associated with obtaining a DOT medical certificate. Note that your medical certificate can never be more than 24 months old.
Step 3: Prepare for the written CDL knowledge test to obtain your CDL instruction permit.
Study the CDL Driver’s Handbook to prepare for the written test. The CDL Driver’s Handbook is available online from the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles website. Be sure to study all general sections as well as the sections for any specific endorsements you wish to receive.
Step 4: Pass the written CDL knowledge test to obtain your CDL instruction permit.
Take your valid Colorado driver’s license and other documents proving your identity, age, and lawful presence in the US, along with your current DOT medical certificate, to a Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office to take the written CDL knowledge test. Verify that the DMV office you plan to go to actually does administer the written test, as not all offices do. Once you pass the test, be prepared to pay the $14 fee to obtain your CDL instruction permit.
Step 5: Prepare for the CDL driving skills test.
Once you have a CDL instruction permit, begin training for the CDL driving test using the type of vehicle for which you would like to be licensed. You must train with the holder of a valid CDL or approved third party instructor at all times. The CDL driving test will cover pre-trip vehicle inspection (your ability to determine if the vehicle is safe to operate), basic vehicle control (your ability to operate the vehicle in forward and reverse within a defined area), and on-road driving (your ability to operate safely in various traffic situations). Note that your CDL instruction permit is valid for 1 year, so complete your Colorado CDL license training within this time period.
Step 6: Pass the CDL driving skills test.
Locate a Colorado DMV office that offers CDL driving tests and schedule a test appointment. Bring the type of vehicle for which you would like to be licensed. Once you pass the CDL driving test, pay the $35 license fee to obtain your Colorado CDL. Note that this brings the total Colorado CDL license cost to $49, plus the cost of a completed DOT medical certificate, which will vary depending on your physician and insurance. There may also be additional costs if you chose to use a third party instructor to prepare for the written and/or driving test.