How to Get an Arkansas CDL License

In Arkansas, drivers that are seeking to operate commercial vehicles must first obtain a valid commercial driver’s license from the state. Any single or combination vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating over 26,000 pounds, school buses, passenger vehicles designed to carry 16 or more people, and vehicles designated for transporting hazardous materials are all categorized as commercial vehicles that need to be operated by CDL license holders. Since applying for a new Arkansas CDL license can be a challenging undertaking, you are encouraged to follow this step-by-step explanation for successfully obtaining a CDL license.

Arkansas CDL License Requirements
Before filing an application for a CDL license, it is important that you make sure you meet all federal and state requirements for commercial drivers. In Arkansas, drivers must be at least 18 years old for traveling within state lines, and drivers need to be at least 21 years old for traveling between different states. You must have also held a Class D driver’s license for at least one year. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates that all CDL drivers are also proven to be medically fit for operating large commercial vehicles competently. You will be required to complete a comprehensive physical examination, which will ensure you have satisfactory hearing, at least 20/40 vision with corrective lenses, a 70-degree field of vision, and not colorblind.

According to the USA Patriot Act, commercial drivers that are interested in receiving the Hazmat endorsement on their CDL license must also pass a background records check and supply their fingerprints to the database. Although all commercial drivers are required to have a clean driving record, background checks for transporting hazardous materials are thoroughly conducted by the TSA and FBI. If you are seeking a Hazmat endorsement, you will not be eligible if you have been convicted of treason, homicide, assault, terrorism, kidnapping, or any other severe crimes. The two background checks cost $34 and $17.25, while the fingerprints will cost an additional $38.

Arkansas CDL License Training
Once you have met these requirements and filed an application at any Arkansas Office of Motor Vehicles, you need to start preparing for the written knowledge test. You can access the Model Commercial Driver License Manual online or by stopping at your local OMV center. Read the manual carefully from cover to cover. Make sure that you study all of the added sections that apply to the endorsements you will be testing for. When you are prepared, go to any of the troop headquarters for the Arkansas State Police to take the test. Even though there is a mixture of questions, the total number of questions for the general knowledge test is forty. If you achieve 32 correct answers or 80 percent, you will satisfactorily pass and receive a CDL Instruction Permit.

With permit in hand, you are now ready to start legally practicing driving skills on the road when accompanied by a qualified CDL driver. Although there are no federal or state requirements for training in Arkansas, it is highly encouraged that drivers join a professional training program. Transportation companies and school districts often offer free training to qualified applicants. If training is not automatically provided by your present or future employer, there are options to enroll in programs by driving schools, community colleges, and technical schools.

Arkansas CDL License Process
Once you feel ready, contact an Arkansas State Police troop headquarters nearest you to schedule to take the road test. Road tests are only administered at six locations in the state, which are Little Rock, Russelville, Newport, Hope, Pine Bluff, and Springdale. You will usually have to provide your own vehicle, so talk to your training program or a rental company to acquire a vehicle that meets the needs for your CDL testing. During the road test, you will be examined in a pre-trip inspection, basic driving skills test on a closed course, and an on-the-road driving test for more complex maneuvers.

After successfully completing the road skills test, you will receive documentation of your test results to take to a local Arkansas OMV center. You are required to pay the Arkansas CDL license cost of $42 and an additional $50 testing fee. Although the costs are steep, the CDL license will remain valid for four years and renewed for a lower price.