How to get an Indiana state Commercial Driver’s License

Commercial Driver’s License Requirements
In 2013, Indiana implemented a new self-certification process for obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The new process has two primary requirements. First, a CDL driver has to notify the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles of the type of commercial vehicle the CDL driver is currently driving or hopes to drive. Second, a CDL driver has to demonstrate that he or she understands that medical tests must be passed and certain medical standards met in order to receive the CDL.

CDL License Process
In Indiana, a CDL enables a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight greater than 26,000 pounds, vehicles that can hold 16 or more people and vehicles that haul hazardous material.

Indiana has strict rules in place for CDL applicants. There are age restrictions in place for applicants that want to obtain a CDL. Commercial vehicle operators who intend to move goods and property within Indiana must be at least 18 years old. Applicants who intend to operate commercial vehicles with passengers must be at least 21 years old. An applicant must also have passed the CDL learner’s permit test. Drivers who have had a valid driver’s license for less than a year are not eligible to apply for a CDL.

Steps to obtain a commercial driver’s license:

1. Pass the Indiana Department of Transportation’s physical examination.

The goal of the physical examination is to determine the fitness level of the CDL applicant. The examination requires the applicant to detail his or her health history and undergo a medical exam. The medical exam includes tests for:

• Vision.

• Hearing.

• Blood pressure/pulse rate.

• Laboratory and other tests, including a urinalysis.

• Physical examination.

2. Obtain a CDL learner’s permit from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

In order to obtain a commercial license an applicant must pass the knowledge test for the type of vehicle they hope to operate.

• All commercial vehicle drivers: General knowledge test.

• All school bus drivers: Schoolbus endorsement and passenger transport test.

• All bus drivers: Passenger transport test.

• Vehicle with air brakes: Air brakes test.

• Combination of vehicles: Combination vehicle test.

• Drivers required to transport: Hazardous material test.

• Drivers required to transport liquids in bulk: Tanker test.

• Drivers required to pull double or triple tankers: Doubles/triples test.

Once the applicant has passed the appropriate knowledge test, the results are valid for 180 days. An applicant can obtain only three CDL learner’s permit in two years. The CDL learner’s permit is valid for six months.

3. Once an applicant has obtained the CDL learner’s permit, the next step is to pass a skills test in a vehicle that is representative of the type of license that the applicant is hoping to obtain. The skills test must be taken at an approved state facility. There are three sections of the test:

• Pre-trip inspection.

• Basic control skills test.

• Road trip test.

The pre-trip inspection tests whether the applicant understands when the vehicle is safe to drive. During the inspection, the applicant is required to conduct a pre-trip inspection on the vehicle and to explain to the person conducting the exam what needs to be inspected and why.

The basic control skills test is meant to test the applicant’s ability to control the vehicle. The tests include exercises such as straight line backing, right offset backing and parallel parking. The exercises are administered using lines and traffic cones. The examiner explains to the applicant how each exercise is performed. The applicant is judged on his and her ability to keep within the boundaries of the exercise as well as on how many pullups or looks the applicant has to make during the test.

The road test explorers the ability of the applicant to drive in on-road situations. The road test includes a variety of turns, moves and situations that a commercial driver should be able to handle, including:

• Left and right turns.

• Railway crossings.

• Curves.

• Rural and semi-rural roads.

• City multi-lane streets.

• Expressway driving.

Applicants applying for a school bus license are required to demonstrate loading and unloading students.

The examiner will judge your ability to perform turns, merge into traffic, change lanes, and control your speed. Emphasis is placed on signaling, lane positioning and looking for hazards. The road test takes places on a route approved by the State of Indiana.

CDL License Fees
The basic Indiana CDL license cost is $30. The license is valid for four years. The fee to add endorsements to a CDL is $20 and the endorsements are valid until the next renewal date.

CDL License Training
There are several commercial driver license training schools in Indiana. The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is in charge of certifying driver education schools and instructors.

As of June 2013, there were nineteen truck driver training schools throughout the state of Indiana. The schools offer different services, including full time, part time and weekend classes, classroom and on-road instruction and job placement assistance upon completion of the course and obtaining a CDL.

The cost of Indiana CDL license training programs varies depending on the length of the program and the amount of on-road instruction time.