Do I need a Commercial Driver License in Florida?

Driving is a complex subject, and there is certain information that all drivers should know. For example, who needs a CDL (Commercial Driver License) in Florida for operating a commercial vehicle?

A CDL is essential for all commercial drivers and comes in several classes. Each class is for a different category of vehicle that you intend to drive within Florida. 

Getting a CDL in Florida has several requirements that each driver must fulfill as failure leads to immediate disqualification. Ensure you have a CDL before you start operating a commercial vehicle as per the law. 

There are several CLD classes to keep in mind, and each comes with varying requirements that you must meet. Each cargo has endorsements that you must keep in mind as you apply for a new CDL. 

What is a CDL (Commercial Driver License), and What are its Classes?

In Florida, you need a special license to drive a heavy commercial vehicle. You must get a CDL if you intend to drive a truck weighing more than 26 tons. The license also applies if you will operate a hazardous material truck or a bus carrying more than 26 people. 

As a commercial driver, you must always know that there are some exceptions to getting the CDL. You won’t need it when operating farm machinery like large tractors or when driving a military track. 

However, for any commercial vehicle, you need one of three CDL classes to operate within Florida. 

1. Class A

The first CDL class you’ll encounter is A, for trucks weighing more than 26 tons for combined weight. Also, it applies to trailers that weigh above 10 tons. 

2. Class B

Next is CDL Class B that’s similar to Class A in terms of weight requirements. 

3. Class C

You need a CDL Class C when operating a commercial vehicle that weighs less than 26 tons. 

It’s essential to note that apart from these classes, there are also endorsements. Special endorsements are there to dictate the type of vehicle you can drive and the cargo you’ll carry. 

For example, you need a hazmat endorsement when carrying hazardous waste material. There are specific rules you must follow and pass the tests provided to obtain the special endorsements.

Tests and Requirements for CDL

Getting a CDL is no easy task as there are specific requirements to meet and tests to pass. In case you fail, then it leads to automatic disqualification. As a potential CDL holder in Florida, the most basic requirement is to have an official driving license. 

After that, you need to obtain a CPL (Commercial Learner’s Permit). Getting the CPL has its own set of requirement which you must meet. To start, you must be a Florida resident, have a valid driving license, and pass a complete background check. Only after you pass that you will get a CPL. 

Additionally, to get the CPL, there’s a learners test that you must take and pass. Once you have the CPL, you can drive a commercial vehicle under another driver’s supervision with a valid CDL. The only point to note is this driver must be 21 years and above. 

You can use this time to practice as much driving as possible. Only when confident should you take the test for your CDL. 

As a CDL applicant, one requirement to keep in mind is you need to be above 18. The same applies when you want to obtain a CPL. Still, it’s worth noting that even with a CDL, you can’t transport hazardous waste if you’re under the age of 21 in Florida. 

Also, you need to undergo a thorough medical checkup as part of your CDL application. After the checkup, get a doctor’s certificate to prove your good health and capability to operate a commercial vehicle. After that, you need a checkup every 2 years where the doctor updates the certificate. 

Lastly, there’s room for exemption from taking the CDL test. If you have any military experience as a commercial driver for 2 years, you can pass the test and apply for the license directly. 

What Leads to Disqualification or Revocation of your CDL in Florida? 

Having a CDL or getting one is not guaranteed in Florida after submitting your application. It’s possible to be disqualified or even have your CDL revoked. If you violate specific rules and laws, you can lose it, and getting it back is not easy. 

One of the main ways to have your CDL revoked is committing a serious traffic offense. Traffic offenses can pile up, and if you reach a certain number, you get your CDL revoked. Also, certain offenses can have your license revoked temporarily. 

For example, when you commit 2 serious traffic offenses in 3 years, you have your CDL revoked for 2 months. Therefore, avoid speeding, poor lane switch, driving without a CDL, and driving too close to other Florida vehicles. 

Another way to get your license revoked is getting an OSO (Out of Service Order). You get an OSO when drinking and driving. During the investigation, your CDL is under the OSO, during which you can’t operate a commercial vehicle. 

Your punishment, once the investigation is over, depends on your offense rate. For a first time offense, you can get your license disqualified for 180 days -1 year. A second offense gets you disqualification for 3 years, while a third one gets you 5 years. 

Final Point

You need a CDL to operate a commercial vehicle in Florida. One way to get one is to apply for a CPL and get training from a CDL holder before taking the test. After you get the CDL to operate in Florida, learn about the rules you must not cross to avoid license revocation. 

A CDL comes in three classes, and you need one to operate a commercial vehicle in the state. Regardless, everyone needs to take the tests, but military personnel with 2 years’ experience are exempted. 

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