State and Federal Regulations require that truck drivers carrying more than 26,000 pounds or hazardous materials must first obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) from the State in which they live. However, in many states, those driving “light” trucks and vans are only required to obtain a regular driver’s license.
The District of Columbia requires that applicants for a Commercial Driver’s License meet the requirements for a regular driver’s license, take a CDL knowledge and road test and satisfy other requirements. The DC DMV website advises applicants to make certain they meet CDL requirements before preparing for the test.
Virginia DMV requires anyone driving a truck (or pulling a series of trailers) which weighs over 26,001 pounds, transporting hazardous materials, or carrying more than 16 passengers to obtain a CDL. At 18, drivers can obtain an intrastate CDL and at 21 can apply for an interstate CDL. Drivers must pass a state-approved driver education program designed for commercial vehicles, hold a CDL instruction permit for 30 days, and pass the Department of Motor Vehicles’ CDL road skills test. The 90 minute road skills test consists of a pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control, and on-road driving.
Maryland’s requirements are virtually identical to Virginia, except that the road skills test is shorter and can be completed in under an hour.
Drivers with hazardous materials have the added requirement of a fingerprint and criminal background check by the Transportation Safety Administration.
It should be noted, however, that these are baseline standards and that many trucking companies have more stringent requirements than the various state DMVs.