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Washington CDL FAQs
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Washington CDL Class A, B, C plus Endorsments Selector
If you need help . . .
determining what Class of CDL you need based upon the type of vehicle you will drive (A, B or C) or are not sure which CDL Endorsements you need based upon the type of loads you will carry use the free CDL Selector Tool . . .
CDL Test Selector Tool
(Use only for a new CDL)
Not sure which CDL Tests you need to pass? Use this tool to determine what Class of CDL and which CDL Endorsements you require.

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Specific Washington CDL Information

Washington State CDL Training Requirements

Washington minimum CDL training requirements Before you can get a commercial driver license (CDL), you must successfully complete a training course at an approved Washington CDL training school. The training must include at least the following:

Class A Washington CDL Minimum training required: 160 total hours, including at least:

Class B Washington CDL Minimum training required: 48 total hours, including at least:

Class C Washington CDL Minimum training required: 36 total hours, including at least: After you complete the minimum training requirements
The training school will give you a certificate of completion that you must present at a driver licensing office when you get your Washington CDL. You don't need the training certificate to schedule and take a Washington CDL skills test, but you must present the original certificate at the licensing office after you have passed all your tests and are ready to get your Washington CDL. You won't be issued a Washington CDL unless you present the original certificate. Photocopied, faxed, handwritten, or mailed certificates won't be accepted.

Types of drivers exempt from Washington State training requirements

Employer-certified drivers
If your employer agrees that you have the skills and training to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely, he or she will complete and sign an employer certification that includes the classes of commercial vehicles you may operate. To be exempt from meeting the minimum training requirements, you must present this typed, signed certification at a driver licensing office when you are issued your CDL.

To qualify as an "employer", the person or organization who completes the certification must:

Drivers with military truck driver training
If you received specialized truck driver training in the military, you may be eligible for a Commercial Drivers Military Training Certificate from the Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA). Present this certificate instead of a training school certificate when you apply for your Washington CDL. To learn how to get a military training certificate, see the WDVA website: Military Commercial Drivers License Skills Test Waiver.

You may get a restricted Washington CDL without meeting the minimum training requirements if you'll be operating a commercial motor vehicle only for agribusiness purposes. When you get your Washington CDL, we will add a restriction that only allows you to drive a commercial vehicle for an agribusiness. To have this restriction removed, you must present a training or employer certificate.

An "agribusiness" is a private carrier who primarily transports the following products during the normal course of business: To get this restricted CDL without meeting training requirements, your agribusiness employer must send us a completed Agribusiness Minimum Training Requirements Exemption form. Then we will assign you a unique ID number and send your employer the approved form. You must present this approved form at a driver licensing office when you are issued your CDL. For more information, see Agribusiness.

I used to have a CDL. Do I have to meet the minimum training requirements if I want to get a CDL again?
Yes, unless you work for an employer who will certify you have the skills and training necessary to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.

Washington State CDL instruction permit (CDIP)

Who can apply for a Washington State CDIP
Any driver over 18 years old with a valid WA driver license. To operate commercial vehicles from state to state (interstate) you must be at least 21 years old.

How to apply for a Washington State CDIP

How long a Washington State CDIP is valid?
It's valid for 6 months and may only be renewed once in a 2 year period.

CDIP driving restrictions
After you've been issued a Washington State CDIP: Washington CDL Written Knowledge Tests
You will need to pass the Washington Knowledge Tests that are required for the class of license, restriction, and endorsements you wish to possess. A general knowledge test for the Class A or Class B and C license must be successfully completed by all CDL applicants. The information needed to pass these tests is contained in the FREE Washington CDL Handbook. Please read and study this manual carefully.

Classes of Washington CDL and Required Tests

CDL Class Tests Required Possible Endorsements and Required Tests
Class A
vehicle endorsement required)

General Knowledge Written Exam

Combination Endorsement Written Exam

Road Exam

H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
T - Doubles/Triples Written Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam
Class B

General Knowledge Written Exam

Road Exam

H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam
Class C

General Knowledge Written Exam

Road Exam

Note: If upgrading to a Class C from a Class D, no road test is required UNLESS the endorsement requires one.
H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam

Washington CDL Endorsements

Exam Time Allowed (Minutes) # of Questions on Exam # of Correct Answers Needed to Pass
General Knowledge 60 50 40
Air Brakes 25 25 20
HazMat 30 30 24
Tank 20 20 16
Passenger 20 20 16
Doubles/Triples 20 20 16
Combination Vehicles 20 20 16
School Bus 20 20 16

For the most complete and accurate official Washington state CDL information, go to the Official Washington CDL Website.

What is a CDL?
A "CDL" is a Commercial Drivers License. It meets certain minimum "standards" that are the same for every state. It differs from the Washington "operator's" or "chauffeur's" licenses. It is required if you drive certain kinds of commercial trucks or buses.

What is the COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY ACT OF 1986 (CMVSA/86) administered by the FMCSA?
It is a law passed by the United States Congress which requires ALL the individual states to comply with certain standards in regards to the licensing of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. Washington driver licensing standards comply with the law, requiring CMV drivers to obtain a Washington Commercial Driver's License (CDL) when driving applicable trucks and buses. A CDL license can ONLY be issued in the driver's STATE OF LEGAL RESIDENCE, and if you have a CDL, you can have NO OTHER DRIVER'S LICENSE in ANY other state.

When do I need a Washington CDL instead of my regular Washington Drivers License?
A Washington CDL is required if you operate any of the following CMV's . . .
1. A vehicle with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 lbs.
2. A vehicle towing a unit with a manufacturer's GVWR of more than 10,000 lbs. when the GCWR exceeds 26,000 lbs.
3. A vehicle used to . . .(a.) carry 15 or more passengers (excluding the driver), or (b.) carry (15) or less people (including the driver) when carrying children to or from school and home regularly for compensation.
4. A vehicle carrying hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding.

What are the eligibility requirements to obtain a Washington CDL?
1. You must be 21 years old. (18 years if all commercial driving is done within Washington and if no hazardous materials requiring placarding are transported and if you do not drive double or triple trailer rigs).
2. You must be physically capable (in accordance with the MCSR 49 CFR 391.41 Physical Qualifications for Drivers regulations) of obtaining a valid DOT medical examiner's card (before being issued a CDL permit or taking any CDL skills test).
3. You must otherwise qualify for the license based on your driving record. Any of the following will disqualify you from obtaining a Washington CDL . . .
* If you possess a license from any state other than Washington.
* If you are currently subject to any disqualification of your commercial driving privilege from Washington or any other state.
* If your license is currently suspended, revoked, denied, or cancelled.
* If you have a conviction for operating a commercial motor vehicle while impaired in the 24 months immediately preceding application.
* other technical rules, and further restrictions that pertain only to Washington are covered in detail within the Course.

How do I obtain a Washington CDL?
1. Show your Washington driver license.
2. You must take and pass all Washington examinations that apply to your license class and endorsement requirements.
3. Show proof of social security number.
4. Meet Washington driver record eligibility requirements as determined by the State.
5. Fill out an application including certifications.
6. Provide a DOT medical certificate and pass the required CDL knowledge and vision tests (BEFORE a CDL Temporary Instruction Permit will be issued).
7. Pay the Washington CDL fees.
8. Schedule, take, and pass your Washington CDL skills test.

A separate booklet is included in the Washington CDL Course package which covers information such as fees, locations, contacts, procedures and other items specific to Washington for the written and skills examinations for ALL classes of CDL and ALL available endorsements.

What is a CDL "Skills Test" and how do I take it?
A "skills" test is the practical portion of the exam and includes . . .
1. A vehicle inspection test to measure your ability to perform a vehicle safety check.
2. A basic control skills test.
3. A driving test.
The skills test is normally given at an approved third party testing site in your area. This can vary and the latest procedures are indicated in the Washington CDL Course.

So let's say I get a Washington CDL. Can I use it Out-of-State?
Yes! It is good throughout the entire United States.

Can my Washington CDL be suspended or revoked?
Yes, there are MANY reasons that your Washington CDL can be suspended or revoked. Improper use of alcohol or drugs, traffic violations, and failure to notify top the list. The Course details ALL of the rules regarding suspension or revocation. The point to remember is that alcohol or drug use is not tolerated and your record WILL FOLLOW YOU THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES FOREVER!!!

So let's say that my Washington CDL is revoked. Can't I just apply for a CDL in another State?
No!!! Those days are gone.

Are there any exemptions to being required to have Washington CDL?
Yes, a few . . .
1. Active Duty Military . . . with military licenses operating military vehicles.
2. Firefighters . . . meeting approved training standards and operating authorized emergency vehicles.
3. Farmers . . . in certain cases.
4. Individuals ....operating motor homes or other vehicles used exclusively to transport personal possessions or family members, for non business purposes.

What do the terms Class A, Class B, and Class C mean on my Washington CDL?
It refers to the type of vehicle that you may operate . . .
CLASS A . . . allows you to operate vehicles which tow trailers or other vehicles with a GVWR over 10,000 pounds. A Class "A" license also allows you to operate Class B and C vehicles.
CLASS B . . . allows you to operate single vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs or more OR a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, towing trailers/vehicles rated at 10,000 pounds GVWR or less. A Class "B" license also allows you to operate Class C vehicles.
CLASS C . . .allows you to operate vehicles under 26,001 lbs. GVWR, that would normally not require a CDL; except when they are designed to transport 16 or more persons including the driver; or that carry 15 or less people (including the driver) transporting children to or from school and home regularly for compensation, or carry hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding. Applicable endorsements are required.

What are Endorsement Codes and when do I need them on my Washington CDL?
Endorsements are necessary for certain commercial driving requirements as follows . . .
(P) PASSENGER. For vehicles which are designed to carry 16 or more people (including the driver); or those which carry 15 or less people (including the driver) transporting children to or from school and home regularly for compensation.
(N) TANK VEHICLES. For vehicles designed to haul liquids or liquefied gases in bulk in permanently mounted tanks or portable tanks rated at 1,000 gallons or more.
(H) HAZARDOUS MATERIALS. To carry hazardous materials in amounts requiring placards.
(X) Endorsement code designating a Tank (N) vehicle that carries Hazardous Materials (H).

I'm over 18 years old, but not 21 years old yet. Can I get a Washington CDL license?
Yes . . . with restrictions. You are limited to INTRAstate driving of commercial vehicles (you cannot drive a commercial truck or bus out of Washington). You cannot drive a vehicle requiring HAZ MAT placarding, cannot drive double or triple trailer rigs and cannot drive a School Bus with children on board until you turn 21 years of age.

We could go on and on with FAQs but I hope this covers most of your GENERAL questions. Please be assured that the Course answers EVERYTHING that you need to know to obtain ANY or ALL of the available CDL licenses and endorsements in an easy to understand manner. The material is presented in three different ways to reinforce your retention. GOOD LUCK !!

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