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How to Get a Commercial Drivers License in Colorado

A Colorado CDL drivers license enables residents to operate commercial vehicles within the state and/or across the country. Drivers may receive a CDL license after scheduling and passing all driving skills tests, paying fees and providing necessary documentation. Learning how to get a commercial drivers license is essential if you wish to obtain this type of qualification to secure a position in the truck driving industry. Getting a commercial drivers license involves completing the application process in a timely manner. To learn how to apply to a commercial drivers license, review the following sections.

CDL Drivers License Types in Colorado

CDL drivers licenses include various classes that permit credential holders to operate different types of vehicles. A Class A CDL license allows holders to operate any combination of commercial vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or more if the vehicle, or vehicles, being towed weigh more than 10,000 pounds. Applicants who obtain a commercial drivers license in the B classification may operate single vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more as long as the vehicles towed weigh 10,000 pounds or less. Class C CDL license requirements consist of any single or combination of vehicles that seat 16 or more passengers, including the driver, that do not meet the requirements for Class A or Class B classifications. A Class C license must also be used for vehicles transporting hazardous materials. Each CDL class requires different exams and eligibility requirements.

Additionally, CO commercial drivers license endorsements further differentiate CDLs. Drivers must understand the differences between CDL licenses to ensure they are sufficiently licensed to operate commercial vehicles. However, some vehicles do not require a CDL in order for a driver to operate it. For example, recreational vehicles, military vehicles, some emergency response vehicles (i.e., snowplows and firefighting equipment) and agricultural vehicles operated on farmland do not require drivers to carry CDLs.

Colorado CDL Endorsements

To get commercial drivers license endorsements, applicants must meet the appropriate requirements to indicate that they have specialized skills and knowledge mandatory for operating specific types of vehicles and cargo. CDL license requirements protect drivers and passengers from unsafe driving conditions such as inexperienced drivers. There are five CDL endorsements that are available to drivers of commercial vehicles. They include the following:

  • Double and triple trailers
  • Tanker vehicles
  • Passenger endorsement
  • School bus
  • Hazardous materials

Drivers must research CDL information on receiving new CDLs with additional endorsements and the process of adding extra endorsements to existing CDLs to best suit their needs. Drivers may be eligible for a CDL endorsement if their licenses are valid, they pass general knowledge tests and operate the appropriate vehicles. Obligatory background checks and CDL renewals may be required for some endorsements.

Application Process for a Colorado CDL

Drivers must abide by CDL license requirements to successfully obtain licensure. To receive a CDL license, drivers must follow the steps listed below:

  1. Obtain and maintain a non-commercial driver’s license.
  2. Complete the CDL application form.
  3. Deliver completed application to a CO DMV office.
  4. Schedule and pass required driving and health exams.
  5. Pay license and CDL endorsement fees.
  6. Receive CDL license.

A CDL license permit is required for all commercial vehicle operators before they receive the full license. Drivers wishing to obtain a commercial drivers license may attend independently operated CDL schools to learn how to operate commercial vehicles. However, the courses are not mandatory. Regardless, the CO DMV recommends that drivers attend CDL school to best prepare for road and knowledge tests.

Required Documents for a CDL in Colorado

To get a commercial drivers license in CO, drivers must present recent and accurate documents to the DMV to verify their statuses as drivers and residents. For instance, CDL license applicants must provide their current medical cards, proof of in-state residency, Social Security Numbers, approved driving school certifications and drive skills test completion forms. CDL license requirements may encourage drivers to present other documentation including specialized certification for certain endorsements. When getting a commercial drivers license, applicants are also responsible for providing a valid non-commercial driver’s license and furnishing the application fee. Fees may vary depending on the type of CDL license drivers request as well as the addition of any endorsements to a credential.

Education Requirements for a Colorado CDL

A CDL drivers license requires drivers to take standardized exams that exemplify their skills in operating commercial vehicles. Therefore, to receive a CDL license in CO, drivers must meet strict education requirements. These CDL requirements feature varying levels of difficulties and subjects. Minimum exams for a CDL driver are outlined in the commercial driver manual. Additional knowledge tests must be taken for CDL endorsements and general knowledge exams must be passed for each CDL classification. Formal training in the form of CDL schooling is strongly recommended and cannot be replaced by reviewing the CO CDL manual. Drivers may receive CDL drivers license training from a trusted third-party location. They may also schedule their CDL driving tests at one of these third-party training sites.

Eligibility Requirements for a Colorado CDL

CDL license requirements are strict so as to encourage only the best candidates to operate commercial motor vehicles. CDL qualifications include age restrictions, vehicle types and other eligibility requirements that drivers must meet in order to become licensed drivers. Drivers must hold valid non-commercial drivers licenses and be at least 18 years of age at the time of application. Additionally, during their CDL licenses’ skills tests, drivers must utilize a vehicle from the CDL classification for which they are applying. A CDL drivers license requires drivers to meet these eligibility requirements to ensure their safety and that of other traffic participants.

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