A commercial driver license (CDL) is a type of driver license an individual can apply for to transport interstate or intrastate commerce.
With the exception of motorcycles and mopeds, individuals who hold a valid CDL may drive all vehicles in the class for which that license is issued, including their personal vehicle.
Any vehicle that requires an endorsement (i.e. school bus, hazardous material, etc.) may not be driven unless the proper endorsement appears on the CDL.
Individuals are required to have a CDL if they operate a motor vehicle:
With a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds,
Which transports quantities of hazardous materials that requires warning placards (signs), or
Designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver.
Any individual whose driver license is currently suspended, cancelled or revoked in Texas or in any other state is not eligible for a CDL.
Individuals who operate any of the following vehicles are not required to obtain a CDL but must have the correct type of driver license for the vehicle they are operating:
Military or commercial vehicles when operated for military purposes by military personnel,
A vehicle controlled and operated by a farmer, used to transport agricultural products, machinery or supplies within 150 miles of the individual’s farm,
Fire-fighting or emergency vehicles necessary to the preservation of life or property or the execution of emergency governmental functions whether operated by an employee of a political subdivision or by a volunteer fire fighter,
Recreational vehicles driven for personal use (although a CDL is not required, individuals may need to obtain a Class A driver license), and
A vehicle used exclusively to transport seed cotton modules or cotton burrs.
Interstate versus Intrastate
Individuals may apply for a CDL that allows the transportation of either interstate or intrastate commerce. At the driver license office, individuals must specify if they are applying for interstate or intrastate commerce.
Interstate commerce means trade, traffic or transportation:
Within the U.S. between a place in a state and a place outside of such state or outside of the U.S., or
Between two places in a state through another state or outside of the U.S.
Intrastate commerce is the:
Transportation of property (a commodity) where the point of origin and destination are within one state and the state line, or
International boundary is not crossed.
The Bill of Lading will be an indicator as to whether a shipment or commodity is interstate or intrastate. If there is not a Bill of Lading then the origin and destination of the shipment will be an indicator.
Not every driver license office is able to accommodate a CDL road test
Farm-Related Service Industry Waiver
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) may waive the knowledge and skills tests and issue a restricted CDL to an individual who is an employee of a farm-related service industry.
Farm retail outlets and suppliers
Customer harvesters including cotton modular operators
Live stock feeders
NOTE: A CDL with a Farm-Related Service Industry waiver is only issued for Class B and Class C vehicles.
Texas Intrastate Vision and Limb Waivers
Individuals who do not meet the physical requirements necessary to obtain a CDL may be eligible to apply for a Texas Intrastate Vision Waiver or a Texas Intrastate Limb Waiver. If the waiver is approved, individuals will be restricted to intrastate driving.
Only original vision or limb waiver documents will be accepted. The original application packet must be fully completed then returned to DPS within 45 days of the physical examination date.
Texas Department of Public Safety
P.O. Box 4087
Austin, TX 78773-0320
NOTE: An individual must have a valid Texas driver license to obtain a Texas Intrastate Vision and Limb Waiver. Individuals must surrender their out-of-state license, obtain a Texas Class C driver license then apply for the waiver. If the waiver is approved, the individual must retest for a Texas CDL and obtain a CDL with the appropriate restrictions within 60 days of the approval.
Skills Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certification Program
The SPE Certification Program, formerly the Limb Waiver Program, is a federally-sponsored program available to certain individuals who hold a CDL. This program provides an opportunity for some individuals who would otherwise be medically unqualified to obtain a CDL to apply for and maintain a CDL.
For more information on the SPE Certification Program or other interstate medical variances that are available including the Federal Diabetes Exemption Program, please visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.