Michigan CDL Requirements

Getting your CDL in Michigan

In Michigan, you can obtain a standard CDL or an enhanced CDL. The enhanced CDL is an attractive alternative to the standard CDL because it allows you to re-enter the U.S. by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean without the need to show additional identity or citizenship documents at the border. In order to obtain an enhanced CDL, you must be a U.S. citizen and a Michigan resident, and must have no violations, suspensions, revocations or denials on your driving record that would prevent you from legally operating a commercial motor vehicle. Michigan emphasizes many special requirements to get a CDL, particularly regarding citizenship. If your name is different from what’s on your birth certificate, you’ll need to bring in a certified name-change document, such as your marriage license or court order. Multiple documents may be needed if your name has changed more than once.

Requirements

To obtain either the standard or enhanced CDL, federal regulations and Michigan law require all drivers who have a Commercial Driver License (CDL) or Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) to provide proof of U.S. Citizenship or Legal Presence in the United States when they apply, correct or renew their next CDL license.

You must be age 21 to drive a commercial motor vehicle across state lines (interstate). If you are between the ages of 18 and 21, you will receive a license with a K restriction allowing you to drive a commercial motor vehicle in Michigan only.

Before you can obtain an original CDL, you must qualify for the license based on your driving record. Any of the following will disqualify you from obtaining a CDL:

  • Inability to make the necessary certifications contained on the CDL Certification Form, found in the Michigan Commercial Driver License Manual
  • Having a license from more than one state
  • A current suspension, revocation, denial, or cancellation of your license
  • Conviction of any six-point violation in the 24 months immediately preceding application
  • Conviction for operating a motor vehicle while impaired in the 24 months immediately preceding application
  • A suspension or revocation in the 36 months immediately preceding application
  • Suspensions for Failure to Appear in Court (FAC), Failure to Comply with a Judgment (FCJ), failure to appear for re-examination, financial responsibility, non-sufficient funds checks, and a suspension or revocation for a temporary medical condition do not disqualify an applicant for a CDL

CDL Classes/groupings and Endorsements available

  • Class A: required to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, to include a towed vehicle that is heavier than 10,000 lbs. This includes tractor-trailers, truck and trailer combinations, tractor-trailor buses, tankers, livestock carriers, and flatbeds.
  • Class B: required to operate a single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or heavier, and/or any vehicle as described above that is towing another vehicle weighing UP TO 10,000 lbs. This includes straight trucks, large buses, segmented buses, box trucks, and dump trucks with small trailers.
  • Class C: may be required if the vehicle you intend to drive does not meet the criteria for either a Class A or Class B license, and is meant to transport either at least 16 passengers (to include you, the driver), or hazardous material (HAZMAT) as laid out by federal guidelines. Vehicles requiring a Class C CDL include small HAZMAT vehicles, passenger vans, and small trucks towing a trailer.

A Class A CDL allows you to operate Class B and C vehicles as well. A Class B allows you to operate Class C vehicles. In Michigan, the CDL classes are referred to as Groups or Groupings.

Endorsements include some special restrictions in the state of Michigan. Below are available endorsements and their requirements:

  • T – Double or Triple Trailers: (Triple trailer combinations are not permitted in Michigan.)
  • P – Passenger: For vehicles which are designed to carry 16 or more people (including the driver).
  • 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. Before applying for this endorsement, you must have: a Federal Security Threat Assessment, and must provide valid, unexpired proof of U.S. Citizenship or that you are a Lawful Permanent Resident.
  • X – This X-endorsement code will appear on the license instead of the H and N codes when an applicant receives both the tank and hazardous materials endorsements.
  • S – School Bus: For commercial motor vehicles used to transport pre-primary, primary, or secondary school students from home to school, school to home, or to and from school-sponsored events

Note that for Commercial Learner Permits (CLPs) issued on or after July 8, 2015, the only endorsements allowed are: P (passenger), S (school bus), and N (tanker).

Medical requirements and self-certification

You must pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) medical examination. Only a licensed medical examiner may conduct your examination.

Certified medical examiners can be found on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) National Registry. Medical examiner’s certificates are valid for a maximum of 2 years.

By regulation, Specific Medically Disqualifying Conditions Found Under 49 CFR 391.41 are Hearing Loss, Vision Loss, Epilepsy and Insulin Use. Drivers who require a Diabetes or Vision exemption to safely drive a CMV in addition to those pre-printed on the certification form are disqualified until they receive such an exemption.

Visit the FMCSA’s website for detailed information on medical requirements

All Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders are required (under federal regulation) to inform the Secretary of State office of the type of commerce they plan to operate within (interstate or intrastate) and whether or not they are required to hold a medical certificate. This notification is called self-certification. It is called self-certification because the driver alone needs to determine the self-certification category he/she falls into based on his/her driving information.

Testing and costs

All drivers applying for their first commercial driver license must take CDL knowledge tests and skills tests. You are responsible for ensuring that the commercial vehicle you will be testing in is the correct vehicle for your CDL group designator(s), endorsement(s) and restrictions. The testing examiner will not inform you whether the commercial vehicle is the correct type.

Make sure to know everything you need to before CDL testing in Michigan.

Find your testing location

Licensing fees are $25 for the standard CDL, or $45 for the enhanced CDL, and $5 for each endorsement.

In order to obtain a Michigan CDL there are a list of requirements that must be met, and getting your Michigan CDL involves several steps. There are medical requirements and residency requirements, along with knowledge and skills requirements. The basic requirements for getting your cdl in Michigan include:

  • You must be at least 18 years old to hold a Michigan CDL and drive a commercial vehicle within the state of Michigan.
  • You must be at least age 21 to drive a commercial motor vehicle across Michigan state lines, carry hazardous materials, or transport any passengers.
  • You must not have more than one driver’s license, and your driving privileges must not be suspended, revoked, canceled or disqualified in Michigan or any other state.
  • You must meet the medical requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
  • You must pass a set of written exams to obtain your Michigan Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP).
  • You must prove citizenship in the state of Michigan and have permission to work in the United States, showing legitimate personal identification which may include a Social Security Card, a Birth Certificate, or a Green Card
  • You must certify that you are not subject to any of the CDL disqualifications for drivers (listed below)
  • You must be able to speak and read the English language

Below we will list more general requirements, qualifications, disqualifications, and restrictions for getting a CDL in Michigan.

Who Is Required To Hold A Michigan CDL?

You will need a CDL to operate any of the following vehicles:

  • A single vehicle with a GVWR over 26,000 lbs.
  • A combination vehicle with a GVWR over 26,000 lbs, towing a unit over 10,000 lbs GVWR.
  • A passenger vehicle designed to carry 16 or more people, including the driver.
  • Any size vehicle requiring hazardous material (Hazmat) placards, or carrying a select agent or toxin listed in 42 CFR Part 73.

What Are The Different Classes Of CDL In Michigan?

  • Class A:

    Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight of 26,001 pounds or more, with trailer(s) weighing 10,000 pounds or more.

  • Class B:

    Any single vehicle having a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing another weighing 10,000 pounds or less.

  • Class C:

    Any vehicle or combination of vehicles not meeting the definition of Class A or Class B, designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver), or any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded to carry hazardous material:

  • Class D:

    Many states issue a “Class D” license, which is not part of the FMCSA standards. Some use it to classify regular, passenger car drivers licenses, while some use it to classify specific weights or types of vehicles. This varies from state-to-state.

Knowledge And Skills Test Requirements For Getting A CDL In Michigan

Each basic knowledge test covers the 20 general areas outlined in 49 CFR 383.111(a). The knowledge test shall contain at least 30 items. A separate test for drivers seeking to operate CMV’s with air brakes in Michigan must cover the 7 areas outlined in 49 CFR 383.111(b).

To pass the knowledge tests (general and endorsement); applicants must correctly answer at least 80 percent of the questions.

To pass the Michigan CDL skills test, applicants must successfully perform all the required skills (listed in 49 CFR 383.113 through 49 CFR 383.123). The skills test must be taken in a vehicle representative of the type of vehicle that the applicant operates or expects to operate.

Federal standards require the state of Michigan to issue CDLs to certain commercial motor vehicle drivers only after the driver passes the knowledge and skills tests administered by the State. The vehicle you take the CDL test in must also relate to the type of vehicle the driver expects to operate.

Restrictions are placed on a Michigan CDL when a driver takes the Skills Test in a vehicle which lacks critical equipment present in particular types of CMVs. Therefore, to avoid restrictions, drivers should take the Skills Test in the same type of vehicle for which they are seeking a Michigan CDL to operate.

Drivers are required to obtain and hold a CDL in Michigan if they operate in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce and drive a vehicle that meets one or more of the classifications of a CMV are also described below.

Military Skills Test Waiver Program

The state of Michigan has the authority to substitute two years of experience safely operating trucks or buses equivalent to civilian commercial vehicles for the skills test portion of the Michigan commercial driver license (CDL) test. U.S. Military drivers must apply within one year of leaving a military position requiring operation of a commercial vehicle. The latest information (February 2017) indicates that more than 19,000 current and former military have taken advantage of the Skills Test Waiver, making them immediately eligible for employment.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation 49 CFR 383.77, requires the applicant to certify to an SDLA:

  • His/her safe driving experience;
  • That he or she has not held more than one license (except a U.S. Military driver’s license) in the past two years;
  • Has not had his/her Michigan driver license suspended, revoked or cancelled; and,
  • Has not had convictions in any type of motor vehicle for the disqualifying CDL offenses listed elsewhere in the regulations.

Here you will find the Application for Military Skills Test Waiver form

Medical Requirements For Obtaining A Michigan CDL License

All commercial drivers of vehicles in interstate commerce with a maximum gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 pounds are required to obtain and maintain a valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate (ME Certificate). CDL holders in Michigan must provide their SDLA with a copy of their ME Certificate.

Self Certification

All Michigan CDL holders must declare to their State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) that they only operate or expect to operate commercially in 1 of 4 possible categories with their CDL. This process is called self-certification. The four categories are:

  • Interstate non-excepted: You are an Interstate non-excepted driver and must meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements (e.g. – you are “not excepted”).
  • Interstate excepted: You are an Interstate excepted driver and do not have to meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements.
  • Intrastate non-excepted: You are an Intrastate non-excepted driver and are required to meet the medical requirements for the state of Michigan.
  • Intrastate excepted: You are an Intrastate excepted driver and do not have to meet the medical requirements for the state of Michigan.

Hearing Requirements

A person is physically qualified to drive a CMV if that person: First perceives a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than five feet with or without the use of a hearing aid or if tested by use of an audiometric device, does not have an average hearing loss in the better ear greater than 40 decibels at 500Hz, 1000HZ and 2,000 Hz with or without a hearing aid when the audiometric device is calibrated to the American National Standard Z24.5-1951.

Vision Requirements

You must meet the following vision requirements:

  • A distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in each eye without corrective lenses or visual acuity separately corrected to 20/40 (Snellen) or better with corrective lenses;
  • A distant binocular acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in both eyes with or without corrective lenses;
  • A field of vision of at least 70 degrees in the horizontal Meridian in each eye;
  • The ability to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green, and amber.

Blood Pressure Requirements

  1. Your blood pressure needs to be under 140/90.
  2. Stage 1 hypertension, blood pressure between 140/90 – 159/99: 1-year medical certificate, must be renewed every 12 months.
  3. Stage 2 hypertension, blood pressure between 160/100 – 179/109: 3 month medical certification. Full disqualification if not under control after 3 months, until controlled. Will be required to renew every 12 months.
  4. Stage 3 hypertension, blood pressure at or over 180/110: Automatic disqualification, 6 month certification once blood pressure is under control, must be renewed every 6 months.
  5. Blood pressure can be controlled with or without medication.

Urinalysis Testing

Your urine sample will be tested in a lab for blood, sugar, and protein, which might indicate hidden health problems.

Physical Impairments

Drivers with physical impairments, which affect their ability to safely operate CMVs, must obtain a “variance” from the state of Michigan in order to be approved to drive commercially. The variance document must be carried with the commercial driver whenever they are operating a commercial motor vehicle. A Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) is a special type of “variance” required for drivers with impaired or missing limbs (e.g., a hand or finger, an arm, foot, or leg). Drivers with missing limbs, if eligible, must obtain an SPE certificate. The commercial driver must always carry the SPE certificate at all times.

About The Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Program

The Skill Performance Evaluation program is for CMV drivers who drive in interstate commerce. The SPE certification allows drivers with missing or impaired limbs to drive CMVs across state lines if they have been fitted with (and are wearing) the right prosthetic device, and the driver can demonstrate the ability to drive the truck safely by completing on-and off-road activities. If the driver passes the Michigan commercial vehicle driving test, he or she will receive a SPE certificate. Over the years, FMCSA has granted more than 3,000 SPE certificates to truck drivers who have shown that they can drive safely on the nation’s highways.

Implied Consent to Alcohol Testing

Any person who holds a Michigan CDL is considered to have consented to such testing as is required by the state of Michigan or any State or jurisdiction in the enforcement of being under the influence of a controlled substance or using alcohol, be under the influence of alcohol, or have any measured alcohol concentration or detected presence of alcohol, while on duty, or operating, or in physical control of a commercial motor vehicle. Consent is implied by driving a commercial motor vehicle.

Prescription Drugs

Although the driver has a legal prescription, he/she may be disqualified if the medication could adversely affect the driver’s ability to drive a CMV safely.

Who Is Exempt From Getting A Michigan CDL?

FMCSA regulations specifically exempt only military personnel with comparable safe-driving experience from getting CDL’s. States are authorized to provide exemptions for the rest of the following at their own discretion:

  • Michigan Military Vehicle Operators:

    The state of Michigan must exempt individuals who operate vehicles for military purposes from the requirements for CDL drivers. This exemption includes active military, reserves and members of the National Guard. This exception does not apply to U.S. Reserve technicians.

    Service members who are or were employed within the past year (12 months) in a military position requiring the operation of a military motor vehicle equivalent to a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) and who want to drive CMV’s in civilian life can apply for a Skills Test Waiver to get their CDL.

    See Also: Military Skills Test Waiver

  • Michigan Farm Equipment Operators:

    Covering actual farm-to-market operations, not commercial grain haulers. Drivers must be 21 years old, and vehicle must have farm plates. Farm workers are not required to have a CDL to operate vehicles:

    • Controlled and operated by a farmer, a member of his family, or an employee.
    • Used to transport farm products, equipment or supplies to or from a farm.
    • Used within 150 air miles of the farm.
    • Used in a nursery or agricultural operations.
    • Not used in the operations of a contract motor carrier.
  • Michigan Firefighting Equipment Operators:

    Those who operate CMV’s necessary to preserving life or property, or performing emergency governmental functions, have signals that can be seen and heard, and are not subject to normal traffic laws. These include fire trucks, foam or water transport trucks, police SWAT team vehicles, ambulances and any other emergency vehicles.

  • Michigan Recreational Vehicle Operators:

    Drivers operating recreational vehicles (RV’s) for their own non-commercial use can be exempted from CDL requirements.

  • Michigan Township or Government Workers Exemptions:

    Many states will have specific CDL exemptions that apply to workers in smaller towns or to state and local government employees in general. You will have to check with your specific state regulations.

Michigan CDL Disqualifications

The FMCSA regulations specify certain circumstances that will disqualify a driver from legally operating a CMV, temporarily or permanently.

Issues resulting in disqualification apply only to CDL or CLP holders, or those required to have a CLP or CDL in the vehicle they are operating. Tickets, DUI or DWI, and other legal issues that happened before a driver was issued a CDL or CLP, or to non-CDL or CLP holders, who were not required to have one, will affect drivers only as far as company policy, with the exception of getting the Hazmat endorsement.

See Also: TSA Disqualifying Offenses & Factors

In extreme cases, the FMCSA may disqualify drivers deemed to be an “imminent hazard”, and remove them from the road.

See Also: Disqualification of drivers determined to constitute an imminent hazard.

Some circumstances will result in a lifetime disqualification from operating CMV’s, with some being eligible for reinstatement after 10 years. A driver who uses a CMV in the commission of a felony involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance is disqualified for life with no possibility of reinstatement.

Disqualification For Major Offenses

  • Being under the influence of alcohol as prescribed by State law.
  • Being under the influence of a controlled substance.
  • Having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater while operating a CMV.
  • Refusing to take an alcohol test as required by a State or jurisdiction under its implied consent laws or regulations
  • Leaving the scene of an accident.
  • Using the vehicle to commit a felony, other than felony involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance.

CDL Driver Disqualification For Serious Traffic Violations:

  • Speeding excessively, involving any speed of 15 mph or more above the regulated or posted speed limit.
  • Driving recklessly, as defined by State or local law or regulation.
  • Making improper or erratic traffic lane changes.
  • Following the vehicle ahead too closely.
  • Violating State or local law relating to motor vehicle traffic control.

CDL Driver Disqualification For Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Offenses:

  • The driver is not required to always stop, but fails to slow down and check that tracks are clear of an approaching train.
  • The driver is not required to always stop, but fails to stop before reaching the crossing, if the tracks are not clear.
  • The driver is always required to stop, but fails to stop before driving onto the crossing.
  • The driver fails to have sufficient space to drive completely through the crossing without stopping.
  • The driver fails to obey a traffic control device or the directions of an enforcement official at the crossing.
  • The driver fails to negotiate a crossing because of insufficient undercarriage clearance.

CDL Driver Disqualification For Violations Of Out-Of-Service Orders:

An out-of-service order stipulates that a CDL or CLP holder not drive a commercial vehicle for a certain period of time, or until such time as they are re-instated to service.

In addition to disqualification, drivers who violate out-of-service orders will be fined a civil penalty of at least $2,500 for the first offense, and $5,000 for any additional offenses.

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