New Requirements For Commercial Drivers, Changes Come To Skills Tests, Commercial Learner Permits

Last Updated on October 8, 2015 6:25 pm

Beginning Saturday, Oct. 3, new federal requirements for licensing commercial drivers became effective. The changes, mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, will affect commercial drivers taking skills tests for licensure and those seeking commercial learner permits.

Among other changes in the federal requirements, commercial drivers must now pass vehicle and skills testing in sequential order to be eligible to take the next test. Skills test scores are now good for only 90 days prior to the issuance of a commercial learner permit. Additionally, applicants must now hold a commercial learner permit for 14 calendar days before undergoing skills testing.

The new federal requirements include the following:

Applicants for a commercial driver license (CDL) performing a skills test must meet the following requirements:

If the applicant performs the skills test in a combination vehicle for a Class A CDL with the power unit and towed unit connected with a pintle hook or other non-fifth-wheel connection, the State must indicate with an “O” restriction on the CDL that the person is restricted from operating a tractor-trailer combination connected by a fifth wheel.

Skills tests must be administered and successfully completed in the following order: (1) vehicle inspection test; (2) basic control skills test; and (3) road test. For example, if an applicant fails the vehicle inspection test, he or she cannot continue to the basic control skills test.  Each test must be passed in the order listed for the applicant to be eligible to take the next test.

Once an individual skills test is passed, the scores are good for 90 days unless a new commercial learner permit (CLP) is issued.

Once a CLP is renewed, all previous skills test scores are invalid. All skills tests must be re-taken even if passed on a prior date.

The State may not initially issue, upgrade, or transfer a CDL to a person unless the person first surrenders any previously-issued driver license and CLP.

New requirements for Commercial Learner Permits (CLPs) are:

CLPs are non-transferable (in-state or out-of-state). Customers transferring from out-of-state will have to take all written tests associated with the type of CLP they wish to receive.

Customers must hold the CLP for 14 calendar days prior to undergoing skills testing.

A CLP holder with a P and/or S endorsement is prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle carrying passengers. The P restriction will be added automatically.

A CLP holder with an N endorsement is prohibited from operating a tank vehicle that is loaded. The tank must be empty and, if it used to transport hazardous materials, a purge letter must accompany the driver. The X restriction will be added automatically.

A Class C CDL passenger vehicle with an air-over-hydraulic brake system will be required to take the air brake knowledge test and be restricted from operating a vehicle with a full air brake system.

View more information at this table. For more information about commercial driver licensing, visit the official NCDMV website.


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