How to Obtain a CDL Drivers License in Virginia

Understanding CDL license requirements in Virginia is a crucial part of obtaining a CDL license. Equally important is understanding the CDL drivers license application process, including the testing you will be required to complete. Ultimately, you will need to know who is required to have a CDL license and what vehicles can be operated with VA CDL licenses. If you are wondering how to get a commercial drivers license, learn more about the CDL drivers license requirements and the application process in the sections provided below.

Who needs to obtain a commercial drivers license in Virginia?

When searching for the CDL license requirements in Virginia, you must first understand who needs to get a commercial drivers license credentials and what vehicles are an exempt from CDL requirements. This CDL information can be invaluable, as you will know when you do not necessarily need a VA CDL. To make this easier, there are federal guidelines that determine the class of a commercial vehicle, which include the following:

  • Class A – Any combination vehicle with a gross combination weight of 26,001 pounds, or if the vehicle(s) being towed have a gross weight of more than 10,000 pounds are considered Class A. Vehicles that are Class A include tractor-trailers, truck and trailer combinations and tractor-trailer buses.
  • Class B – Any vehicle that has a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more, including straight trucks, large buses, segmented buses and vehicles that tow other vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or fewer are Class B vehicles.
  • Class C – Any vehicle not included in the A or B classes, either designed to carry hazardous materials or 16 or more passengers, the driver included, are Class C vehicles.

There are the types of commercial vehicles that will generally require a CDL drivers license; however, there are some exceptions to this rule. A CDL license is not required for:

  • The operation of emergency vehicles, including firetrucks.
  • Active duty personal who are operating military vehicles.
  • The operation of vehicles, such as a recreational vehicle or a rental moving van, when used for personal use.
  • Operators of farm vehicles, if the vehicles are used by farmers to move farm goods, supplies or machinery to and from their farms. Additionally, these vehicles can only be used within 150 miles from the farms and cannot be used as common or contract motor carriers.

CDL Qualifications and Requirements in Virginia

You need to be aware of the CDL requirements in Virginia if you have determined that you do, in fact, need a CDL drivers license in order to operate a specific motor vehicle. Getting a commercial drivers license is most common for employment, but it is still important to understand eligibility qualifications and requirements. In order to be eligible for a CDL license, you must be at least 18 years of age. While an 18-year-old can obtain a CDL drivers license and operate a commercial vehicle, this driving privilege will come with several restrictions. You must be at least 21 years of age to:

  • Transport hazardous material.
  • Drive across state lines.
  • Transport interstate freight within Virginia.

In addition to age CDL license requirements, you must have a Virginia drivers license and be able to submit the following documentation to the Virginia DMV:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of legal presence
  • Two proofs of Virginia residency

Learn about the specific documents required by downloading our free, informative guide.

Additionally, depending on the CDL endorsements associated with your desired CDL license, you may be required to meet other federal requirements.

CDL license requirements will also include medical certification. As part of the application process, you will be required to complete a physical with an approved physician, and you must be deemed fit to operate a commercial vehicle. There are several disqualifying medical conditions, such as epilepsy and narcolepsy.

Download our comprehensive guide to read more about CDL medical requirements.

How to Apply to a Commercial Drivers License in Virginia

Once you have met the Virginia CDL license requirements, you can begin your application by visiting your local Virginia DMV. You cannot obtain your initial CDL license online, as this process must be done in person. Ensure that you bring all of the required CDL drivers license documentation with you, as outlined above. You should also be aware of the endorsements that you will need for your CDL license in VA, as there may be additional testing for those endorsements.

The first step to obtaining a CDL license is through a Virginia CDL learners permit. In order to obtain your permit, you will be required to take at least one knowledge exam. You may also have additional exams for each endorsement that you seek. In order to successfully pass, you must score at least an 80 percent on the test. The CDL license test will include the information that you will find in the Virginia Commercial Drivers Manual, so it is important that you study beforehand, because if you fail, you will need to pay an additional examination fee and retake the exam in 15 days.

If you fail the CDL drivers license exam three times, you will be required to complete an approved Driver Training School Program before you are allowed to retest. Failing another three times will require you to retake the program.

After getting a commercial drivers license permit, you will need to have that permit for at least 30 days before you can schedule a road skills test and inspection. Take this time to practice driving the commercial vehicle that you intend to use, though you must have a CDL license holder with you in the passenger seat while you practice. It is important that you are ready for the commercial license road skills test prior to scheduling, because if you fail the road skills test, even if the failure was due to the inspection, this will result in additional required Driver Training School programs before you can attempt again. You will finally be eligible for a CDL drivers license after the successful completion of your inspection and road skill exam. Learn more about CDL exams in our complimentary guide.