What is the Commercial Driver's License ( CDL ) Law?

New federal standards for testing and licensing heavy truck and bus operators are required by law in Kentucky. These minimum standards will guarantee the fitness of commercial motor vehicle operators by requiring demonstrated ability to drive heavy vehicles before a license is issued. The CDL laws and standards cover drivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Mexico and Canada. Motor Carriers will be held responsible if their drivers operate a commercial motor vehicle without a valid CDL .

Useful CDL Resources

Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Verification of Status

Commercial vehicle drivers and employers can verify their certifications are up to date with state requirements by going online. The CDL Verification Portal, launched by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Division of Driver Licensing, is designed to give commercial driver license ( CDL ) holders and their employers the ability to check the receipt and processing of their documents at any time. In order to check the status of drivers on the website, a user must have the name, Kentucky license number and date of birth of the driver. User instructions can be found on the website.

 CDL Verification Portal

Who Needs a License?

Class A CDL 

  • For any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating ( GVWR ) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is more than 10,000 pounds.

Class B CDL 

  • Any straight truck with two or more axles and a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more;
  • Any vehicle with two or more axles and a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, pulling a vehicle with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less;
  • A single vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) if the GVWR is 26,001 pounds or more.

Class C CDL 

  • Any vehicle with a GVWR of less than 26,001 pounds transporting hazardous materials for which placarding is required;
  • A single vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) if the GVWR is less than 26,001 pounds.
Note: If driving a commercial motor vehicle as defined below, you are required to carry a medical examination certificate, even though you are not required to carry a CDL license.

Commercial motor vehicle means any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle:

  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater: or
  • Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation.
  • Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
  • Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter I, subchapter C.

Restrictions

  • K Intrastate Driving Only
  • L Vehicles not equipped w/air Brakes
  • M Except Class A Bus
  • N Except Class A and B Bus
  • O Vehicles other than Tractor Trailer
  • E Auto Transmission CMV only
  • Z Hydraulic over Air brake (CDL License Only)
  • V Variance
  • W Farm Restricted Service
  • X No Cargo in Tank Vehicle (CDL Permit Only)
  • P No Passengers in Bus (CDL Permit Only)

Endorsements

  • T Double/Triple Trailer
  • P Passenger
  • N Tank
  • H Hazardous Materials
  • S School Bus

Skills Tests

Commercial Driver License skills testing appointments are made by calling Kentucky State police at 1-800-542-5990

Hazmat Threat Assessment Program

The USA PATRIOT Act requires all drivers who transport hazardous materials to undergo a security threat assessment. The Transportation Security Administration ( TSA ) developed a program to implement this requirement.

 View Frequently Asked Questions

Kentucky Security Threat Assessment

Kentucky drivers need to apply for the Kentucky Security Threat Assessment at least 60 days prior to the expiration date of their license by completing the Hazardous Materials Endorsement Application.

To check the status of Hazmat Driver Security Threat Assessment, applicants may call the TSA Hazprints hotline at 1 (877) 429-7746.

Effective on and after January 31, 2005:

Any “first time” applicant wishing to obtain Hazardous Materials Endorsement must:

  • If the applicant already holds a CDL , he/she must call KSP (1 (888) 655-9655) to set up an appointment to be fingerprinted. There are eight sites (list below) across the state where the fingerprinting will be conducted; or
  • If the applicant does not currently hold a CDL , he/she must obtain a CDL permit. Once a permit is obtained, the applicant must call the KSP (1 (888) 655-9655) to set up the appointment to be fingerprinted.

At the KSP Hazmat fingerprinting site, applicants will need to show two forms of identification, their CDL permit along with regular Operator’s license or Commercial license, and another form of identification, i.e. birth certificate, INS documentation, etc. The Department of Transportation physical card will also be examined.

Applicants will be advised that the application can be filled out in advance or filled out at the time the fingerprints are taken, however, the application MUST be signed in the presence of the examiner taking the fingerprints.

The cost for the fingerprint based criminal background check will be $115.00 paid by certified check, cashiers check, or a money order. The check should be made out to the Kentucky State Treasurer and given to the examiner when the fingerprints are taken. This fee is for the fingerprint based criminal background check only. This is not a fee for the Hazardous Material Endorsement.

The application will be sent to the Transportation Safety Administration and the fingerprints will be sent to the FBI . Applicants will be advised that they receive notification from TSA and the Division of Driver Licensing when the assessment is complete. TSA will issue notice to the state that the identified applicant (CDL number) is either approved or disqualified. This will cause an entry to be made on the applicant’s record to the effect that the applicant has completed the fingerprint process and that the applicant is either approved or denied. There will not be a reason stated if an applicant is disqualified, only information to the applicant as to how to appeal the decision through TSA .

If the applicant is approved, he/she will be advised that they may continue the process in obtaining the Hazardous Material endorsement. Applicant would then proceed to their respective Circuit Court Clerk’s office in their county of residence, make application for the Hazardous Material endorsement, pay the $5.00 test fee and take the written knowledge test. If successful in taking the test, the endorsement will be issued.

The endorsement will only be added to a license. Per FMCSA regulation 383.23(c)(3).

Renewals

Effective on and after May 31, 2005, all renewal applicants of a Hazardous Materials Endorsement must initiate the fingerprint based criminal background check. Renewals will be handled just as they have always been handled in the past until May 31, 2005. The procedure on and after May 31st, will be as follows:

An applicant currently holding a CDL Hazardous Materials Endorsement which will expire on or after May 31, 2005 will be sent a notification letter by the Division of Driver Licensing approximately 60 days prior to the expiration. This notification will advise the applicant that they must initiate the fingerprint based criminal background check prior to the expiration date. The correspondence will also advise the applicant of the telephone number (1 (888) 655-9655) for making an appointment with the KSP for fingerprinting. The renewal process is as otherwise explained for initial applicants above concerning proof of identity and fees.

Renewal Drivers with a Hazmat Endorsement

For renewal drivers the 30-day application requirement may be waived if a driver can show just cause as to the reason the threat assessment process was not started at a reasonable time after receiving the letter from the Transportation Cabinet.

For example, a driver may be required to provide:

  • A notarized letter from their employer
  • A copy of their logbook indicating they were on the road and unavailable to start the process or have,
  • Returned mail entry posted on their driving record.
Renewal drivers will still be required to hold a valid CDL with the Hazardous Material endorsement, and show proof that the threat assessment process has been started, either by an entry on the driving record or a copy of the receipt, even if the 30-day application requirement is waived.

Note: The written knowledge test for the Hazardous Material Endorsement cannot be administered until the applicant has been notified by TSA that they may proceed in obtaining the endorsement. In some cases, you may be eligible for a 90 day extension to complete your threat assessment. This will be determined by the CDL section at the Division of Driver Licensing.
Transfers

If the threat assessment you completed in the previous state will not cover the length of your license issued in Kentucky, you will be required to undergo a new security threat assessment.

Authority
Title 51 U.S.C. §5103a
49 C.F.R. Part 1572
502 KAR 10:120E
Kentucky Hazardous Material Endorsement Fingerprint Locations

Call 1 (888) 655-9655 for appointment

Lexington1591 Winchester Road, Suite 104
Lexington, Kentucky 40505

Friday, 8:00am to 3:00pm

Get Directions
Louisville, at Bowman Field3501 Roger E. Schipp Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40205

Monday & Friday, 8:00am to 3:00pm

Get Directions
Independence1655 Delaware Crossing
Independence, Kentucky 41051

Thursday, 8:00am to 3:00pm

Get Directions
Paducah, at McCracken County Courthouse301 South 6th Street
Paducah, Kentucky 42003

Wednesday, 8:00am to 3:00pm

Get Directions
Madisonville, at Hopkins County Justice Center120 East Center Street
Madisonville, Kentucky 42431

Thursday, 8:00am to 3:00pm

Get Directions
Bowling Green, at Warren County Courthouse1001 Center Street
Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101

Tuesday, 8:00am to 3:00pm

Get Directions
London, at Laurel County Courthouse105 South Main Street, Room 102
London, Kentucky 40743

Wednesday, 8:00am to 3:00pm

Get Directions
Paintsville, at Johnson County Courthouse230 Court Street
Paintsville, Kentucky 41240

Thursday, 8:00am to 3:00pm

Get Directions

General Rules

  • You cannot have more than one license. If you break this rule, a court may fine you up to $5,000 or place you in jail. You must be licensed in your home state.
  • You must notify your employer within 30 days of a conviction for any traffic violation (except parking). This is true no matter what type of vehicle you were driving.
  • You must notify your motor vehicle license agency within 30 days if you are convicted in any other state of any traffic violation (except parking). This is true no matter what type of vehicle you were driving.
  • You must notify your employer if your license is suspended, revoked, cancelled, or if you are disqualified from driving.
  • You must give your employer information on all driving jobs that you have held for the past 10 years. You must do this when you apply for a commercial driving job.
  • No one can drive a commercial motor vehicle after April 1, 1992, without a CDL. A state may fine you up to $5,000 or place you in jail for breaking this law. Your employer may not let you drive a commercial motor vehicle if you have more than one license or if your CDL is suspended or revoked. A court may fine the employer up to $10,000 or place him in jail for breaking this rule..

A word about alcohol and driving

It is against the law to operate a commercial vehicle with any amount of alcohol or controlled substance in the blood, breath, or urine. If a driver tests from .01% BAC to .039% BAC, that driver shall be put out of service for 24 hours. Drivers testing at .04% BAC or higher will be disqualified for one year. A second conviction carries a penalty of disqualifying a commercial driver for life. Penalties apply to the commercial driving privileges only.

What offenses could result in disqualification?

Below is a list of violations that could result in the loss of commercial driving privileges for time periods ranging from 24 hours to life:

  • 24 hours - Driving a commercial motor vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol or controlled substance in the blood, breath, or urine.
  • 60 days - Two serious moving violations in three years. A serious violation is defined as speeding 15 mph or more, improper/erratic lane change, following too closely, reckless driving, any violation arising in connection with a fatal accident, driving a commercial motor vehicle without having a commercial learner’s permit or commercial license, driving a commercial motor vehicle without having a commercial learner’s permit or commercial license in possession, driving a commercial motor vehicle without the proper class commercial learner’s permit or commercial license or required endorsements, texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle, or using a hand held mobile telephone while driving a commercial motor vehicle.
  • Any person who knowingly falsifies information or certification required to obtain a commercial driver's license, permit, or duplicate commercial driver's license, will be subject to an administrative hearing and disqualified for period of at least 60 consecutive days.
  • 120 days - Three serious moving violations in three years.
  • 180 days - Convicted of operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle while placed out of service.
  • 1 year - First conviction of any of the following or For life - Second conviction of any of the following:
    • Driving a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .04% or more or under the influence of a controlled substance.
    • Leaving the scene of a traffic accident
    • Using the commercial vehicle in the commission of a felony.
  • 3 years - Violating any law above while transporting hazardous materials.
  • For Life - First conviction of using the vehicle in the commission of a felony involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance.

If applying for a CDL or CLP reinstatement and the commercial privilege has been suspended for (1) one year or more, all tests are required.

State Traffic School for CDL/CMV Drivers

All moving convictions must be posted to the driving record if the driver is a CDL holder or the conviction occurred in a CMV. State Traffic School will prevent points from being assessed but will not prevent the conviction from appearing on the record.

Intrastate Medical Waivers

601 KAR 11:040 sets forth the procedure and standards for obtaining an Intrastate Medical Waiver. If a commercial driver does not meet the federal medical guidelines outlined in 49 CFR 391., sub-part E, he may apply for this Intrastate Medical Waiver.

To apply for this waiver the driver may contact either his local Circuit Court Clerk's office or the Division of Driver Licensing in Frankfort. At that time the driver will be sent a medical waiver packet. Contained in this packet will be a form, "Request for Medical Waiver." Also in the packet are the following supplemental medical report forms: Cardiovascular Conditions, Neurological Conditions, Musculoskeletal Conditions, Metabolic Conditions, Alcohol or Drug Dependence, Mental and Emotional Conditions, and Vision Conditions. A licensed physician shall determine which of these forms are applicable to the medical condition of the applicant and complete these forms. If the vision form is applicable, an optometrist or ophthalmologist must complete the form. Along with the request for waiver and pertinent medical report forms, the Division of Driver Licensing must receive a long form copy of the driver's last DOT physical examination.

The Division of Driver Licensing will base its decision on granting the requested waiver from the information obtained from the medical report forms, the DOT physical, and the driving history of the applicant. If the Intrastate Medical Waiver request is granted, the applicant will receive a letter of approval along with a medical examiners certificate stamped "Intrastate Medical Waiver Granted, Transportation Cabinet." This certificate will indicate Intrastate Travel Only and will be the only medical card in the driver's possession. The CDL license will indicate the "I" restriction (intrastate only).

After being granted a medical waiver, the driver must submit periodic medical updates. The proper forms will be computer generated and automatically mailed to the driver. If the Division of Driver Licensing does not receive the updated information within 45 days, the Intrastate Medical Waiver, along with the driver's commercial driving privileges, will be cancelled and remain cancelled until the information is received.

Farm-related services restricted CDL

This restricted CDL may be issued to employees of farm retail outlets and suppliers, agrochemical business, custom harvesters, and livestock feeders. The license is valid for 60, 120, or 180 days in any 12-month period. The license is only valid within 150 miles of the land being serviced. It does not apply to any class A vehicles transporting any fertilizer within any organic substance, fuel, gasoline, pesticides, and propane. See your Circuit Court Clerk for more details.

Military Certification for Skills Test Exemption

The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration has extended the time in which military personnel and veterans may apply for the Military Skill Test Exemption from 90 days to one (1) year. Applicants must complete the CDL issuance process within one (1) year of separation from active duty. The applicant is required to submit the exemption form, medical card, self certification and commercial application to the CDL section. Upon approval, they will receive written notification. They will then be required to take the written and vision tests prior to being issued the CDL .
Military Exemption Form TC 94 167

Wants and Warrants check for all CDL drivers (KRS 281A.300)

All applicants for a CDL (original and renewal) are required to undergo a "hot file" check conducted by Kentucky State Police. The cost is $3.00 and will be collected by the Circuit Court Clerk's office at the time of issuance. It will be an instantaneous check and will not delay the driver in receiving his/her CDL . If a "hit" occurs, a notice will be sent to the law enforcement agency that originated the warrant for further investigation.

Individual eighteen (18) years of age driving intrastate

A commercial driver's license may be issued to an individual eighteen (18) years of age who holds a valid automobile Class D driver's license who has passed the vision and knowledge test required for a commercial driver's license of the class vehicle to be driven, if the individual only drives a commercial motor vehicle in intrastate commerce and does not drive a school bus or a vehicle hauling hazardous material. The license shall be class specific and shall contain an "I" restriction noting that the commercial driver is limited to Kentucky intrastate commerce.

How does the system prevent multiple licenses?

Kentucky has joined an information system called the Commercial Driver License Information System, (CDLIS), that will serve as a clearinghouse of information on commercial drivers nationwide. CDLIS will be used to eliminate drivers from holding multiple licenses and obtaining fraudulent licenses. For information regarding skills test appointments or test date availability, call Kentucky State Police at 1-800-542-5990. For information on CDL regulations or questions regarding licensing of commercial drivers, call the Division of Drivers Licensing at 502-564-1257.​