This article is useful for anyone who wants to get a CDL in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. If you want to learn about earning a CDL at other states, we have put together a comprehensive guide on how to get a commercial driver’s license in every state of the country.
Before You Apply for Your CDL
1. Get you doctor to fill out the current Department of Transportation Medical Examination Report (Form 649-F)
2. Learn or review the rules and regulations of commercial driving. You can study these in Alabama’s Commercial Driver License Manual.
How to Apply
Take the following documents to your nearest Driver License Division office (make sure to research ahead for one that handles CDLs!):
- A current Alabama driver’s license
- A Social Security card or other proof of Social Security number
- Your current DOT medical certificate (from above)
- Proof of insurance for the testing vehicle if you are taking the skills test
- $25 for the written test, $20 for the skills test
License fees vary depending on your desired class of license. Class A costs $66.25; Class B costs $56.25; Class Ccosts $36.25. If you are purchasing a CDL or a license to operate only a school bus, the fee is $36.25.
What to Expect When Testing
First, on test day, you will take one or more knowledge tests (which are written), depending on the license and endorsements you want.
Then, if you pass the knowledge tests, you qualify to take the skills test (which is a driving test). Another option at this point is choosing to be issued a learner’s license, which will allow you to practice driving a rig with a licensed commercial driver in the passenger seat.
When you feel ready to take the on-road driving test, you can make another appointment at the CDL licensing office. The driving skills test includes: vehicle inspection (where you must prove your vehicle’s safety and show your inspection skills), vehicle control (you will be asked to drive forward, backward, and in turns, in a small area), and the actual driving test (this tests how well you know signs, driving laws, and regulations).
Before you take your certification exams, you must assess your driving record. If you have any serious offenses, like DUI, you may be disqualified.
The Knowledge Tests
You must pass the written knowledge test before you can take your road skills test. In order to familiarize yourself with the content of the exam, study the Arkansas CDL Manual to learn about driver safety, cargo safety, equipment, traffic rules, inspection procedures, and hazardous materials.
To bring on test day:
- Documents that prove your age and identity
- $42, which is the fee for your CDL
- If you haul hazardous materials, you will need to have federal background and fingerprint check.
The Road Skills Test
After you have passed the written tests, you are ready for the road skills test. On this test, you will be asked to perform driver tasks including pre-trip inspections, changing lanes, tying down cargo, and maneuvering intersections. The Arkansas CDL Manual review everything you will be tested on—review the criteria before test day so you are familiar with the tasks you will face.
You must self-certify one of the following driving categories with the Arkansas DMV:
- Non-Excepted Interstate
- Excepted Interstate
- Non-Excepted Intrastate
- Excepted Intrastate
If you choose Non-Excepted Interstate, you must provide the DMV with a federal medical certificate.
To obtain a CDL in Mississippi, you must hold a Regular Class R driver’s license. You must also obtain a current medical card when applying.
Testing for the CDL
Next stop is to take and pass the written and skills tests. All the information you need to know about the exam is in the Professional Driver’s Manual, which you can find at any driver’s license office throughout the state. You can schedule an appointment for the driving test either online or by phone.
What You Must Bring
- Your valid Mississippi driver’s license, a CDL learner’s permit, and your completed application for your desired CDL
- Another driver to accompany you who holds the same class CDL license (or greater) as the one you seek
- A current medical card
- The same class of vehicle you will be driving once you obtain your CDL (it must pass inspection before any tests will be administered)
- A Social Security card
- Proof of residency (electric or water bill, lease agreement, vehicle-registration receipt, mortgage documents, homestead exemption receipt, bank statement, notarized employer verification on company letterhead (with a phone number) that states your address)
- Appropriate fees
- Out-of-state applicants applying for a Mississippi CDL can use their valid driver’s license from another state
Note: If your job entails hauling hazardous materials, you must undergo a background check. You will have to complete a Driver’s License Hazardous Materials Endorsement Application and pay a fee.