Finding a decent job after returning from military duty can be a challenge. If you are veteran who drove a truck during your station in the armed services, you may qualify to earn your CDL license by taking only a written test. Typically, a road or driving test is required to earn your CDL license, but veterans who meet the requirements are exempt from the driving test. Find out if you qualify and how to apply for a Military Skills Test Waiver to earn your CDL license without taking the road test.
To be exempt from the driving test, you must have driven a military vehicle similar to a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) for two years in the military. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, a commercial vehicle is defined as a vehicle (or combination of vehicles) that is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, a combined unit with a combined weight of more than 26,001 pounds with the towed unit weighing at least 10,000 pounds, or a vehicle with a gross weight of more than 26,001 pounds. Driving the CMV must also have been part of your regular duties for two years.
There are some things that can prevent you from qualifying for the Military Skills Waiver for your CDL license. They include, but may not be limited to
- Suspended, revoked or cancelled license. You also must only hold one driver's license (excluding a military license) for the past two years.
- Serious traffic violations. This includes speeding (the regulations are set by each state), driving a CMV without a proper license or endorsement, reckless driving, or any other violation your state deems a serious traffic violation.
- Other driving offenses. This includes leaving the scene of an accident, causing a fatality due to your negligence, driving without a license or with a suspended license, or drug- and alcohol-related offenses.
To get a waiver from the driving test, both you and your commander need to fill out the Military Skills Test Waiver form. According to the form, you must apply within 90 days of discharge from the military; however, this may differ according to your state. Check with your state Department of Motor Vehicles or your state Veteran's Services to determine the application timeline in your state. Here's how to apply for the waiver:
- Fill out the Military Skills Test Waiver form.
- Take it to your local CDL licensing office. To save time, call ahead and make an appointment to speak to the appropriate personnel for Military Skills Test Waivers.
- Check with your state office to determine what forms of identification are accepted by your state. Take your proof of identity, your completed Military Skills Test Waiver form and your military driver's license with you to your appointment.
- Arrange for and take the written test. You will be required to pay a nominal fee for the test. The Military Skills Test Waiver does not exempt you from the fee associated with acquiring your CDL license.
Limitations and Drawbacks of Military Skills Test Waivers
The Military Skills Test Waiver will speed the process of obtaining your CDL license, but it comes with some drawbacks you should consider. You will only receive the endorsement that matches your military driving experience. If you wish to earn another endorsement, you will need to take the road test. In addition, if you have not passed the manual transmission test for your military license, you will be restricted to driving vehicles with an automatic transmission. Likewise, you may be restricted from driving vehicles with air brakes if you do not have military experience with air brakes. If either of these apply to you, you may find your CDL license restricts you from many civilian opportunities.
If you are a veteran with the experience and expertise to drive a CMV, getting a Military Skills Test Waiver may be the route to follow to earning your CDL license. For more information, contact a company like Center For Transportation Safety.