The Arkansas Commercial Driver’s License program is administered by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. The main entrance to information about obtaining a CDL in Arkansas is via their Commercial Driver’s License Help Desk. There, you’ll find a link to a PDF with detailed information on CDL Requirements.
Below, is a compilation of the information you need to apply for and obtain an Arkansas CDL.
What are the Qualifications to Obtain an Arkansas CDL?
Those wishing to obtain an Arkansas CDL must:
- Be at least 18 years old to drive in-state
- Be at least 21 years old to drive interstate, outside of Arkansas
- Have a valid regular driver’s license.
- Have obtained your Conditional Learner’s Permit (CPL)
Must Show Proof of Citizenship or Legal Residence
Beginning May 18, 2015, all commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders will be asked for proof they are a U.S. Citizen or a Permanent Resident at every renewal of their CDL or application for endorsements. The only acceptable documents will be one of the following:
- U.S. Birth Certificate that bears an official seal and was issued by a state, county, municipal authority or outlying possession of the United States
- U.S. Passport
- Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-570 or N-550)
- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561), Certificate of Birth Abroad issued by the U.S. Department of State (Form FS-545 or DS 1350)
- or Permanent Resident Card
Failure to provide this document will result in a downgrade and renewal to a Class D license. You will not be permitted to renew the CDL.
What Do You Need to Do to Get a CPL?
When you think you are ready to take the written exam for the class of vehicle you wish to drive schedule an appointment with the Arkansas State Police Driver Examination department.
Then you must:
- Provide proof of U.S. citizenship/lawful permanent residency. Acceptable documents including a valid, unexpired U.S. passport, a certified copy of your birth certificate, and a certificate of naturalization or citizenship.
- Bring the proper medical paperwork.
- Show them proof of your AR address. Documents must also include your full name.
- Submit to a driving record check. You’ll need to name any state(s) where you held a license in the last 10 years.
- Pay the $50 CDL testing fee.
What Are the Classes of Commercial Vehicle Licenses?
Following Federal guidelines Arkansas offers the following CDL classes:
- Class A CDL — Allows you to drive a combination of vehicles over a certain gross weight, such as a tractor-trailer
- Class B CDL — Lets you drive a single vehicle over a certain gross weight, like a straight truck
- Class C CDL — Permits you to drive all other types of vehicles over a certain weight not covered by Class A or Class B commercial driver’s licenses
- Various endorsements like, hazmat, double-triple, tanks, etc
Obtaining the CDL
Once you have successfully passed the CPL part of the process and have your CPL, you may take the driving skills test at either an Arkansas State Police facility or at a third-party testing location. The test; which should be taken in the same class of commercial vehicle you wish to drive, comprises:
- Pre-trip vehicle inspection
- Basic vehicle control test
- On-road driving exam
What Does it Cost to Obtain an Arkansas CDL?
- Commercial driver’s licenses test fee: $50
- Commercial driver’s license: $42
Arkansas CDL Medical Requirements
All new CLP and CDL applicants who certifidy that they will operate CMVs in non-excepted, interstate commerce must provide the State with an original or copy (as required by the State) of a medical examiner’s certificate prepared by a medical examiner, and the State will post a certification status of “certified” on the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) driver record for the driver.
Existing CLP and CDL holders must provide the State with an original or copy (as required by the State) of a current medical examiner’s certificate prepared by a medical examiner, as defined in 49 CFR 390.5, and the State will post a certification status of “certified” on CDLIS driver record for the driver.
If the nonexcepted, interstate CLP or CDL holder fails to provide the State with a current medical examiner’s certificate, the State will post a certification status of “notcertified” in the CDLIS driver record for the driver, and initiate a CLP or CDL downgrade following State procedures.
In order to maintain a medical certification status of “certified,” a CLP or CDL holder who certifies that he/she will operate CMVs in non-excepted, interstate commerce must provide the State with an original or copy (as required by the State) of each subsequently issued medical examiner’s certificate.
Are You Current or Veteran Military?
The Commercial Driver’s License skills exam may be waived for current service members and recent veterans. To qualify for this exemption you must be:
- Currently in the military
- Or have been employed full-time by the military within a certain window of applying for the waiver
Do You Wish to Transfer Your CDL From Another State?
When applying to transfer a CDL from one State of domicile to a new State of domicile, an applicant must apply for a CDL from the new State of domicile within no more than 30 days after establishing his/her new domicile. The applicant must:
- Provide to the new State of domicile the appropriate certifications
- Provide to the new State of domicile updated information
- If the applicant wishes to retain a hazardous materials endorsement, he/she must comply with the Arkansas hazmat requirements
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In order to obtain a Arkansas CDL there are a list of requirements that must be met, and getting your Arkansas CDL involves several steps. There are medical requirements and residency requirements, along with knowledge and skills requirements. The basic requirements for getting your cdl in Arkansas include:
- You must be at least 18 years old to hold a Arkansas CDL and drive a commercial vehicle within the state of Arkansas.
- You must be at least age 21 to drive a commercial motor vehicle across Arkansas state lines, carry hazardous materials, or transport any passengers.
- You must not have more than one driver’s license, and your driving privileges must not be suspended, revoked, canceled or disqualified in Arkansas or any other state.
- You must meet the medical requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
- You must pass a set of written exams to obtain your Arkansas Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). You can study for these exams using our High Road CDL Training Program.
- You must prove citizenship in the state of Arkansas and have permission to work in the United States, showing legitimate personal identification which may include a Social Security Card, a Birth Certificate, or a Green Card
- You must certify that you are not subject to any of the CDL disqualifications for drivers (listed below)
- You must be able to speak and read the English language
Below we will list more general requirements, qualifications, disqualifications, and restrictions for getting a CDL in Arkansas.
Who Is Required To Hold A Arkansas CDL?
You will need a CDL to operate any of the following vehicles:
- A single vehicle with a GVWR over 26,000 lbs.
- A combination vehicle with a GVWR over 26,000 lbs, towing a unit over 10,000 lbs GVWR.
- A passenger vehicle designed to carry 16 or more people, including the driver.
- Any size vehicle requiring hazardous material (Hazmat) placards, or carrying a select agent or toxin listed in 42 CFR Part 73.
What Are The Different Classes Of CDL In Arkansas?
Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight of 26,001 pounds or more, with trailer(s) weighing 10,000 pounds or more.
Any single vehicle having a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing another weighing 10,000 pounds or less.
Any vehicle or combination of vehicles not meeting the definition of Class A or Class B, designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver), or any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded to carry hazardous material:
Many states issue a “Class D” license, which is not part of the FMCSA standards. Some use it to classify regular, passenger car drivers licenses, while some use it to classify specific weights or types of vehicles. This varies from state-to-state.
Knowledge And Skills Test Requirements For Getting A CDL In Arkansas
Each basic knowledge test covers the 20 general areas outlined in 49 CFR 383.111(a). The knowledge test shall contain at least 30 items. A separate test for drivers seeking to operate CMV’s with air brakes in Arkansas must cover the 7 areas outlined in 49 CFR 383.111(b).
To pass the knowledge tests (general and endorsement); applicants must correctly answer at least 80 percent of the questions.
To pass the Arkansas CDL skills test, applicants must successfully perform all the required skills (listed in 49 CFR 383.113 through 49 CFR 383.123). The skills test must be taken in a vehicle representative of the type of vehicle that the applicant operates or expects to operate.
Federal standards require the state of Arkansas to issue CDLs to certain commercial motor vehicle drivers only after the driver passes the knowledge and skills tests administered by the State. The vehicle you take the CDL test in must also relate to the type of vehicle the driver expects to operate.
Restrictions are placed on a Arkansas CDL when a driver takes the Skills Test in a vehicle which lacks critical equipment present in particular types of CMVs. Therefore, to avoid restrictions, drivers should take the Skills Test in the same type of vehicle for which they are seeking a Arkansas CDL to operate.
Drivers are required to obtain and hold a CDL in Arkansas if they operate in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce and drive a vehicle that meets one or more of the classifications of a CMV are also described below.
Military Skills Test Waiver Program
The state of Arkansas has the authority to substitute two years of experience safely operating trucks or buses equivalent to civilian commercial vehicles for the skills test portion of the Arkansas commercial driver license (CDL) test. U.S. Military drivers must apply within one year of leaving a military position requiring operation of a commercial vehicle. The latest information (February 2017) indicates that more than 19,000 current and former military have taken advantage of the Skills Test Waiver, making them immediately eligible for employment.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation 49 CFR 383.77, requires the applicant to certify to an SDLA:
- His/her safe driving experience;
- That he or she has not held more than one license (except a U.S. Military driver’s license) in the past two years;
- Has not had his/her Arkansas driver license suspended, revoked or cancelled; and,
- Has not had convictions in any type of motor vehicle for the disqualifying CDL offenses listed elsewhere in the regulations.
Here you will find the Application for Military Skills Test Waiver form
Medical Requirements For Obtaining A Arkansas CDL License
All commercial drivers of vehicles in interstate commerce with a maximum gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 pounds are required to obtain and maintain a valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate (ME Certificate). CDL holders in Arkansas must provide their SDLA with a copy of their ME Certificate.
All Arkansas CDL holders must declare to their State Driver Licensing Agency (SDLA) that they only operate or expect to operate commercially in 1 of 4 possible categories with their CDL. This process is called self-certification. The four categories are:
- Interstate non-excepted: You are an Interstate non-excepted driver and must meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements (e.g. – you are “not excepted”).
- Interstate excepted: You are an Interstate excepted driver and do not have to meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements.
- Intrastate non-excepted: You are an Intrastate non-excepted driver and are required to meet the medical requirements for the state of Arkansas.
- Intrastate excepted: You are an Intrastate excepted driver and do not have to meet the medical requirements for the state of Arkansas.
A person is physically qualified to drive a CMV if that person: First perceives a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than five feet with or without the use of a hearing aid or if tested by use of an audiometric device, does not have an average hearing loss in the better ear greater than 40 decibels at 500Hz, 1000HZ and 2,000 Hz with or without a hearing aid when the audiometric device is calibrated to the American National Standard Z24.5-1951.
You must meet the following vision requirements:
- A distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in each eye without corrective lenses or visual acuity separately corrected to 20/40 (Snellen) or better with corrective lenses;
- A distant binocular acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in both eyes with or without corrective lenses;
- A field of vision of at least 70 degrees in the horizontal Meridian in each eye;
- The ability to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green, and amber.
Blood Pressure Requirements
- Your blood pressure needs to be under 140/90.
- Stage 1 hypertension, blood pressure between 140/90 – 159/99: 1-year medical certificate, must be renewed every 12 months.
- Stage 2 hypertension, blood pressure between 160/100 – 179/109: 3 month medical certification. Full disqualification if not under control after 3 months, until controlled. Will be required to renew every 12 months.
- Stage 3 hypertension, blood pressure at or over 180/110: Automatic disqualification, 6 month certification once blood pressure is under control, must be renewed every 6 months.
- Blood pressure can be controlled with or without medication.
Your urine sample will be tested in a lab for blood, sugar, and protein, which might indicate hidden health problems.
Drivers with physical impairments, which affect their ability to safely operate CMVs, must obtain a “variance” from the state of Arkansas in order to be approved to drive commercially. The variance document must be carried with the commercial driver whenever they are operating a commercial motor vehicle. A Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) is a special type of “variance” required for drivers with impaired or missing limbs (e.g., a hand or finger, an arm, foot, or leg). Drivers with missing limbs, if eligible, must obtain an SPE certificate. The commercial driver must always carry the SPE certificate at all times.
About The Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Program
The Skill Performance Evaluation program is for CMV drivers who drive in interstate commerce. The SPE certification allows drivers with missing or impaired limbs to drive CMVs across state lines if they have been fitted with (and are wearing) the right prosthetic device, and the driver can demonstrate the ability to drive the truck safely by completing on-and off-road activities. If the driver passes the Arkansas commercial vehicle driving test, he or she will receive a SPE certificate. Over the years, FMCSA has granted more than 3,000 SPE certificates to truck drivers who have shown that they can drive safely on the nation’s highways.
Implied Consent to Alcohol Testing
Any person who holds a Arkansas CDL is considered to have consented to such testing as is required by the state of Arkansas or any State or jurisdiction in the enforcement of being under the influence of a controlled substance or using alcohol, be under the influence of alcohol, or have any measured alcohol concentration or detected presence of alcohol, while on duty, or operating, or in physical control of a commercial motor vehicle. Consent is implied by driving a commercial motor vehicle.
Although the driver has a legal prescription, he/she may be disqualified if the medication could adversely affect the driver’s ability to drive a CMV safely.
Who Is Exempt From Getting A Arkansas CDL?
FMCSA regulations specifically exempt only military personnel with comparable safe-driving experience from getting CDL’s. States are authorized to provide exemptions for the rest of the following at their own discretion:
Arkansas Military Vehicle Operators:
The state of Arkansas must exempt individuals who operate vehicles for military purposes from the requirements for CDL drivers. This exemption includes active military, reserves and members of the National Guard. This exception does not apply to U.S. Reserve technicians.
Service members who are or were employed within the past year (12 months) in a military position requiring the operation of a military motor vehicle equivalent to a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) and who want to drive CMV’s in civilian life can apply for a Skills Test Waiver to get their CDL.
See Also: Military Skills Test Waiver
Arkansas Farm Equipment Operators:
Covering actual farm-to-market operations, not commercial grain haulers. Drivers must be 21 years old, and vehicle must have farm plates. Farm workers are not required to have a CDL to operate vehicles:
- Controlled and operated by a farmer, a member of his family, or an employee.
- Used to transport farm products, equipment or supplies to or from a farm.
- Used within 150 air miles of the farm.
- Used in a nursery or agricultural operations.
- Not used in the operations of a contract motor carrier.
Arkansas Firefighting Equipment Operators:
Those who operate CMV’s necessary to preserving life or property, or performing emergency governmental functions, have signals that can be seen and heard, and are not subject to normal traffic laws. These include fire trucks, foam or water transport trucks, police SWAT team vehicles, ambulances and any other emergency vehicles.
Arkansas Recreational Vehicle Operators:
Drivers operating recreational vehicles (RV’s) for their own non-commercial use can be exempted from CDL requirements.
Arkansas Township or Government Workers Exemptions:
Many states will have specific CDL exemptions that apply to workers in smaller towns or to state and local government employees in general. You will have to check with your specific state regulations.
Arkansas CDL Disqualifications
The FMCSA regulations specify certain circumstances that will disqualify a driver from legally operating a CMV, temporarily or permanently.
Issues resulting in disqualification apply only to CDL or CLP holders, or those required to have a CLP or CDL in the vehicle they are operating. Tickets, DUI or DWI, and other legal issues that happened before a driver was issued a CDL or CLP, or to non-CDL or CLP holders, who were not required to have one, will affect drivers only as far as company policy, with the exception of getting the Hazmat endorsement.
See Also: TSA Disqualifying Offenses & Factors
In extreme cases, the FMCSA may disqualify drivers deemed to be an “imminent hazard”, and remove them from the road.
Some circumstances will result in a lifetime disqualification from operating CMV’s, with some being eligible for reinstatement after 10 years. A driver who uses a CMV in the commission of a felony involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance is disqualified for life with no possibility of reinstatement.
Disqualification For Major Offenses
- Being under the influence of alcohol as prescribed by State law.
- Being under the influence of a controlled substance.
- Having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater while operating a CMV.
- Refusing to take an alcohol test as required by a State or jurisdiction under its implied consent laws or regulations
- Leaving the scene of an accident.
- Using the vehicle to commit a felony, other than felony involving manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing a controlled substance.
CDL Driver Disqualification For Serious Traffic Violations:
- Speeding excessively, involving any speed of 15 mph or more above the regulated or posted speed limit.
- Driving recklessly, as defined by State or local law or regulation.
- Making improper or erratic traffic lane changes.
- Following the vehicle ahead too closely.
- Violating State or local law relating to motor vehicle traffic control.
CDL Driver Disqualification For Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Offenses:
- The driver is not required to always stop, but fails to slow down and check that tracks are clear of an approaching train.
- The driver is not required to always stop, but fails to stop before reaching the crossing, if the tracks are not clear.
- The driver is always required to stop, but fails to stop before driving onto the crossing.
- The driver fails to have sufficient space to drive completely through the crossing without stopping.
- The driver fails to obey a traffic control device or the directions of an enforcement official at the crossing.
- The driver fails to negotiate a crossing because of insufficient undercarriage clearance.
CDL Driver Disqualification For Violations Of Out-Of-Service Orders:
An out-of-service order stipulates that a CDL or CLP holder not drive a commercial vehicle for a certain period of time, or until such time as they are re-instated to service.
In addition to disqualification, drivers who violate out-of-service orders will be fined a civil penalty of at least $2,500 for the first offense, and $5,000 for any additional offenses.