I'm Now a Licensed Class A Driver

On Wednesday, November 3, 2021, I satisfactorily completed the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) driving test for my Class A Commercial Driver License (CDL).

This is the last step before becoming employed with a trucking company.

As an Arizona resident I need a CDL to drive a commercial vehicle of any kind. I want to drive a semi truck and therefore chose to get a Class A CDL.

I needed to meet a series of eligibility qualifications to qualify for the Arizona CDL. These include both federal- and state-level mandates related to citizenship, residency, health, driving history and testing. I began by reviewing copies of the Arizona commercial drivers license manual to determine what types of license classes and endorsements I need.

CDL Requirements in Arizona

Arizona CDL requirements are designed to ensure that commercial licenses are issued only to safe, legal drivers. To this end, I needed to:

  • Be no less than 18 years of age.
  • Be legally present within the United States (as citizens or authorized aliens).
  • Supply my Social Security Numbers.
  • Be a resident of Arizona.
  • Pass a federally-mandated DOT medical examination.
  • Pass written and skills tests.
  • Pay all applicable testing and licensing fees.

State and federal CDL license requirements expressly prohibit the issuance of commercial drivers licenses to certain drivers. These include those who:

  • Lie on their applications.
  • Do not hold regular driver's licenses, or whose licenses have been suspended, revoked or otherwise discontinued.
  • Have been convicted of felonies, leaving the scene of an accident, drug or alcohol abuse or other designated offenses.
  • Are found medically unsound.

Applying for an Arizona CDL Permit

I began the process of obtaining the commercial drivers license by applying for an Arizona CDL learners permit. I got the permit on October 18, 2021on the first try. Getting CDL permit credentials authorized me to drive commercial vehicles under the supervision of trained and licensed commercial drivers for the purposes of training and practicing my skills they needed in order to pass my licensing tests. I submitted the following to the DMV:

  • A completed application form
  • Proof of satisfactory completion of a DOT CDL physical exam
  • A minimum of two documents evidencing legal presence in the United States (e.g. passport and certified birth certificate)
  • A legal photo ID
  • Proof of age
  • Proof of residency
  • Social Security Number
  • Payment for all applicable fees

CDL Written Test

I passed the CDL general knowledge, combination vehicle, and air brakes tests to successfully obtain commercial driving credentials. The tests were taken in person, at the DMV CDL office in Tucson. 

CDL permit test questions are taken directly from the training materials found in the state CDL license manual. I achieved a score of 80 percent, or higher, in all three tests which is the minimum required to pass.

CDL Training Schools & Practice Tests

Arizona motorists are not required to attend a CDL school as part of the licensing process. Instead, they may prepare by:

  • Studying the CDL handbook.
  • Engaging in CDL training and driving practice with independent, trained and licensed commercial drivers.
  • Use printed or online CDL practice test

While attending a CDL Training School isn’t required, I chose to attend a local school which provided me with 14 days of instruction as well as the vehicle that I used for testing.

How I Got my Arizona CDL License

I scheduled a physical with a DOT-approved provider (Concentra) in September 2021. Applicants who do not pass their physicals cannot apply for CDL licenses. Fortunately, I passed and as I started my two-week school, I picked up the application form from the DMV. I complete the form, and gather the necessary documents to demonstrate citizenship, age, residency and safe driving history.

I then took my CDL application forms and corresponding documents to the Tucson DMV CDL office for processing. That’s when I got my CDL learners permit and attended CDL school.

CDL Driving Test in Arizona

The Arizona CDL driving test is comprised of three sections, including vehicle inspections (took me about 50 minutes to complete), basic controls (took about 30 minutes), and on-road skills testing (about 40 minutes).

Types of CDL Classes in Arizona

If you are interested in an Arizona CDL, there are three classes of Arizona commercial drivers licenses for which you may apply. You will need a Class A license to drive a combination vehicle (such as a tractor trailer) with a combined gross weight of more than 26,00 pounds. This is what I now have. You will need a Class B CDL license to drive single vehicles with gross weight ratings of 26,001 or more. If you intend to drive hazmat or passenger vehicles carrying more than 16 total persons (like a school bus) need a Class C CDL license.

Types of CDL Endorsements in Arizona

CDL endorsements are supplemental provisions added to commercial licenses indicating that motorists are trained and authorized to operate specialty vehicles within their license classes. Examples of standard Arizona endorsements include the below:

  • Passenger Endorsement (P)
  • Hazmat Endorsement (H)
  • Double/Triple Trailer Endorsement (T)
  • Tanker Endorsement (N)
  • Combination Tank and Hazmat Endorsement (X)
  • School Bus Endorsement (S)

I did not add any endorsements.

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