There are two major parts to receiving your CDL: the general knowledge test, and the road skills test. The general knowledge test is the first step and when you pass it, you will be issued a driving permit - allowing you to begin driving. Laws require that you hold a permit for at least 14 days before you are eligible to take the road skills test to earn your CDL. Regulations allow for six attempts at passing the knowledge test within a 12-month period. If you do not pass the knowledge test with a score of at least 80% within the first six tries over a 12-month period, you must wait another 12 months from your first attempt. Additionally, if you fail to complete the test within the 60-minute time period, your test will be considered a fail.
The general knowledge test is issued by your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office and it's important to know that driving laws vary by state and therefore the tests vary by state, so make sure you study the handbook for the state in which you are testing. Upon completion and passing of your general knowledge test and after at least 14 days, you will be eligible to take the road skills test. There is a fee ($10-$40) for the test, which may be paid at the DMV office or online.
At some DMV offices, you may simply walk in and take the test, and others allow you to schedule an appointment ahead of time. Check with yours before you plan to take your skills test. When you arrive, you will need to have the required documentation to verify your identity, including: an original copy of your birth certificate, a passport, or naturalization or current immigration documents. You will also need to show proof of residency or legal presence with one of the following: tax records, lease or mortgage documents, W-2 forms, or utility bills. When your identity and residency have been verified, you are eligible to take your skills test. You must take the test in a vehicle that is the same model as the vehicle you will be driving commercially.
Please note that if you have never been a licensed driver of a personal vehicle, you are ineligible to apply for a CDL.