New York CDL Requirements
In keeping with FMCSA regulations, you must first apply for a commercial learner’s permit and hold it for at least 14 days before you are eligible to apply for your CDL. During the time you hold your learner’s permit, a driver with the same class license for which you are applying must be in the front of the cab with you at all times. A commercial learner’s permit is valid for up to 180 days.
To apply for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in New York, you must meet the federal medical examination requirements as outlined on the New York Department of Motor Vehicles website, be able to speak English well enough to communicate with other people and read traffic signs and signals, and provide proof of legal presence in the U.S. as well as residence in New York State. The following documents will be accepted by the New York State DMV:
- Proof of date of birth (U.S. passport, U.S. birth certificate, valid foreign passport, certificate of naturalization or citizenship, valid U.S. Employment Authorization Card with valid foreign passport with
- U.S. Visa I-94 or I-551 stamp, valid U.S. Employment Authorization Card with I-797 Notice of Action)
- Social Security Card or proof that you have a valid Social Security number
- Proof of residence in New York State (current New York driver’s license, permit or non-driver ID with your current address on it, bank statement, utility bill, U.S. high school photo ID card with report card, U.S. computer-printed pay stub
- Proof of insurance for any owned vehicles
All documents must be original or certified. Photocopies, and damaged or illegible documents will not be accepted. New federal regulations require that your driving record be checked for any open suspensions or revocations in any state. If any are reported, your application will be rejected. Additionally, under New York State law, any person who operates a motor vehicle in New York is deemed to have given consent to a chemical test of one or more of the following: breath, blood, urine or saliva.
When all of the state requirements for applying for a CDL have been met and you have held your learner’s permit for at least 14 days, you are eligible to begin the process of obtaining your license.
New York requires an application fee of $10 for the written test portion of your application process. This fee covers all written tests required for both your permit and license. When you are ready for the road skills test, there will be an additional $40 fee. After you have passed all required written exams, you may schedule your road skills test. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles strongly encourages all applicants to prepare for the test by practicing with a licensed driver in the vehicle with you while you have your learner’s permit. When you are ready, the New York State DMV has an online scheduling system where you can select the date and time of your test. Please note that if you do not pass the test, you will be required to pay another $40 fee to retake it. If you pass, you will be issued a temporary CDL that is valid for 90 days. Your official CDL with your photo will be mailed to you within 3-4 weeks.
Commercial Driving Laws in New York
In the state of New York, traffic violations for commercial drivers are categorized as either “serious” or “major”. Similar to other states’ commercial driving law regulations, New York’s policies for violations committed by commercial drivers will result in harsher fines and penalties than those for individuals who drive only personal vehicles.
The following traffic violations are considered “serious” and will result in points being added to your driving record. The points and fees will apply even if the violation occurs in a state outside of New York. It’s important to note that any violations that occur outside of New York (except parking) must be reported to the New York DMV within 30 days.
Serious traffic violations in New York include:
- Speeding 15 miles or more above the speed limit
- Reckless driving
- Improper or unsafe lane change
- Following too closely
- Traffic offenses that result in a fatality
- Operating a commercial vehicle without a CDL
Two serious traffic violations within a 3-year period will result in a 60-day suspension of your CDL. If you receive three serious violations within a 3-year period, your suspension will be increased to 120 days. The regulations apply whether you got the ticket within the state of New Yok or not. In most cases, suspensions will only be enforced if the violation occurred while driving your commercial vehicle, not your personal vehicle. However, there are exceptions in which your CDL will be suspended for violations that occur in your personal vehicle. These exceptions include: leaving the scene of an accident, alcohol and drug violations, and felonies involving a motor vehicle.
Any driver who commits a “major” offense, as listed below, will lose their CDL for one year. If the offense occurs in a vehicle being used to transport hazardous materials, the time of suspension will be increased to three years. A second offense will result in lifetime loss of your CDL.
Major violations in New York include:
- Driving a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .04% or higher
- Driving any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance
- Refusal to comply with blood alcohol testing
- Leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it
- Using a vehicle in the commission of a felony
- Operating a commercial vehicle with your license is revoked, suspended or cancelled
Drivers whose vehicles are found to be unsafe during a roadside inspection will also be subject to out-of-service penalties. Safety violations can include defective brakes, suspension systems, axles, wheels and rims, and steering systems, emergency doors, and more. For first-time safety violations, a 90-day suspension will be enforced. Drivers who receive two out-of-service violations within a 10-year period will lose their license for one year, and three or more out-of-service violations within a 10-year period will result in the loss of your license for a minimum of three years.
If you receive a ticket in New York, it’s important to know that you should not just pay the fine without speaking to a legal representative first. By paying the fine, you are basically pleading guilty to a charge that could affect your driving record and, ultimately, your ability to keep driving.