Kentucky CDL CDL
CDL Commercial Drivers License - Home Study Course
CDL License Test Prep
Kentucky CDL License Test

KENTUCKY CDL LICENSE

Commercial Drivers License
CDL LICENSE Requirements
Home Study Course
For Tests Beginning August 1, 2017

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KENTUCKY CDL Information
Specific Kentucky CDL Information

Applying for a Kentucky CDL

Effective January 30, 2012, Federal Motor Carrier's Safety Regulation 49 CFR 383.71 requires all CDL holders/applicants to have a valid DOT medical card on file with the Division of Driver Licensing in order to obtain/retain a valid CDL license/permit. Effective May 21, 2014 all CDL holders must be medically certified by a Certified Medical Examiner on the National Registry for Certified Medical Examiners. CDL holders/applicants must provide a legible copy of both front and back of the medical card. Also, prior to the issuance of an original, renewal or upgrade CDL/CLP all CDL holders/applicants must self certify as to what type driving they are operating in or expect to operate in by completing TC 94-169, Commercial Driver License Self Certification form. The above information must be forwarded to the Division of Driver Licensing and posted to the driver's CDLIS record prior to applying for issuance of a CDL/ CLP at the circuit court clerk's office.

Also, 49 CFR 384.206 mandates new CDL applicants, renewals, upgrades and CDL transfers to complete a commercial driver license application 10 year history survey. Drivers/applicants must provide a list of all states in which they held a license to operate any type vehicle in the previous 10 years. Failure to disclose the required information subjects the applicant to a possible 60 (sixty) day suspension for falsifying an application.

If you are not a U.S. citizen/permanent resident, you are not eligible to apply for a commercial learner permit or commercial license.

The Commercial Driver Licensing application and the Self Certification form are accessible from the DDL website. A CDL holder/applicant must forward the required information to the Division of Driver Licensing using one of three methods available. The information may be mailed to Division of Driver Licensing, 200 Mero St., Frankfort, KY 40622, or faxed to 502-564-3250 or scanned and emailed to KYTC.CDL@KY.gov. All Kentucky CDL holders/applicants will receive written notification when the information has posted to their CDLIS record. Once the driver/applicant has received written notification of their approval they can proceed to the circuit court clerk's office to begin/complete the issuance process.

A supply of the Kentucky CDL applications and Self Certification forms may be obtained from the Administrative Support Branch at 502-564-1257.

All applicants will be required to successfully pass a knowledge test either in written or oral form, and a vision test. A Kentucky CDL instruction permit will then be issued that is valid for six (6) months. After the Kentucky CDL permit is issued, applicants must wait 14 days before the test is administered. Applicants must call Kentucky State Police to schedule a skill test appointment. A permit may only be renewed once in the two (2) year period. If you do not successfully pass the road skills test by the expiration of your Kentucky CDL instruction permit renewal, you will need to reapply. All fees and written/vision tests will be required prior to a new permit being issued.

Kentucky Written Skill Test Fees for Kentucky CDL Permits

If applying for a Kentucky Class B or C with P & S endorsements only, the application fee will be $9 and there will be no skill test fee required. For all others, the application fee will be $24. Effective September 5, 2006 the new skill test fees for Kentucky CDL permits, as mandated by House Bill 707, was implemented. HB 707 directs that the skill test fees collected will be placed in the Kentucky State Police CDL skill testing trust fund, and will be used by the State Police to contract with and train civilian Kentucky CDL skills examiners and to improve the logistics of the Kentucky CDL skills testing process. It applies only to original Kentucky CDL permits and will not be levied against duplicate or renewal permits.
  • At the time of issuance of a Kentucky CDL permit requiring a skills test, a driver who has held a Kentucky operator license for 30 days or longer will pay a skills testing fee of fifty dollars ($50) in addition to the eleven dollar ($11) CDL permit fee.
  • At the time of issuance of a Kentucky CDL permit requiring a skill test to a driver who has held a Kentucky operator license for less than 30 days, a skill testing fee of one hundred fifty dollars ($150) in addition to the $11 Kentucky CDL will be collected.

What's on the Kentucky CDL Knowledge Test?

The Kentucky State Police will give the knowledge test at the local exam stations. Please check with your local Circuit Court Clerk regarding the days and times the examiner will be available.

The knowledge test consists of 50 questions covering a broad range of subjects, including vehicle operations under all kinds of conditions, cargo handling, and vehicle inspection.

The vision test is required whenever the driver takes a written test.

All tests are given in English. No translator is allowed.

Additional knowledge must be shown in the following areas:
  • Applicants for Kentucky Class A license - 20 questions on combination vehicles.
  • Applicants driving vehicles with air brakes - 25 questions on air brakes.

Endorsements are required for the following vehicles:
  • Double/triple trailer - 20 questions
  • Tanker - 20 questions
  • Passenger transport - 20 questions
  • Hazardous materials hauling - 30 questions
  • School Bus - 20 questions
For each test, 80 percent of the questions must be answered correctly to pass. Failure to show basic knowledge of an air brake system will result in a license restriction limiting the driver to operating a vehicle without an air brake system. Applicants may take the basic knowledge test indefinitely without paying retest fees. However, if the applicant fails, the applicant must wait 24 hours prior to re-testing. The skills test may be taken up to 4 times on the 1st $50 skills test fee. An additional $50 will be required if a 5th test is required. The combination, airbrake, and endorsement tests require a $5 re-test fee for each time taken after the initial failure.

Kentucky CDL Re-Testing

Applicants must re-test for the hazardous materials endorsement at renewal of the Kentucky CDL if it has been more than 2 years since the last test. If transferring into Kentucky an applicant must test in order to keep a hazardous material endorsement. If a Kentucky CDL driver surrenders his commercial driving privileges, he has a year to return to the clerk's office and be re-issued the Kentucky CDL without re-testing.

If the Kentucky CDL is ever expired for one (1) year or more, the written/vision tests must be taken prior to a new license being issued. An application fee will be charged. If applying for a Kentucky CDL reinstatement, and the commercial privilege has been suspended for one (1) year or more, all tests are required.

What does the Kentucky road test cover?

Drivers will be required to take this test in the class of vehicle they intend to drive. The test includes a pre-trip inspection, off-road maneuvering, and on-road driving test. The applicant will be required to furnish a vehicle for testing.

After the Kentucky CDL permit is issued, applicants must wait 14 days before the skill test is administered. Applicants must call Kentcky State Police to schedule a skill test appointment. If you passed the written test for air brakes, you will need to skills test in an air brake vehicle, otherwise, you will receive an L restriction.

Kentucky CDL Pre-trip Inspection
Purpose: To see if you know the vehicle is safe to drive.

Test Procedure: You may be asked to do a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle or to explain to the examiner what you would inspect and why. The examiner will mark on a scoring form each time that you correctly inspect or explain.

A manual explaining what you need to inspect is available through the Kentucky State Police or the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's Division of Drivers Licensing website.

Kentucky CDL Basic Control Skills Test

Purpose: To evaluate your basic skills in controlling the vehicle.

Setup: The test setup consists of various exercises marked out by lines, traffic cones, or something similar. The exercises may include moving the vehicle forward, backward, and turning maneuvers.

The examiner will explain to you how each exercise is to be done. You will be scored on how well you stay within the exercise boundaries and how many pull-ups you make.

Kentucky CDL Road Test

Purpose: To evaluate your ability to drive safely in a variety of on-the-road situations.

Test Procedures: The test drive is taken over a route specified by the examiner. It may include left and right turns, intersections, railway crossings, curves, up and down grades, rural or semi-rural roads, city and multi-lane streets, and expressway driving.

You will drive over the test route following instructions given by the examiner. The examiner will score specific tasks such as turns, merging into traffic, lane changes, and speed control, at specific places along the route. The examiner will also score whether you correctly do tasks such as signaling, searching for hazards, controlling speed, and lane positioning.

What does the Kentucky CDL cost?
  • Kentucky CDL application - $24 (except Class B/C with P & S endorsements only - $9)
  • Kentucky CDL instruction permit - $11
  • Original Kentucky CDL - up to $40 (prorated fees according to current operator's expiration)
  • Renewal Kentucky CDL - $47/Class B or C with P & S endorsements only - $32.00
  • Transfer CDL - $60; with motorcycle - $70.

Upgrades in Kentucky CDL Class
    Class B or C to A - application, permit and license fees, for a total of $47 plus skill test fee, if applicable. Class C to B - application, permit and license fees, for a total of $47 plus skill test fee, if applicable.
Add Endorsements/Drop Restrictions to Kentucky CDL

$5 for tanker, doubles/triples, and hazardous materials. The new license will cost $12, for a total of $17. The following license actions will require an application fee, Kentucky CDL instruction permit fee, skills test fee and a new license fee, for a total of $97:
  • Add passenger endorsement;
  • Drop K restriction;
  • Drop O restriction; and
  • Drop J restriction

The following license action will require an application fee, a permit fee and license fee with a total cost of $32-$47, depending on class license wanted or held at the time of upgrade/add-on.
  • Add school bus endorsement

CDL Transfers

Kentucky CDL Permits

The state of Kentucky does not transfer commercial instruction permits from other states. If you currently hold a commercial instruction permit and wish to transfer to Kentucky, you will have to surrender the out of state permit and take the written knowledge tests in Kentucky. Upon passing those tests, you will be issued a Kentucky commercial instruction permit.

Kentucky CDL Hazardous Materials Endorsement

If you have a hazardous endorsement, you will be required to take the written hazmat test prior to transferring it to Kentucky. There is a $5.00 fee to take the written test.

If your hazmat threat assessment will not cover the life of your new Kentucky commercial license, you will be required to undergo a new threat assessment. This will cost $115.00. In some cases, you may be eligible for a ninety (90) day extension to complete your threat assessment. This will be determined by the CDL section at the Division of Driver Licensing.

Kentucky CDL Written Knowledge Tests
You will need to pass the Kentucky Knowledge Tests that are required for the class of license, restriction, and endorsements you wish to possess. A general knowledge test for the Class A or Class B and C license must be successfully completed by all CDL applicants. The information needed to pass these tests is contained in the FREE Kentucky CDL Handbook. Please read and study this manual carefully.
  • Class A - 70 Questions (50 GK + 20 Combination Vehicles) - Skills test required.
  • Class B - 50 Questions - Skills test required.
  • Class C - 50 Questions - Skills test required for bus, school bus and air brakes vehicles..
  • Passenger Endorsement - 20 questions - Skills test required in bus.
  • School Bus Endorsement - 25 questions - Skills test required in school bus.
  • Doubles/Triples Endorsement - 20 questions - No additional skills tests.
  • Tank Vehicle Endorsement - 20 questions - No additional skills tests.
  • Hazardous Materials Endorsement - 30 questions - No additional skills tests.
  • Air Brake Restriction Removal - 25 questions - Additional skills test in vehicle with Air Brakes.

Classes of Kentucky CDL and Required Tests

CDL Class Tests Required Possible Endorsements and Required Tests
Class A
(Combination
vehicle endorsement required)

General Knowledge Written Exam

Combination Endorsement Written Exam

Road Exam

H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
T - Doubles/Triples Written Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam
Class B

General Knowledge Written Exam

Road Exam

H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam
Class C

General Knowledge Written Exam

Road Exam

Note: If upgrading to a Class C from a Class D, no road test is required UNLESS the endorsement requires one.
H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam

Kentucky CDL Endorsements

Exam Time Allowed (Minutes) # of Questions on Exam # of Correct Answers Needed to Pass
General Knowledge 60 50 40
Air Brakes 25 25 20
HazMat 30 30 24
Tank 20 20 16
Passenger 20 20 16
Doubles/Triples 20 20 16
Combination Vehicles 20 20 16
School Bus 20 20 16

For the most complete and accurate official Kentucky state CDL information, go to the Official Kentucky CDL Website.

WHAT IS A CDL?

A "CDL" is a Commercial Drivers License. It meets certain "standards" that are the same for every state. It differs from your Kentucky "operator's" or "chauffeur's" licenses. It is required if you drive certain kinds of commercial vehicles either within Kentucky or outside of Kentucky.

WHAT IS THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY ACT OF 1986 (CMVSA/86)?

It is a law passed by the United States Congress which requires ALL the individual states to comply with certain standards in regards to the licensing of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. Kentucky driver licensing standards comply with the law, requiring CMV drivers to obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) when driving applicable vehicles. A CDL license can ONLY be issued in the driver's STATE OF LEGAL RESIDENCE, and if you have a CDL, you can have NO OTHER DRIVER'S LICENSE in ANY other state.

WHEN DO I NEED A CDL INSTEAD OF MY REGULAR KENTUCKY DRIVERS LICENSE?

A CDL is required if you operate any of the following CMV's . . .

  • A vehicle with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 lbs.
  • A vehicle towing a unit with a manufacturer's GVWR of more than 10,000 lbs. when the GCWR exceeds 26,000 lbs.
  • A vehicle designed to transport 16 or more persons (including the operator) or any vehicle carrying children to or from school and home regularly for compensation.
  • A vehicle of any size that carries hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding.

ARE THERE ANY EXEMPTIONS TO BEING REQUIRED TO HAVE A CDL?

Yes, a few . . .

  • Active Duty Military . . . with military licenses operating military vehicles.
  • Firefighters . . . meeting approved training standards and operating authorized emergency vehicles.
  • Farmers . . . in certain cases.
  • Individuals ....operating motor homes or other vehicles used exclusively to transport personal possessions or family members, for non business purposes.

ARE THERE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS TO OBTAIN A KENTUCKY CDL?

You must meet the following requirements to obtain a CDL . . .

  • You must be 21 years old. (18 years if all commercial driving is done within Kentucky and if no hazardous materials requiring placarding are transported and if you do not drive double or triple trailer rigs).
  • Possess a valid medical certificate in accordance with MCSR 49 CFR 391.41.
  • You must otherwise qualify for the license based on your driving record. Any of the following will disqualify you from obtaining a CDL . . .
    • If you possess a license from any state other than your State of Residence.
    • If you are currently subject to any disqualification of your commercial driving privilege in Kentucky or any other state.
    • If your license is currently suspended, revoked, denied, or cancelled.
    • If you have a conviction for operating a CMV (commercial motor vehicle) while impaired in the 24 months immediately preceding application.
    • other technical rules, and further restrictions that pertain only to KENTUCKY are covered in detail within the Course.
      THERE ARE CURRENTLY NO APPRENTICESHIP OR TRAINING REQUIREMENTS TO GET YOUR KENTUCKY CDL. THIS MAY SOON CHANGE.

Access Official Federal CDL Medical Requirements Info

HOW DO I OBTAIN A CDL?

By completing the following items . . .

  • Show your driver's license from your State of Residence.
  • Take and pass all written examinations that apply to your license class and endorsement requirements.
  • Show proof of social security number.
  • Meet driver record eligibility requirements as determined by the State of Kentucky.
  • Fill out an application including certifications.
  • Show proof that you passed the required written tests, pass a vision screening, and show proof of a valid DOT medical certificate (BEFORE a CDL Temporary Instruction Permit will be issued and before you will be allowed to the the skills test).
  • Pay the Kentucky CDL fees.
  • Schedule, take, and pass your CDL skills test.

A separate booklet is included with the complete Kentucky CDL Course package which covers information such as fees, locations, contacts, and other items specific to the State of Kentucky for the written and skills examinations for ALL classes of license and ALL endorsements.

What do the terms Class A, Class B, and Class C mean on a CDL?

It refers to the type of vehicle that you may operate . . .

  • CLASS A . . . allows you to operate vehicles which tow trailers or other vehicles with a GVWR over 10,000 pounds when the combined GVWR is over 26,000 pounds. A Class "A" license also allows you to operate Class B and C vehicles. Applicable endorsements are required.
  • CLASS B . . . allows you to operate single vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs or more OR a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, towing trailers/vehicles rated at 10,000 pounds GVWR or less. A Class "B" license also allows you to operate Class C vehicles. Applicable endorsements are required.
  • CLASS C . . .allows you to operate vehicles under 26,001 lbs. GVWR, that would normally not require a CDL; except when they are designed to transport 16 or more persons including the driver; or that carry 15 or less people (including the driver) transporting children to or from school and home regularly for compensation, or carry hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding. Applicable endorsements are required.

What are Endorsement Codes and when do I need them on my CDL?

Endorsements are necessary for certain commercial driving requirements as follows . . .

  • AIR BRAKES endorsement for vehicles with air brakes.
  • (T) DOUBLE or TRIPLE TRAILERS. For tractors pulling two or three trailers.
  • (P) PASSENGER. For vehicles which are designed to carry 16 or more people (including the driver);
  • (S) SCHOOL BUS. Any vehicle transporting children to or from school and home regularly for compensation.
  • (N) TANK VEHICLES. For vehicles designed to haul liquids or liquefied gases in bulk in permanently mounted tanks or portable tanks rated at 1,000 gallons or more.
  • (H) HAZARDOUS MATERIALS. To carry hazardous materials in amounts requiring placards.
  • (X) Endorsement code designating a Tank (N) vehicle that carries Hazardous Materials (H).

Access Official Federal CDL Hazardous Materials Info

I'M OVER 18 YEARS OLDS, BUT NOT 21 YEARS OLD YET. CAN I GET A CDL?

Yes . . . with restrictions. Until your 21st birthday, you cannot drive a commercial vehicle outside the borders of Kentucky. You cannot drive a vehicle requiring HAZ MAT placarding and cannot drive double or triple trailer rigs.

CAN I USE MY KENTUCKY CDL OUT OF STATE?

Yes! If you are 21 years or older it is good throughout the entire United States.

CAN MY CDL BE SUSPENDED OR REVOKED?

Yes, there are MANY reasons that your CDL can be suspended or revoked. Improper use of alcohol or drugs, traffic violations, and failure to notify top the list. The Kentucky CDL Course details ALL of the rules regarding suspension or revocation. The point to remember is that alcohol or drug use is not tolerated and your record WILL FOLLOW YOU THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES FOREVER!!!

SO LET'S SAY THAT MY CDL IS REVOKED. CAN'T I JUST GET A CDL IN ANOTHER STATE?

No!!! Those days are gone. One computer system keeps track of all licenses THROUGHOUT the United States. In a matter of seconds it can be determined if you possess more than one license.

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