South Carolina CDL CDL
CDL Commercial Drivers License - Home Study Course
CDL License Test Prep
South Carolina CDL License Test

SOUTH CAROLINA CDL LICENSE

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

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SOUTH CAROLINA CDL Information
Specific South Carolina CDL Information

South Carolina Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Fees
  • South Carolina CDL Application $15.00
  • SC Commercial Driver's Manual $5.00 +Tax
  • South Carolina Driver's License (5 year) $12.50
  • South Carolina Driver's License (10 year) $25.00

South Carolina CDL Endorsements

The following endorsements can be applied to a South Carolina CDL:
  • H - Hazardous Material (Hazmat)
  • N - Tanker Vehicle
  • P - Passenger Vehicle (designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver)
  • S - School Bus
  • T - Double/Triple Trailers
  • X - Combination Hazmat and Tanker

The following tests are required for each South Carolina CDL endorsement listed above:
  • Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) - a knowledge test and TSA Threat Assessment.
  • Tanker Vehicle - a knowledge test.
  • Bus Passenger - a knowledge and skills test.
  • School Bus - a knowledge and skills test.
    To receive an "S" endorsement, you must also have a "P" endorsement and take a skills test in a vehicle that meets the following definition: "School Bus" means a CMV used to transport pre-primary, primary or secondary school students from home to school, from school to home, or to and from school-sponsored events. A school bus does not include a bus used as a common carrier.
  • Double/Triple Trailers - a knowledge test.
  • Combination Hazmat and Tanker - must complete the requirements listed for Hazardous Materials (1) and Tanker (2).

To obtain any endorsement, you must successfully pass all required knowledge and/or skills tests. The skills test must be taken in the type vehicle for which the endorsement is issued.

If you upgrade your commercial license endorsement or class, you must Complete Form DL-402 and provide information regarding any previous out-of-state drivers' licenses.

When you apply for an upgrade to your commercial driver's license, you must complete Form DL-405A to self-certify the type of commerce for which you intend to operate. You must also provide a valid medical certification for any type of commerce that requires it. (See Frequently Asked Questions regarding form DL-405A.) SCDMV will collect the driver's certification information and add it to the national Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS) record. All commercial driver's license and learner's permit holders must be self-certified or risk losing his or her privilege to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Commercial driver's license and learner's permit holders must comply each time they apply for a new credential, renew or upgrade their credential. If a medical certificate is required, you must also show your valid DOT Medical Certificate or pocket card of the Medical Certificate. DMV will not accept a medical certificate if it expires within 30 days from the date it is presented.

SCDMV will run automatic checks against the Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS) and the Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS) databases to check your prior driving history in other states. The checks are performed when a customer applies for an original credential, renews a credential, is reexamined or moves from a learner's permit to a license. They are designed to insure drivers have only one valid license at a time.

Getting Your Initial Commercial Driver License

To obtain a Commercial Driver's License for the first time in the state of South Carolina, the following are required:
  • You must be at least 18 years of age to drive within the State of South Carolina and 21 years of age for interstate driving.
  • Certify that you have read and understand, and meet the qualification requirements under 49 CFR, Part 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
  • Complete Form DL-405A to self-certify the type of commerce for which you intend to use your CDL. You must also provide a valid medical certification for any type of commerce that requires it. (See Frequently Asked Questions regarding form DL-405A.) SCDMV will collect the driver's certification information and add it to the national Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS) record. All commercial driver's license and learner's permit holders must be self-certified or risk losing his or her driving privilege to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Commercial driver's license and learner's permit holders must comply each time they apply for a new credential, renew or upgrade their credential.
  • If required, show your valid DOT Medical Certificate or pocket card of the Medical Certificate to meet the requirement of providing proof that you are medically qualified pursuant to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation 49 CFR, part 391. South Carolina requires that you maintain a valid medical Examiner's Certificate to obtain and/or retain a commercial driver instruction permit or commercial driver's license. DMV will not accept a medical certificate if it expires within 30 days from the date it is presented.
  • Provide proof of identity using Accepted Forms of Identification.
  • Complete the Complete Form 447-CDL, Application for a Commercial Driver's License or Learner's Permit. There is a $15.00 application fee.
  • Complete Form DL-402 Affidavit of Previous Driver's License and provide information regarding any previous out-of-state drivers' licenses.
  • Pass a vision test.
  • Pass all required knowledge tests for license or permit in the classification you intend to operate. There is a $2.00 fee for each knowledge test taken.
  • Pass the road test, which includes the pre-trip inspection, off-road and on-road driving.
  • Pay $12.50 license fee.
  • Provide Automobile liability insurance information (SC Code Section 56-1-80(C). Insurance company must be licensed to do business in the state of South Carolina.

When you apply for a South Carolina commercial driver's license, SCDMV will run automatic checks against the Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS) and the Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS) databases to check your prior driving history in other states. The checks are performed when a customer applies for an original credential, renews a credential, is reexamined or moves from a learner's permit to a license. They are designed to insure drivers have only one valid license at a time.

South Carolina CDL Knowledge Test

You will take one or more knowledge tests, depending on what class of license and what endorsements you may need. The South Carolina CDL knowledge tests include:
  • General Knowledge Test, taken by all applicants.
  • Combination Vehicles Test, which is required if you want to drive Class A combination vehicles.
  • Air Brakes Test, which you must take if your vehicle has air brakes. Drivers not taking this test will be restricted to driving vehicles without air brakes ("K" restriction).
  • Passenger Transport Test, taken by applicants operating vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver.
  • Hazardous Materials Test, required if you want to haul hazardous materials or waste requiring placarding.
  • School Bus Test, required to transport pre-primary, primary, or secondary school students from home to school, from school to home, or to and from school-sponsored events.
  • Tanker Test, required if you want to haul liquids or gaseous materials within a tank or tanks having an individual rated capacity of more than 119 gallons and an aggregate rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is either permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or the chassis.
  • Doubles/Triples Test, required if you want to pull double or triple trailers.

The type of South Carolina CDL written knowledge tests you need to pass depends on the type of commercial motor vehicle you drive and the cargo you haul.

South Carolina CDL (Commercial Driver's License) Skills Test

If you pass the required knowledge tests, you can then take the South Carolina CDL skills test. Only the applicant and DMV Examiner are allowed in or around the vehicle during the skills test. There are three parts to the South Carolina CDL skills test which must be taken in this order: (1) the pre-trip inspection test, (2) the basic control skills test, and (3) the on-road test. You must take these tests in the type of vehicle for which you wish to be licensed. To be eligible for a CDL, all three parts of the South Carolina CDL skills test must be passed at one time.
  • Pre-trip Inspection. The purpose of the pre-trip inspection is to see whether the vehicle is safe to drive. You will be required to do a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle and to explain to the examiner what you are inspecting and why. The examiner will mark on a scoring form each item that you correctly inspect and explain. This information can be located in Section 10 of the South Carolina CDL Manual.
  • Basic Control Skills Test. The purpose of the basic control skills test is to evaluate your basic skills in controlling the vehicle. You will be asked to perform four maneuvers: The Stop Line, Straight Line Backing, Forward Serpentine, and the Alley Dock. This information can be located in Section 11 of the South Carolina CDL Manual.
  • Road Test. The purpose of the road test is to evaluate your ability to drive safely in a variety of on-road situations. You will drive a test route following the instructions given by the examiner. The test route will include left and right turns, intersections, railroad crossing, curves, up and down grades, interstate, city and rural roads. The examiner will score specific areas of the test route. The examiner will not ask you to do anything dangerous or illegal. This information can be located in Section 12 of the South Carolina CDL Manual.

South Carolina CDL Restrictions

  • E - Automatic Transmission - The South Carolina CDL holder is restricted from operating a commercial motor vehicle without Automatic Transmission. The restriction is applied to a South Carolina CDL if the vehicle used during the road test had automatic or semi-automatic transmission. If the CDL holder wants to remove this restriction he must successfully pass the entire skills test in a commercial motor vehicle that is not equipped with automatic transmission.
  • I - Intrastate only - The South Carolina CDL holder is restricted from operating a commercial motor vehicle outside of South Carolina. Only allows intrastate transportation of shipments/loads that originated in SC and ended in SC. The load cannot start or finish outside the state of SC (interstate shipment). Drivers 18 through 20 years of age require an I Restriction. If the South Carolina CDL holder wants to operate a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce instead of intrastate he must visit an SCDMV office once he turns 21 years old to upgrade his license.
  • K - Vehicle without airbrakes - The South Carolina CDL holder is restricted from operating a vehicle with air brakes. This restriction is applied to a CDL if the vehicle used during the road test was not equipped with air brakes. If the South Carolina CDL holder wants to remove this restriction he must successfully pass the knowledge test for air brakes and pass the skills test in a commercial motor vehicle equipped with air brakes.
  • M - Except Class A Bus - The South Carolina CDL holder is restricted from operating a class A passenger vehicle because he used a class B passenger vehicle during his skills test for his passenger endorsement. If the South Carolina CDL holder wants to remove this restriction he must successfully pass the skills test in a class A passenger vehicle.
  • N - Except Class A and B Bus - The South Carolina CDL holder is restricted from operating a class A or B passenger vehicle because he used a class C passenger vehicle during his skills test for his passenger endorsement. If the South Carolina CDL holder wants to remove this restriction he must successfully pass the skills test in a class A or class B passenger vehicle. However, if a class B passenger vehicle is used the N restriction will be replaced with an M restriction.
  • P - Excepted Interstate - The South Carolina CDL holder is restricted from operating a commercial motor vehicle outside of the authorized activities defined by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and he is not required to meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements. If the South Carolina CDL holder wants to remove this restriction he must present a DOT medical card, and complete another SCDMV Form DL-405A selecting a type of operation other than "Excepted Interstate".
  • V - Medical Variance - This restriction indicates that the South Carolina CDL holder has a medical variance (Federal Waiver or Skills Performance Evaluation) that goes along with his DOT medical certification. This restriction must never be removed as long as the DOT medical certificate references a medical variance.
  • Z - Except Tractor Trailer - The South Carolina CDL holder is restricted from operating a commercial motor vehicle tractor (pulling unit) with a fifth-wheel articulation. This restriction is applied to the South Carolina CDL if the applicant used a unit with a pintle hook, or ball and chain hook up during the skills test. If the CDL holder wants to remove this restriction he must successfully pass any necessary knowledge tests for the vehicle he is operating. He must also successfully pass the complete skills test. The unit used during the skills test must include a fifth-wheel articulation, and meet the GVWR requirements. The tractor (pulling unit) must have a GVWR of 26,0001 or more pounds and pulling a trailer which has a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more.

South Carolina CDL Written Knowledge Tests
You will need to pass the South Carolina 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 South Carolina 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 South Carolina 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

South Carolina 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 South Carolina state CDL information, go to the Official South Carolina 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 South Carolina "operator's" or "chauffeur's" licenses. It is required if you drive certain kinds of commercial vehicles either within South Carolina or outside of South Carolina.

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. South Carolina 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 SOUTH CAROLINA 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 SOUTH CAROLINA 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 South Carolina 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 South Carolina 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 SOUTH CAROLINA are covered in detail within the Course.
      THERE ARE CURRENTLY NO APPRENTICESHIP OR TRAINING REQUIREMENTS TO GET YOUR SOUTH CAROLINA 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 South Carolina.
  • 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 South Carolina CDL fees.
  • Schedule, take, and pass your CDL skills test.

A separate booklet is included with the complete South Carolina CDL Course package which covers information such as fees, locations, contacts, and other items specific to the State of South Carolina 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 South Carolina. You cannot drive a vehicle requiring HAZ MAT placarding and cannot drive double or triple trailer rigs.

CAN I USE MY SOUTH CAROLINA 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 South Carolina 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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