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

WISCONSIN CDL LICENSE

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

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WISCONSIN CDL Information
Specific Wisconsin CDL Information

Wisconsin Commercial driver license (CDL) - Overview

Commercial driver licenses (CDL) are required to operate vehicles that:
  • Weigh over 26,000 pounds, determined by the highest of the following weights:
    • manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)
    • manufacturer's gross combination weight rating (GCWR) when the towed unit has a GVWR, registered weight or actual gross weight over 10,000 pounds
    • actual weight
    • registered weight
  • Carry hazardous materials that require placarding under federal law.
  • Are designed or used to carry 16 or more persons including the driver (buses and some school buses). There are federal and state regulations governing the operation of commercial motor vehicles.
Wisconsin CDL law requires:
  • A classified licensing system.
  • Issuing of only one license to each driver.
  • Testing of commercial drivers, who must pass a knowledge test and driving skills test in the type of vehicle they drive.
    • School bus drivers are required to pass a knowledge test and abbreviated driving skills test at each renewal in addition to providing proof of physical fitness in the form of a completed MV3030B or valid Federal Medical Certificate.
    • Hazardous materials (Hazmat) drivers who are renewing, transferring or applying for the "H" endorsement for the first time require a background check, including fingerprinting. Drivers are also required to complete the hazardous materials endorsement application and pass the "H" knowledge test.
  • Enforcement of the law through the Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS), a computer network of all states.
  • Enforcement of CDL disqualifications for alcohol and serious traffic violations such as a BAC of .04 in a commercial motor vehicle, and speeding in excess (15 mph or more) in a commercial motor vehicle.

Disqualification
A disqualification is the withdrawal of a person's privilege to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

Operation of farm machinery

A driver license is not required to move non-registered farm machinery on a highway between fields or between a farm and a field. However, a Farm Service Wisconsin CDL is available for a person who is employed by a farm service industry for 180 days or less per calendar year.

Wisconsin CDL License Classes
Wisconsin has a classified licensing system. The classes are:
  • Class A - For operation of a commercial motor vehicle. Any combination of vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), actual weight, or registered weight over 26,000 pounds provided the GVWR, actual weight, or registered weight of the towed vehicle(s) is more than 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B - For operation of a commercial motor vehicle. Any single vehicle with a GVWR , actual weight, or registered weight over 26,000 pounds, or such vehicle towing a vehicle with a GVWR, actual weight, or registered weight of 10,000 pounds or less.
  • Class C - For operation of a commercial motor vehicle. Any single vehicle with a GVWR , actual weight, or registered weight of 26,000 pounds or less, (or such vehicle towing a vehicle less than 10,000 pounds) transporting hazardous materials requiring placarding or designed to carry 16 or more persons including the driver.
  • Class D - For operation of automobiles; light trucks and mopeds.
  • Class M - For operation of motorcycles.

Who is exempt from CDL licensing in Wisconsin?

Federal law allows states the option to waive certain kinds of drivers from the requirement to obtain a Wisconsin CDL. In Wisconsin, the following drivers are not required to hold a CDL:
  • Fire fighters and rescue squad members are not required to hold a Wisconsin CDL to drive properly equipped emergency or fire fighting vehicles. However, if you hold a Wisconsin driver license but operate a fire fighting vehicle in another state, you may be required to obtain a Wisconsin CDL.
  • Recreational vehicle operators (owned or leased motor home, fifth wheel mobile home or touring mobile home, provided it isn't longer than 45 feet) not engaged in commercial activity are not required to hold a Wisconsin CDL.
  • A farmer, the farmer's family members, and/or the farmer's employees are not required to hold a Wisconsin CDL to drive a commercial motor vehicle owned or leased by the farmer, provided the vehicle is not used in "for hire" carriage, is transporting farm supplies, produce or machinery to or from the farm and is within 150 miles of a farm in Wisconsin, Minnesota or Iowa. The farm supplies that a farmer may transport without obtaining a Wisconsin CDL may include hazardous materials. However, a farmer driving a commercial motor vehicle with double or triple trailers or designed to carry or actually carrying 16 or more passengers must have a Wisconsin CDL with proper endorsements.
  • Back-up (substitute or replacement) snowplow drivers (includes snow or ice removal by plowing, salting or sanding) for local units of government (defined as a county, city, village, town, school district, county utility district, sanitary district, metropolitan sewage district, or other public body created by or pursuant to state law) are not required to hold a Wisconsin CDL if they meet all of the following:
    • Are an employee of a local unit of government with a population of 3,000 or less.
    • Hold a valid Class D license.
    • Are operating within the boundaries of the local unit of government.
    • Is one of the following:
      • Substituting for or replacing, a regular employee who ordinarily operates the vehicle.
      • An additional employee because a snow emergency exists as determined by the local unit of government.

Wisconsin CDL Questions - Call: (608) 264-7049

Wisconsin Commercial driver license (CDL) Fees:

Wisconsin DMV customer service centers accept cash, checks, debit cards and the following credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. Debit cards will be processed as credit. For online transactions, we accept most credit and debit cards and ACH (Automated Clearing House) from your checking or savings account. (Please make checks payable to "Registration Fee Trust".) Additional convenience fee required when using a credit or debit card.
  • Wisconsin Commercial Learner Permit (CLP) (Class A, B, C) (180 days) $30
  • Original (Class A, B, C) (prorated for time remaining on existing Wisconsin driver license) $74
  • Renewal (Class A, B, C) (8 year) $74
  • School bus endorsement (when renewing CDL with an existing S or transferring a CDL from another state with an existing S) $5 (plus CDL fee)
  • School bus endorsement (when adding S for the first time) $10
  • Duplicate $14
  • Hazardous Material Endorsement (HME) - payable to Wisconsin DMV and non-refundable. Note: You will also be required to pay $22.50 for fingerprinting - payable to Fieldprint and non-refundable. Visit www.fieldprintwisconsin.com $44 ($34 if in conjunction with a CDL renewal)
  • Class upgrades $15 (one or more classes)
  • Endorsement upgrades $5 (each) plus a $10 issuance fee
  • Lifting restriction - "No CMV operation in interstate commerce" $14
  • Lifting restrictions - "No CMV operation with air brakes" $14 (plus skills exam fee)
  • Skills exam (Class A, B, C) $20
  • Skills exam school bus (Class B, C, D) $15
  • Knowledge test $0

Wisconsin CDL Written Knowledge Tests
You will need to pass the Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin 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

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

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

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

CAN I USE MY WISCONSIN 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 Wisconsin 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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