The Voice of Colorado’s Trucking Industry

CDL & Medical Certifications

When does a driver need a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) to legally operate a vehicle in Colorado?

A driver typically needs to have a CDL to operate any vehicle involved in commerce that:

  • Has either a GVWR or GCWR exceeding 26,000 lbs.;
  • Transports placarded quantities of hazardous materials, regardless of the GVWR or GCWR of the vehicle being operated; or
  • Is a vehicle that is or was originally designed to transport 16+ passengers, including the driver.

Do all vehicles having a GVWR or a GCWR over 26,000 lbs. require a CDL?

No. Several vehicles are exempt from requiring a CDL for their operation and may be driven without a CDL legally. These vehicles include: Recreation vehicles used for recreation purposes; Military vehicles driven by military personnel; Firefighting equipment; Emergency snowplowing vehicles during snow removal operations; and Farm vehicles when controlled and operated by a farmer within 150 air miles of a person’s farm.

Why do I need a DOT Physical Exam to apply for/maintain my CDL?

In the interests of public safety, commercial drivers are held to higher physical, mental and emotional standards than non-commercial drivers. The FMCSA DOT physical examination is required to help ensure that a person is medically qualified to safely operate a commercial vehicle. State and Federal law require that standards be met in order to qualify for a license to operate commercial vehicles professionally.

Do I need to provide a copy of my DOT Physical Exam to the State of Colorado every time I have a DOT Physical Exam?

Yes. All Colorado CDL holders must have a valid DOT medical certificate and must provide a copy of the DOT medical certificate to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) every time the DOT physical exam is renewed or updated.

How old must a driver be to obtain a CDL in Colorado?

A person must be at least 18 years of age. At 18 years of age, the driver will be permitted to drive commercially only within the State of Colorado. The license will have a “K” restriction attached to it. This restricts the validity of this commercial license to the State of Colorado when it is being used to operate a commercial vehicle.

How old must a driver be to operate a non-farm commercial vehicle in interstate commerce?

A person must be at least 21 years of age to operate a non-farm commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.

What do I need to have in order to apply for a CDL instruction permit in Colorado?

Before applying for a Colorado CDL instruction permit, you must first hold a valid Colorado Driver’s License. To receive the instruction permit, you must provide to the Colorado Department of Motor vehicle the following:

  • Acceptable identification and proof of lawful presence in the United States;
  • Something with your name and address (vehicle registration, checkbook, utility bill, etc.);
  • Proof of your Social Security Number and age (you must be at least 18 years of age);
  • A current DOT medical examination (not more than 24 months old);
  • A passing score on the required CDL knowledge test (administered at most full-service DMVs); and
  • Payment of the $14.00 instruction permit fee.

What do I do after I pass the required written test(s) and am issued a CDL instruction permit?

If you pass the required written test(s) and are issued an instruction permit, you will then need to complete the CDL driving skills test. There are three types of general skills that are tested in the CDL driving skills test: Pre-trip inspection; Basic vehicle control; and On-road driving. You must take these tests in the type/class of vehicle for which you wish to be licensed for.

Where can I get the study manual to take the CDL Exam?

The study guide can be found online at the Colorado Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicle website on the Forms and Publications page.

Where can I take the written CDL exam?

You can typically take the written CDL exam for a CDL permit at any “Full Service” Motor Vehicle location. You may want to call your local office ahead of time to make sure they administer the written CDL examination. You can look up information for your local Motor Vehicle office online by going to the Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles website.

Where can I take the CDL driving skills test?

CDL skills tests in Colorado are administered through approved third party testers. You can find a list of these approved third party testers online through the Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles website..

What are the classes of CDLs and what are the differences between them?

CDLs come in three different classes:

  • Class A CDL: A Class A CDL Is required to drive any combination of commercial vehicles with a GCWR of 26,001 lbs. or more, provided that the GVWR of the towed vehicle unit is in excess of 10,000 lbs.
  • Class B CDL: A Class B CDL is required to drive any single commercial vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle that is not in excess of 10,000 lbs. GVWR.
  • Class C CDL: A Class C CDL is required to drive any single vehicle or combination of vehicles commercially that do not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but are either designed to
    • Transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver;\
    • Transport material that has been designated as a hazardous material under 49 USC 5103 and is required to be placarded under subpart F of 49 CFR Part 172; or
    • Transport any quantity of any material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR Part 73.

What types of Endorsements may a CDL driver need to obtain?

There are several endorsements that a CDL driver needs to consider in addition to the class of CDL they need to obtain. These endorsements are:

  • T” Endorsement: Endorsement to drive double/triple trailers.
  • “P” Endorsement: Endorsement to drive passenger vehicles like buses. Required when operating a vehicle designed by the manufacturer to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver. In Colorado, the passenger endorsement is divided into two classes, P1 and P2 according to the GVWR of the vehicle being operated.
  • “N” Endorsement: Endorsement to drive tank vehicles. Required for all CDL class vehicles that transport liquids in bulk containers of 1,000 gallons or more.
  • “H” Endorsement: Endorsement to transport hazardous materials that are required to be placarded under the federal regulations. Retesting is required at each renewal of a CDL with a HM endorsement and there are additional requirements imposed through the TSA.
  • “X” Endorsement: Endorsement that combines the Hazardous Materials and Tankers endorsements.
  • “S” Endorsement: Endorsement to drive pre-primary, primary or secondary school students from home to school, school to home, or to and from school sponsored events.

What types of restrictions may be placed on a CDL in Colorado?

There are three major restrictions- a “K” restriction, a “L” restriction or a “No/Trctr/Trlr restriction.

  • “K” Restriction: The “K” restriction is for those individuals that either are under 21 years of age or do not meet the DOT medical requirements but have a valid medical waiver issued by the Colorado State Patrol Motor Carrier Safety Section. The “K” restriction prohibits the holder of the CDL from:
    • Operating a commercial vehicle requiring a CDL outside the state of Colorado;
    • Transporting quantities of hazardous materials that require placarding under the federal regulations; or
    • Transporting any items of interstate commerce.
  • “L” Air Brake Restriction: The “L” restriction is placed on a CDL if the possessor of the CDL is not allowed to operate a vehicle equipped with air brakes. Applicants must pass both a written test and a drive test with a vehicle equipped with air brakes to remove this restriction.
  • “No/Trctr/Trlr Restriction: The “No/Trctr/Trlr” restriction prohibits the holder of that CDL from operating a tractor/semitrailer or truck/trailer unit where the towing vehicle has a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more and the towed unit has a GVWR of 10,001 lbs. or more. To remove this restriction, the driver must pass the CDL skills test in a Class A vehicle.

If my CDL expires, will I need to retake the written and skills test to renew it?

Whether you will need to retake the written and skills test to renew your CDL depends on how long the license has been expired. If the license is expired for one year or less, there is no written or skills test. A vision test will be required. If the license is expired for over a year, BOTH the written and drive tests are required..

Ports Of Entry

Please visit our Port of Entry Website for complete information regarding Permits, Size, Weight and registration questions.

Hazardous Materials Information

Please visit our Hazardous Materials Website for complete information regarding the transportation, registration, and handling of hazardous materials.

To have a HME background check done, there are only two Elite Testing Solution locations:
1255 Lake Plaza Dr, Suite 100 Colorado Springs
9669 Huron St, Suite 201 Thornton
Office Hours are Monday-Friday 830-430 with lunch from 1-2.

It is highly recommended that you pre-enroll/schedule an appointment by going to universalenroll.dhs.gov or call 855-347-8371 because both locations are extremely busy.

Elite Testing Solutions only accepts the following forms of payment: credit or debit card (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover), and any company/certified check or money orders that need to be made out to MorphoTrust, USA.

Size and Weight Information

Please visit our Size and Weight Page located on this site..

CMCA’s staff is well versed in trucking regulations and issues. For more info, contact CMCA.