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Commercial Driver License (Class A, B, or C)

New Medical Card Regulations Effective January 30, 2012

For questions regarding a CDL cancellation letter from TDOSHS due to an expired medical card, please contact the Commercial Driver License (CDL) MedCert Section immediately at 615-687-2312.

New Medical Certification Requirements
A Guide for Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Holders
General Information

Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security
December 2011

What is changing? The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS) will be adding your medical certification status and the information on your medical examiner’s certificate to your Commercial Driver’s License System (CDLIS) record.

When does this change start? This change starts on January 30, 2012.

What is not changing? The driver physical qualification requirements are not changing.

What are CDL holders required to do?

  1. You must determine what type of commerce you operate in. You must certify to TDOSHS to one of the four types of commerce you operate in as listed below,

    • Interstate Non-Excepted: You are an Interstate non-excepted driver and must meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements (e.g. – you are “not excepted”).
    • Interstate Excepted: You are an Interstate excepted driver and do not have to meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements.
    • Intrastate Non-Excepted: You are an Intrastate non-excepted driver and are required to meet the medical requirements for Tennessee.
    • Intrastate Excepted: You are an Intrastate excepted driver and do not have to meet the medical requirements for Tennessee.
  2. If you are subject to the DOT medical card requirements, provide a copy of each new DOT medical card to TDOSHS prior to the expiration of the current DOT medical card.

For more detailed information read the following:

Starting January 30, 2012 and no later than January 30, 2014, all CDL holders must provide information to TDOSHS regarding the type of commercial motor vehicle operation they drive in or expect to drive in with their CDL. Drivers operating in certain types of commerce will be required to submit a current medical examiner’s certificate to TDOSHS to obtain a “certified” medical status as part of their driving record. CDL holders required to have a ”certified” medical status who fail to provide and keep up-to-date their medical examiner’s certificate with TDOSHS will become ”not-certified” and they may lose their CDL.

New Medical Certification Requirements Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Commercial License?

Operators of larger and more complex vehicles will need to apply for a Commercial Driver License (CDL). These licenses include Class A, B, and C depending upon the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR), and what is being transported. In general, state law defines a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) as any vehicle or combination of vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds. If hazardous materials are transported, or if the vehicle is designed to transport more than fifteen (15) passengers including the driver, or if the vehicle is used as a school bus, a CDL would also be required, regardless of the weight of the vehicle. Drivers who need a CDL should obtain the Commercial Driver License Manual which contains detailed information necessary to prepare for the tests. These manuals are available at all driver license stations.

The Temporary Driver License is not available to cover any type of commercial motor vehicle. An applicant for a CDL must be able to provide proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident status in order to qualify for issuance of a Tennessee CDL.

See the Commercial Motor Vehicles Guide for more information.

NOTE: If a person holds a valid commercial driver license (Class A, B, or C license), this license is also valid for operating a Class D vehicle. No separate Class D license is required.

What class license do I need?

Commercial licenses include Class A, B, and C depending upon the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR), and what is being transported.

Some drivers may require an A/57 license. This license applies to drivers who do not require a class A license, but who haul an excess of 10,001 pounds or more. Examples are: F450 pick-up truck hauling a 10,001 or more pound trailer, an electric department truck hauling a 10,000 pound forklift on a flatbed trailer, etc.

View the Endorsement Table in PDF format.

Hazardous Materials Endorsement/
Fingerprint-Based Background Checks

Under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act (Public Law 107-56, § 1012), rules of the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) (49 CFR Part 1572) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) (Title 49 of Code of Federal Regulation 383.71(a)(9)), the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Driver Service Centers may not issue a hazardous materials endorsement (HME) until the applicant has first submitted to a fingerprint-based background check. TSA must determine that the applicant does not pose a security threat before the HME can be issued. No person applying for a first-time INITIAL, current RENEWING or current out of state TRANSFERRING HME after February 20, 2013, may be issued an HME until the TSA background check has been completed. The background check must have been completed within the last ninety (90) days.

Click Hazardous Materials Endorsement for more information.

What documents do I need to bring when I apply for a CDL?

Please bring the following documents with you when applying for a CDL license.

  1. Valid DOT Medical Card
    • PLEASE NOTE: Employees of a government entity must have a current, valid D.O.T. medical card if making application for a CDL with a HazMat (H), Passenger (P) or School Bus (S) endorsement.
  2. Proof of your Social Security Number
  3. Tennessee driver’s license or ID, or a valid driver license or CDL from another state.
  4. Proof of Domicile in Tennessee.
    • Applicants for a CDL or permit will be required to present two proofs of domicile
  5. Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident Status

+ What proof of U.S. citizenship documents are authorized?

+ What Proof of Lawful Permanent Resident document is authorized?

+ What do I need to bring for domicile?

+ Proof of Relationship

How do I obtain a CDL learner's permit?

To obtain your permit, you must take and pass the CDL general knowledge test. Full-Service Driver Service Centers throughout the state** offer the CDL general knowledge test and the knowledge tests for any endorsement needed.

Is a temporary CDL authorized?

No. The Temporary Driver License is not available to cover any type of commercial motor vehicle.

Which tests are required when adding an endorsement to a CDL?

Per federal regulation §383.93, paragraph C:

The following tests are required for endorsements:

(c)(1) Double/Triple Trailers - a knowledge test;

(c)(2) Passenger - knowledge and a skills test;

(c)(3) Tank vehicle - a knowledge test;

(c)(4) Hazardous Materials - a knowledge test; and

(c)(5) School bus - knowledge and a skills test.

Where can I take a CDL knowledge test?

CDL knowledge tests can be taken at our Full-Service Driver Service Centers.

How can I schedule a CDL skills test?

CDL skills tests can be scheduled for any of the Commercial Driver License Road Skills Test locations across the state by calling 615-251-5217 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CST Monday through Friday.

Download the Commercial Driver License Manual

The Commercial Driver License Manual is available online to download or is available for pick up at Driver Services Centers statewide.

Click here to access a free online version of The Tennessee Code. To find a particular statute, enter the statute number (i.e. 39-17-1351) into the search box at the top left of the page and click the 'search' button. That will give you a direct link to the statute you want to read.

CDL Citation Reporting Information for the Judiciary and Court Clerks

New Tennessee Law - Effective 1/1/2011

Effective January 1, 2011, the State reporting requirement for commercial vehicle convictions was changed from 10 days to 5 days (Tenn. Code Ann. §55-50-409).

For more information and the new reporting requirements, visit our CDL Citations page.