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California Truck Driver Eligibility

How to Become a Certified Truck Driver and Owner in California


To meet the qualifications of owning a truck in California, you must obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). For the CLP:

  • You are required to be at least 18 years old.
  • You must have already obtained a valid California driver’s license. This will allow you to have the capabilities of operating a noncommercial Class C motor vehicle. Having a temporary California driver’s license is also permitted.
  • It is primarily considered valid when accompanied by the CLP holder’s California driver’s license.
  • It will be valid for up to 180 days from the initial date of the issuance and could be renewed for an additional 180 days as long as the CLP’s expiration date does not go past the 1 year period from when its initial application date was.
  • Limited to:
    • Tank (N)
    • School Bus (S)
    • Passenger (P)
  • An individual who holds a CLP that has the “N” endorsement is restricted from using a tank vehicle unless the tank is empty. It is mandatory to get rid of the tank if it previously carried hazardous substances.
  • An individual who holds a CLP that has “P” or “S” endorsement is restricted from using a CMW with passengers, excluding:
    • Federal auditors,
    • State auditors,
    • Inspectors,
    • Test examiners,
    • CL holder, and
    • Other remaining trainees.
  • An individual who holds a CLP is expected to have a 14 day minimum waiting period after the initial CLP issuance to be qualified to take a skills exam. The 14 day waiting period is applicable towards the classification upgrades along with the adjustments made to the endorsement or restrictions, which must require a skills exam.
  • Holder is expected to be accompanied by a CDL holder while they are using a CMV permit.
  • Holder needs to give up their CLP and driver’s license before they are given a CDL.

Additional requirements for commercial vehicle drivers include:

  • Being a California resident prior to applying for a California CLP or CDL.
  • Provide information on all states in which they were licensed before within the past 10 years and give up any out-of-state driver’s licenses that are either current or have expired.
  • Verify whether or not the individual has a driver’s license from more than one state or country.
  • Inform the individual’s local DMV in their home state about any convictions that have happened in other states during the 30 days of them being convicted.
  • Use the Report of Out-of-State Traffic Conviction by a Commercial Driver (DL 535) form to make a follow up on the notification of the conviction.
  • Let the employer know about the individual experiencing suspension, cancellation, revocation, or disqualification prior to the end of the business day that follows after the action.
  • Provide the individual’s employer with a 10-year employment history of commercial driving. Only do this if the individual is applying for a driving job.

Once you follow through with all of these steps provided, you will be eligible to obtain a commercial truck in California.

Apply at DMV Field Offices to Obtain Certification 

Pedestrian Deaths in Los Angeles

  • Ambulance Driver Certification: This is mandatory for driving an ambulance that is used commercially for emergency services. Individuals who obtain an ambulance driver certificate are required to send a copy of their MER and MEC forms to the DMV every 2 years.
  • School Bus Driver Certification: This is a requirement for individuals who drive a bus for:
    • School districts,
    • Public pupils, or
    • Private pupils.

Additionally, the driver is expected to have the School Bus (S) endorsement indicated on their CDL. School bus drivers who are 65 years or older are expected to send their MER and MEC forms to the DMV once a year.

  • Hazardous Agricultural Materials Certification: This is primarily for individuals who carry hazardous waste. CDL requirements for this particular certification include:
    • The individual is required to be at least 21 years old.
    • The individual works under the agricultural operation department.
    • The load is not being carried for compensation.
    • Truck is either owned or leased by a farmer.
    • The individual has finished the HAM program. Even though an individual may be eligible for HAM, they are not required to get a CDL. Commercial motor vehicles sanctions may be incorporated.
    • The individual must send a copy of their MER and MEC (DL 546) forms to the DMV every 2 years.
    • The individual owns a vehicle that requires a Class C license, along with not going over 50 miles.
  • Tow Truck Driver Certification: This is mandatory for drivers who are a part of emergency road service organizations. These individuals have performed work-duties, such as offering freeway service patrol.
  • General Public Transportation Certification: This is required for individuals who drive a truck that carries up to 24 individuals with the driver included, along with offering the general public transportation to local areas.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Contact Us to Find Out How We Can Help

If you have sustained injuries in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a truck accident, an attorney at our firm can help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call West Coast Trial Lawyers today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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