Arizona’s Commercial Driver’s License Laws

The requirements to obtain an Arizona CDL and the reasons for disqualification.

Arizona has a number of commercial driver’s license (CDL) classes and endorsements to authorize the operation of different types of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). Each license has special tests and requirements. And each license can be revoked due to certain prohibited actions or criminal convictions. This article outlines the requirements for obtaining the different types of commercial licenses and circumstances that can lead to commercial license disqualification or revocation.

When a CDL is Required

Arizona defines a CMV as any vehicle that is more than 26,000 pounds, carries 8 or more passengers, or transports hazardous materials. While a vehicle designed for eight or more passengers is technically a CMV, a CDL is not required for non-commercial use of standard passenger vehicles like minivans, sport utility vehicles, and station wagons. The operation of certain agriculture-related CMVs near farms is also exempt.

License classes. There are three classes of CDLs based on the weight of the truck and/or trailer(s).

Combined Weight

Tractor Weight

Trailer(s) Weight

Class A

Over 26,000 pounds

Over 26,000 pounds

Over 10,000 pounds

Class B

Over 26,000 pounds

Over 26,000 pounds

10,000 pounds or less

Class C

26,000 pounds or less

26,000 pounds or less

10,000 pounds or less

The driver’s license must be sufficient to operate all applicable weights. For example, a class A CDL permits the operation of all weights of CMVs.

Endorsements. Each CDL comes with “endorsements” that specify the authorized cargo and equipment. Each endorsement has different requirements. For example, a hazmat endorsement requires a driving test in the proposed vehicle as well as clearance from the Transportation Security Administration.

CDL Testing

Prior to licensure, the applicant must hold a driver’s license for one year, complete the CDL application (includes proof of residency and identification), and pass the written examination. Meeting these qualifications will authorize the driver to receive a commercial driver’s instruction permit. This permit can be used to drive a specific CMV under the supervision of a licensed commercial driver. After 14 days, the permit-holder can take the driving test to obtain the CDL. While an in-state CDL is available to drivers who are 18 years old, drivers must be 21 years old to drive across state lines.

Exemptions. A driver with at least two years of military service operating a CMV can be exempt from the driving test.

School bus. School bus applicants are subject to special training and qualifications. Certain criminal convictions related to children can preclude the issuance of a school-bus CDL and school bus drivers must complete biannual school bus training.

CDL Revocation and Disqualification

Arizona will revoke the CDL of drivers who commit certain serious traffic offenses or criminal violations.

Serious Traffic Offenses

The commission of multiple “serious traffic offenses” within three years will result in license revocation. Two offenses in three years will result in a 60-day revocation and accumulating three or more violations in three years carries a 120-day revocation. “Serious traffic offenses” include speeding 15 miles per hour or more over limit, reckless driving, aggressive driving, texting while driving in a CMV, and any traffic violation involving a fatality. Driving while suspended, while revoked, and a CMV without a license are also be considered a serious traffic violation. A driver can also be revoked for CMV operation that creates an “imminent hazard.”

Out-of-Service Order

Some traffic offenses or equipment violations will result in the issuance of an immediate, but temporary, out-of-service order (OSO). Driving in violation of the “out-of-service order” will result in a $2,500 penalty for a first offense and a $5,000 penalty for subsequent offenses. Employers can be held responsible for OSO violations. The violating driver will also face a period of license revocation, the length of which depends on the number of violations in the last ten years.

  • First offense. 180-day license revocation.
  • Second offense. Two-year license revocation (three-year revocation if operating hazmat CMV).
  • Third offense. Three-year license revocation.

Railroad Crossing Violations

Arizona has special rules when operating a CMV near or over railroad tracks. Railroad track violations will result in a 60-day, 120-day, and one-year license revocation for a first, second, and third violation in three years.

Convictions

A CDL will be revoked for one year upon the following convictions: chemical test refusal, DUI (driving under the influence), a DUI in a CMV, leaving the scene of an accident, using a motor vehicle in the commission of a felony, driving a CMV while revoked, and causing a fatality due to a CMV traffic violation. The revocation will be for three years if the violation occurred in a hazmat vehicle. Any subsequent conviction of the above-stated violations will result in lifetime revocation. The production or transportation of controlled substances using a CMV will also result in lifetime revocation.

Lying on a CDL Application

Drivers will be disqualified for 60 days for lying on a CDL application and one year for license fraud. CDL holders are also required to report any traffic or criminal convictions to the state and to their employer. Failure to report can result in license revocation and a class 3 misdemeanor.

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