Kansas’s Commercial Driver’s License Laws

The requirements to obtain a Kansas CDL and the reasons for disqualification.

Whether used for farming, delivery, or transportation, Kansas issues commercial driver's licenses (CDLs) to authorize the operation of different commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). Each license has different rules and requirements and can be revoked for rule violations. This article outlines the requirements for obtaining the different types of commercial licenses and violations that could lead to license revocation.

When a CDL is Required

Kansas considers a CMV to be any vehicle designed to carry hazardous materials, 16 or more passengers, or that weighs 26,001 or more pounds. Firetrucks, military vehicles, and private-use CMVs (RVs) are exempt from licensing requirements. Farm owners are also exempt when operating farm equipment in-state or within 150 miles of the farm.

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

26,001 or more pounds

26,001 or more pounds

Over 10,000 pounds

Class B

26,001 or more pounds

26,001 or more pounds

Less than 10,000 pounds

Class C

26,000 pounds or less

26,000 pounds or less

Less than 10,000 pounds

The CMV's weight must be exceeded by the CDL's permitted limits. For example, a class A CDL can be used to operate any weight of CMV.

Endorsements. Transporting passengers or hazardous materials also requires CDL license endorsements. Each endorsement requires additional testing and is added to the CDL after issuance.

CDL Testing

Commercial instruction permits. A driver must be at least 18 years old to apply for a commercial instruction permit. The applicant must show proof of residency, clear a background check, and complete the knowledge examination. The instruction permit can be used to operate a CMV while supervised by a licensed commercial driver (with at least one year of experience).

Commercial driver's licenses. A CDL applicant must be at least 18 years old and pass the driving skills test. The knowledge exam, proof of residency, and background check must also be completed if not already done so for the instruction permit. A class A CDL also requires the completion of a human trafficking education course. Federal law requires all CMV operators to be at least 21 years old to travel between states.

Seasonal commercial driver's licenses. Kansas provides for temporary 180-day permits that authorize the operation of class B or C CMVs for farm retail, custom harvest, and livestock feeding within 150 miles of the farm. The applicant must hold a driver's license for at least one year but does not need to complete the written or driving exam. A special seasonal license is also available for drivers who are 16 years old but can be used only to transport goods to and from the field.

Medical certificates. A licensed commercial driver must possess and maintain current medical certification. The certification is performed by a physician and ensures a driver is healthy enough to operate a CMV.

Disclosures. A CDL holder must complete a background check during the application process but is also required to disclose any future traffic violations to his or her employer and to the state. A CDL holder must also disclose prior work history to any potential employers.

CDL Revocation and Disqualification

Failure to follow any of the many CMV-related rules can result in fines, jail, and license revocation. Since Kansas prohibits CDL-holders from receiving diversion agreements, these penalties are generally unavoidable.

Serious Traffic Offenses

Kansas considers speeding 15 miles per hour or more over the limit, reckless driving, erratic lane changes, following too closely, and any traffic violation involving a fatality to be a "serious traffic offense." Driving a CMV without a CDL is also a serious traffic offense and a class B misdemeanor, but will be dismissed if a then-valid CDL is provided to the court. Having two serious traffic offenses in three years will result in a minimum 60-day revocation. Having three serious traffic offenses in three years will result in a minimum 120-day revocation.

Out-of-Service Order

Certain actions, like driving a CMV after consuming alcohol, will result in the issuance of an immediate, but temporary, out-of-service order (OSO). Driving in violation of the OSO is a class B misdemeanor and will result in license revocation for a period depends on the number of prior violations in the last ten years.

  • First offense. 180-day to one-year license disqualification (180 days to 2 years if in hazmat or passenger vehicle designed for more than 15 passengers).
  • Second offense. Two-to five-year license disqualification (three to five years if in hazmat or passenger vehicle designed for more than 15 passengers).
  • Third or subsequent offense. Three-to five-year license disqualification.
  • In addition to license revocation, the driver will be fined $1,100 to $2,750. An employer that permitted an OSO violation will be fined $2,750 to $11,000.

Railroad Crossings

CMVs have special safety rules regarding railroad crossings. The driver must slow down or stop for all crossings and ensure the CMV has proper clearance to completely cross. A violation will result in a 60-day, 120-day, and a one-year disqualification for a first, second and third offense. The driver's employer can also be fined $2,750 to $11,000.

Major Offenses

A CDL will be disqualified for one year for a chemical test refusal or failure, 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 negligently causing a CMV-related fatality. The disqualification will be for three years if the violation occurred in a CMV designed to carry hazardous materials. A second major offense will result in a lifetime revocation, but a driver can request reinstatement after ten years. The production or transportation of controlled substances using a motor vehicle will result in permanent lifetime revocation.

Implied Consent

All commercial drivers are deemed to have given consent to the chemical testing of their breath, blood, or urine. A police officer can request a driver to submit to testing if probable cause exists to believe the driver is on drugs or alcohol. A test failure or refusal will result in an OSO order, license disqualification, and other possible penalties.

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