Louisiana’s Commercial Driver’s License Laws

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

Louisiana requires all commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators to hold a commercial driver's license (CDL). There are several classes of CDLs and various endorsements that authorize different cargo and vehicle weights. And each CDL and endorsement requires different tests. This article outlines the requirements for obtaining the different types of commercial licenses and the reasons that can lead to a CDL being revoked.

When a CDL is Required

A CDL is required to operate any combination of vehicle(s) weighing 26,001 or more pounds. A CDL is also required for vehicles designed to carry hazardous materials or 16 or more passengers. Emergency responders and military personnel are exempt from CDL requirements. Also exempt are CMVs used for personal use and farm machinery within 150 miles of the farm.

CDL License Classes

There are three classes of CDLs relating to 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

Not over 10,000 pounds

Class C

Less than 26,001

Less than 26,001

Not over 10,000 pounds

The driver's license class must meet or exceed the applicable weight limits. For example, a class A CDL can be used to operate any size or weight of CMV.

Endorsements. Certain vehicles and cargo require endorsements, which are added to the CDL. To obtain an endorsement, the driver must meet the applicable requirements. For example, a hazardous material endorsement requires the driver to pass a background check and the hazmat knowledge examination.

CDL Testing

Prior to the driving test, a CDL applicant must submit a CDL application, provide proof of residency, and complete a driving record check. Then, after passing the written knowledge exam, the driver will be issued a commercial leaner's permit (CLP). The CLP can be used to practice driving a CMV but only under the supervision of a licensed commercial driver. When ready, the CLP-holder can take the driving test to obtain a CDL.

Age. Applicants must be at least 18 years old to obtain a CLP or CDL. However, drivers who are younger than 21 years old can't transport hazardous materials or operate a CMV out-of-state.

Medical exams. All applicants must obtain and maintain a medical certification from their physician indicating adequate physical health to operate a CMV.

Exemptions. A driver with at least two years of military service operating a CMV can be exempted from the CDL driving test. But the driver must be free of recent traffic violations and suspensions.

Honesty. A CDL applicant also has the duty to disclose prior driving history. Additionally, after licensure, a CDL-holder must disclose all future traffic violations and suspensions to the state and their employer.

CDL Revocation and Disqualification

CMV operators are subject to special rules and requirements. Failure to obey these rules will result in CDL disqualification. A disqualified driver can't obtain a hardship or work CDL.

Serious traffic violations. The commission of multiple "serious traffic violations" within three years will result in license revocation. Having two offenses in three years results in a 60-day revocation and having three or more violations in three years carries a 120-day revocation. "Serious traffic violations" include speeding 15 miles per hour or more over the limit, improper lane change, following too closely, texting while driving, and any traffic violation involving a fatality. Driving a CMV without a CDL, driving with the wrong endorsements, or driving without having the CDL on-person will also be a serious traffic violation.

Out-of-service orders. Certain safety violations can result in an immediate, but temporary, out-of-service order (OSO). For example, driving with any amount of drug or alcohol in your system will result in a 24-hour OSO. Driving in violation of an OSO will result in license disqualification, the period of which depends on the number of prior OSO violations within the past ten years.

  • First offense. 180-day to one-year license disqualification (180 days to two years if in hazmat CMV or vehicle designed for more than 15 passengers).
  • Second offense in ten years. Two-to five-year license disqualification (three to five years if in hazmat CMV or vehicle designed for more than 15 passengers).
  • Third offense in ten years. Three-to five-year license disqualification.

Railroad crossings. Special rules apply to CMVs around railroad crossings. Violating a crossing signal or stopping over the railroad will result in a violation. A railroad crossing violation will result in a minimum 60-day license disqualification. The disqualification period is at least 120 days for a second offense and one year for a third offense. All offenses in the last ten years are counted.

Implied consent. All CMV operators are deemed to have given consent to a chemical test of their breath, blood, urine or other bodily substances to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs. An officer who has reasonable cause to believe the driver is under the influence can request that the driver submit to a chemical test. Failure to comply with a lawful request will result in license penalties and possible fines.

Major violations. Certain violations require a mandatory one-year disqualification: chemical test refusal, OWI (operating while intoxicated), 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. Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% (or .04% in a CMV) or more will also result in a one-year revocation. Any of the above-listed violations that occur in a hazmat CMV will result in a three-year revocation. A second offense of these violations will result in lifetime revocation. Unless the driver receives another violation, he or she may apply for reinstatement after ten years.

A driver who uses a motor vehicle to manufacture or distribute controlled substances will be permanently disqualified from CMV-operation.

School bus drivers. A CDL-holder with a school bus endorsement will be disqualified for ten years for refusing to submit to a chemical test or for a DWI conviction. Early reinstatement is possible after completing a rehabilitative program.

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