Maine’s Commercial Driver’s License Laws

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

In Maine, a commercial driver's license (CDL) is necessary to operate a wide array of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). Generally, each CMV is covered by a different class of CDL and the different cargo is covered by different endorsements. These different CDL classes and endorsements each have different tests and requirements. This article will outline the requirements for CDL and endorsement testing in Maine and how a CDL can be revoked.

When a CDL Is Required

A CDL is generally required to operate any size of CMV. A CMV includes any vehicle weighing 26,001 or more pounds and vehicles designed to carry 16 or more passengers or hazardous materials. Exemptions to the CDL requirements exist for firefighters driving firetrucks, military driving military CMVs, and civilians driving RVs. A farmer and his or her family are also permitted to operate farm machinery and agriculture-transport CMVs within 150 miles of the farm without holding a CDL. Additionally, rural areas of Maine have special CDL exemptions for snow plow operation.

Maine's CDL 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

Not over 10,000 pounds

Class C

26,000 pounds or less

26,000 pounds or less

Not over 10,000 pounds

The CDL class must meet or exceed the CMV weight. For instance, a class A CDL holder can drive anything covered by a class B or C CDL but may still need the applicable endorsements.

Special Cargo Endorsements

Endorsements are designated on the CDL and authorize the holder to transport certain cargo or passengers. Each endorsement also has unique tests and requirements. A passenger endorsement requires a special passenger safety examination and can only be obtained by drivers who are at least 21 years old.

CDL Testing

Maine uses a graduated license system to advance drivers from a commercial learner's permit (CLP) to a full CDL. An applicant must be a Maine resident, be at least 18 years old, pass a background check, and pass the knowledge examination to obtain a CLP. A CLP allows the holder to operate a CMV under the direct supervision of a licensed commercial driver (who's at least 22 years old and with one year of experience if driving a passenger CMV). After 14 days, the CLP-holder can take the driving test to obtain a CDL.

Age limits. A driver must be at least 21 years old to obtain a passenger endorsement or to travel out-of-state.

Medical cards. All drivers are required to certify with the state the type of driving engaged in and to obtain a medical card. The medical card is a certification by a physician indicating the driver is healthy enough to operate a CMV. Certain health conditions may place restrictions on the driver's CDL.

CDL Revocation and Disqualification

A CDL can be revoked for failing to comply with regulations or for being convicted of certain crimes.

Serious traffic violations. Maine considers speeding 15 miles per hour or more over the limit, reckless driving (called "driving to endanger"), erratic lane changes, following too closely, texting while driving, and any traffic violation involving a fatality to be "serious traffic violations." Driving a CMV without a CDL or with the wrong endorsements is also considered a serious traffic offense. Having two serious traffic violations in a three-year period will result in a minimum 60-day CDL revocation. Having a third or subsequent violation in three years will result in a minimum 120-day CDL revocation.

Major offenses. Certain violations and convictions require a minimum one-year revocation. This list includes leaving the scene of an accident, OUI (operating under the influence), driving a CMV while revoked, or negligently causing a CMV-related fatality. Any class A, B, or C conviction punishable by more than one year of prison that involved the use of a motor vehicle will also be considered a major offense. A major offense committed in a CMV designed to carry hazardous materials will result in a minimum three-year revocation. Any subsequent major offense will result in lifetime disqualification. A driver will also be disqualified for life for using a CMV to distribute or manufacture controlled substances.

Out-of-service orders. Failure to comply with state or federal regulations can result in law enforcement issuing a temporary out-of-service order (OSO) to the driver or for the CMV. Driving in violation of the OSO will result in a revocation period dependent on the number of prior offenses in the last ten years.

  • First offense. Minimum 90-day license revocation (minimum 180 days revocation if operating hazmat CMV).
  • Second offense. Minimum one-year license revocation (minimum three years revocation if operating a hazmat CMV).
  • Third offense. Minimum three-year license revocation.

Railroad crossings. CMVs are required to abide by all railroad crossing rules, including stopping or slowing down prior to crossing and ensuring proper clearance to safely cross. Railroad track violations will result in a revocation of at least 60 days for a first offense, 120 days for a second offense, and a year license for a third offense within a three-year period.

Implied consent. All CMV operators are deemed to have given consent to a chemical test of the driver's breath or blood for the presence of drugs or alcohol. An officer with probable cause to believe the driver is under the influence or has a blood alcohol content of at least .04% can request a chemical test. Refusal to submit to the test will result in CDL revocation as a major offense.

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