Mississippi’s Commercial Driver’s License Laws

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

In order to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in Mississippi, the operator must possess a commercial driver’s license (CDL). There are several classes of CDLs and various endorsements that are required for certain cargo. Each license comes with specific entitlements and regulations. This article outlines the process to obtain the different types of commercial licenses and how an operator can lose this privilege.

When a CDL is Required

A CDL is required to operate any combination of vehicle(s) weighing 26,001 or more pounds. Vehicles designed to carry hazardous materials or 16 or more passengers also require a CDL. A CDL is not required for the official operation of emergency vehicles, the private operation of motor homes, or the government operation of military vehicles. A farmer is also allowed to operate farm trucks within 150 miles of the farm to transport agriculture products without a CDL.

CDL License Classes

There are three classes of CDLs corresponding 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

10,000 pounds or less

Class C

Less than 26,001

Less than 26,001

10,000 pounds or less

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

Cargo Endorsements

While classes govern the weight of the vehicle, the type of vehicle and cargo can require special endorsements. Carrying passengers or hazardous materials requires a hazmat or passenger endorsement. Each endorsement carries special rules and testing requirements.

CDL Restrictions

Drivers with certain health problems or limited experience may be subject to CDL restrictions. For example, drivers under 21 years old can’t haul hazardous materials or operate out-of-state.

CDL Testing

Commercial learner’s permits. The first step towards obtaining a CDL is the commercial learner’s permit (CLP). A driver must be a Mississippi resident at least 17 years old, hold a Mississippi driver’s license, and pass the vision and written tests to receive a CLP. The driver’s traffic record will also be reviewed for prohibitive offenses. The CLP can be used to operate a specific CMV under the direct supervision of a licensed commercial driver.

Commercial driver’s licenses. A CLP holder must wait at least 14 days before taking the CDL driving test. Drivers with prior CMV experience (military or out-of-state) can be exempt from the driving examination requirement.

Restricted commercial driver’s licenses. Mississippi also has a restricted agriculture CDL that doesn’t require a knowledge or skills test. However, the license can be used only to transport agriculture products for custom harvest or feeding operations.

Medical exams. All interstate drivers must obtain a medical examination indicating they are physically able to safely operate a CMV. This certification must be updated annually.

CDL Revocation and Disqualification

An operator can face CDL revocation for certain rule violations and criminal convictions. All traffic violations and CDL suspensions must be disclosed to the state and the driver’s employer. CDL holders can’t use criminal diversions or deferred sentences to avoid these penalties. A CDL can even be suspended for failing to pay child support.

Serious traffic violations. The commission of multiple “serious traffic violations” within three years will result in license revocation. Having two offenses will result in a 60-day revocation and having three or more violations carries a 120-day revocation. Serious traffic violations include speeding 15 miles per hour or more over the limit, reckless driving, improper lane change, following too closely, and any traffic violation involving a fatality. Driving a CMV without a CDL, without a CDL in possession, or without the proper endorsements will also count as a serious traffic violation.

Out-of-service orders. Certain rule violations (like driving after consuming alcohol) can result in an immediate out-of-service order (OSO). The OSO is often issued by law enforcement and driving during an OSO will result in license disqualification and fines based on the number of prior offenses in the last ten years.

  • First offense. 90-day license disqualification (180 days if in hazmat CMV or vehicle designed for 16 or more passengers).
  • Second offense. One-year license disqualification (three years if in hazmat CMV or vehicle designed for 16 or more passengers).
  • Third offense. Three-year license disqualification.

The driver will also be fined $1,500 for violating an OSO. An employer that knowingly allows an OSO violation can be fined $4,000.

Railroad crossings. Special rules apply to CMVs when approaching or crossing railroad tracks. Failure to leave enough room in front of or below the CMV can result in a violation. A railroad crossing violation will result in a 60-day, 120-day, and one-year license revocation for a first, second, and third violation in three years. The driver’s employer can also be fined up to $4,000 per violation.

Convictions. A CDL will be disqualified for one year upon the following convictions: chemical test refusal, OUI (operating under the influence), operating a CMV with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .04%, failing to render aid in an accident, driving a CMV while disqualified, negligently causing a CMV-related fatality, and any crime involving a motor vehicle that is punishable by more than one year in jail. The revocation will be for three years if the offender was hauling hazardous materials. Any subsequent conviction of the above-stated violations will result in lifetime CDL disqualification. The production or transportation of controlled substances using a motor vehicle will also result in lifetime CDL disqualification.

Alcohol. A CMV operator can be required to submit to a breath test if an officer has probable cause to believe the driver is under the influence of alcohol. Test refusal or failure will result in license disqualification and a 24-hour OSO.

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