Nebraska’s Commercial Driver’s License Laws

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

The operation of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in Nebraska requires a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Each CDL has specific endorsements and restrictions applicable to the CMV operated. However, a CDL can also be revoked for certain criminal convictions and rule violations. This article outlines when a CDL is required, how to obtain a CDL, and how a driver can lose CDL privileges.

When a CDL Is Required

Nebraska requires a CDL for any vehicle weighing more than 26,000 pounds or designed to carry hazardous materials or 16 or more passengers. Nebraska does not require a CDL for registered farm vehicles, recreational vehicles, emergency vehicles, or military vehicles.

Nebraska'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

Over 26,000 pounds

Over 26,000 pounds

Over 10,000 pounds

Class B

26,001 pounds or more

26,001 pounds or more

10,000 pounds or less

Class C

Under 26,001 pounds

Under 26,001 pounds

10,000 pounds or less

The license limits must meet or exceed the carried weight. So, a class A CDL can be used to haul any weight of CMV.

Special Cargo Endorsements

Endorsements are listed on the CDL and authorize the holder to operate different CMVs such as school buses or hazmat tankers. Endorsements require additional testing and often include special restrictions.

Seasonal CDL

Nebraska has a restricted CDL for farm use within 150 miles of the farm. However, the farm CLD is good for only 180 days of the year. The seasonal farm CDL doesn’t require any knowledge or driving test. The applicant must hold a valid Nebraska class O license for 12 months and have a good driving record to be eligible for a farm CDL.

CDL Testing

Prior to taking the driving test, CDL applicants must obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). The CLP requires a valid driver’s license, passage of a written CMV knowledge test, and proof of residency. The CLP can be used to operate a CMV under the supervision of a licensed commercial driver who’s at least 21 years old. The applicant can then use the CLP to take the driving test and obtain a full CDL. Drivers must be at least 18 years old to hold a CDL and at least 21 years old to operate out-of-state.

Reporting requirements. The CDL application requires a background check, but drivers are also required to report future traffic convictions and suspensions to the state and their employer. Failure to properly report a conviction or suspension is a class 3 misdemeanor. Additionally, any CDL holder who commits license fraud will be revoked for at least one year and be required to retake the exams.

Certification. CDL holders are required to self-certify as to the type of driving performed. Based on this certification, the driver may need to maintain a medical examiner’s certification.

CDL Revocation and Disqualification

Failure to abide by any of the many CMV rules or traffic ordinances can result in fines and license revocation.

Serious traffic violation. The commission of multiple “serious traffic violations” within three years will result in license revocation. “Serious traffic violations” include speeding 15 miles per hour or more over the limit, reckless driving, erratic lane changes, following too closely, using a cellphone while driving, and any traffic violation involving a fatality. Driving without a CDL in possession or with improper endorsements is considered a serious traffic violation. Having two serious traffic offenses results in a minimum sixty-day revocation and having three or more violations results in a minimum 120-day revocation.

Out-of-service order. An out-of-service order (OSO) is a temporary order prohibiting CMV operation. Certain unsafe practices, like driving with any amount of alcohol in the driver’s system will result in a 24-hour OSO. Driving during an OSO will result in license revocation:

  • First offense in ten years. 180-day to two-year license revocation (one-year to two-year if in CMV designed for hazmat or 16 or more passengers).
  • Second offense in ten years. Two-year to five-year license revocation (three-to-five-year if in CMV designed for hazmat or 16 or more passengers).
  • Third offense in ten years. Three-to five-year license revocation.

Railroad crossings. CMVs also have special rules when crossing railroad tracks. Failure to leave enough clearance or any other railroad violation can result in license revocation: 60-day, 120-day, and one-year license revocation for a first, second, and third violation in a three-year period.

Major Offenses. More serious crimes and offenses require a one-year license revocation. These include chemical test refusal, DUI (driving under the influence), 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 driver will be disqualified for three years if the violation occurred in a hazmat CMV. A driver will be revoked for life upon conviction of a second major offense or for using a CMV to manufacture or distribute controlled substances.

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