Oregon’s Commercial Driver’s License Laws

The requirements to obtain an Oregon CDL and the reasons for disqualification.

To lawfully operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in Oregon you must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Each CDL has specific endorsements and restrictions applicable to the CMV operated. Also, a CDL can be revoked for certain criminal convictions and rule violations. This article outlines the process for obtaining a CDL and circumstances that can lead to loss of CDL privileges.

When a CDL Is Required

Oregon requires a CDL for any commercial motor vehicle. A commercial vehicle is any vehicle weighing 26,001 or more pounds or designed to carry hazardous materials or 16 or more passengers. However, fire trucks, emergency response vehicles, and motor homes are not considered CMVs.

Oregon's Commercial 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

10,000 pounds or less

Class C

26,000 pounds or less

26,000 pounds or less

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.

Endorsements. Endorsements require additional testing but authorize the transportation of special vehicles and cargo. For example, the operation of a school bus requires both a passenger and school bus endorsement. And the operation of hazmat vehicles requires a hazmat test and TSA clearance.

Farm endorsements. A farm endorsement is a special type of endorsement added to a noncommercial driver’s license. It authorizes the operation of farm equipment for agricultural purposes within 150 miles of the farm. The CDL skills and knowledge test can be waived but the applicant must own the farm, hold a valid driver’s license, and have a generally clean driving record.

Restrictions. Certain CDL restrictions can apply based on the age, experience, or health of the driver. For instance, CDL holders under 21 years old cannot travel out-of-state or obtain a hazmat endorsement.

CDL Testing

Learners permits. Prior to taking the driving test, CDL applicants must be at least 18 years old and obtain a commercial learner permit (CLP). To be eligible for a CLP, the driver must have an Oregon driver’s license, have at least one year of driving experience, pass a background check, pass a written knowledge test, and provide proof of residency. The CLP can be used to practice driving a CMV under the supervision of a licensed commercial driver who’s at least 21 years old. The CLP allows the holder to take the driving test to obtain a full CDL.

Medical cards. All applicants and CDL holders must obtain and maintain a valid medical examiner’s certificate. The certificate indicates adequate health to operate a CMV. An expired certificate will result in CDL revocation.

CDL Revocation and Disqualification

A CDL can be revoked for rule violations, improper CMV operation, or even some non-CMV traffic offenses.

Suspensions. CDL holders are not eligible for diversions that could mask a suspension offense and a revoked CDL is not eligible for hardship status. Oregon will also revoke the CDL of a driver who fails to appear for any offense that can result in license suspension.

Serious traffic offenses. The commission of multiple “serious traffic offenses” within three years will result in license revocation. A serious traffic offense in a commercial motor vehicle includes speeding 15 miles per hour or more over the limit, failure to maintain lane, unsafe passing, following too closely, texting and driving, driving without a CDL, and any traffic violation involving a fatality. Reckless driving, speeding 30 miles or more over the limit, or driving at least 100 miles per hour in any vehicle are also considered serious traffic offenses. Having two serious traffic offenses in three years results in a 60-day revocation and having three or more violations in three years results in a 120-days revocation.

Out-of-service orders. Law enforcement is authorized to issue temporary out-of-service orders (OSOs) to drivers or CMVs for various safety reasons. A driver who operates during an OSO will receive a CDL suspension:

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

Railroad crossings. CMV operators must take care when crossing railroad tracks. CMVs must slow down upon approaching a crossing and avoid blocking the tracks. A violation will result in a 60-day, 120-day, and one-year license disqualification for a first, second, and third violation in a three-year period.

Major offenses. Certain criminal convictions or rule violations—collectively called “major offenses”—will result in a one-year revocation. The list of major offenses includes DUII (driving under the influence of an intoxicant), 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 second or subsequent major offense will result in lifetime disqualification, though reinstatement is possible after ten years and completion of a rehabilitation program. A third major violation or the production or transportation of controlled substances using any motor vehicle will result in lifetime revocation without the possibility of reinstatement.

Implied consent. All CMV operators are considered to have given consent to a test of their blood, breath, or urine to determine the presence of drugs or alcohol. An officer with reasonable grounds to believe a CMV operator is under the influence can request a chemical test. An unlawful refusal will result in a three-year CDL revocation (five-year revocation if operating a hazmat vehicle) and counts as a major offense for future violations.

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