Utah’s Commercial Driver’s License Laws

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

Utah requires commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators to obtain and hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Different types of CMVs require different types of CDLs and there are rules and requirements specific to each type of CDL. This article outlines the requirements for obtaining a commercial driver’s license and violations that can lead to license revocation.

When a CDL is Required

A CDL is required to operate a CMV, which is defined as any combination of vehicle(s) weighing 26,001 pounds or more. Vehicles designed to carry hazardous materials or 16 or more passengers are also considered CMVs. However, military vehicles, emergency response vehicles, TNC vehicles, and personal-use RVs are not considered CMVs. Additionally, farmers using trucks to carry goods within 150 miles of the farm don’t need a CDL.

Utah's Commerical 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

More than 26,001 pounds

More than 26,001 pounds

Exceeds 10,000 pounds

Class B

More than 26,001 pounds

More than 26,001 pounds

10,000 pounds or less

Class C

Less than 26,001 pounds

Less than 26,001 pounds

10,000 pounds or less

The CDL 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.

Cargo Endorsements

While CDL classes govern the weight of the vehicle, endorsements govern the type of cargo that a driver can transport. Endorsements are required for special vehicles like school buses and hazmat trucks. Each endorsement comes with special rules and testing requirements.

Restrictions

A CDL can also have certain restrictions based on the age, health, or experience of the driver. For example, drivers younger than 21 years old can’t drive school buses or hazmat vehicles and can’t operate out-of-state.

CDL Testing

CDL permits. A CDL applicant must first obtain a commercial driver instruction permit (CDIP) by passing the written knowledge exam and vision test. The applicant must be a licensed Utah resident who’s at least 18 years old and has at least one year of driving experience. The instruction permit authorizes the operation of a CMV only under the supervision of a licensed commercial driver.

CDLs. After practicing with the CDIP for 14 days, an applicant can take the driving skills test to obtain a full CDL. The test can be waived for military veterans with CMV experience.

Medical cards. All CDL applicants must obtain a medical examination from a licensed physician indicating adequate general health to operate a CMV. Certain medical conditions may limit the driver to only in-state operation. The medical certification (medical card) must be updated every two years.

CDL Revocation and Disqualification

CMVs are subject to special rules and regulations. Rule violations and certain traffic offenses can result in license disqualification or revocation. Rule violations can’t be masked or expunged to avoid CDL revocation.

Serious traffic violations. A CDL will be revoked for at least 60 days for two “serious traffic violations” in three years. Any subsequent violations in a three-year period will result in a minimum 120-day revocation. Utah considers speeding 15 miles per hour or more over the limit, reckless driving, improper lane change, following too closely, unlawful cellphone use, and any traffic violation involving a fatality to be serious traffic violations. A serious traffic violation is only counted if it occurred in a CMV or if the violation resulted in suspension of non-CDL driving privileges. Driving without a CDL, with the improper class or endorsement, or without a CDL in possession, is also a serious traffic violation.

Major offenses. More severe violations will result in a minimum one-year license revocation. These violations are called “major violations” and include failing to provide assistance in a death or personal injury accident, chemical test refusal or failure, DUI (driving under the influence), using a motor vehicle to commit a felony, vehicular manslaughter in a CMV, and operating with a revoked CDL. Any major offense committed in a vehicle designed for hazardous materials results in a minimum three-year license revocation. A second major offense violation will result in a lifetime revocation, but reinstatement may be possible with rehabilitation and ten years of clean driving. Any third major offense or the use of a motor vehicle in controlled substance distribution will result in permanent lifetime disqualification.

Out-of-service orders. Some safety violations can result in a temporary and immediate out-of-service order (OSO). For example, driving with any amount of consumed alcohol will result in a 24-hour OSO. The revocation period and fines for driving during an OSO depend on the number of offenses within the past ten years.

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

Railroad crossings. CMV operators must take care around railroad crossings. Commercial drivers must ensure proper clearance to cross and cannot shift gears over railroad tracks. A railroad crossing violation will result in a minimum 60-day, 120-day, and one-year license revocation for a first, second, and third violation in three years.

Employer liability. Drivers are required to notify their employer of any violation or suspension. An employer that permits a violation can be fine $10,000 for a railroad violation, up to $10,000 for driving while revoked, and $2,750 to $25,000 for an OSO violation.

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