Vermont’s Commercial Driver’s License Laws

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

As in all other states, Vermont requires a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Since there are many types of CMVs and cargo, Vermont has different CDL classes and endorsements. Each class and endorsement has unique requirements and tests. This article outlines the process for obtaining a CDL and the consequences of violating CMV regulations.

When a CDL is Required

A CDL is required to operate any non-exempt CMV. A CMV is any vehicle (including towed trailers) weighing 26,001 or more pounds or designed to transport hazardous materials or 16 or more passengers. Certain vehicles are exempt from CDL requirements. These include:

  • emergency vehicles such as fire and rescue trucks
  • military and government vehicles operated by military and government personnel
  • private motor carriers such as RVs, and
  • agriculture transports when operated by the farmer within 150 miles of the farm.

Vermont'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

Not over 10,000 pounds

Class C

Less than 26,001 pounds

Less than 26,001 pounds

Not over 10,000 pounds

The CMV’s weight must be within the stated CDL weight limits. For example, a class B CDL cannot be used to haul a trailer over 10,000 pounds, but a class A CDL can be used to drive a CMV of any weight.

Cargo Endorsements

Endorsements authorize the operation of special CMVs but also come with additional requirements. For example, a school bus endorsement requires additional testing, a good driving record, and two years of experience with a passenger endorsement.

Restrictions

A CDL can also list certain restrictions. For example, drivers younger than 21 years old can’t operate out-of-state.

Medical Cards

Non-exempt CMV operation also requires a medical examiner’s certificate, indicating the driver’s physical health is adequate to safely operate a CMV. Failure to maintain a medical card will result in CDL cancelation.

CDL Testing

Commercial learner’s permits. A commercial learner’s permit (CLP) is required to obtain a CDL and to upgrade certain endorsements. The applicant must be a Vermont resident, be at least 18 years old, and pass the vision test and written knowledge examination. The CLP allows the holder to operate a CMV under the direct supervision of a licensed commercial driver.

Commercial driver’s licenses. After holding a CLP for at least 14 days, the applicant can take the driving skills test to obtain a CDL. The driving skills test can be waived for drivers with prior military CMV experience.

Farm CDLs. Workers in the farm-related service industry (such as livestock feeding and custom harvest) can receive a temporary, restricted CDL. The farm CDL doesn’t require a written or skills test, but the holder can operate only class B or class C CMVs within 150 miles of the farm and only for agricultural purposes.

CDL Revocation and Disqualification

Failure to follow any of the many CMV-related rules can result in fines and license revocation. These violations can’t be deferred or masked to avoid suspension and all convictions must be reported to the state and to the driver’s employer.

Serious traffic offenses. The commission of multiple “serious traffic violations” in three years will result in CDL revocation: Having two violations results in a 60-day revocation and having three or more violations results in a 120-day revocation. Serious traffic violations include speeding 15 miles per hour or more over the limit, reckless driving, improper lane changes, following a vehicle too closely, unlawful cellphone use, driving without a CDL, and any traffic violation involving a fatality. An offense committed in a non-CMV will count only if the violation resulted in suspension of non-CDL privileges.

Out-of-service orders. Certain safety violations can result in law enforcement issuing an immediate, but temporary, out-of-service order (OSO). Operating during an OSO will result in a revocation period and fine dependent on the number of prior offenses in the last ten years.

  • First offense. 180-day license revocation as well as a civil penalty for driver and employer.
  • Second offense. Two-year license revocation (three years if in hazmat or passenger vehicle designed for 16 or more passengers) as well as a civil penalty for driver and employer.
  • Third or subsequent offense. Three-year license revocation as well as a civil penalty for driver and employer

Major offenses. A CDL will be revoked for one year upon a “major offense” violation. Major offenses include chemical test refusal, DUI (driving under the influence), driving a CMV with a blood alcohol content of .04% or more, failure to stop for an accident, negligently causing a CMV-related fatality, driving with a revoked CDL, and using a motor vehicle in the commission of any offense punishable by more than one year of prison. The CDL will be permanently revoked for any subsequent major offense or for using a CMV in the commission of controlled substance distribution.

Railroad crossings. CMV operators must take special care when approaching or crossing railroad tracks. A driver that violates railroad crossing rules will be suspended for 60 days, 120, days, and one year for a first, second, and third violation in three years.

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