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How to Get Your CDL in Indiana, Iowa, and Illinois

CDL
Written by Sheryl Posnick

This article is useful for anyone who wants to get your CDL in Indiana, Iowa or Illinois. If you want to learn about earning a CDL at other states, we have put together a comprehensive guide on how to get a commercial driver’s license in every state of the country.

Indiana

To get a CDL you must:

  • be at least 18 years old if you will be transporting property within state lines and 21 years old if you will be transporting people
  • have held an Indiana driver’s license, chauffeur’s license, or public passenger chauffeur’s license for at least one year
  • present documents of identification proving your identity, lawful status, Social Security number, and Indiana residency
  • pass the appropriate knowledge test for the vehicle type that you plan to operate
Knowledge Tests Required
  • Commercial vehicle drivers: General knowledge test
  • School bus drivers: School bus endorsement test and passenger transport test 
  • All bus drivers: Passenger transport test
  • Vehicle with air brakes: Air brakes test
  • Combination of vehicles: Combination vehicle test
  • Drivers transporting hazardous material: Hazardous material test
  • Drivers transporting liquids in bulk: Tanker test
  • Drivers pulling double or triple trailers: Doubles/triples test

You may receive only three CDL permits in two years, and a CDL learner’s permit is valid for six months. Those with a CDL learner’s permit may operate a commercial motor vehicle only when accompanied by a valid CDL holder who has the proper class and endorsement(s).

Iowa

To get a CDL you must:

  • be 18 years old
  • provide proof of full name, date of birth, Social Security number, and citizenship, permanent residency, or an I-94 document
  • proof of Iowa residency
  • pass a vision screening test
  • obtain and hold a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) for at least 2 weeks prior to your application
  • certify the vehicle type you plan to drive
Steps to Obtaining a CDL

1. Pass the knowledge test required for the commercial vehicle you want to operate

  • General knowledge for any CDL
  • Combination vehicle for Class A
  • Air brake
  • Passenger
  • School bus
  • Doubles/Triples
  • Hazmat
  • Tank
  • Iowa operator (if applicable)

2. Obtain a CLP

3. Pass the required skills and driving test, which is comprised of 3 parts

  • Pre-trip vehicle inspection, making sure your vehicle is safe to drive
  • Skills test, which tests maneuvers around cones and backin maneuvers
  • A driving test

Illinois

To get a CDL you must:

  • be 18 years old
  • hold a valid Ohio State diver’s license
  • provide a valid Social Security card
  • meet minimum medical standards as established by federal and state regulations
  • pass the knowledge and skills tests
Testing

The knowledge test is a written test required for each class of vehicle you hope to drive, each endorsement, and removing an air brake restriction.

The skill test is a 90-minute driving test comprised of a pre-inspection and a road test. You will need to arrive with a vehicle appropriate to the class of license you seek.

Exemptions

The law exempts these categories from the CDL:

  • A “Farm Truck”
  • Fire Equipment
  • Public Safety Vehicle
  • Recreational Vehicle
  • Commercial Motor Vehicle
  • Vehicle Operated for Military Purpose
  • Nonbusiness Commercial Motor Vehicle
  • Vehicle Designed for Transporting Goods

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About the author

Sheryl Posnick

Sheryl Posnick is an editor and writer living in Brooklyn, NY. She is the founder and president of Red Letter Content, an editorial company with a focus on educational, test preparation, and career readiness materials.

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