Logistics

How to Get Your CDL in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island

CDL-in-Pennsylvania
Written by Sheryl Posnick

This article is useful for anyone who wants to get a CDL in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. 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.

Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, you must have a CDL to operate:

  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001+ pounds
  • A combination vehicle with a GCWR of 26,001+ pounds, if the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is more than 10,000 pounds
  • A vehicle designed to transport 16+ passengers (including the driver)
  • A school bus designed to transport 11+ passengers (including the drive)
  • Any size vehicle requiring hazardous material placards or carrying material listed as a select agent or toxin

In order to obtain a CDL, you must take a knowledge test and a skills test.

Knowledge Test

All applicants must pass a knowledge test required for the class of license, restriction, and endorsements they wish to possess. A general knowledge test for the Class, a or Class B and C license must be successfully completed by all CDL applicants.

You must wait 15 days after passing the knowledge test to take the skills test.

Skills Test

After passing the appropriate knowledge tests, you must then take the skills test for the class and type of vehicle you intend to drive.  Included on this exam are a pre-trip inspection, a test of basic vehicle control, and a test in on-road driving.

After passing your knowledge and skills tests, you will be given a camera card to take to any PennDOT Photo License Center. There, you will have your picture taken and be issued your CDL after paying all licensing fees.

Rhode Island

You must have a CDL to operate:

  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001+ pounds
  • A combination vehicle with a GCWR of 26,001+ pounds, if the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is more than 10,000 pounds
  • A vehicle designed to transport 16+ passengers (including the driver)
  • Any size vehicle requiring hazardous material placards or carrying material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR part 73.

In order to obtain a CDL, you must take a knowledge test and a skills test.

Knowledge Test

You must take one or more knowledge tests depending the license class and endorsements you need.

  • All applicants must take the general knowledge test, taken by all applicants.
  • All bus driver applicants must take the passenger transport test.
  • If you want to drive a school bus, you must pass the school bus test.
  • If driving a vehicle with air brakes, including air over hydraulic brakes,  you must take the air brakes test.
  • If you want to drive combination vehicles, you must take the combination vehicles test.
  • If you want to haul hazardous materials as defined in 49 CFR 383.5, you must take the hazardous materials test. You must also pass a background check.
  • If you want to haul any liquid or gaseous materials in tank(s) with an individual rated capacity of 119+ gallons and an aggregate rated capacity of 1,000+ gallons, you must take the tank vehicle test.
  • If you want to pull double or triple trailers, you must take he doubles/triples test.

After you pass your required knowledge tests, you must then take your CDL skills tests.

Skills Test

After passing the appropriate knowledge tests, you must then take the skills test for the class and type of vehicle you intend to drive.  Included on this exam are a pre-trip inspection, a test of basic vehicle control, and a test in on-road driving.

When you arrive for these tests, you must present your Rhode Island driver's license and your CDL permit (obtained after passing the appropriate knowledge tests).

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