In May 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration finalized the Commercial Learner's Permit rule. Within that rule is a provision that gives State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) the authority to substitute two years of experience safely operating trucks or buses equivalent to civilian commercial vehicles for the skills test portion of the commercial driver license (CDL) test. U.S. Military drivers must apply within one year of leaving a military position requiring operation of a commercial vehicle. Currently every State offers the military skills test waiver. The latest information (February 2017) indicates that more than 19,000 current and former military have taken advantage of the Skills Test Waiver, making them immediately eligible for employment.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation 49 CFR 383.77, requires the applicant to certify to an SDLA:
- His/her safe driving experience;
- That he or she has not held more than one license (except a U.S. Military driver’s license) in the past two years;
- Has not had his/her base State issued driver license suspended, revoked or cancelled; and,
- Has not had convictions in any type of motor vehicle for the disqualifying CDL offenses listed elsewhere in the regulations.
States must also meet other requirements in order to give veterans the option of this skills test waiver, but the process allows States to assist veterans and active duty personnel in their transition from their U.S. Military occupation to a civilian career. As more of our troops transition from active duty, the U.S. Department of Transportation and FMCSA have joined with the U.S. Departments of Defense, Labor, and Veterans Affairs to facilitate this process.
FMCSA, in collaboration with U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Army and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, generated a standardized Application for Military Skills Test Waiver form. This document addresses all of the issues captured in the new regulation including:
- Violations that can void the waiver;
- The specific type(s) of vehicle which the Service Member was licensed to drive; and,
- An endorsement by the Service Member's commanding officer of his or her safe driving record.
Applicants considering to take advantage should note that each State manages its own Skills Test Waiver. To determine the specific requirements and apply for your State’s waiver program, visit your States Commercial Driver’s License website.