As with other states, you can apply for a commercial driver’s license in Colorado and receive it in just a few weeks to start your truck driving career as an intrastate or interstate driver.
However, most aspiring commercial drivers are scared by the many requirements they must fulfill to obtain the CDL.
This article explores various Colorado CDL license requirements that you must meet to get your CDL and secure your trucking career.
How to Get a CDL in Colorado
The process for getting a CDL in Colorado is easy once you have met all the state’s requirements as adapted from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
You must pass all the written knowledge tests administered at a Colorado Department of Revenue center near you.
Once you pass the general knowledge test, you can schedule a CDL Skills Test with a Colorado-approved Third Party Tester, after which you take your test certificate to the DMV for CDL processing.
The section below discusses various CDL requirements as spelled out by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of the Colorado Department of Revenue.
Colorado CDL Requirements
You must fulfill the following requirements to be allowed to obtain a CDL in Colorado.
1. Age – The minimum age limit for intrastate driving (within Colorado state lines) is 18 years.
You should be at least 21 years old to drive interstate (across state lines), carry 16 or more passengers, or transport materials or waste deemed hazardous by Federal laws.
2. Identity, Presence, and Residency Proof – A CDL applicant must provide proof of their identity, legal US citizenship, lawful presence in the US, and legal residency in Colorado State.
Acceptable documents for proving these three aspects include:
3. Prior Driving Experience and Record – Colorado State expects you to have a Colorado Regular Driver’s License. You should have only one driver’s license.
You may also transfer a regular driver’s license from another state, which must be in good standing with no cancelations, disqualification, or revocation in any other state.
You must render the out-of-state license to the DMV. A driving record check of up to ten years back is required.
4. Languages – CDL applicants in Colorado can take their written tests in either English or Spanish. Each should be able to write, read, and speak that language fluently.
5. Background Check – All CDL applicants must agree to a criminal background check for new or renewal CDL, HazMat endorsement, or out-of-state license transfer.
6. Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) – You must first obtain a CLP to be allowed to start training as a commercial vehicle driver under the tutelage of a CDL holder.
7. Written CDL and Endorsement Tests – Each CDL aspirant must take and pass the Colorado CLP General Knowledge Test to obtain their CLP.
The CLP is valid for 180 days after passing the test and can be renewed once for an additional 180 days. You must wait for 14 days to pass before taking your CDL Skills Test.
The Written CDL Test is taken at the Colorado Driver’s License Office near you.
The results are valid for one year after passing. If this duration lapses, you must retake the test, even when your CDL permit is still valid.
Written tests are also applicable for all Colorado CDL endorsements.
Photo credit: cdlpracticetest.com
8. CDL Skills Test – The Colorado DMV doesn’t offer the CDL Skills Test anymore. You must take it at a state-approved Third Party Tester location.
The Skills test has three components:
- The Pre-trip Inspection – This tests how well you know the class of vehicle you’ll be driving. It also checks if the CMV you are taking the test in is safe enough for driving on public roads.
- Basic Controls Test – This test checks if you have the required skills to drive a CMV, such as backing, docking, and parking.
- On-Road/Road Skills Test – The examiner tests your on-the-road driving skills on a predetermined route.
The Road Skills Test includes aspects such as starting, braking, stopping, lane positioning, observing traffic signals, and proper railroad crossings.
A CDL Skills Test Completion form dated within 60 days of taking the test is required to turn your CLP into a CDL.
The Colorado Commercial Driver License (CDL) Manual contains important information you can study to pass the Skills Test.
- Medical and Physical Requirements: Each applicant must complete a DOT physical test and have the Medical Examination Report and Medical Examiner’s Certificate completed by an FMCSA-approved medical professional.
The Medical Examiner’s Certificate should be valid for not more than two years. It should also not be expiring within 60 days of submitting it.
Each CDL applicant must also self-certify whether they intend to do interstate or intrastate commerce and if they must fulfill the requirements of the FMCSA to have a DOT medical card.
You can self-certify one of the four categories listed below:
- Intrastate Excepted if are not required to have a DOT medical card for intrastate commerce
- Intrastate Non-excepted if you must have a DOT medical card for intrastate commerce
- Interstate Excepted if you are not required to have a DOT medical card for interstate commerce
- Interstate Non-excepted if you must have a DOT medical card for interstate commerce.
Applicable physical tests and requirements include:
- Vision test – Ability to tell between the colors red, amber, and green of traffic signals. 20/40 distant visual acuity in each eye without corrective vision devices.
- Blood pressure levels below 140/90
- Urinalysis test – Checks for hidden health problems by testing urine for protein, sugar, and blood
- Obtaining a “Variance” by taking the Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) if you have a physical impairment, such as a missing limb.
How Much is a CDL License in Colorado?
The CDL license itself costs $17.08 in Colorado. A duplicate CDL costs $9, while a subsequent duplicate costs $16.
Other CDL-related costs include the following:
- CDL school training fee: $1,500-$13,125 (not mandatory, but recommended)
- CLP fee: $18.52
- Duplicate CLP fee: $9
- Subsequent Duplicate CLP fee: $16.
How Long Does It Take To Get a CDL in Colorado?
Getting your CDL in Colorado can take you 2-3 weeks, seven weeks, or even up to six months, depending on your availability and the CDL school.
Colorado CDL Disqualifications
The state of Colorado will disqualify your CDL in the following scenarios.
- Operating a CMV or other vehicle under the influence of alcohol
- Driving a CMV with an alcohol blood content of 0.04 or higher
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Driving under the influence of a controlled substance
- Refusing to submit to an impromptu alcohol test
- Committing a felony in a CMV
Disqualifications: One year or lifetime for some first-time offenses when transporting non-hazardous materials and lifetime for some second offenses of the same nature.
Disqualifications for some convictions when transporting hazardous materials: 3 years
Disqualification for felonies involving the use of a CMV in the manufacturing, distribution, or dispensation of a controlled substance: Lifetime with no reinstatement after ten years.
Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Offenses
- You are required to stop at a crossing, but you didn’t
- You are not required to stop, but you didn’t slow down or stop to see whether there is an oncoming train
- You are not required to stop, but you didn’t stop to check if the tracks are in use by a train
- You failed to negotiate a crossing because you left little undercarriage clearance
- You failed to obey the instructions of an enforcement officer or traffic control device at the crossing.
Disqualifications: At least 60 days for 1st-time offense, at least 120 days for 2nd offense in three years, and at least one year for 3rd and subsequent violations within three years.
Serious Traffic Violations
- Driving recklessly
- Following the vehicle ahead of you too closely
- Excessive speeding at 15 mph or more beyond the set limit
- Changing traffic lanes improperly
Disqualifications: At least 60 days for 1st and 2nd violations within three years or at least 120 days for 3rd and subsequent offenses within three years for some offenses.
Out-of-Service Order Violations (OSO Violations)
- Driving a CMV when your CDL has been suspended and the period is not over yet
A first-time OSO when carrying non-hazardous materials results in 180 days to one-year disqualification.
A second violation of the same nature within ten years leads to at least two or more than five years of CDL disqualification.
Third or subsequent violations of the same nature lead to at least three or more than five years of CDL disqualification.
A first-time OSO violation leads to at least 180 days or more than two years of disqualification when transporting hazardous materials.
Second, third, and subsequent violations of the same nature in ten years result in at least three or more than five years.
Photo credit: freightwaves.com
Commercial License Types & Classes in Colorado
Colorado CDL classes fall into the three categories below.
Class A CDL
A Class A CDL applies to combination vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more with a towed unit with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) exceeding 10,000 pounds.
You can also operate Class B and C vehicles with a Class A CDL.
Class B CDL
A Class B CDL is required for any single vehicle or light combination whose GVWR is 26,001 pounds or more or any such CMV pulling a unit whose GVWR is less than 10,000 pounds.
A driver with a Class B CDL and the proper endorsements can drive Class C vehicles.
Class C CDL
A Class C CDL applies to any combination or single vehicles that fail to fit in the definitions for Class A or B CMVs but are designed to carry 16 or more persons inclusive of the driver or transport placarded hazardous materials CMVs.
Colorado CDL Endorsements
Colorado State has six CDL endorsements. These are highlighted below.
- T – Double and Triple Trailers Endorsement – added to a Class A license
- P – Passenger Endorsement – added to Class A, B, or C CDLs of drivers looking to transport 16 persons or more, including the driver
- N – Tanker Vehicle Endorsement – added to any of the three CDL types for carrying bulk liquids or liquefied gases in 1,000-gallon tanks or more.
- S – School Bus Endorsement – added to Class A, B, and C CDL but with some restrictions.
The School Bus endorsement requires combining with P endorsement to transport students in a school bus.
- H – Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) – added to Class A, B, or C CDL for drivers hauling hazardous waste or hazardous materials in a placarded vehicle.
- X – HAZMAT & Tanker Combined – added to Class A, B, or C CDLs for drivers hauling hazardous materials or waste in a tanker vehicle.
Why is Colorado a Great Place to Start a Truck Driving Career?
Colorado is a great place to start your truck driving career, even if you are just moving into the state.
Top-notch Trucking Companies
Colorado is home to top trucking companies such as Voyager Express Inc., Denver Intermodal Express, Bill Clark Truck Line, Estes Express Lines, and Preferred Cartage Services Inc.
You can find truck driving work with these and many other Colorado trucking companies and make a decent living.
Freedom of Travel
As a truck driver, you have the freedom to travel to many places and meet people of different backgrounds. If you have a Colorado-issued interstate CDL, you can travel far and wide.
Top places to go sightseeing in the state include the Rocky Mountain National Park, Garden of the Gods, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado National Monument, and Denver Botanic Gardens.
High Truck Driving Salaries
Colorado CDL drivers with less than one year of trucking experience can earn up to $71,405 per year. Other benefits include paid time off, 401 (K), life insurance, and health insurance.
Job Outlook and Salary For Truck Driving in Colorado
The job scene in the Colorado trucking industry has always been promising, with much potential for continued growth in years to come.
In 2017 alone, workers in the trucking industry in the state received over $5.7 billion in wages, with the average salary at the time being $51,683. This has since grown even bigger.
How much does a CDL driver make per year in Colorado in 2022? Let’s find out below.
What is the Demand For Truck Drivers in Colorado?
Just recently, in 2022, Colorado was hit by a raging gas shortage. Gas stations didn’t have enough fuel to sell to their customers, and some had to slow down for a while as some fuel products became rare.
The gas shortage in Colorado has been blamed mainly on the truck driver shortage since many new CDL seekers are shunning the HAZMAT endorsement that would allow them to transport fuel.
In 2017, the Colorado trucking industry offered 110,200 jobs, and the number can only have grown with the coming of the COVID-19 pandemic that pushed up online sales and freight volumes.
How Much Do CDL Drivers Make in Colorado?
According to Indeed, a CDL driver in Colorado makes $76,047 per year on average. A driver with less than a year of experience makes $71,405, while those with over ten years of experience earn $85,868.
The long list of Colorado CDL license requirements shouldn’t scare you into thinking that it is hard to obtain your CDL in the state and become a highly paid truck driver.
Once you fulfill all the requirements such as medical, fees, and CDL tests, you can find quality employment with both local and interstate trucking companies and earn over $71,000 per year.
People Also Ask
The questions below will help strengthen your understanding of various aspects concerning Colorado CDL requirements.
How Much Does CDL School Cost in Colorado?
CDL school in Colorado costs as low as $1,500 and as high as $13,125, depending on the school, location, and programs offered.
The average CDL school training cost for the state is $5,000.
Can You Get a CDL With a DUI in Colorado?
You can still have your CDL back after the lapse of a revocation period caused by a DUI conviction, whether or not you were arrested driving a CMV or personal car.
Your license will be revoked for one year if you weren’t hauling hazardous materials or three years if you were hauling hazardous materials at the time of the violation.
A second DUI results in a lifetime CDL disqualification. Still, you can apply for reinstatement after ten years if you voluntarily join and complete an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program.
How Many Questions Are on the Colorado CDL Permit Test?
The Colorado CDL permit or commercial learner’s permit test contains 50 multiple-choice questions. Applicants must answer at least 40 questions correctly to achieve a pass at 80%.
How Old Do You Have To Be To Get a CDL in Colorado?
You must have attained the minimum age of 18 years to obtain a Colorado intrastate CDL.
If you wish to drive interstate, haul hazardous materials, or transport 16 or more people, including you as the driver, you must have attained the minimum age of 21 years.
When Do You Need a CDL in Colorado?
You need a CDL in Colorado to operate CMVs that fit the descriptions below:
- Any combination of vehicle with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more that tows a unit weighing over 10,000 pounds
- Any single vehicle or combination vehicle with 26,001 pounds or more in gross weight and tows another weighing 10,000 pounds or less
- Any vehicle used to transport hazardous materials or 16 people or more, the driver also included.