How to Get a CDL in Michigan

Every truck driver in Michigan must possess a commercial driver’s license (CDL), and the state has access to the driving history that is kept in a centralized computer. The best part is that your placard does not confine you to one type of vehicle. 

With a Michigan CDL, a driver is authorized to drive a placarded vehicle used for transporting hazardous materials. They are also allowed to operate combination vehicles with a GCWR of 26,001 pounds or above, as long as the towed vehicle has a minimum GCWR of 10,000 pounds. Also, with a Michigan CDL, the driver can operate any sized vehicle used to carry 16 passengers including the driver.

If you are planning to get a CDL, it is important to understand the ins and outs of the process. Read on to find out more about obtaining a CDL in Michigan state.

Why Getting a CDL in Michigan is a Good Idea

There are plenty of attractive reasons why you should get a CDL in Michigan. These include the following;

Incredible Pay and Benefits

The entry-level pay is incredible, with the potential of earning not less than $40,000 per year and the possibility of that figure increasing steadily to $60,000 per year and more within a short period of time. Also, benefits that your company might offer you include dental, health, and life insurance; 401(k); paid vacations and holidays, etc. 

Flexible Schedule

One major benefit of operating a commercial motor vehicle is that you will have a flexible schedule. You will be able to decide whether to work on weekends or not, if to take night shifts, and if to work extra hours to earn more money.

It Will Give You Freedom

Once you get your CDL, you will be able to work the kind of job you choose for yourself. Whether you want to take over-the-road (OTR) jobs, make local deliveries, or even take a regional job, there are plenty of options to choose from. You will also have the privilege of either becoming an operator or working with a company, and driving with a partner or alone. 

You Don’t Need a Degree

If you do not have the finances to fund your higher education, or if you don’t wish to join college or university, you can choose to get a CDL and begin your trucking career in Michigan. 

You’ll Find a Family With Other Truck Drivers

If you fancy making great relationships with people in the same field as you, then a trucking career will give you exactly that. You will be able to meet other truck drivers who understand your job and be able to make meaningful connections with them.

The Requirements for Getting a CDL in Michigan

To operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) on interstate highways, you must be at least 21 years old, or at least 18 to drive a CMV within Michigan. Also, every applicant is required to consent to a background check as well as pass a CDL eligibility check. 

A DOT physical and a pre-enrollment drug screen are also mandatory. These two should be taken and passed before proceeding to the next application step.

The following are documents that will be required to provide when applying for your CDL in Michigan;

Driver’s license

Permanent resident card: You are required to present either this or proof of US citizenship if you plan to apply for a hazardous materials endorsement.

Social security card: This will be used to prove your social security number and alternatively, you can present your w-2 form or your payroll check stub. 

Temporary instruction permit: This authorizes your practice lessons with the aid of a supervisor who holds a CDL for the type of vehicle you are driving. The temporary instruction permit is also used for the CDL skills test.

Fill out the CDL Certification Form: This is the BFS-103 document that authenticates that the applicant meets the medical qualifications for becoming a commercial driver.

Pass all necessary vision and knowledge tests

Steps to Get Your CDL in Michigan

The following are straightforward steps to help you get your CDL in Michigan;

Check the Commercial Driver’s License Manual and User Guide

Before starting your CDL application you will need to check the state’s commercial driver’s license manual and user guide. You can do a quick search on the NCDOT website or make a physical visit. Your manual and user guide will give you the knowledge you need to pass the different CDL tests will be required to take. 

Get the Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)

To get a commercial learner’s permit, you will be required to pass all the knowledge tests for the cdl class you are applying for. Also, before getting your CLP, you will be required to pay a fee.

Choose a CDL Class

Usually, there are different types of CDL classes in Michigan based on the type of vehicle you intend to drive. 

Class A: Mandatory if you want to operate any combination vehicle with a GCWR of 26,001 pounds and as long as the towed vehicle is over 10,000 pounds.

Class B: Mandatory if you want to operate a single vehicle with a minimum GVWR of 26001 pounds and as long as the towed vehicle weighs 10,000 lb or less. 

Class C:  mandatory if you want to operate a vehicle with at least 16 passengers including the driver, or if you wish to operate a hazmat vehicle.

You can drive Class B and C vehicles if you have a Class A CDL and similarly, you can drive Class C vehicles if you have a Class B license. 

Provide Proof of a Clean Driving Record

To get your Michigan CDL, you will need to confirm with NCDOT to ensure that you have a clean driving record. Further documentation might be requested for clarification if the current information is not consistent. 

Take a Physical Exam and Get a DOT Medical Card

You will need a Department of Transportation medical card if you wish to operate a commercial motor vehicle in Michigan. Also, to demonstrate that they are physically capable of operating a large truck without medical limitations, an applicant must pass a physical examination conducted by a licensed medical professional listed on the national registry. 

Drug Test

Additionally, a drug test for the driver is required. The driver receives a two-year medical certificate if they pass the exam.

Take the Written Test

A written test that follows the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administration manual is mandatory. If you are in Michigan, you will be required to take and pass this written test before proceeding. 

Additional tests for combination vehicles, air-braked vehicles, double or triple tractor-trailers, or hazardous materials may also need to be completed.

Take the Road Skills Test

Following the written exam, the driver then goes through a road skills test, which assesses them in various areas. These include areas such as pre-trip inspection for a Michigan CDL, fundamental vehicle controls, and passing the actual road skills test.


Here is a list of the payments to expect to get your CDL in Michigan.

For CDL Group Designations and Endorsement;

  1. A standard fee of $25 or an enhanced one of $45 for an operator license.
  2. A standard fee of $35  or an enhanced one of $50 for a chauffeur license.

For Group Designation or Endorsement;

  1. A $25 fee CDL Vehicle Group Designation.
  2. A $10 fee for an “X” endorsement or a $5 fee for any other CDL Endorsement.

For Correction Fees;

  1. A standard fee of $18 or an enhanced one of $38 for an Operator License.
  2. A standard fee of $18 or an enhanced one of $43 for a Chauffeur License.

How to Prepare for Your Test

If you want to pass your test without any retakes, then you will need to study beforehand. A wealth of information will be tested on your CDL test, so it is important to arm yourself with the right materials and knowledge. To that end, here are ways to prepare yourself for the test;

Plan Ahead

A good rule of thumb to take heed of when preparing for your CDL test is to plan ahead of it. Cramming a few hours or days before the exam will only cause more detriment than benefits and the last thing you want is to lose focus or be sleep-deprived before taking your test. Once you choose a date for your test, you can consider joining a training program in addition to researching on your own. 

Collect Study Materials

You also need to collect all the necessary study materials to help you prepare for your test. For instance, you can visit your local DMV and collect a CDL manual or download one online. You can download an app, visit any website that offers CDL style guides, or even buy a CDL test prep book.

Read On the Specifics

Another preparation tip for your CDL test is studying the specific topics depending on the kind you have specialized in. While general knowledge is necessary for any CDL, find out what you’re supposed to study prior to your test. Check the CDL style guide specific to Michigan to find all the information you need for all sections.

Take a Diagnostic Exam

Taking a diagnostic exam will give you a feel of what the actual test is going to be like. It will help you to understand what you already know and the areas that you are weak in. This way, you can improve in any area you feel unprepared for.

Test Your Knowledge

By asking your friends or family members to quiz you on areas that will be tested on the exam, you can perfect the different sections you are having trouble with. You could also use CDL flashcards or practice tests to assess your knowledge. 

CDL Disqualifications and Revocations in Michigan

Safety rules that are specific to CDL holders in Michigan must be followed, failure to which the license might be revoked.

  • A conviction for CDL testing fraud, a railroad crossing infraction, or two “severe traffic offenses” committed within three years will result in a 60-day CDL suspension. Also, excessive speeding, irresponsible driving, using the wrong lane, following too closely, as well as other traffic offenses resulting in a fatality are all considered serious traffic violations and will get your CDL disqualified.
  • If you commit three significant traffic offenses in three years or two railroad crossing violations in 10 years, your CDL will be suspended for 120 days.
  • If you commit any “serious offense” or three railroad violations in ten years, your CDL will be suspended for a year. OWI (operating while intoxicated), committing a felony while operating a CMV, driving a CMV while revoked, leaving an accident scene, and criminally or carelessly causing a fatality while operating a CMV will also attract serious legal punishments and penalties.
  • A three-year license suspension will follow any serious infraction committed using a CMV for hazardous material transportation.
  • A driver will be permanently prohibited from operating a CMV after two serious violations. The reinstatement process might be open after ten years, though. Without the chance of reinstatement, a motorist will be permanently barred from driving after violating any Michigan anti-terrorism act, a third or subsequent major offense, or manufacturing or dispensing any controlled substances using a CMV.
  • All CMV drivers are assumed to have given their consent for chemical analysis of their urine to check for alcohol or drug use, as well as breath and blood. A driver will be issued a 24-hour OSO if they refuse to submit to a preliminary breath test or if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at least.015 percent. To make such a request, an officer must have good reason to suspect that the driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  • If a commercial driver is determined to be a security risk or an immediate hazard under the Patriot Act, their license will be suspended indefinitely.

Individuals Exempt From CDL in Michigan

Below are a few individuals exempt from having a CDL in Michigan;

  • Anyone who operates motorhomes or other vehicles solely for the non-commercial transportation of family members or personal belongings.
  • Active Service military personnel using military-issued vehicles. This also applies to the National Guard.
  • Any police or firefighter assigned to drive an emergency vehicle.
  • Any farmer using their vehicle within an area covering not more than a 150-mile radius of their farm. However, an F-endorsement will be required if a farmer wants to operate combination vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds and upwards of the vehicle being towed. A farmer will also be required to acquire a CDL with a hazardous materials endorsement if they want to operate a hazmat vehicle with placards during operation. This could be either a single vehicle with a GVWR of not less than 26,001 pounds or a combination vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds and upwards of the vehicle being towed.

How to Find a Job Driving Commercial Vehicles in Michigan

Below are multiple ways you can find commercial vehicle driving jobs in Michigan.

  • Ask for referrals from your connections
  • Check if your dream company has any current tracking job opportunities
  • Be on the lookout for advertisements on general job openings websites
  • Sign yourself up for tracking only job sites
  • Check the job opportunities section in your local newspaper
  • Check the bulletin boards at truck stops
  • Join trucking forums
  • Get an endorsement for your license to be eligible for any job postings that require it

Wind Up

The above tips will help you to apply your Michigan CDL smoothly. As with most cases, a lot of people fail their CDL tests and have to retake them a couple of times before passing and getting their CDL. As long as you have all the required documentation and pass all the required tests you will be able to get your CDL fast. Sign yourself up for a good training program and source all essential materials and information to help you pass the tests.