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U.S. Department of Transportation launches commercial driving waiver for military veterans

U.S. Department of Transportation launches commercial driving waiver for military veterans

Vehicles of logistics 2

Obtaining a commercial driver’s license in Illinois requires the participation in special training and testing in order to ensure safety on the roads. The ground transportation industry is expected to grow by as much as 17% in the next six years highlighting the need for additional commercial drivers to keep the nation’s products—and economy—moving.

The Military Skills Test Waiver Program to the rescue

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration launched a program in 2011 that was designed to aid military veterans and active duty personnel in making the shift from the military workforce to the civilian workforce. Known as the Military Skills Test Waiver Program, this plan eliminated the skills testing as a required element for obtaining commercial driving licensure for any person with at least two years of prior relevant military driving experience.

The FMCSA rolled out the driving waiver program in phases and as of this summer it is now active in the District of Columbia and all 50 states as Alaska became the final state to sign up for the program. It is estimated that over 6,000 persons have obtained commercial drivers’ licenses via this program since its launch three years ago.

Military drivers must have specific truck or bus driving backgrounds with good records in order to qualify. A new provision of the plan expands the eligibility period from 90 days to one calendar year, making it even more possible for people to participate. Additionally, Virginia drivers with arm or leg impairments who have received certificates from individual states for Skills Performance Evaluations can receive automatic federal certificates in kind. This provision is expected to be adopted by other states as well.

Illinois requirements for commercial drivers

Even with the Military Skills Test Waiver Program in effect, the basic requirements to hold a commercial driver’s license in Illinois remains the same as outlined by the Illinois Office of the Secretary of State which governs transportation. All drivers seeking in-state only privileges must be at least 18 years old. Those seeking interstate driving privileges must be at least 21 years old.

A commercial license must be obtained before driving any of the following:

  • Vehicles transporting hazardous materials
  • Single vehicles which weighing more than 26,000 pounds
  • Combined vehicles with a towed vehicle exceeding 10,000 pounds and the total Gross Combination Weight Rating of all vehicles over 26,000 pounds
  • Vehicles equipped to transport at least 15 passengers

Military drivers wishing to obtain civilian commercial licenses must still take written testing provided by the state but can be exempt from pre-trip, road or skills testing with appropriate authorization by their commanding officers.

This program can be a valuable means by which transportation companies can bring on new drivers to fulfill expanded demand. Questions about the program can be answered by talking with a transportation attorney.

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