This paper explains the new Wisconsin Commercial Driver’s License and the procedures that drivers of commercial vehicles should follow to qualify for this license.
In 1986, the Federal government passed a law called the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act (CMVSA) in an attempt to gain greater control over safety of the roads, both for drivers of trucks and buses, and for everyone who shares the road with them. The CMVSA creates new procedures that States must follow when issuing licenses to truck and bus drivers.
In 1989, the State of Wisconsin passed Wisconsin Act 105 (The Motor Carrier Safety Bill) which went into effect January 1, 1990. The new Wisconsin Commercial Driver License (CDL) is a State license which conforms to uniform national standards. The CDL is not limited to long- distance truckers. It covers everyone who drives commercial motor vehicles including but not limited to intercity buses, gravel trucks, semi trucks, garbage and utility trucks, and mechanics who test drive commercial motor vehicles.
III. Policy Statement
Because the University System has many drivers who were previously issued chauffeur or school bus licenses, or who fall into the category of commercial motor vehicle drivers, the Wisconsin Commercial Driver’s License Law will have an effect on most campuses.
It is the policy of the University of Wisconsin, that all University drivers who are driving commercial motor vehicles, as defined by the law, meet the requirements of the CDL as set forth by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Operating a vehicle without the correct license will result in substantial penalties including arrest and monetary fines to both the University and the driver.
IV. Requirement Details and Procedure
A. General Requirements
Because the type of vehicle, and not the driver, defines who needs a CDL, the following characteristics have been set forth to define what a commercial motor vehicle is. A CDL is required of any driver of:
1. Any vehicle designed to carry 16 or more persons including the driver, such as our campuses’ mini buses.
2. Any vehicle that weighs over 26,000 pounds (defined as the greater of manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating, manufacturer’s gross combination weight rating, actual weight, or registered weight).
3. Any vehicle that carries hazardous materials that require placarding as found in Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 397.
These requirements include volunteers and temporary renters of such vehicles who are driving commercial motor vehicles on University business.
B. Pre-April 1, 1992 Requirements
Beginning January 1, 1991, in order to drive a commercial motor vehicle across State lines in the event of field trips, athletic events, etc., the driver must be at least 21 years of age and possess a Federal medical permit and a chauffeur’s license, a consolidated license, or a commercial driver’s license. For intrastate transportation a driver must be at least 18 years of age, meet Wisconsin medical requirements, and have a chauffeur’s license, a consolidated license, or a commercial driver’s license.
C. Post-April 1, 1992 RequirementsAll commercial vehicle drivers must possess a commercial driver’s license with the proper classes and proper medical certification.
D. Acquiring the CDL
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) expects to begin issuing CDL’s in April of 1991. Information on acquiring a CDL will be included in the renewal information of a drivers current license. All chauffeur and school bus licenses will expire on March 31, 1992 if not sooner, so that application for the CDL must be made before that date.
E. Specific Requirements
You need to meet three conditions to get a CDL:
1. Pass the Testing Requirements
Vision, knowledge, and skill testing is required. We have been pursuing the possibility of having DOT come to the campuses to offer the knowledge tests if there are enough personnel taking the tests at one time. Beginning in September of 1990, campuses should begin arranging dates for the knowledge tests that are required for the license. The enclosed appendix includes a copy of contact personnel from DOT who can set up these programs. There is a “grandfather” provision being offered between January 1, 1991 and April 1, 1992 for the skills test. To qualify for the skills test waiver a driver must: (1) have two years of experience driving the same type of commercial vehicle or have passed a driving test in the same class of vehicle, (2) not hold a license from more than one State at the same time, (3) have a good driving record.
2. Complete the Driver Record Background Check
Drivers must meet a variety of legal and medical requirements to complete this check.
3. Pay Any Necessary Fees
A four year CDL costs $32. Class changes or endorsements after the license is issued will cost $5. The skills test will be approximately $20. Decisions as to whether the employee or the University will pay the CDL fees will depend upon the necessity of having a CDL for the employee’s particular job and the individual campus policy.
F. General Suggestions for Campuses
Campuses are recommended to ensure that drivers who qualify for, or are required to drive commercial motor vehicles take the necessary knowledge exams before January 1, 1991 and take the skills test as soon as they can take it. We encourage people to take the skills tests as soon as possible so that when DOT offers the CDL license after April 1, 1991 they will be eligible to receive the license at that time and not risk being without a license after April 1, 1992.
Individuals applying for a chauffeur’s license now will be able to secure one until January 1, 1991. After April 1, 1991 DOT will only issue CDL Instruction Permits to new drivers. This permit will allow you to drive a commercial vehicle out of State if you are at least 21 years old. The permits are good for six months. After April 1, 1992 CDL drivers with instructional permits must have a licensed driving instructor accompany them on trips or meet other qualifications.
Lastly, it is recommended that each campus affix a permanent label on the inside windshield of all commercial vehicles owned by the campus to help in their identification.