Calling everyone that’s looking to get a CDL in Arkansas…
Are you not sure what the requirements are?
Or, maybe you want to know what CDL class you need for the type of vehicle you’re operating.
We’re here to answer these questions and more.
In this complete 2023 guide on Arkansas CDL requirements, we won’t leave anything out. This way, you know exactly what to do, what you need, and when you need it.
So without further ado, let’s begin!
Arkansas CDL Classes
Before anything else, you need to pick a CDL class.
In Arkansas, there are three types:
- Class A
- Class B
- Class C
The vehicle you drive determines which one you must carry. Let’s see this in detail.
Class A CDL
You need a Class A CDL if you’re operating a vehicle with a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of at least 26,001 pounds. Class A vehicles are often combination vehicles (a truck with a trailer). The trailer (or trailers, as the case may be) must weigh 10,000 pounds or more.
If you have Class A CDL, you are automatically allowed to drive vehicles categorized as Class B or Class C.
Class B CDL
A Class B CDL is somewhat similar to Class A. It must also operate a GCWR of 26,001 pounds or more.
However, the difference between a Class A and Class B lies in the towed unit. You know you’re operating a Class B vehicle if the trailer weighs less than 10,000 pounds.
Carrying a Class B CDL authorizes you to drive Class C vehicles. However, you cannot operate a vehicle classified as Class A.
Class C CDL
Three situations require you to have a Class C CDL.
The first is if you’re operating a vehicle used to transport hazardous materials. Note: it must have warning placards.
You also need a Class C license if you’re carrying any quantity of substances considered a toxin or a select agent.
Lastly, a vehicle designed to carry 16 or more passengers requires a Class C CDL. Remember that the count includes the driver.
If your vehicle doesn’t fit any commercial vehicle description, you may not need a CDL. It’s best to be sure before you begin getting one.
Who Can Get A CDL in Arkansas
Now that you know what CLD class you need, it’s time to see if you are even eligible to hold a CDL.
Check the following items to see if you’re good to go:
- You meet the age requirement of 18 years old (or 21 if you’re planning to drive across state lines)
- You’ve had your regular driver’s license for at least 1 year
- You’ve submitted a driving history check. It must cover all states you’ve lived in for the last decade
- You’ve passed the medical and vision tests
- You presented Arkansas Self-Certification Affidavit and a Federal DOT Card (if applicable)
- You provided proof of citizenship or legal residence using any of the following:
- U.S. birth certificate
- U.S. passport
- Certificate of naturalization
- Certificate of U.S. citizenship
- Permanent resident card
- You provided proof of your AR address
- You’ve taken theory training and behind-the-wheel instruction from an FMCSA-approved training provider (for Class A and Class B CDL only). Check here for a list of FMCSA Training Provider Registry.
Once you’ve got all the boxes checked, you can work towards getting your CDL in Arkansas!
How to Get A CDL in Arkansas
The process of getting your CDL comes in 2 parts – getting a CLP (commercial learner’s permit), then getting your CDL (commercial driver’s license)
Here’s a step-by-step guide to obtaining both.
Phase One: The Commercial Learner’s Permit
To get your CLP, follow these steps:
- Apply for CLP in any Arkansas Office of Motor Vehicles.
- Ensure you meet/provide all the qualifications stated in the previous section.
- Pay the testing fee worth $50.
- Pass the general written exam. If you have any endorsement, you should also pass the exam for that specific endorsement.
You’ll receive your CLP after completing these steps.
With this, you can practice driving a commercial vehicle, but someone with a valid CDL must accompany you at all times.
Your permit remains valid up to a year after it was issued. If it expires before you get your CDL, you must repeat the entire process.
Phase Two: The Commercial Driver’s License
Here are the things you need to accomplish to get your CDL in Arkansas:
- You must hold your CLP for at least 14 days.
- Schedule a skills test. In Arkansas, you can only take it in 6 areas:
- Little Rock
- Pine Bluff
- Pass the skills test. This consists of 3 segments – a pre-trip inspection, a driving skills test held in a closed course, and an on-the-road skills test. Note: you will need to provide your own vehicle under your CDL class.
- Pay the $42 CDL fee.
You now have your CDL that will allow you to operate your vehicle class.
Understanding CDL Endorsements in Arkansas
If the license class determines the vehicle you operate, the endorsements determine what you’re carrying.
Endorsements for CDLs in Arkansas include the following:
- H — Hazardous Material
- P — Passenger Transport
- S — School Bus (if you want an S endorsement, it must be in combination with a P)
- N — Tank Vehicle
- X — Tanker and Hazardous Materials
- T — Double or Triple Semi-Trailers
The table below tells you what endorsements each license class can hold.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we go, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions on CDLs in Arkansas.
How much does a CDL cost in Arkansas?
You’ll spend $92 in fees to get your CDL in Arkansas. That’s a $50 testing fee and a $42 license fee.
However, if getting a Class A or B CDL, you may need to pay more for the theory training and behind-the-wheel instruction from an FMCSA-approved training provider.
Can you take the CDL test online in Arkansas?
Although you can take some parts of the written exam on a computer, you still need to physically go to your local DMV to take it.
That said, the state of Arkansas uses an online scheduling tool to make the exam process more efficient. You’ll receive an SMS message from the DMV if there are unforeseen changes to your schedules.
How do I get a DOT medical certification in Arkansas?
Drivers who need medical certification must undergo a physical examination conducted by an approved Medical Examiner listed on the FMCSA National Registry.
A DOT medical exam covers the following areas:
- Blood Pressure
- Blood Sugar
- Sleep Apnea
There you go — a complete 2023 guide on Arkansas CDL requirements.
As long as you ensure you’ve met all the necessary qualifications, you should have no problem getting your CLP.
And if you’re worried about the written exam, you can always get a copy of Arkansas’ Commercial Driver License Manual to help you prepare.
Once you have your CLP, you’re only a skills test away from getting your CDL. To get it, you need to pass all three sections: pre-trip inspection, basic controls, and on-the-road skills exam.
Our guide walks you through each step of the process.
Now, the next step is to start.