Colorado CDL Requirements
Known as The Centennial State, Colorado encompasses most of the Southern Rockies. It is the 21st most populous in the USA and the eighth largest. It is bordered by Wyoming to the north, New Mexico to the south, Kansas on its eastern side and Utah to the west. The state's name comes from the Spanish meaning "colored red". The state is not red, but its primary river (also called Colorado) is thick in silt, giving it a red hue. The climate of Colorado consists of three general zones: the eastern plains, the foothills and the mountains. To the south is the Rio Grande headwaters and desert while heading north leads to the Rocky Mountains. It's certainly a state of contrast with largely an upland climate. It's the only state whose elevation does not fall below 1,000m. Its lowest point sits at 1,011m (3,317ft). By becoming a truck driver in Colorado you'll be driving within some of the most beautiful displays of nature the world has to offer.
Which CDL Licenses are Available in Colorado?
As with other states, individuals wishing to obtain a license to drive a truck in Colorado will require a CDL license obtained through testing. The categories and their criteria are:
Class A licenses are for those who wish to drive combination vehicles 26,001lbs or heavier. This class may pull trailers 10,000lbs or greater. Trailers in this class include tractor-trailers and trailer buses.
Class B licenses are for those who wish to drive vehicles that weigh 26,001lbs or more. Trailer weight must not exceed 10,000lbs.
Class C licenses are for vehicles lighter than 26,001lbs and for those that can carry occupants numbering 16 or more (to include the driver). Drivers wishing to learn to drive vehicles for transporting hazardous materials require this class
Any Colorado resident who wishes to apply for any of the three above licenses must have held a Class D for a minimum period of two years. Further information below.
Some additional endorsement may be required in the state of Colorado.
CDL Eligibility in Colorado
As with other states, Colorado regularly reviews its statutes with regard to licensing of the CDL requirement. All applicants are required by law to take a test in a vehicle relevant for the CDL license that they require.
License and Permits
- Applicants must have held a regular driver's license for a minimum period of two years
- All applicants need to pass health checks including a vision exam
- Applicants are strongly recommended to take a CDL education course; this is not required as part of your licensing
- General knowledge exams are required for all licensing classes
- Applicants must be at least 18 years old with a valid driver's license for the state of Colorado
- 18-21-year-olds may only apply for state CDL licenses and cannot drive out of state with their vehicle
- For transporting materials across state borders, the applicant needs to be a minimum 21 years old.
Proof of Residence of Colorado
- You are required to present any valid proof of Colorado residential status and legal ID
- You will need a valid social security number
CDL Requirements for Colorado Residents
- A valid Colorado state driver's license
- A valid Social Security number and card
- Applicant must provide proof of valid insurance
- There may be a record check, endorsement test and TSA screening for those wishing to apply for a license to transport hazardous materials
Colorado CDL Requirements for Out-of-State Residents and Transfers
Colorado is responsible for organizing its own in-state criteria for eligibility of people from out of state. Further paperwork may be required above and beyond Federal documentation to apply for any CDL license in Colorado:
- A relevant ID card from your state of residence
- Any valid and current out-of-state documentation you possess - this includes existing CDL
- You may need to prove US citizenship. A passport, military ID or state-issued birth certificate will do but these must be originals, not copies
- Proof of a Colorado residence
Non-U.S. Citizen Requirements for Colorado CDL
If you're a foreign national and not a US citizen, further documentation and criteria are required to earn a CDL in Colorado. In order to obtain CDL certification, you will need to be a Permanent Resident. The following will need to be presented and validated before you may be legally able to apply for a CDL:
- Your valid Permanent Resident Card
- An unexpired EAD in the event you do not have a Resident Card (this is the Employment Authorization Document) that USCIS issues. Your (unexpired) foreign passport will also be acceptable with an I-94 (validated)
- Any official birth documentation such as a government-issued birth certificate
- Any other naturalization information in your possession
Please note that testing requirements in Colorado are waived if you have valid driving licenses from any of the following countries: France, Germany, Canada, Republic of South Korea and Taiwan
Do I Need a CDL?
As well as the special arrangement with certain countries to waive testing, Colorado - like many states - offers fast track system for others such as retired military personnel through the ‘Troops to Trucks' program. Those currently serving, close to discharge or discharged within 90 days of their application will qualify for a CDL without needing to take the test. The written test is still required. People with experience in driving heavy military vehicles who have a safe record of driving for 2 years or more may also have the CDL test waived.
The following groups may also be subject to waiver or exemption under certain circumstances:
- Citizens with valid driving licenses in France, Germany, Canada, Taiwan and South Korea
- Drivers with certification for transporting small-volume hazardous material. This includes human and animal waste
- Anybody instructed to drive emergency vehicles under the direction of a peace officer
- Drivers of motor homes
- Farm vehicles and their operators, anything up to 150 miles from their farm boundary
- Snow plow operators during emergency removal of snow
- Drivers of military and firefighting vehicles
Medical and Physical CDL Requirements
- CDL applicants are required to pass a medical examination in the state of Colorado. A list of authorized medical examiners is on the Colorado DOT website
- Once passed, the medical professional will fill out a Medical Examiner's Certificate and a Medical Examination Report Form
- The applicant should then supply these to the DMV inside 15 days to support CDL application. You may submit by postal mail, email (with an image scan), fax or a web form
- The applicant will then be issued with a Federal Medical Card upon successful receipt
- Applicants who have failed the medical exam may apply for a CDL restriction for some conditions. Further details are listed below
- The employer is responsible for costs of medical examination in most cases. The employer should be the first point of query; CDL offices in Colorado are available for further information
Background Check for CDL Applicants
A TSA screening is mandatory in the majority of cases. Further checks may apply to applicants who expect to drive vehicles eligible to carry and transport material toxic and hazardous to health and the environment. The test will include a fingerprint check, rigorous verification of your US citizenship - or in the case of legal immigrants, examination of your eligibility as a Permanent Resident.
CDL Testing in Colorado
All applicants for a CDL in Colorado are required to complete a skills test and a knowledge test.
CDL Knowledge Test
Applicants should pass a knowledge test first and are legally required to do so before taking the Road Skills Test. is an important part of the CDL application. You will be expected to successfully answer questions regarding road safety and driving standards relating to the vehicle class.
CDL Road Skills Tests
Only when the Knowledge Test is complete will an examiner permit the Road Skills section of the CDL. Applicants should apply through a local CDL center in Colorado or seek a fully licensed third-party examiner. The tests contain three parts:
- A pre-trip inspection of the vehicle
- A test of your basic ability to control the vehicle
- The actual road test which will require demonstration of your ability to cope with real traffic situations
Colorado CDL Office Locations
Colorado is a large state with multiple options for prospective truck drivers to take a CDL examination. The state no longer operates official testing centers, but through third-party organizations. Ensure you arrive with all relevant paper and ahead of your examination time. The vehicle must be in a roadworthy condition. Here is a selection of centers:
- Colorado CDL Testing .com
4330 Mark Dabling Blvd,
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
- CDL College LLC
7170 Dahlia St,
Commerce City, CO 80022,
- CDL Certifiers
2801 Grand Ave,
Grand Junction, CO 81501,
- United States Truck Driving School, Inc
8150 W 48th Ave,
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
- SAGE Truck Driving School
9239 Brighton Road, Werner Terminal, Suite 201,
Henderson, CO 80640
Third party CDL testing facilities and locations can be found at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/CDLschools.pdf.
The state's DMV HQ is located at:
- 1881 Pierce St. Lakewood,
Colorado CDL Endorsements
Colorado's DMV is a division of the state's Department of Revenue. Centers across the state are able to provide candidates with training and licensing to drive a range of vehicles, including:
- Passenger Endorsements (P)
- Double and Triple Trailer licensing (T)
- Tanker Vehicle (N) and Hazmat, or Hazmat & Tank combo (X)
- School Bus (S)
- Vehicle for Developmentally Disabled Persons (VDDP)
CDL license holders may find that penalties for infractions in the state of Colorado may be higher than for other license types. Infractions may lead to suspension or revocation of license.
Colorado CDL Disqualifications
The following list of regulations for CDL driver and penalties for infractions is under constant review. Any of the following violations could result in suspension, revocation (temporary or permanent) of the license.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) according to regulations of Colorado law. The present blood alcohol concentration is .04%. Above this, operator is subject to arrest
- Driving under the influence of other controlled substances such as illegal drugs
- Refusing to take an alcohol test when requested by an officer of the law
- Leaving an accident scene without reporting said accident
- Committing a felony and using the vehicle for the felony
- Driving a CMV in full knowledge of a present suspension or revocation of your CDL license
- Through negligent or dangerous driving, causing a fatality while operating any CMV
- Using the vehicle for the illegal production or distribution, or transportation of controlled substances
Also, the following traffic violations will result in a 60 disqualification for a second offense and a 120-day suspension for a third offence (all within three years):
- Speed in excess of 15mph above legally designated speed limit
- Reckless driving as defined by Colorado law including recklessness and wanton disregard for safety
- Erratic and improper lane changes deemed unsafe
- Closely following another vehicle ahead, posing a danger. This is known as "tailgating"
- Any violation of Colorado law that leads to a fatal accident. This excludes parking infractions
- Driving a CMV having not qualified through the CDL process
- Driving a CMV and not being in possession of the necessary legal paperwork
- Driving a CMV with insufficient authorization to do so (a higher class than permissible)
Due to a large number of railroad junctions, Colorado has specific laws and penalties for non-compliance. First violation results in a 60-day disqualification, the second a 120-day disqualification and the third violation results in a one-year disqualification
- Where the driver fails to slow to ensure tracks are clear of approaching trains before crossing (where not required to stop)
- Where the driver fails to stop before reaching the crossing when the tracks are not clear (where not required to stop)
- Where the driver is always required to stop but does not do so when entering a crossing
- The driver fails to leave sufficient space to cross without stopping
- The driver ignores a traffic control device or traffic enforcement official on a level crossing
- The driver fails to negotiate a crossing as the vehicle has insufficient clearance with the undercarriage
Colorado also has a list of CDL specific violations:
- Where the vehicle carries more load than permissible but the driver does not have a special permit
- Where the Log Books are not up to date, falsified or incomplete
- Speeding while towing a trailer more than 15mph above the legally designated limit
- Some highways are steep enough that CMV are not permitted to use them. Violation results in automatic 60-day suspension
- No driver is permitted more than one CDL
CDL Salary, Employment, and Prospects
BLS data released in 2017 based on 2016 data reports a low to moderate availability of CDL roles of any class. Growth is expected to be around 5%, slightly under the national average of all jobs. The reasons are numerous, partly down to efficiency and partly down to cost - other methods of transport may prove cheaper in the long-run for transportation of mass haulage (rail, air) and the rise of independent transport for lighter vehicle transportation and GPS technology means lower growth.
According to 2017 data, the mean salary for all heavy truck drivers is $41,340. The equivalent hourly pay rate is $19.87. The average salary in Colorado is considerably higher than the national median at $47,340. Median hourly pay is $21.91 and the mean hourly pay is $22.76. The lowest 10% salary according to 2016 statistics was $26,920. The highest 10% salary band was reported at in excess of $63,140.
The mean salary for this type of role is slightly lower than heavy trucks. Averages are $34,790 (mean salary) and $16.73 (mean hourly). The situation in Colorado with regard to light trucking is similar to heavy trucking. Light truck drivers in the state can expect a mean salary of $37,240 and hourly pay of are $16.56 (median) and $17.90 (mean). Delivery drivers, vans and small trucks employment is projected to grow 4% to 2024. This is nearly half the national average. Advances in e-commerce planning means fewer drivers and greater efficiency.
The average salary for all bus drivers and passenger vehicles is $31,920. The equivalent hourly rate is $14.96. As with the other two classes, passenger vehicle drivers can expect a higher than average rate of pay for both hourly and salaried jobs. In Colorado, the average salary is $36,430. The equivalent hourly pay is $17.55 (median) and $17.52 (mean). We expect job demand to grow some 6% between 2014 and 2024 - the national average for all jobs.
BLS Source: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm
Resources for Colorado CDL Requirements
- Colorado Commercial Driver's License Manual
- Initial CDL Application Information
- Department of Revenue (Colorado) License Information
- How to Apply for a New Colorado CDL
Learn more about Colorado trucking schools.
Truck Driver Salary in Colorado
|Location||25th Percentile||75th Percentile||Annual Salary|
|Colorado Springs, CO||$33,820||$46,740||$39,430|
|Fort Collins-Loveland, CO||$23,960||$44,900||$38,950|
|Grand Junction, CO||$33,530||$53,280||$44,280|
Table data taken from 2015 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm)