Hawaii CDL Requirements

Joining in 1959, Hawaii is so far the last of the 50 US states. Before that, it was an independent kingdom but was annexed by the US in the late 19th century but permitted self-governance between 1900 and 1959. It's the only state not to exist on mainland North America, the only state to exist in another continent (Oceania - it's actually part of Polynesia) and the only one consisting solely of an archipelago. It's the 8th smallest and 11th least populous of the US states. Despite this, it's the 13th most densely populated state due to many of the smaller islands being given over to nature reserve. It's a popular vacation destination with miles of beaches, rainforest with a warm tropical climate. Much of the topography is volcanic rock, the unique geology creating hundreds of islands although only eight make up the US state.

Which CDL Licenses are Available in Hawaii?

Hawaii state requires applicants for any CDL license to pass tests and examination to drive a CMV. As with other states, Hawaii has three CMV license designations as follows.

Class A

This type of license is for driving CMVs of 26,000 lbs and above. You are also licensed to pull trailers weighing 10,000lb or more.

Class B

This type of license is for driving CMVs of 26,000 lbs and above but you are licensed to pull trailers not more than 10,000lb.

Class C

This type of license is for driving CMVs of 26,000 lbs and under for the purpose of carrying hazmat vehicles, and passenger vehicles of 16 or more.

Class D

Before any applicant can apply for a CMV, they require the standard driver's license in good standing. This is the Class D for two years or more.

Hawaii residents must pass tests and take a medical exam for the A-C classes. Some vehicles will require further authorization through endorsements.

CDL Eligibility in Hawaii

There are Federal laws that apply to all states for CDL licensing. Hawaii is no different but permitted to include extra requirements and standards for CDL applicants. The state government will regularly review these extra requirements based on evolving needs of the industry. For all CDL license types, applicants must submit to medical checks and TSA if necessary (depends on endorsements).

License and Permits

  • Applicants require a license in good standing for no less than two-years prior to the CDL licensing application
  • Applicants are required to pass relevant health checks for CDL licensing in Hawaii
  • Hawaii does not require applicants to take a CDL education course, it may be advisable in some cases - especially where additional endorsements apply
  • The CDL license process in Hawaii comprises a driving skills test and written exam


  • CDL licensing requires the applicant be no younger than 18 years
  • 18-21-year-olds are limited to the state of residence and may not use their privileges in other states
  • 18-21-year-olds are not permitted to drive hazmat vehicles
  • Those aged 21 or above may use their CDL license privileges in other states

Proof of Residence of Hawaii

  • CDL applicants in Hawaii are required to present relevant ID that proves eligibility and state residence
  • SSN card will also be required at the time of application

CDL Requirements for Hawaii Residents

  • Only driver's licenses issued in Hawaii are eligible in application for a CDL license
  • Your Social Security Number Card must be presented
  • Proof of insurance is mandatory
  • Some endorsements required TSA screening for the applicant

Hawaii CDL Requirements for Out-of-State Residents and Transfers

States are permitted to apply extra standards for out of state residents. Those transferring to the state of Hawaii are required to transfer their driver's license to one issued in Hawaii and surrender their old version:

  • Any out-of-state CDL license you already hold must be current or expired less than two years previously
  • Hawaii requires that you demonstrate proof of US citizenship
  • Hawaii residency proof is required
  • A Social Security Number Card
  • You must submit to medical exams including a vision test. If you have existing medical certification or waivers, you should present them

Non-U.S. Citizen Requirements for Hawaii CDL

Non-US citizens with a right to reside in the USA are eligible to apply for a CDL but must present further information and documentation, including:

  • Original copies of your Permanent Resident Card and any other paperwork declaring your legal residency
  • Valid identification alongside your immigration documents. The Hawaii CDL handbook provides further details but typically you will be expected to provide your foreign passport
  • Proof of both right to reside in the state of Hawaii and your address
  • If you possess a driver's license from the country of your birth, you should present this. Your CDL application may, however, require its permanent surrender

Do I Need a CDL?

Along with other states, Hawaii provides a system for military personnel either honorably discharged or about to be discharged. Informally, this scheme is called ‘Troops to Trucks' and it permits eligible individuals to bypass the driving test section of the CDL application. Applicants under the Troops to Trucks scheme will still be required to successfully pass the written test. You may be ineligible if you have motoring offences for DUI (both alcohol and drugs), for leaving the scene of an accident or speeding. Further, conviction of any other felony involving a vehicle will render you ineligible. Military personnel authorized to drive heavy military vehicles, retiring firefighters and police drivers (state and county) may also be eligible for exemption. A minimum two-year period with a safe record is required in these instances.

Further waivers apply in some circumstances:

  • Individuals legally authorized to drive small volume hazmat vehicles
  • Peace officers are authorized to request anybody drive a CMV in emergency situations
  • Recreational vehicles such as motorhomes
  • Drivers of farm equipment anything up to 150 air miles from the farm of their work
  • Emergency clearing vehicles such as plows during a snowstorm or clearance following a hurricane
  • Any emergency vehicle operation to include military and firefighting vehicles

Medical and Physical CDL Requirements

  • You are required to demonstrate fitness to drive by passing a medical examination
  • Once satisfactorily completed by authorized medical personnel, you will receive a Medical Examiner's Certificate and a Medical Examination Report Form
  • Submit both forms to the Hawaii Department of Transport. You may do so in person, by email, fax or by postal mail
  • You should keep copies of any forms you submit to Hawaii DOT
  • You may apply for both intrastate (cargo remains in the state) and interstate (you may transport out of state). Restrictions apply - see above
  • A Federal Medical Card is required for driving in other states. This is issued after receipt and processing of documents
  • If you fail the medical test, you may be eligible to apply for license restrictions
  • For most applicants, the employer pays medical costs. If this is the case, all enquiries regarding your CDL application should go through the employer

Background Check for CDL Applicants

All applicants in the state of Hawaii must go through TSA screening. Hazmat driving applicants and other endorsements will require more checks to include fingerprint checking. Any documentation proving your right to reside in the USA must be presented. Hazmat endorsements are for permanent residents and US citizens only.

CDL Testing in Hawaii

All CDL applicants must pass both a driving test and a knowledge test. There are exceptions, some of which are listed above.

CDL Knowledge Test

Before you are permitted to take the driving test, you must pass the road knowledge test for the CDL. It consists of 50 general knowledge questions. Further questions will be required for each additional endorsement. These include driving passengers, air brake endorsements, combination, and tank vehicles. Typically, each section has 20 additional questions.

CDL Road Skills Tests

One you have successfully passed all relevant sections of the knowledge test, you are permitted to study the road skills test:

  • The examiner must first ensure that the vehicle is both suitable and safe for the test
  • The examiner will ask you to demonstrate knowledge of vehicle control including the ability to make adjustments
  • Only then will you be permitted to drive on the roads for the driving test, analyzing your ability to adapt to road conditions

Hawaii CDL Office Locations

Some states license the testing to third parties but some are state operated. Hawaii operates a mix. Here is a list of the government licensing centers:

In Oahu

  • CDL Unit
    99-501 Salt Lake Blvd.
    Honolulu, HI 96818
    (808) 487-5534

In Kauai

  • Department of Finance
    444 Rice St.
    Lihue, HI 96766
    (808) 241-6550

In Hawaii

  • Hilo Police Station
    349 Kapiolani
    Hilo, HI 96720
    (808) 961-2222
  • Old Kailua Airport
    (808) 327-3580
  • Waimea Police Station
    9835 Kaumaualii Highway
    Waimea, HI 96796
    (808) 887-3087

In Maui

  • Maui Service Center
    70 East Kaahumanu Ave., Suite A-17
    Kahului, HI 96732
    (808) 270-7363
  • Hana Police Station
    Mile Marker 33
    (808) 248-8254

In Molokai

  • Mitchell Pauole Center
    Aiona Street and Ala Malama Avenue
    Kauanakakai, HI 96748
    (808) 553-3430

In Lanai

  • Lanai City Gym
    (808) 565-7878
    Call ahead advised

The Hawaii Department of Transport has further details: http://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/

Hawaii CDL Endorsements

Hawaii's endorsements are as follows:

  • Hazardous Material (H)
  • Tank Vehicles (N)
  • Passenger Vehicle (P)
  • School Bus (S).
  • Double or Triple Trailer (T)

CDL holders are held to higher driving standards due to the nature of the license requirements. Any infraction or offence will usually result in the application of stronger penalties. You are at risk of losing your license temporarily or permanently.

Hawaii CDL Disqualifications

Hawaii's list of disqualifications is subject to both Federal law and is reviewed regularly in line with updated guidance. Here is a list of offences in Hawaii:

  • When your blood alcohol level is over 0.04% while driving a CMV
  • Driving under the influence of any controlled substance
  • Refusal of an alcohol test even if you have not been drinking
  • Leaving an accident scene and failing to report it
  • Using your CMV for any non-traffic felony
  • Causing a fatal accident negligent actions while in control of a CMV
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked license

You will receive a 12-month disqualification for a first offence and for life for a second offence. If the offence involves a hazmat vehicle, a three-year disqualification applies to a first offence a first offence comes with a 3-year disqualification. If you use the vehicle for controlled substances, you will lose your license for life. When tested for alcohol content, if below.04%, your license will be revoked for 24-hours.

The list below is for serious traffic violations, lesser offences resulting in smaller penalties. Second offences incur a 60-day disqualification and a third in a three-year period will incur a 120-day minimum suspension:

  • Driving at more than 15mph over the designated speed limit
  • Reckless driving
  • Erratic maneuvers and improper lane changes
  • Driving too closely to other vehicles
  • Ignoring state laws on what to do during a fatal accident
  • Driving a CMV without CDL or with inadequate CDL authorization
  • Not having relevant and sufficient CDL endorsements
  • Not possessing your CDL while operating the vehicle

Any out of services order will result in a minimum disqualification of 90-days for a first offence; OOS violations with hazardous material can be up to two years. Second offences result in a potential one-year disqualification in a ten year period and a third leads to a three-year disqualification. Second hazmat offences are 3-10 years. Hawaii's laws on railroad violations are as follows:

  • If driving a vehicle not required to stop at a railroad junction and fail to do so when the tracks are not clear
  • If driving a vehicle not required to stop at a railroad junction and fail to slow down when the tracks are clear
  • If driving a vehicle required to stop at a railroad junction, failing to stop before entering the crossing
  • The failure to leave sufficient space to drive through without stopping
  • The failure to observe requirements of any traffic control devices or enforcement officials
  • Failure to negotiate a crossing due to insufficient clearance of the undercarriage

Each first offence results in a 60-day disqualification. Each second offence in three years results in a 120-day disqualification. Any third offence inside of a three-year period will result in a 12-month suspension.

Further details for Hawaii violations are here: https://hidot.hawaii.gov/highways/files/2013/01/mvso-CDL-Disqualifying-Offenses-Disqualification-Periods.doc

Hawaii CDL Salary, Employment, and Prospects

Data from BLS in 2017 predicted that driving job availability will grow 5% between 2014 and 2024. This works out just below average job growth across the USA. Transport, haulage and driving jobs are still to recover from the economic decline of the last decade. However, improvements in technology have made existing jobs more efficient and faster to process. GPS has slowed the number of vacancies due to better planning.

Heavy Trucks

Presently, the national average salary for heavy truck driving is $41,340; the equivalent hourly rate is $19.87. Hawaii's pay details are higher than these averages with a median salary of $45,100. Pay for hourly employees is also higher at $21.40 (median) and $21.68 (mean). The salary range goes from $26,920 for the lowest 10% and up to $63,140 for the highest 10% salary grade.

Light Trucks

The National average salary for light trucks is $34,790 at present; the equivalent hourly pay is $16.73. As with the heavy truck roles, light truck drivers in Hawaii will experience slightly higher than average pay with a and $35,190 salary. Hourly pays are closer to the averages at $14.40 (median) and $16.92 (mean average). This area of the industry can expect 4% growth between now and 2024. That is near half the national average job growth.

Passenger Vehicles

Bus drivers and other passenger vehicles nationwide expect a salary of $31,920 and hourly rate of $14.96. In Hawaii, these drivers are relatively well paid compared to the national average. Salaried employees report an average of $37,920; equivalent hourly rates are $18.96 (median) and $18.23 (mean). Passenger vehicle drivers expect a 6% increase in demand between 2014 and 2024 - around the average of all jobs.

BLS Source: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_hi.htm

Resources for Hawaii CDL Requirements

Learn more about Hawaii trucking schools.

Truck Driver Salary in Hawaii

Location 25th Percentile 75th Percentile Annual Salary
United States $31,270 $48,330 $38,700
Hawaii $36,470 $49,220 $42,540
Honolulu, HI $35,820 $47,400 $41,440

Table data taken from 2015 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm)