Pennsylvania CDL Requirements

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a state located in the northeast of the USA; it's the sixth most populous despite ranking 33 in terms of its surface area, and the 9th densest in terms of population numbers. It's one of the original 13 colonies that made up the founding states, coming into being in 1681 thanks to a land grant to William Penn - the man after whom the Commonwealth is named. It was the second state to join the newly formed United States of America during the War of Independence. Previously, part of the state and Delaware made up a defunct area known as "New Sweden". The topography is divided between the Appalachian Mountains which cut the Commonwealth down the middle. It has several areas of coastline, albeit on fresh water with Lake Erie and Delaware estuary. The rest of the state's topography is made up of coastal plain and plateau. Delaware lies to the southeast, West Virginia at the southwest corner and Maryland is immediately south. Ohio is west, New Jersey is to the east and north lies parts of Ontario (in Canada) and Lake Erie.

Which CDL Licenses are Available in Pennsylvania?

All states and commonwealths within the United States are required by Federal law to set divisions of driver's licensing by vehicle weight. How this is organised is determined at state level. Pennsylvania criteria are listed here.

Class A CDL

This category is reserved for the heaviest types of truck (for vehicles weighing over 26,000lb) designed for the haulage of the heaviest types of trailer (for vehicles weighing over 10,000lb).

Class B CDL

This category is reserved for the heaviest types of truck (for vehicles weighing over 26,000lb) designed for the haulage of lighter types of trailer (for vehicles weighing under 10,000lb).

Class C CDL

This category is reserved for lighter trucks (for vehicles weighing less than 26,000lb), for hazmat transportation and passenger vehicles for 16 or more people.

Class A-C Non-Commercial Licenses

In Pennsylvania, drivers are required to apply for a noncommercial driver's license in the same category, For most cars, pickup trucks, RVs and other vehicles for personal use, that should be a Class C non-commercial license.

Class A-C non-commercial licenses are mandatory for all applicants, regardless of class. The driver must have a clean license with no pending or present convictions for a period of two years before application. All applicants must pass medical testing, medical record checks and TSA.

CDL Eligibility in Pennsylvania

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act determines safety and criteria regulation for which all states must abide. Some flexibility exists within the Act, but for the most part, laws are determined Federally. States may, under some circumstance, make exceptions based on local conditions.

License and Permits

  • All applicants are required to possess a noncommercial license (any class) for eligibility of application for a CDL in Pennsylvania. Any convictions in the previous two years is automatic rejection
  • Fitness to drive and good health is required for CDL application. This will be ascertained through medical testing and checks
  • Pennsylvania residents may find a number of CDL training courses in their location. Although not mandatory ahead of the CDL application process, most candidates should strongly consider such training

Age Restrictions

  • Applicants must be age 18 or over at the time of application to apply for any CDL
  • Applicants must be age 21 or over at the time of application to apply for interstate driving on any CDL (to drive to and through other states)
  • Applicants must be age 21 or over at the time of application to apply for any CDL class with hazmat endorsements

Proof of Residence of Pennsylvania

  • All applicants are required to provide ID with a current residential address with the other documents
  • All applicants must also supply their Social Security Number when requested to demonstrate right to work in the US

CDL Requirements for Pennsylvania Residents

  • The applicant must demonstrate that they have a present residential address in Pennsylvania. All license holders are required by law to register a change of address with the Commonwealth's DMV
  • The applicant must demonstrate that they have a right to work in the US by presenting their Social Security Number
  • The applicant must demonstrate possession of sufficient and relevant insurance
  • The applicant must pass mandatory TSA screening

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

Out of state applicants and those moving to the Commonwealth to live and work are required to pass through several more steps and checks.

  • Should the applicants already hold a driver's license from another state, he or she will be asked to surrender it
  • It will be transferred for a Pennsylvania driver's license. If it is current or has not expired in the last two years, a straight swap is all that is required
  • You are required to prove your US citizenship
  • You are required to declare any known medical condition that may affect your driving safety
  • You are required to provide details of any prior restrictions to which you have been subjected

Non-U.S. Citizen Requirements for Pennsylvania CDL

  • Only foreign nationals with Permanent Resident Status may drive a CMV and enter to CDL application process. Your Green Card is often sufficient proof; however, any other documentation in your possession (such as refugee papers) should also be presented
  • You will be required to present the passport from the country of your birth. US citizens not born in the US will be required to provide a Consular Report of Birth Abroad
  • Your driver's license from the country of your birth (should you hold one) must be presented and, in most cases, surrendered and transferred for a Pennsylvania license
  • You are not permitted to apply for hazardous material endorsement; due to security issues, this privilege is reserved for US citizens

Do I Need a CDL?

In Pennsylvania, as with other states, veteran military personnel who retired within the last year and those who will retire in no more than 90 days are eligible for a military waiver scheme. This allows applicants to bypass the driving skills test. However, the written exam is still required before the CDL is granted. You will require presentation of your official military ID. Your Certificate of Release must also be presented. Furthermore, you may require a Commanding Officer's letter that explains your driving ability along with a Certificate of Driving Experience.

Any applicant with current or pending driving convictions will see their application rejected. These include convictions or pending charges for speeding, leaving an accident scene, failing to report an accident and DUI involving drugs or alcohol. If the applicant previously had their CDL permissions refused, revoked, suspended or canceled in any state for any reason, this could mean application rejection.

Other conditions do not require the driver hold a CDL:

  • Drivers of hazmat vehicles that are small volume only
  • Where any eligible peace officer may request any person able to do so to operate a CMV in emergency conditions. Such scenarios include natural disaster relief
  • Where any eligible person may request any person able to do so to drive a CMV to clear debris during localized problems (snow and mud clearance, fallen trees following a storm)
  • Any driver able to operate a recreational vehicle
  • Agricultural machine operators under the condition they are no more than 150 air miles from their farm of work
  • Public service personnel operating authorized vehicles: police driving, ambulances and firefighting equipment

Medical and Physical CDL Requirements

  • CMV drivers are required to demonstrate sufficient health. Therefore, every CDL applicant must pass a series of medical checks and tests
  • You will receive a Medical Examination Report Form and a Medical Examiner's Certificate on completion of these tests and checks
  • Forward these documents to the CDL office where you are applying. Here, you will be issued with a Federal Medical Card
  • State whether you require intrastate driving (driving only in Pennsylvania) or interstate driving (driving in and to other states). There are age restrictions, please see above
  • Medical tests and checks may identify issues that could cause problems when driving a CMV. In such cases, this is not the end of your CDL career - you may be eligible for restrictions
  • The employer will normally pay for the CDL testing process. All applicants should direct concerns and queries through the relevant contact

Background Check for CDL Applicants

CDL application is limited only to US citizens and Permanent Resident foreign nationals. All applicants, regardless of resident status, must pass mandatory TSA checks. Only US citizens may apply to drive hazardous material vehicles. They must go through further checks such as fingerprint checking.

CDL Testing in Pennsylvania

The applicant must complete all steps mentioned her previously before proceeding to the testing phase. The steps are as follows:

CDL Knowledge Test

Formal testing begins with the Knowledge Test. It is a list of 50 multiple-choice questions designed to test the applicants understanding and mastery of theory, laws, regulations and driving procedures in Pennsylvania. Each required endorsement is another 20 questions for each endorsement.

CDL Road Skills Tests

The applicant must pass the Knowledge Test before proceeding to the driving skills section.

  • It is a requirement that the examiner ensures the vehicle is road safe, eligible to take a test for a CDL and relevant to the class
  • The applicant must then show that they understand how to adjust interior controls such as seating and mirrors, and operate basic functions such as ignition, lighting and other standard adjustable elements
  • Finally, the CDL applicant is required to take the vehicle onto the road to demonstrate driving ability under normal conditions and show sufficient knowledge on adapting to changing road conditions

Pennsylvania CDL Office Locations

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicle locations are as follows:

In Erie

  • Sue's Notary, Messenger
    1353 W. 38th St.
    Erie, PA 16508
    (814) 868-5479
  • Ross Notary, Messenger
    2670 W. 12th St.
    Erie, PA 16505
    (814) 833-1684
  • AAA East Central Messenger #2
    4430 Buffalo Road
    Erie, PA 16510
    (814) 897-9508
  • AAA East Central Messenger
    6660 Peach Street
    Erie, PA 16509
    (814) 866-0246
  • Erie PennDOT Driver License Center
    7200 Peach St. Summit Towne Center
    Erie, PA 16509
    (800) 932-4600

In Harrisburg

  • Harrisburg PennDOT Driver License Center
    1101 S. Front St. Riverfront Office Center
    Harrisburg, PA 17104
    (800) 932-4600
  • Sollenberger's Messenger Service
    200 Corporate Circle
    Harrisburg, PA 17101
    (717) 236-6722
  • PA Auto License Brokers
    7376 Spring Garden Road
    New Bloomfield, PA 17068
    (717) 582-2400

In Lancaster

  • Brimmer's License Service
    1921-B Lincoln Highway East
    Lancaster, PA 17602
    (717) 295-1799
  • Goodville Notary Service
    230 W Main Street
    Leola, PA 17540
    (717) 656-0123
  • Goodville Notary, Messenger
    1 Howard Ave.
    Lancaster, PA 17602
    (717) 299-9411
  • B & E Notary, Messenger
    4225 Oregon Pike
    Ephrata, PA 17522
    (717) 859-3733
  • Brimmer's License Service, Messenger
    1354 Harrisburg Pike
    Lancaster, PA 17601
    (717) 394-9991
  • Apple Auto Sales Messenger Service
    5197 Lincoln Hwy.
    Gap, PA 17527
    (717) 442-9700

In Mechanicsburg

  • PA Auto License Brokers
    6483 Carlisle Pike Suite 104
    Mechanicsburg, PA 17055
    (717) 691-6720
  • Sollenberger's Messenger
    29 Westminster Drive
    Carlisle, PA 17013
    (717) 249-8149

In Philadelphia

  • AAA Mid-Atlantic Messenger #1
    1801 Market St.
    Philadelphia, PA 19103
    (215) 399-1180
  • Success Driving School (On-Line Messenger Service)
    120 N. 9th St.
    Philadelphia, PA 19107
    (215) 925-8833
  • Arch St. PennDOT Driver License Center
    801 Arch St.
    Philadelphia, PA 19107
    (800) 932-4600
  • Nelson's Messenger Service
    117-125 North 8th Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19106
    (215) 923-3400
  • Titan Tags (On-Line Messenger Service)
    533B Spring Garden Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19123
    (215) 236-4103

In Pittsburgh

  • AAA East Central Messenger #6
    538 Smithfield St.
    Pittsburgh, PA 15222
    (412) 338-4300
  • Pittsburgh PennDOT Driver License Center
    708 Smithfield St.
    Pittsburgh, PA 15222
    (800) 932-4600
  • Jack Maggs Messenger #1
    1700 Saw Mill Run Blvd.
    Pittsburgh, PA 15210
    (412) 884-5800
  • AAA East Central
    5900 Baum Blvd.
    Pittsburgh, PA 15206
    (412) 365-7196
  • McCarrell's Notary Service
    1011 Castle Shannon Blvd
    Pittsburgh, PA 15234
    (412) 882-1222

In Reading

  • Erie Auto Tags Messenger Service
    534 E. Lancaster Ave.
    Reading, PA 19607
    (610) 775-6915
  • Commonwealth Auto Tags Messenger
    734 Penn Ave
    Reading, PA 19611
    (610) 372-9998
  • The Notary Shop
    835 Hiesters Lane
    Reading, PA 19605
    (610) 929-8250
  • AAA Reading-Berks Messenger Service
    920 Van Reed Road
    Reading, PA 19610
    (610) 374-4531
  • Reading PennDOT Driver License Center
    530 E. Lancaster Ave.
    Reading, PA 19607~
    (800) 932-4600

In Scranton

  • AAA North Penn Messenger
    1035 N. Washington Ave.
    Scranton, PA 18509
    (570) 348-2511
  • Leonard's Auto Tag
    635 Luzerne St.
    Scranton, PA 18504
    (570) 347-5873
  • Pennsylvania Title & Tag
    1907 Pittston Ave.
    Scranton, PA 18505
    (570) 558-3824
  • Gaughan Auto Store, Messenger
    110 S. Main St.
    Taylor, PA 18517
    (570) 562-3088
  • Dunmore PennDOT Driver License Center
    81 Keystone Industrial Park
    Scranton, PA 18512
    (800) 932-4600

In Wilkes Barre

  • Leonard's Auto Tag
    222 Wilkes-Barre Township Blvd.
    Wilkes Barre, PA 18702
    (570) 831-5179
  • Wilkes-Barre
    198 Spring Street
    Wilkes Barre, PA 18702
    (570) 970-1131
  • AAA Mid-Atlantic Messenger
    679 Kidder St.
    Wilkes Barre, PA 18702
    (570) 819-1920
  • Leonard's Auto Tag
    850 San Souci Highway Parkway Plaza
    Wilkes Barre, PA 18703
    (570) 825-1930
  • Wilkes-Barre PennDOT Driver License Center
    1085 Hanover Street
    Wilkes Barre, PA 18706
    (800) 932-4600
  • Northeast Title & Tag
    1064 Wyoming Ave.
    Wyoming, PA 18644
    (570) 613-1111

In York

  • Abel Notary & Messenger Service
    250 S. Harrison St.
    York, PA 17403
    (717) 848-1916
  • Runkle's Messenger
    1120 Roosevelt Ave.
    York, PA 17404
    (717) 812-9292
  • York PennDOT Driver License Center
    2130 S. Queen St. South York Value Center
    York, PA 17403
    (800) 932-4600
  • Brimmer License
    2110 S. Queen St. South York Value Center
    York, PA 17403
    (717) 699-1060
  • Dale D. Brenneman Messenger
    2709 W. Market St.
    York, PA 17404
    (717) 792-9914

Pennsylvania CDL Endorsements

The following CDL endorsements are available in Pennsylvania:

  • Hazardous material vehicle (H)
  • Tank vehicle (N)
  • Passenger transport (P)
  • School bus (S)
  • Double/triple (T)
  • Combined Tank/Hazmat (X)

Pennsylvania CDL Disqualifications

Drivers with a CDL are required to adhere to higher driving standards. For similar offences carried out in a motor vehicle, a CDL holder can expect higher punishments for the same offenses. The following list present infractions for which the punishment for a first offense is a 12-month suspension. A following second offense is an immediate life suspension. Should any of the following take place in a hazmat vehicle, it is a 3-10 year suspension. If a CDL holder uses their commercial vehicle for the application of business regarding controled substances, they will receive a life suspension. Further punishments may be imposed by the courts.

  • Alcohol breath or blood test readings show a level of 0.04% or above driving a CMV
  • Alcohol breath or blood test readings show a level of 0.08% or above driving a non-CMV
  • Refusal to supply a breath or blood sample for testing for alcohol or controlled substances
  • Failure to report an accident of which the CMV driver is a cause
  • Failure to stop at an accident where the CMV driver is involved
  • Causing a fatality at an accident through dangerous driving
  • Use of any CMV for non-vehicle crime
  • Using a CMV while driver CDL privileges have been removed either temporarily or permanently

Alcohol blood or breath testing that presents a result under 0.04% will be a 24-hour suspension.

The following less serious offenses do not incur a penalty for a first conviction. However, subsequent convictions inside of three years is a 60-day suspension. Any third offense inside the same three-year period is a 120-day suspension.

  • Where the driver's speed is recorded at greater than 15mph above the road's limit
  • Any driving action deemed erratic, dangerous or reckless where the action does not cause an accident
  • Any maneuvering action deemed reckless, erratic or dangerous such as improper lane changing
  • Tailgating - driving too close to other vehicles
  • Any other form of erratic or dangerous driving not listed here
  • Not holding CDL rights and privileges while driving a CMV
  • Not holding sufficient CDL rights and privileges - driving a Class A vehicle while only holding a Class C CDL
  • Not holding sufficient or correct endorsements on the CDL
  • Not holding CDL documentation during a journey

Out of Service Orders are imposed on damaged or vehicles otherwise deemed unsafe for service. This means the vehicle may not be used until corrections have been made. Any CDL holder who chooses to violate the Out of Service order will be subject to a 90-day disqualification in the first instance. The second violation is a ten-year disqualification. Out Of Service violations in a hazmat vehicle will result in a 3-10-year ban.

Pennsylvania's railroad violations are as follows. In each first instance, a 60-day suspension applies. The second offence will be followed up with a 120-day suspension. A one-year ban applies to any third offense.

  • The failure to slow sufficiently when entering a junction where not required to stop
  • The failure to stop when the road or track is not clear when entering a junction where not always required to stop
  • The failure to stop when entering a junction where always required to stop
  • The failure to stop at a junction where there is insufficient space to cross completely through
  • Ignoring the given instructions of technology or traffic officers at any railroad junction
  • The failure to clear through a junction because of insufficient undercarriage clearance

CDL Salary, Employment, and Prospects

Employment statistics, salaries, numbers and growth are part of the employment monitoring of industries across the US. The BLS examines and presents this information, releasing reports every 2-3 years with updated information.The most recent report released in May 2017 presented evidence of a 5% growth in commercial driving demand between 2014 and 2024. The national average of all jobs is presently 7%, making commercial driving slower than normal.

Heavy Trucks

Drivers of heavy truck vehicles experience long distance and unsociable working, crossing the country. BLS presented the average pay rates in 2017 as $41,340 for employees paid a salary and $19.87ph for those paid hourly. The lowest 10% paid employees reportedly had a salary of $26,920 while the highest 10% averaged $63,140. Pennsylvania residents enjoy higher pay than most with average pay rates at $45,270 for employees paid a salary and $20.90ph (median hourly rate) and $21.76ph (mean hourly rate).

Light Trucks

The majority of regional and local transport is made up of light truck driving. Drivers in this area experience more typical hours and a smaller radius of operation. Growth in this sector has slowed in recent years thanks to technology permitting efficient planning. Growth is a projected 4% with national pay averages at $34,790 (salary paid) and $16.73 (hour paid). Unlike heavy truck roles, Pennsylvania employees experience slightly lower pay at $33,200 (salary paid), and $14.03ph (median hourly) and $15.96ph (mean hourly).

Passenger Vehicles

Bus drivers enjoy stable work and constant demand due to growing population. Growth between 2014 and 2024 is around 6% which is approximately the average of all jobs. BLS information shows the national average pay rates at $31,920 (salary paid) and $14.96ph (hourly paid). As with heavy trucks, drivers in this category in the state of Pennsylvania enjoy higher than average pay. Salaried employees earn an average $39,150 while hourly employees earn $18.43 (median) and $18.82 (mean).

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

Resources for Pennsylvania CDL Requirements

Learn more about Pennsylvania trucking schools.

Truck Driver Salary in Pennsylvania

Location 25th Percentile 75th Percentile Annual Salary
United States $31,270 $48,330 $38,700
Pennsylvania $33,410 $49,720 $40,780
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ $35,680 $47,900 $41,820
Altoona, PA $29,560 $45,710 $38,000
Erie, PA $31,190 $44,020 $36,590
Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA $36,770 $56,500 $47,880
Johnstown, PA $29,520 $45,000 $36,180
Lancaster, PA $32,180 $44,550 $37,190
Lebanon, PA $29,890 $41,860 $35,100
Philadelphia, PA Metropolitan Division $34,700 $50,160 $41,940
Pittsburgh, PA $33,650 $51,400 $42,130
Reading, PA $35,350 $48,770 $41,910
Scranton--Wilkes-Barre, PA $31,680 $49,180 $37,830
State College, PA $27,140 $43,030 $35,810
Williamsport, PA $33,460 $43,720 $37,910
York-Hanover, PA $34,640 $54,010 $43,170

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