In a recent final rule, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said it will allow but not require state driver licensing agencies to waive the commercial learner’s permit (CLP) knowledge test for current or past military members, when their position required operation of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) within the past year.

The final rule also allows states to waive tests required for certain license endorsements: the passenger carrier (P) endorsement, the tank vehicle (N) endorsement, or the hazardous material (H) endorsement, with proof of military training and experience.

The final rule, effective Nov. 27, 2018, is part of the agency’s effort to address trucking industry concerns about a shortage of qualified truck drivers.

Combined with previous rulemakings, this final rule (referred to, in combination, as the “Military CDL I Rule”) now allows states to waive both the commercial driver’s license (CDL) knowledge and the driving skills tests for qualified current or past military service members.  FMCSA examined the vehicle training programs for “Military Occupational Specialties” in the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, and found them equivalent to or more thorough than civilian CDL requirements for those military vehicles comparable to a CMV.

The Military CDL I Rule applies to reservists and National Guard members, as well as to former and current active-service members. Recognizing that military personnel are often stationed away from home, the Military CDL I Rule allows the state where personnel are stationed to coordinate with their state of domicile in the expedited processing of CDL and CLP applications and the administration of any knowledge and driving skills tests.

FMCSA estimates that the knowledge test waiver will annually benefit 2,460 applicants, with a cost savings of $16.66 million over 10 years. This continues the deregulatory efforts by the current administration, as also recently reflected in the elimination of duplicative course requirements for holders of Class B CDLs seeking to obtain a Class A license.

With the driver shortage being a critical issue in the trucking industry, FMCSA said it explicitly recognizes in the final rule that “… [Q]ualified current and separated service members will now have significantly reduced obstacles to earning non-military licenses.”

The FMCSA final rule can be found in the Federal Register.