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How Many Times Can You Retake The CDL Permit Test?

Truck Driver Academy / Blog  / How Many Times Can You Retake The CDL Permit Test?

How Many Times Can You Retake The CDL Permit Test?

If you are on your way to getting your CDL, it’s important to note that there are 3 steps you must complete in order to obtain your CDL. Some states may require additional steps/training, so be sure to look at your state’s specific requirements. For now, we’ll cover the federal requirements

The steps you must take to get your CDL are:

  1. Obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)
  2. Complete Entry-Level Driver’s Training
  3. Pass all 3 parts of the skills test to get your CDL

As with all test taking, there’s a possibility you may not pass the first time. And that’s ok! You can retry the CDL test if needed. But you may be wondering, “How many times can you retake the CDL permit test?” and “How many times can you fail your CDL driving test?”. That’s what we’re here to answer. Read on to learn the specifics on taking both your CLP test and your CDL test.

Commercial Learner’s Permit Test

Obtaining your CDL permit is the first step in getting your CDL. Your permit allows you to practice driving under the supervision of a CDL instructor. In order to obtain your permit, you’ll need to take a CLP exam.

The CLP exam consists of three portions:

  • General knowledge – this section covers everything you may need to know about driving a commercial vehicle. Topics may include vehicle controls, how to safely secure cargo, driving in inclement weather, and a wide range of other subjects.
  • Air brakes – as the name suggests, this section is all about air brakes.
  • Combination vehicles – this section is specifically focused on driving and inspecting tractor-trailers.

If you fail your first attempt, how many times can you take the CDL permit test? The amount of times you can take the permit test varies by state, so be sure to check out your specific state’s requirements. For example, in California, you can take the CDL permit test 3 times before needing to reapply for your CLP. The state of Virginia is similar in that you can take the CLP test up to 3 times, but if you do not pass the permit test after the third try, you need to complete Driver Training School before retaking the CLP test. 

Commercial Driver’s License Test

Once you’ve obtained your CLP, typically you must have your CLP for 14 days before you can then apply to take the skills test for your CDL. Similar to the CLP, the requirements to obtain a CDL may vary by state, but your CDL skills test will likely include the following:

  • A vehicle inspection
  • Basic control skills test
  • Road test

There are some instances where a portion of your CDL skills test may be waived. In California, your skills test requirement can be waived if:

  • You have a valid CDL that is current or expired within the last 2 years from another state. Note that your CDL from another state must be an equivalent classification
  • You have a Certificate of Driving Skill issued from an authorized employer
  • You have a Commercial Military Waiver from commercial driving experience
  • You have a California CLP but completed the CDL skills test in another state

So, what happens if you fail your CDL test 3 times? In California, you have three tries to pass the CDL skills test. If you fail any part of the skills test, all other testing will be postponed and you will need to retest. Each time you retest, you will need to pay an additional testing fee. 

Remember, there are a ton of resources available to help you study and prepare for your CDL skills test. Try to find the best way for you to study and make sure you give yourself enough time to adequately review the material. If you’ve done that, then you should feel confident that you’ll be able to pass all components of your skills test! And if you don’t pass the first time, don’t let that get you down. Just get back to studying, pay close attention to the areas where you failed, and practice out on the road with a certified CDL instructor.