Commercial Driver License Tests
Drivers must take one or more knowledge tests depending on what class of license and what endorsements they need. The CDL knowledge tests include:
- the general knowledge test, taken by all applicants
- the passenger transport test, taken by all passenger vehicle driver applicants
- the air brakes test, which is required if their vehicle has air brakes
- the communication vehicles test, which is required to drive combination vehicles
- the hazardous materials test, which is required to haul hazardous materials or waste in amounts that require placarding
- the tanker test, which is required to haul liquids in bulk
- the doubles/triples test, which is required to pull double or triple trailers
- the school bus test to operate a school bus.
Applicants who pass the required knowledge tests qualify to take the CDL skills tests. Three types of general skills are tested: pretrip
inspection, basic vehicle control, and on-road driving. Drivers must take these tests in the type of vehicle for which they wish to be licensed.
There is a 14-day waiting period between the date the CLP is issued and the date a skills test can be completed. In addition, there is a 2-day waiting period between the date the skill test is scheduled and the date it may be taken.
Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection
Drivers are tested to ensure they know whether their vehicle is safe to drive. They are asked to do a pre-trip inspection on their vehicle and explain to the tester what they would inspect and why.
Basic Vehicle Control
Drivers are tested on their skill to control the vehicle. They are asked to move their vehicle forward and backward and to turn it within a defined area. These areas may be marked with traffic lanes, cones, barriers, or something similar. The tester tells drivers how each control test is to be done.
Drivers are tested on their skill to safely drive their vehicle in a variety of traffic situations, which may include left and right turns, intersections, railway crossings, curves, vertical grades, single or multi-lane roads, streets, or highways. The tester tells drivers where to drive.
Military Waiver of Skill Test
Service members who are currently licensed, have operated a commercial motor vehicle for two years, and who are or were employed within the past year in a military position requiring operation of a military motor vehicle equivalent to a commercial motor vehicle may apply for a waiver of the CDL knowledge and skill tests. For application information, contact the Driver Licensing office at https://dps.sd.gov/driver-licensing/commercial-drivers-license or (605) 773-6883.
Other CDL Rules
Other federal and state rules affect drivers operating commercial motor vehicles in all states.
- No one may drive a commercial vehicle without a CDL. A court can jail violators or fine them up to $5,000 for breaking this rule.
- Drivers may not have more than one license. A court can jail violators or fine them up to $5,000 for breaking this rule.
- All states are connected to one computerized system to share information about CDL drivers. The state will check these records to ensure that drivers do not obtain more than one CDL.
- Drivers must notify their employer within 30 days of a conviction for any traffic violation (except parking), no matter what type of vehicle they were driving.
- Drivers must notify their employer if their license is suspended, revoked or canceled or if they are disqualified from driving.
- When applying for a commercial driving job, drivers must give their employer information on all driving jobs they have held for the past 10 years.
- Employers may not let drivers operate a commercial motor vehicle if they have more than one license or if their CDL is suspended or revoked. A court may jail employers or fine them up to $5,000 for breaking this rule.
- Drivers must notify the South Dakota Driver Licensing Program within 30 days of being convicted in any other state of any traffic violation (except parking), no matter what type of vehicle they were driving.