Highways for Heroes

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security is dedicated to helping the men and women of our Armed Forces and retired military obtain the necessary tools for future employment in the transportation industry.

Making Application For A Commercial Driver License

Beginning July 1, 2013, implementation of the newly enacted federal regulation allows a CDL basic road skills test to be waived for qualified military personnel applying for a Tennessee commercial driver license (CDL). A CDL is required in Tennessee to operate large trucks and buses. Under the new law applicants will be required to pass the applicable CDL knowledge test(s), however will not be required to take the road skills test.

This new law streamlines the CDL application process and eliminate the need for applicants to provide a commercial motor vehicle for a road skills test.


Active duty military personnel including National Guard and Military Reserve members that have been discharged in the last year are eligible for the basic road skills test waiver. Applicants must be a Tennessee resident and have a Tennessee driver’s license or be eligible to be issued a Tennessee license. Applicant’s will be required to obtain from their commanding officer or designee, a certification that he or she has held a military operator’s permit and has had driving experience for the past 2 years operating the same type of vehicle driven while in the military that he or she plans to drive with a CDL in Tennessee.

Skills Test Waiver

Effective July 1, 2013, qualified military personnel applying for a Tennessee commercial driver’s license (CDL) are required to pass only the written CDL knowledge exam, and will not be required to take the road skills test.

In order to qualify for the road skills test waiver, an applicant must:

  • Be a Tennessee resident currently holding or eligible for Tennessee driver’s license.
  • Be active military or discharged within the last year. The following documents can be submitted as proof of active or discharge status:
    • U.S. Active Duty/Reservist Military I.D. Card
    • DD-214 (Military Discharge)
    • Enlisted Record and Report of Separation (WD-AGO)
    • Honorable Discharge Certificate (DD-256)
    • Report of Separation and Record of Service (NGB-22)
  • Be certified by their commanding officer or designee as possession
  1. A military operator’s permit
  2. At least two years experience driving the same type of vehicle that the Applicant plans to drive with a Tennessee Commercial Driver License (CDL)

    For a list of CDL vehicle types, refer to CDL classifications, restrictions and endorsements
  • Successfully complete the written CDL knowledge exam
  • Possess a safe driving record.

In addition, the new law provides an opportunity for wounded service men and women with missing or impaired limbs to obtain a CDL following a skills performance evaluation by a Tennessee SPE Certified CDL Examiner.