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What is a DOT License?

A lot of people want to know what is a DOT License. I’m going to try to answer it this way: The DOT, meaning the US DOT or FMCSA, is a federal agency and does not provide credentials to individual drivers.

There are several documents that might be thought of as a DOT License, and I’ll try to address each of those to the best of my ability. In short, a DOT license is a license that you need in order to be able to drive a large commercial vehicle. In the same way that many construction jobs require a hsr qualification, without the DOT license you are unable to drive a large truck.

If you want to operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle in order to make a living, or just to move some stuff one time, you might ask “What is a DOT License”? You might not understand whether you need an additional credential or not. A lot of people might say all you need is a drivers license and a DOT Medical qualification card, in order to drive a CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle) up 26,000 GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating).

What is a DOT License – as in, what do I need to drive a CMV greater than 26,000?

If you need to operate something bigger than 26,000, or if you are going to be hauling even a small quantity of some types of cargo requiring placarding, you will need a Class A or B CDL issued by the state you live in.

There are a lot of things the Federal DOT or FMCSA wants you to do if you operate a CMV in INTERstate commerce, but the whole credentialing thing is left up to the state. For this reason, the question What is a DOT License, might have different answers, depending on what state you live in.

In some states, the question What is a DOT license might be as follows; if you drive a CMV greater than 14,000, you need a class C. Or, you might need a chauffer’s license.

Some people have asked me over the years What is a DOT license . What they really meant was, do I need some sort of permit in order to operate a DOT Regulated CMV. The answer is, if you operate a CMV, greater than 10,000 GVWR, in interstate commerce, you must have a DOT Registration number. The DOT Registration number is free, it takes about 30 minutes to get (If you are an expert like me) and it doesn’t cost anything. (I know, redundant redundancy).

There is another answer, though, and this is not really aggressively enforced by anyone from what I’ve seen, but in order to transport something that belongs to someone else, and charge a fee, you have to have a motor carrier authority. So, what is a DOT license for a motor carrier might be “An MC Number” or “Motor Carrier Authority” . They mean the same thing.

So, several possible answers to “What is a DOT License” are;

  • State license or CDL
  • DOT Medical qualification card (from DOT physical)
  • Motor carrier registration
  • Motor carrier authority

At DOT Compliance Help, Inc. we can answer ANY question you can think of regarding any of these things, but there really isn’t a document that is properly named DOT License.

Who needs DOT Training:

If you are new to the transportation industry. If you have taken a new position at your company that requires you to understand DOT Compliance and Fleet Safety. If you are in a compliance support position with a need to know. If you just need a refresher. Supervisors of Drivers, Lead Drivers, Drivers, Shipping Managers, Traffic Managers, Fleet Managers, Logistics Managers, Compliance Manager, Transportation Managers, Safety Directors, Safety Managers, Safety Engineering Managers, Vice President/General Managers, Presidents/Owners , Administrators, Human Resource Managers, and anyone else involved in the support/operations of motor vehicles.

Still have DOT questions?

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Meet Your DOT Training Presenter:

Mike England has spent more than twenty-five years in the transportation industry, first in a management role with a small transportation company, then progressing through numerous safety and general management roles with both large and small DOT Compliance-regulated entities including trucking companies and private fleets. He is a graduate of the US Army Safety Management School in Ft. Rucker, Alabama as well as the US Department of Transportation’s FMCSA Safety Auditor Course. He spent 2005 and 2006 performing audits for the US Department of Transportation and decided in 2007 to form the private consulting firm DOT Compliance Help Inc. In addition to developing and presenting DOT Compliance Help’s, DOT Compliance Training seminars and conferences, Mike and his firm also provide DOT compliance assessments and conduct custom DOT Compliance onsite DOT training sessions for clients across the country. With an office and staff located outside of Chicago, DOT Compliance Help’s mission is to help carriers prevent accidents, injuries, and fatalities. For DOT Compliance, the ultimate goals are safer roadways for the public and increased profits for our clients. Mike England’s memberships include the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the North American Transportation Management Institute, and the Illinois Trucking Association.

In addition to developing and presenting DCH’s DOT compliance seminars and conferences, Mike and his firm also provide compliance assessments and conduct custom onsite training sessions for clients across the country. With an office and staff located outside of Chicago, DCH’s mission is to help carriers prevent accidents, injuries, and fatalities. The ultimate goals are safer roadways for the public and increased profits for their clients.

His memberships include the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the North American Transportation Management Institute, and the Illinois Trucking Association.