Tennessee's CDL manual and DMV CDL Practice Tests

for all endorsements

Tennessee's CDL Manual

Commercial Driver Handbook

Minimum Requirements For Getting A CDL In Tennessee:

  • Valid DOT Medical Card - Employees of a government entity must have a current, valid D.O.T. medical card if making application for a CDL with a HazMat (H), Passenger (P) or School Bus (S) endorsement.
  • Proof of your Social Security Number
  • Tennessee driver’s license or ID, or a valid driver license or CDL from another state.
  • Proof of Domicile in Tennessee (Applicants for a CDL or permit will be required to present two proofs of domicile).
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident Status
  • Under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act, rules of the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Driver Service Centers may not issue a hazardous materials endorsement (HME) until the applicant has first submitted to a fingerprint-based background check. TSA must determine that the applicant does not pose a security threat before the HME can be issued. No person applying for a first-time INITIAL, current RENEWING or current out of state TRANSFERRING HME after February 20, 2013, may be issued an HME until the TSA background check has been completed. The background check must have been completed within the last ninety days.

Tennessee Disqualifications The following major offenses will serve CDL disqualification for 1 year, or 3 years if transporting hazardous materials for the first violation. A second violation will face CDL disqualification for life with a possible reinstatement after 10 years.

  • Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04% or higher
  • Refusing a breath or blood test
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Using the commercial vehicle to commit a felony, this includes the manufacturing and distributing of a controlled substance.
  • Negligent CMV operation resulting in a fatality
  • Operating a commercial motor vehicle while you have a disqualified, suspended, or revoked commercial driver's license. If you drive without a valid CDL, you may be subject to steep penalties – possible fines of up to $5,000, and even jail time imposed by the court. Employers who allow or require drivers to drive a CMV without a valid CDL may also face fines or jail time.

The following Serious Traffic Violations will serve no disqualification for the first violation. The second will receive CDL disqualification for 60 days if it was committed within three years of the first violation. A third violation or any subsequent violations within three years will serve CDL disqualification for 120 days. Reckless driving or excessive speeding Improper lane changes Driving too closely behind other vehicles Violating any motor vehicle traffic control law that results in a fatal accident Operating a CMV without a CDL or a commercial endorsement. Serious violations committed while driving in a non-commercial vehicle are not included UNLESS the violation leads to the suspension, revocation, or cancellation of your TN driver's license or regular (non-commercial) driving privileges. The following Railroad Highway Grade Crossing violations will face a minimum of 60 days for the first violation, a minimum of 120 days for a second violation within three years, and a third violation within three years will result in a disqualification for one year.

  • Failing to slow down and check that the tracks are clear
  • Failing to stop when required
  • Driving across the tracks when there isn't sufficient space for the commercial vehicle.

DMV CDL Practice Tests

General Knowledge

The general knowledge test is the first of several tests that you will have to complete in order to get your CDL. The questions cover general information about commercial vehicles, driving, and vehicle inspections. The test has a total of 50 questions, and requires at least 40 correct answers to pass.

Air Brakes

You must have an Air brake endorsement on your driver's license to drive a vehicle equipped with an air brake system. This test will test your knowledge of the function, parts, and braking distance of air brakes. The test will consist of 25 questions, and at least 20 correct answers are needed to pass.


The combination endorsement allows you to drive a vehicle with a power unit and one trailer. This test will cover the "ins and outs" of operating articulated vehicles. The exam consists of 25 questions, and requires at least 20 correct to pass.

Hazardous Material

The Hazardous Material endorsement allows the driver to operate a vehicle containing items such as poisons, explosives, flammables, etc. You will also have to pass the TSA Hazardous Material Threat Assessment to get this endorsement. There are 30 questions, 24 correct required to pass.


The Tanker endorsement allows the driver to operate a vehicle weighing more than 26,000 pounds designed to transport any liquid or gaseous material within a tank that is permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle. There are 20 questions, 16 correct required to pass.

Doubles / Triples

The Doubles/Triples endorsement is required for drivers to pull 2 trailers (doubles) or 3 trailers (triples) connected to a single power unit. There are 20 questions on this test, and 16 correct answers are required to pass.


Bus drivers must have a commercial driver's license with a passenger endorsement in order to operate a vehicle which seats 16 or more, including the driver. There are 20 questions on this test, and 16 correct answers are required to pass.

School Bus

School Bus Endorsement is required for any driver who operates a school bus. After the permit tests the training can be only completed by a local school district. There are 20 questions on this test, and 16 correct answers are required to pass.

Pre Trip Inspection

The Pre-Trip exam is an oral exam where you are expected to check the vehicle parts to insure it is safe for road use. The amount of parts you need to check increase with the size of the vehicle, and by type of vehicle.