​How to Get a CDL in South Carolina?

Truck Accidents

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is necessary to drive a big rig or similar truck. Motorists must undergo a multi-step test to obtain their CDL, which is necessary to show that they can drive a large truck safely then contact a truck accident lawyer for help.

Before You Get a CDL, Drivers Must Get a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)

According to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV), someone can pursue a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) if they:

  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Have a valid South Carolina driver’s license
  • Are you a permanent resident of South Carolina

These are not the only criteria for obtaining a CLP, however.

How to Get a Commercial Learner’s Permit?

While someone’s age, driver’s license, and South Carolina residency may make them eligible for a CLP, they must still obtain the permit.

The necessary steps to obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit include:

  • Complete the written application for a CLP and CDL, which is Form 447-CDL
  • Bring personal identifying materials to the location at which you are applying for your CDL
  • Bring any necessary medical information to the appointment
  • Pay all application and testing fees
  • Pass all necessary skills and knowledge tests

The knowledge and skills tests are generally where someone makes or breaks their CLP application. Large trucks are complex vehicles that can be far more difficult to drive than smaller vehicles from both technical and physical standpoints.

Who Qualifies for a CDL?

Obtaining a Commercial Learner’s Permit is the first step toward getting a Commercial Driver’s License in South Carolina. Once you have your CLP, the next steps are to:

Decide Which Kind of Truck One Will Drive with Their CDL

CDLs fall into three classes, and the specific kind of work you plan to do will determine which CDL class you apply for. For example, a school bus driver may require a different CDL than someone who plans to haul hazardous materials.

Applicants may also need to complete specific tests for any endorsements they seek, including those for transporting certain hazardous materials.

Complete Driver Training

As of February 7, 2022, applicants seeking a Class A or B CDL must complete training. Applicants must complete the training course with a registered training provider.

Apply for the CDL

After a driver has their CLP for 14 days and completes the required driver training, they can apply for their CDL.

Pass the CDL Skills Test

The CDL Skills Test has three parts, each of which an applicant must pass before obtaining their Commercial Driver’s License.

The three parts of the CDL Skills Test are:

  1. Vehicle inspection test
  2. Basic controls test
  3. Road test

If applicants pass all three parts of the skills test and provide all other necessary documentation, they may obtain their CDL in South Carolina.

Getting a CDL Is Only the Beginning of a Truck Driver’s Responsibilities

Obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License allows a truck driver to operate a large truck legally, but they must respect several other rules and conditions. Some of the most important guardrails that all truck drivers must follow are:

Drive Time Limits

Truckers who carry human passengers can drive for ten hours at a time. They must take an eight-hour break after every ten hours of driving.

Truckers who carry non-human cargo can drive for 11 hours at a time. There are also limits on how long a trucker can be on duty, even if they are not driving during their entire shift.

Any trucker or trucking company that violates these limits on drive and shift time puts others at risk.

Drivers who are on the road or working for too long may:

  • Fall asleep at the wheel
  • Become easily distracted
  • Suffer other dangerous symptoms of exhaustion
  • Be tempted to over-indulge in caffeine or other substances with potentially dangerous side effects

Limits on drive time and shift lengths are not arbitrary. These are the times that federal regulators have determined safe, and exceeding these limits is recognized by lawmakers as dangerous.

Regular Health Checkups

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) generally requires that those holding a CDL receive a DOT-sanctioned physical every two years. While employers must ensure that their drivers are in sufficient health to operate a truck, the truck driver also has this responsibility.

A driver who actively avoids their health check lies about medical conditions, or willfully ignores a potentially dangerous health condition may:

  • Have a health event while driving, causing an accident that injures or kills other people
  • Continue to drive with a condition like poor vision, which increases the risk of an accident happening
  • Be liable for harm caused by a health condition that they knew of or should have known of

If a medical professional fails to detect a health condition that makes a truck driver dangerous to themselves and others, that medical professional can be liable for resulting accidents, injuries, and deaths.

Abstinence from Dangerous Substances

About 29 people die each day in motor vehicle accidents involving alcohol. Illicit and prescription drugs have also become an increasingly serious threat to safe driving.

Truck drivers must abstain from using alcohol or any drug that can impair their ability to drive safely. In fact, truckers generally face a lower blood alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold for a charge of driving under the influence (DUI).

Renewal of the CDL

Commercial driver’s licenses in South Carolina are valid for five years. A driver must ensure that their license is valid at all times. If a driver operates a truck without a valid license, this is a negligent act.

Trucks Pose a Greater Risk Than Most Other Vehicles, So Truckers Have a Greater Safety Responsibility Than Most Other Drivers

Trucks Pose a Greater Risk Than Most Other Vehicles, So Truckers Have a Greater Safety Responsibility Than Most Other Drivers

Large trucks are far heavier than the typical passenger vehicle. This heavy gross vehicle weight means that the risk of serious injury or death is great when a truck strikes another vehicle, motorcycle, pedestrian, or fixed object.

This outsized risk that trucks pose is one reason why truckers must get a commercial driver’s license.

Other risks specific to large trucks include:

  • Long drive times: By the nature of their job, truckers are driving for long hours. Having to be alert, attentive, and engaged for such long periods can be exhausting. Because they have been on the road for so long, truckers may also face a higher likelihood of making an error that results in an accident.
  • Substance abuse: Truck drivers must stay alert. There is no option to sleep or slack while on the job. Therefore, truckers may turn to illicit drugs, prescribed drugs, excessive amounts of caffeine, or other substances to remain alert. These substances can become dangerous, especially when used in an abusive manner.
  • The complicated nature of trucks: Truckers have many components that a trucker must be familiar with. Furthermore, truckers typically tow a trailer, adding another complicated element that the trucker must be knowledgeable and aware of.

Operating a vehicle as large as a truck is difficult and dangerous in its own right. There is less margin for error when driving such a large vehicle, yet the smallest errors can prove fatal.

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Truckers and Their Employers Accept This Responsibility Willingly

While truckers and their employers perform an essential job, and difficult job, it is a responsibility that they accept willingly. Truck drivers are well-informed of the risks of their job, as the CDL testing process ensures it.

Therefore, there is no excuse when a trucker or their employer acts negligently and causes an accident. These parties can be held financially liable for the harm that results from their actions or failures.

Truckers and Their Employers Are Liable When They Cause Accidents

If you were in a truck accident or lost a loved one because of a truck accident, you may pursue compensation from liable parties. Those liable parties may include a trucker and their employer.

A trucker may contribute to an accident by:

  • Speeding
  • Driving while tired
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Driving an unsafe vehicle
  • Tailgating
  • Changing lanes or turning in a dangerous manner

A trucking company can also fail in ways that lead to an accident.

You can hold a trucking company negligent if it:

  • It fails to monitor drivers’ driving times
  • It fails to regularly test drivers for drug and alcohol use
  • It fails to enforce federal regulations
  • It fails to sanction drivers who engage in dangerous behaviors
  • It fails to properly service, repair, and replace dangerous vehicles

Even if higher-ups at a trucking company do not do anything to cause an accident, they may be liable for all of their employees’ actions. If a trucker causes an accident, their employer is generally liable.

What Should a Truck Accident Victim Do After an Accident?

Truck accidents often cause serious injuries. Ensuring your health and safety should be the greatest priority after a truck accident.

Therefore, you may seek medical attention if you have not done so already, as this will ensure that:

  1. You are not facing an immediate health risk
  2. You have a detailed and accurate treatment plan
  3. You get documentation of all your accident-related injuries

You can never be too safe regarding your health, and you can never have too much documentation of accident-related injuries. Liable parties may try to challenge the nature and severity of your injuries, and extensive documentation can be irrefutable proof of how your truck accident harmed you.

Hiring a lawyer may also be a priority after a truck accident.

How an Attorney Can Assist a Truck Accident Victim

A lawyer can help in several ways after a truck accident in South Carolina, including by:

  • Determining liability for your accident: Your lawyer will identify all parties with liability for your truck accident. Defendants may include a truck driver, their employer, and others.
  • Calculating the cost of your accident-related damages: An attorney can determine the monetary value of your accident-related damages. They will include non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, and will consider any damages you are likely to suffer in the future.
  • Handling the details of a lawsuit or claim: Your lawyer should complete every step in your lawsuit, including paperwork, communications, evidence collection, witness interviews, and any other necessary steps.
  • Seeking a negotiation for you: Truck accident attorneys often seek settlements for their clients. However, if your lawyer cannot get liable parties to offer fair compensation, they may take your case to trial.

There is no way to know what challenges and requirements your truck accident case will pose. An experienced attorney can lead your case from start to finish, allowing you to make your recovery the priority.

Recoverable Damages for Truck Accident Victims in South Carolina

Truck accident victims face a great risk of serious injury. In many cases, injuries from a truck accident are fatal.

These outcomes can cause much damage, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Lost income
  • Lost earning power
  • Lost bonuses
  • Lost promotions
  • Pain and suffering
  • Medications
  • Counseling
  • Vehicle repairs
  • Temporary transportation

Those who lose a loved one because of a truck accident may get compensation to cover funeral expenses, the loss of the decedent’s financial support, and the intense pain and suffering that a wrongful death causes.

Take Advantage of Attorneys’ Free Consultation Offers

Attorneys who represent truck accident victims conduct free consultations. These are typically phone calls that allow you to ask questions about the firm, explain the details of your case, and determine if you want to hire a specific law firm.

These consultations can be auditions for law firms. You may face a filing deadline, so take advantage of these consultations to choose a law firm as soon as possible.

Contact a South Carolina Truck Accident Attorney to Seek Justice for Your Injuries

Truck Accident Attorney in South Carolina
Truck accidents can cause life-changing damages, and you may get money to help with medical treatment and the cost of your other damages. Contact skilled truck accident attorneys in your area of South Carolina to begin seeking compensation that you may be entitled to.

The right Charleston personal injury lawyer can determine who should be liable for your losses and seek the maximum compensation you need.