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Rookie Truckers

Remember the excitement of turning 16 years old and pining for your driver’s license? Those of you who came of age in Illinois may still remember the infamous “blue card” that never seemed to show up in the mailbox from the Secretary of State. For those men and women of Illinois who want to join the ranks of commercial driver’s license holders, there is still a permit and card to obtain. It’s just the card is not blue, and the permit is not a piece of paper. The world of CDLs is once again in flux!

January 30, 2014, was the final date the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration gave the states to be in compliance with the Medical Merge program. Illinois was a national leader in this effort, with nearly 95% of all CDL holders certifying on time. This was one of several steps to a revamping of the entire CDL process nationally.

Some other federally mandated deadlines included: •   October 28, 2013: States had to begin enforcing the texting prohibition final rule •   May 21, 2014: Drivers had to using only medical examiners who are on the National Medical Registry •   January 3, 2015: States had to begin enforcing the cell phone prohibition/restrictions final rule

Now, effective July 8, 2015, another deadline looms over the head CDL regulation…the all new “CIP”. What does that stand for, you ask? Well, it stands for “Commercial Instruction Permit”. Even though the mandate is not until this summer, once again Illinois is ahead of the curve and will begin issuing the new CIPs effective March 2, 2015. Illinois will be in full compliance with all new CDL rules two days ahead of schedule on July 6.

The FMCSA and the Illinois Vehicle Code refer to it as a “CLP” for “commercial learner’s permit”. It’s all the same thing though. It is a document obtained by future truck drivers to learn how to operate trucks and trailers. There are some noticeable differences compared to the old learner’s permit:

First, the price went down $10! Before you get all excited that Illinois is throwing you a bone, the reduction from $60 to $50 also includes a shorter life span. Previous CDL permits were good for 1-year, but new CIP permit is only good for 180 days. Any paper permits issued prior to March 2, 2015 are still valid until the expiration date listed on the permit.

The second, and most major change is that the new CIP is a solid plastic hard card instead of paper. It very closely resembles a typical Illinois driver’s license. The big catch here is that in the top right corner it will say “PERMIT-CIP” instead of “CDL”, “DRIVER’S LICENSE” or “TVDL”. Once a CIP is obtained, the driver must wait a minimum 14 days before he can go test for his CDL.

The CIP will not list any endorsements. However, if a driver needs the School Bus (S), Tanker (N) or Passenger (P) endorsements so he can learn how to drive in representative vehicles, those can be added after the fact. No other endorsements may be added, and a paper copy of the endorsement must accompany the driver when operating with a CIP. The catch is the tanker endorsement is only permitted with an empty tank, and the school bus/passenger endorsements are only good sans passengers.

And there is more. A whole host of new restrictions will be added to the current menu of restrictions. All of the restrictions apply to the CIP, and many of them apply to issued CDLs as well. There will be future articles about this prior to July 2015.

Here’s one piece of old news though. Just because a driver has a cool new hard card CIP which somewhat purports itself to be a real license, does not give him license to drive alone. The CIP holder must have a passenger with him who is properly classified and endorsed to operate the vehicle. Without this person, the driver is considered operating without a CDL when required.

That’s a Class-A misdemeanor offense. Depending on the agency’s arrest policy, this could mean handcuffs, mug shot, fingerprints and a towed truck (no administrative tow fees though!).

Oh yeah…one more change on July 6, 2015: you must be a documented United States citizen or lawful permanent resident to obtain a CIP.

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