Updated: Jul 25
When SB 47 (Revise commercial driver’s license laws to comply with federal requirements: Senator Theresa Manzella) passed this legislative session, Montana became compliant with the Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) law that went into effect February 7, 2022. This bill requires the DMV to check someone new who is applying for a commercial driver’s license to verify they are cleared on the ELDT and the Drug/Alcohol Clearinghouse. The issue and battle for this goes back to 2012 when it was mandated by the Feds during the Obama administration. There were many delays but as of February 2022 this became law. Montana was the last holdout but we pushed this off as long as possible! It pretty much had to pass or MT would have lost highway $ and could have had our CDL program decertified.
When the legislation passed there was some language inserted that the Montana Department of Transportation “shall develop and implement an entry-level driver training program, including theory and behind-the-wheel training, that complies with federal requirements for class A and class B commercial driver's licenses” and make it available to the public both the theory and behind the wheel. So how does one get a CDL for a new driver now? If you have a new driver and you want to take this approach, they must get a CDL learners permit first which is pass the written CDL test, vision test and have a valid CDL Medical Card then go to this sight and get registered with the Montana DOT to get the Theory and behind the wheel portion of the ELDT. https://www.mdt.mt.gov/jobs/eldt.aspx
Another way to get someone on your crew a CDL if for you to become an ELDT trainer. It is an easy requirement where you must have 2 years of driving experience, an active CDL and be in good standing. To get registered go to https://tpr.fmcsa.dot.gov. Once registered you can leave your contact information on the site as a trainer (might be one way to get drivers!) or you can have contact info redacted if you only want to train in house. Once you are on the site there are multiple training modules you can look at that walk you through the process. I also recommend downloading and printing the curricula requirements which covers all the boxes you need to check so to speak.
The process would then be you, the trainer, start training covering all the curricula and conclude with the driving portion. Again, there is a curriculum that you need to cover on the driving portion as well. Once completed you would go back on the website and enter in the data for the driver that they have completed the ELDT program. One thing to note is both the theory and driving portions of this need to be completed by an ELDT instructor.
There are several members who have finished the registration process to become instructors and I know some are going to be sending guys through the MT DOT program. Stay tuned as this new process plays out, we will try to keep you posted.