Driving Instruction

Your Top Guide to Defensive Driving School for Commercial Drivers

January 31, 2022

Are you looking for information about CDL driver improvement clinic classes in VA? We have answers for you! 

Today we’ll be talking about defensive driving for commercial drivers and answering the most common questions regarding CDL Driving School in VA. For example:

  • Can a CDL driver go to traffic school?
  • Is CDL driving school different from regular driving school?
  • Does CDL driving school satisfy the Entry Level Driver Training requirement?
  • Where can I find a defensive driving school for commercial vehicles?

Read on for the answers to all these questions, and even more.

What Is a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)? 

To start with, let’s quickly clarify that a commercial driver's license (CDL) is distinct from a standard driver’s license. A CDL allows a driver to legally operate various kinds of commercial vehicles, which include: 

  • Large, heavy vehicles (e.g., 18 wheelers and garbage trucks) 
  • Vehicles designed to carry 16 or more passengers (e.g., buses and school buses)  
  • Vehicles that carry hazardous materials (i.e., flammable liquids)

A driver in Virginia may hold either a standard driver’s license or a commercial driver’s license (CDL) but not both at the same time. Typically, a driver will start by acquiring a standard driver’s license, then go on to meet the requirements to switch to a CDL.

Can a CDL Driver Go to Traffic School?

In a word, yes. 

However, if a driver holding a CDL has been court-ordered to traffic school, he/she must take a defensive driving course for designated for commercial drivers. Defensive driving courses for commercial vehicles are different from the standard traffic school attended by people who don’t have commercial driver’s licenses. 

Commercial drivers who simply want to get points off their license, however, may attend any DMV approved traffic school. It doesn't have to be a CDL specific Driver Improvement Clinic.

What is a “CDL Driver Improvement Clinic”? 

A CDL Driver Improvement Clinic (CDL DIC), also known as “CDL defensive driving school”  in VA, is NOT the same as the Entry Level Driver Training required for those seeking to gain a Commercial Driver’s License for the first time. CDL DIC also does NOT satisfy the requirements for re-examination if a driver has failed their CDL knowledge exam 3 times.

Once a driver holds a commercial driver’s license, then they qualify to attend a CDL Driver Improvement Clinic. Commercial DIC is a DMV-approved defensive driving class for drivers of commercial vehicles. 

CDL driver improvement classes in VA are 8-hour courses designed to increase the knowledge and skillfulness of those who hold commercial driver’s licenses. 

CDL DIC classes cover topics such as:

  • The latest traffic laws 
  • How to drive a commercial vehicle defensively
  • The impact of road conditions on how to drive a large vehicle

Though there are several kinds of commercial licenses, anyone who holds a CDL of any kind may attend any DMV-approved CDL DIC.  

Why Attend CDL Driver Improvement Classes in VA?

There are several reasons why a commercial driver may want or need to attend CDL driving school in VA. The primary reasons are:

  • The DMV, courts, or judges may order a commercial driver to attend a CDL DIC.
  • Commercial drivers may voluntarily choose to attend a CDL DIC once every 2 years. Each time, their safe driver record will be improved by 5 points. 
  • Companies may send their drivers to CDL DIC for training purposes.

If you hold a CDL and have been ordered to attend “traffic school” by either the DMV or by a court, or if you simply want to improve the points on your license, CDL DIC is what you need.

Where to Find CDL Driving Schools in VA

There are roughly 30 driving schools in VA approved by the DMV to offer commercial driver improvement clinics. The DMV website provides contact information for all approved schools. Several of these are located in the greater Richmond area.

As of the time of this writing, commercial driver improvement courses must be taken in person and not online. If a driving school seems to be offering an online version of the CDL DIC, take a closer look. The program you are considering may not be defensive driving for commercial vehicles. 

One of the Best Driving Schools in VA

Well, there you have it. That’s everything you need to know regarding CDL licenses, driving school, and improvement classes in VA. 

As we mentioned earlier, it’s not required to have a regular driver’s license before getting your CLD. However, getting some experience and time on the road in a smaller vehicle can be a helpful stepping stone before jumping straight to CDL vehicles.

Though Colonial Driving School doesn’t, at this time, offer commercial driver training, we seek to support Virginia drivers in every way we can. We are a full-service driving school, offering a broad range of services for teens and adults.

In order to qualify for a CDL, you must either hold a valid driver’s license or meet all the qualifications to hold a driver’s license.  If you already have a driver’s license, you may benefit from attending a standard Driver Improvement Clinic. If you have yet to gain a driver’s license, give us a call so we can give guidance and help you get your license as soon as possible.

All of our staff are highly trained to ensure you receive the knowledge you need to pass your driving test, and every one of our courses is DMV-approved!