To start a career as a limo (limousine) driver, you must have a standard driver’s license and then apply for a chauffeur’s license. For vehicles which don’t have a passenger capacity that puts them in the CDL territory (designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver), it becomes a state matter. Note that most states in the US require a particular class of license for livery vehicles – taxis, limousines, shuttle vans, etc.
California drops the CDL requirements to vehicles designed to transport more than eight people (although this can only apply to residents of the state). Other places may not have any additional requirements. If the vehicle is designed to transport more than eight persons on a fared basis and you cross state lines, you will be required to have a DOT medical card, regardless of whether your state requires an upgraded license or not.
Limo drivers, also called chauffeurs, pick up and transport passengers in limousines. They may drive a variety of limo types including town cars, stretch limos, and SUV limos. It is the limo chauffeur’s job to clean and maintain the interior of their vehicle, assist passengers and their belongings in and out of the limousine, and always select a safe route to the destination.
Limo drivers, normally, work for limousine rental companies and work on a weekly or nightly schedule. Some limo drivers may also work as taxi drivers or private chauffeurs. Before you start work, most companies provide a one or two-week training program. During this training, you learn basic limousine maintenance and care, how to read road maps and use navigation systems, and the proper way to communicate with clients.
Indeed, becoming a chauffeur can be an exciting job experience that allows you to interact with numerous people throughout your week. It can also be quite attractive to many applicants because of the flexible hours and work schedule, the types of cars you get to drive, and the ability to make tips on top of your traditional pay.
However, to become a chauffeur, you only need to meet the state’s requirements, have a great knowledge of your city, how to get around, and have good driving abilities.
How to Get a Chauffeur License in the United States
Before beginning the application process for a chauffeur’s license, be sure that you know how to properly apply for your Chauffeur’s license and exactly what fields are awaiting you when you have completed the process.
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Meet the Needed Requirements
The first step is to assure that you meet the minimum requirements to receive your Chauffeur’s license in your state. In the United States, you are expected to be over the age of 16 although your state may require an older age. Check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to assure that you meet the age requirement.
Also, you are expected to either have a personal license that is not expired and a good driving record or be willing to pass a skills test in addition. If you currently hold a valid driver’s license then you simply need to pass the written knowledge test. In addition, be prepared to pay the fee to acquire your chauffeur’s license, which will vary by state.
Written Knowledge Test
If a person meets the basic requirements needed to obtain this license, then they may take the general knowledge test. The general knowledge test is a multiple-choice test consisting of at least 30 questions, with each question relating to general commercial motor vehicle operation and road safety.
Your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles will provide a study handbook to use to study before your test. To obtain a passing score, the driver must answer at least 80 percent of the questions correctly.
After a driver has met both the basic requirements and passed the general knowledge test, they must pass the road test driving in a limousine to obtain their license. Not all states require a road test to qualify for a Chauffeur’s license, but Florida for instance is one of the states that does. The road test is made up of three basic components:
- The pre-trip vehicle inspection – the driver inspects the vehicle while explaining to the examiner what they are inspecting and why.
- The control of the limousine – the test proctor asks the driver to manoeuvre forward, backward, and parking within traffic lanes, around cones, and other control mechanisms
- The traffic test – the examiner will ride along with the driver in the limousine on the main road and in traffic. The examiner may ask the driver to make specific turns, park in a designated area, make lane changes at a specified time, and perform other real-life limousine traffic driving functions.
Chauffeur Driver Training Programs
Also note there are some private training programs designed to train drivers on the necessary skills and requirements of being a chauffeur driver. Nonetheless, it is crucial to know that these courses are completely voluntary and are not required to become a professional chauffeur. In fact, to become a professional chauffeur, a driver is not even required to have a high school diploma or GED.
On The Job Training
Even though formal education and training is not mandatory, most luxury transportation companies require their new chauffeurs to complete some sort of one the job training before they can begin transporting clients. Note that all luxury transportation services have a duty to their clients to provide their clients with a high quality, knowledgeable, and safe driver, so they will want to see these skills demonstrated by their new drivers before they send them out on the road with their clients.
Clean Driving Record
Also remember that if a driver has too many driving infractions or any major driving infractions on their driving record, they will have a difficult time finding a reputable luxury transportation company willing to hire them. Coupled with having a clean driving record, a professional chauffeur is required to pass a background check, so they should also have a clean criminal record.
It is also pertinent for a professional chauffeur to maintain both their driving record and criminal record as luxury transportation companies will check both regularly throughout their career. Because the company is responsible for their clients’ safety and their drivers’ actions, most luxury transportation companies hold all their professional chauffeurs at high standard.
Note that the exact license will depend on the state, as each US state has different laws and each country (other than the USA) has different laws. But whatever your reason for obtaining your Chauffeur’s License, holding this specialized license can open many career opportunities to you.
While personal characteristics are not an actual requirement of becoming a professional chauffeur, there are many personal traits that a luxury transportation company will look for before hiring a professional chauffeur. It is always important for a chauffeur to maintain a high standard of professionalism and be committed to providing excellent customer service.