Types of CDLs
Commercial Driver's License
In the United States, individuals who drive most types of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) must possess a commercial driver’s license (CDL). This is a result of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Under the CDL umbrella, there are three different classes (A, B, and C). In fact, all the CDL classifications distinguish themselves by the vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) as well as other information. Overall, each of the CDL classification requirements varies by state, but the following information provides generalized information on what CDL and Class should one be looking to possess.
Note: It is illegal to possess a CDL from multiple states
The Class A CDL is the most popular of the three classes. In order to obtain this class of CDL, a driver’s vehicle or combination of vehicles must possess a GVWR of over 26,000 pounds, including a towing unit of over 10,000 pounds GVWR. Some of the vehicles that may drive under a Class A CDL include:
In order to obtain a Class B CDL, drivers operating a single vehicle that must hold a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of at least 26,000 pounds, and/or a towing unit of up to 10,000 pounds GVWR. Some of the vehicles that may drive under a Class A CDL include:
Class C CDL consists of criteria not met for either Class A or Class B. If a driver does not fall within either of those classes and is meant to transport at least 16 passengers (including the driver) or hazardous material, they will be required to obtain a Class C CDL. Some of the vehicles that may drive under a Class C CDL include:
No CDL Required
A driver’s commercial vehicle or combination of vehicles has a GVWR of fewer than 26,000 pounds and/or a towing unit less than 10,000 pounds GVWR, including not meeting the criteria of Class A, B, or C, then they will not be required to obtain a CDL. According to the FMCSA, “[If] not a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) under any part of the definition of that term in §383.5, and a CDL is not federally required”.
A CDL classification add-on, or endorsement, allows the driver to operate certain types of vehicles. Also, certain endorsements allow drivers to operate some vehicles under a different classification. Most importantly, each endorsement also requires additional testing alongside the examines required to obtain a CDL classification.
Note: A commercial learner’s permit (CLP) is allowed only three endorsements