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CDL Requirements: What You Need To Know

February 22nd, 2017

CDL Requirements

Many trades, from construction to agriculture, require a mix of commercial trucks in order to get the job done. Some trucks are big and some are bigger and some of the bigger trucks may require you to possess a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) before you can legally operate the vehicle. A proper understanding of the federal and applicable state CDL requirements will save you from steep fines and a legal nightmare. Your state of residence will conduct a written and skills (driving) test and issue the CDL if you meet the requirements.

The following classifications of CDL’s are in accordance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:

  • Class A: Any combination of vehicles which has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more) whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) whichever is greater.
  • Class B: Any single vehicle which has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 11,794 or more kilograms (26,001 pounds or more), or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight that does not exceed  4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds).

  • Class C: Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is transporting material that has been designated as hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and is required to be placarded under subpart F of 49 CFR Part 172 or is transporting any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR Part 73.

There are many exceptions within the federal and state regulations, most commonly for agriculture, law enforcement, firefighting, and military applications. In addition, there are federal and state medical regulations that coincide with acquiring your CDL. A series of endorsements and restrictions are in place at the federal level to expand or narrow the scope of your CDL.

CDL regulations are modified constantly, so in order to understand all applicable regulations it is best to visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website AND contact or visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles facility.


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