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Section 1: INTRODUCTION
This Section Covers:
- Commercial Driver License Tests
- Medical Requirements
- Driver Disqualifications
- Other Safety Rules
- International Registration Program
There is a federal requirement that each state have minimum standards for the licensing of commercial drivers.
This manual provides driver license testing information for drivers who wish to have a commercial driver's license (CDL). This manual does NOT provide information on all the federal and state requirements needed before you can drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). You may have to contact your state driver licensing authority for additional information.
You must have a CDL to operate:
Any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more.
A combination vehicle with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
A vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver).
Any size vehicle which requires hazardous material placards or is carrying material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR part 73. Federal regulations through the Department of Homeland Security require a background check and fingerprinting for the Hazardous Materials endorsement. Contact your local department of driver licensing for more information.
The CDL vehicle classification included in the federal standard, together with the type of cargo to be transported, determines what type of CDL license and endorsement an applicant must apply for.
There are three basic vehicle classes or groups:
Class A Combination Vehicles. Any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds falls in Group A provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is more than 10,000 pounds. Most Class A vehicles are trucks such as truck-tractor/semi-trailer or truck and trailer combinations. However, tractor-trailer buses may be found in a few communities. Driving a Class A vehicle requires considerably more skill and knowledge than driving vehicles in Classes B and C. Since these skills include those required to drive a B and C vehicle, a driver who has a Class A license also may drive vehicles in Classes B and C.
Class B Heavy Straight Vehicles. Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds falls in Group B, or any such vehicle towing another vehicle, not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR. Class B includes straight trucks and large buses, including articulated buses. Safely driving these heavy vehicles requires considerably more knowledge and skill than driving the small trucks and buses found in Class C. Since they include the skills required to drive Class C vehicles, drivers who have qualified for a Class B license may also drive vehicles in Class C.
Class C Small Vehicles. Any single vehicle with a GVWR less than 26,001 pounds falls in Group C, or any such vehicle towing another vehicle, not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR. However, vehicles of this size are included in the CDL program only if they are: 1) Designed to carry 16 or more passengers including the driver, or (2) Used to transport hazardous materials in quantities requiring placarding under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR Part 172, Subpart F) or is carrying material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR part 73.
There are a great variety of vehicles in Class C. Some rather large Class C vehicles may require more skill and knowledge to operate than do the smaller ones. However, the licensing category is based principally on the type of cargo carried. Because of the seriousness of an accident involving hazardous material or human passengers, the safe operation of even the smaller vehicles in Class C requires special knowledge and the drivers of these vehicles must have a CDL.