How do you get a CDL?
A commercial driver's license (CDL) is obtained much like a regular driver's license. You must pass a knowledge test as well as a driving test. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the federal entity that regulates commercial drivers. To meet FMCSA regulations you must be 21 years old (to drive across state lines or carry hazardous materials), have no prior disqualifying criminal offenses, have a medical examination self-certification, have a current driver's license, and provide a 10 year driver history. You may also have to meet state specific regulations1
What is a commercial driver's license?
A commercial driver's license allows you to drive a certain type of commercial motor vehicle. The US Dept. of Transportation classifies a commercial vehicle as: A motor vehicle or combination of motor vehicles used in commerce to transport passengers or property if the motor vehicle: 1) Has a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds inclusive of a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds; or 2) Has a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds, or 3) Is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver; or 4) Is of any size and is used in the transportation of materials found to be hazardous for the purposes of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act and which require the motor vehicle to be placarded under the Hazardous Materials Regulations2
What are the different CDL license classes?
There are 3 different classes of commercial driver's licenses3
- Class A: required to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, to include a towed vehicle that is heavier than 10,000 lbs.
- Class B: required to operate:
- A single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or heavier.
- Any vehicle as described above that is towing another vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs.
- Class C:may be required if:
- The vehicle you intend to drive does not meet the criteria described for either a Class A or Class B license.
- Is meant to transport either:
- At least 16 passengers (to include you, the driver).
- Hazardous material (HAZMAT) as laid out by federal guidelines.