What Types of Trucks Require a CDL?

by Jen Davis
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Certain large, heavy vehicles can only legally be operated by individuals who possess a commercial drivers license. Different types of vehicles fall into each class of CDL. While drivers with a Class A CDL can drive any size vehicle, drivers who have a Class B or C CDL are limited to that class and the classes below it. Drivers carrying certain materials or passengers have to have special endorsements to legally haul the loads.

Class A CDL

According to the United States Department of Transportation, a Class A CDL is required to drive tractor-trailer, or combination vehicles that have a gross combined weight rating of 26,001 pounds or higher with the towed portion of the vehicle that weighing more than 10,000 lbs. The gross vehicle weight rating does not necessarily means that the vehicle is carrying that amount of weight. Tractor-trailer vehicles may weigh less when empty. It's the rating that applies.

Vehicles that require a Class A CDL typically include semi-trucks.

Class B CDL

Vehicles that require a class B CDL are single vehicles with a maximum GVWR of 26,000 pounds and are not towing trailers in excess of 10,000 lbs.

Class B CDL vehicles commonly include dump trucks, fire trucks and garbage trucks.

Class C CDL

The DOT states that Class C CDL licences are required for vehicles that do not meet the weight qualifications for class A or B CDL licenses but are intended to carry 16 or more passengers or hazardous materials.

Class C CDL vehicles include ambulances, limousines and smaller passenger buses or vans.

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