What is a CDL?

What is a CDL license and do you need one? For people who drive personal vehicles the answer to that question has no effect on their ability to drive. If you are a person who is interested in a career driving a commercial vehicle, it is important that you not only ask “what is a CDL license” but that you also take the necessary steps to obtain one. CDL is the acronym for Commercial Driver’s License. This is a license that you must have in order to operate a commercial motor vehicle. With a few exceptions, this type of vehicle is defined in several ways. It is defined as any combination of vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or higher with the vehicle being towed weighing more than 10,000 pounds. It is also defined as a single vehicle that has a weight rating that is greater than 26,001 pounds. The final definition states that it is any vehicle that carries sixteen or more passengers, a school bus, or transports hazardous materials and requires placarding. A CDL is a license that is issued by the state in which the applicant lives. The basic requirements for application are set-forth by the Federal government. Each state, however, may have different testing laws in place. When pursuing truck driving jobs you’ll need to know how to get a CDL. Without a CDL license, a truck driver will be unable to get commercial truck insurance and, more importantly, will be unable to obtain employment as a truck driver.

The Federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 includes certain requirements that all states must follow in terms of the testing and licensing involved in getting a CDL. Drivers who get a CDL can only legally possess one license. You must complete CDL training and the required state testing to illustrate a certain level of competency and to show that you meet the qualifications to drive heavy vehicles. Each state is required to set up its own minimum licensing standards and tests for issuing its CDLs. In general, when getting a CDL you must pass both a basic knowledge and skills test. To get an idea of what to expect in your state, consider looking on our trucking forum. The TruckersReport forums are the place to go for up to date trucking information.

There are various classifications of CDLs that are outlined by the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act. These classifications are – Class A, Class B, and Class C. Class A CDLs are for driving vehicles that meet the definition of a combination commercial vehicle. The Class B CDL is for vehicles that meet the definition of single commercial vehicles. Class C CDL is for drivers of commercial vehicles that carry over sixteen people, school buses or vehicles that carry chemicals that are hazardous and require placarding.

There are also endorsements that may be placed on the CDL. These endorsements are “T” for double or triple trailers, “P” for passenger vehicles, “N” for tank vehicles, “H” for vehicles that carry hazardous cargo and materials, “X” for vehicles that are a combination of endorsements N and H, and “S” which is for driving school buses. These are only a few of the basic endorsements. Depending on where you live, there may be more endorsements that are specific to the state. This letter system also applies to restrictions.

Now that you’ve found out what a CDL is and how to get a CDL, you’ll need to know what information should be on it. According to Federal regulations every CDL should include the driver’s birth date, height, sex, full name, mailing address, and signature. A CDL license should also state clearly what it is, either with the words “Commercial Driver’s License” or with the acronym. In addition, it must also include a color photo, the issuing state, the state license number of the driver, the expiration and issuance dates, the class of vehicle, any endorsements, and notation if there is an issued restriction of air brakes.