A Brief Overview of the CDL License Tiers

A Brief Overview of the CDL License Tiers

Sep 15th 2023

While many people can get by using their normal driver’s license, driving larger vehicles requires specific driver licenses or commercial driver licenses (CDL). The extra difficulty and risk of driving large and heavy vehicles warrant more precautions to ensure the safety of everyone on the road. Explore this brief overview of the CDL license tiers to better understand the specifics of driving larger automobiles.

Class A CDL

Starting at the beginning, a Class A CDL is one of the most common, as it covers the widest range and combinations of vehicles. Any combination of vehicles that weigh 20,601 pounds or more while towing a vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 pounds requires a Class A CDL. This class includes vehicles such as tractor-trailers, trucks and trailers, and flatbeds.

Class B CDL

You’ll want the Class B CDL if you want to drive a vehicle weighing more than 26,000 pounds. These are vehicles without attached cabs and cargo areas or that have attachments weighing less than 10,000 pounds. Examples of these vehicles include box trucks, city buses, and dump trucks.

Class C CDL

Class C CDL vehicles are single vehicles weighing less than 26,001 pounds, tow vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds, or vehicles that transport more than 15 people (including the driver). Vehicles such as double trailers or buses may fall under this category, depending on their sizes. You can also expect common features in these vehicles, such as semi-truck seats, but they aren’t necessary.

Additional Endorsements

These DCL license tiers are great, as they cover various vehicles, but they don’t include everything. Sometimes, you need special endorsements proving you can drive under special conditions. Some common endorsements include tanks, which allow you to drive with liquid cargo, or hazardous materials endorsements, which allow you to drive vehicles containing dangerous cargo. These are extra options drivers can get to augment their CDL.

This guide should help you understand the options out there when it comes to the CDL tiers. Knowing more about these tiers will help you pick the right one for your drivers or help drivers understand what license they need for themselves.