A Commercial Driver’s License is a type of license issued to drivers for driving vehicles that weigh 26,001 lbs and above.
However, there are situations where drivers of commercial vehicles that weigh less than 26,000 lbs are still required to have a CDL.
This is usually determined by the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) that the driver would be working with.
What this means is that; if a driver is towing a vehicle whose weight in addition to the weight of the driver’s truck passes 26,000 lbs…
… then you must need a CDL because the total combination has gone over 26,001 lbs., and the law does not permit driving such weight without a CDL.
Asides from this, there are other times you will need a CDL even when your vehicle does not weigh up to the specified size.
Ultimately, CDLs does not only exist for vehicles over 26,000 lbs., and that’s why there are different types of CDL provided by the Federal Government. Learn more here!
Understanding the types of CDL obtainable will give you comprehensive knowledge as to when you might need a CDL even if your vehicle is less than 26,000 lbs.
Types of CDL
The three CDL types are detailed below.
Class A CDL
This type of CDL is considered the highest category and issued only to drive vehicles with over 26,000 lbs. In this category, vehicles that are up to 26,000 lbs are permitted to tow vehicles of 10,000 lbs and more.
This type of CDL can be useful if your truck or any other type of vehicle will be towing a vehicle that can make the total weight go higher than 26,000 lbs.
Class B CDL
This type of CDL might equally be useful for you if you drive a vehicle less than the standard weight required for a CDL.
This type of license does not allow you to tow vehicles more than 10,000 lbs and what this means is that for your gross weight to be above 26,000 lbs, your vehicle must be at least 16,000 lbs.
For instance, if your truck weighs 12,000 lbs and the truck being towed has a GVWR of 10,000 lbs., then you will not need a license because your GVWR is 22,000 lbs.
But if your truck weighs 20,000 lbs., and you tow a 10,000 lbs truck, then you need a CDL. Read about 24 ft box truck here!
Class C CDL
This type of license is not determined based on weight but on functionality and is a clear description of how you can need a CDL even if your vehicle is not up to 26,000 lbs.
This license is given to those who drive up to 16 passengers or transport hazardous items.
This means that irrespective of the weight of your vehicle, if it performs any of these two functions, you will need a CDL for it.
Frequently Asked Queries!
What is DOT regulations for under 26,000 lbs?
Do I need license for trucks under 26,000 GVW?
No, you do not need a license for trucks under 26,000 GVW. Federal law requirements only mandate a CDL for any type of vehicle above 26,000 lbs.
Vehicles that have a GVWR of 26,000 lbs or less do not require a CDL.
Do you need a CDL to drive a pickup and trailer?
It depends. A CDL is required to drive commercial motors or vehicles that weigh or carry extra weight to have a GCWR of over 26,000 lbs.
If your pickup or trailer does not fall into that category, then you do not need a CDL. But if it does, you’ll need one.
Do I need a cdl if my trailer is over 10,000 pounds?
No, you do not need a CDL if your trailer is over 10,000 pounds, except it carries extra weight that makes the total weight up to 26,001 pounds.
How heavy before you need a cdl?
Any vehicle that has a GVWR of 26,000 lbs or a combination of vehicles with a GCWR of 26,000 lbs or more requires a CDL.
To answer the question clearly one more time—yes, you may need a CDL even if your vehicle is less than 26,000 lbs.
Now you know how to determine by yourself if you or your drivers will require a CDL.
Basically, whatever the weight of your truck is, in addition to any extra weight is what determines if you’ll need a CDL or not.
If it goes over 26,000 lbs., then you need a CDL. If it remains below 26,000 LBS., then you won’t need a CDL.
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