Types of CDL, Endorsements & Restrictions
Driving certain commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) requires special skills and knowledge. Acquiring a CDL license through study and training proves the driver does possess these skills and knowledge.
What is a CDL?
Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986
On October 27, 1986, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act was signed into law, which made getting your CDL a more stringent process. The goal of the new law was to improve highway safety by ensuring that drivers of large trucks and buses were qualified to operate those vehicles. The act also made sure that unsafe and unqualified drivers were removed from the highways. The CMV Safety Act retained the state’s right to issue a driver’s license but established minimum national standards states must meet when issuing CDLs.
CDL – The Commercial Driver’s License
There are three CDL types based on the total weight and design of the CMV driven.
Class A License – Any driver operating a vehicle and trailer with a combined weight of more than 26,001 pounds is required to have a Class A CDL, provided that the trailer’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) exceeds 10,000 pounds. Read more about Class A>>
Class B License – A Class B CDL is required for vehicles weighing in excess of 26,001 pounds or vehicles that are pulling another vehicle with a GVWR of less than 10,000 pounds. Read more about Class B>>
Class C License – Large passenger vehicles and vehicles used to haul hazardous materials are covered by a Class C CDL. Class C licenses are required for vehicles that carry more than 16 passengers (including the driver). Any vehicle carrying hazardous materials require a placard. Selective agents also require a Class C CDL to operate.
All professional truck drivers must have a commercial driver’s license. In addition, many have additional endorsements that allow the driver to operate highly specialized vehicles and carry a variety of cargo. There are six different endorsements:
- H – Transporting Hazardous Material
- N – Operating a Tank
- P – Operating a Passenger Transport Vehicle (Ex: Tour Bus or Trolley)
- X – Transporting Hazardous Materials in a Tank
- L – Operating a CMV with Air Brakes
- S – Driving a School Bus
A restriction code may be placed on any type of driver license. The following is a list of the most common types of CDL restrictions:
- B = Corrective Lenses
- C = Mechanical Aid
- D = Prosthetic Aid
- E = Automatic Transmission Only
- F = Duel Outside Mirror
- G = Daylight Only Operation
- J = School/Activity Bus Only
- K = CDL Instrastate Only
- L = No Air Brake CMV
- M = Group B or Group C Passenger Vehicles
- N = Group C Passenger Vehicles Only
- Q = Bus Only
- T = Hazmat Prohibited
- U = Hearing Aide Required
- V = Medical Variance Required
- W = Medical Waiver Required
- X = No Cargo in CMV Tank Vehicle
- Z = No Full Air Brake Equipped CMV
CDL Training Today helps thousands of men and women get starting on high-paying, rewarding careers as professional truck drivers every month. Getting your CDL has never been easier, get started today! Find a CDL training school.