Types of Commercial Driver’s Licenses

A commercial driver’s license is a requirement for those interested in making careers out of driving large vehicles. A regular driver’s license will not do, as operating large vehicles takes unique skill.

Multiple types of commercial driver’s licenses exist, allowing drivers to operate different large vehicles. Drivers can also seek endorsements to get additional driving privileges. 

What Is a Commercial Driver’s License?

Just like you need a driver’s license to operate a vehicle, you also need a license to operate a commercial truck. 

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) allows you to legally drive large vehicles, including semi-trucks and buses. Operating these vehicles requires special education, therefore requiring distinct licenses. 

There are different types of commercial driver’s licenses, depending on the vehicle the driver plans to operate.

Different Types of Commercial Driver’s Licenses

There are three types or “classes” of commercial driver’s licenses, including Class A, Class B, and Class C.

Class A Commercial Driver’s License

A Class A commercial driver’s license is required for drivers operating a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) that meets or exceeds 26,001 pounds if the vehicle that’s being towed weighs more than 10,000 pounds.

A driver that has a Class A CDL can drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Tractor trailers
  • Flatbeds
  • Livestock carriers
  • Tanker vehicles
  • Trucks with trailers

While Class A commercial driver’s licenses allow you to drive a variety of large vehicles, they may not allow you to operate vehicles that require Class B or C licenses or other endorsements.

Class B Commercial Driver’s License

A Class B commercial driver’s license is required for drivers operating vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more or a tow vehicle that weighs no more than 10,000 pounds.

A driver can operate several types of large vehicles with a Class B CDL, including:

  • Passenger buses
  • City buses
  • Tourist buses
  • Box trucks
  • Straight trucks
  • Dump trucks
  • Tractor trailers

With additional endorsements, your Class B commercial driver’s license may also allow you to drive some Class C vehicles.

Class C Commercial Driver’s License

Class C commercial driver’s licenses allow you to operate large vehicles that transport 16 or more passengers or hazardous materials (HazMat). 

Drivers with a Class C CDL license can operate HazMat vehicles and passenger vans. Additionally, drivers with a Class C can drive other types of vehicles that do not require Class A or Class B licenses.


Endorsements give drivers additional privileges without applying for more than one license.

Drivers can get the following types of endorsements:

  • H: Hazardous materials
  • T: Double/triple trailers
  • P: Passenger vehicles transporting 16 or more passengers
  • S: School bus
  • X: Tanks and HazMat

Endorsements are not necessary unless a driver wishes to operate additional vehicles they could not otherwise operate under their type of license.

How to Get a Commercial Driver’s License

Obtaining a commercial driver’s license involves the following:

You must also meet the requirements for getting your commercial driver’s license, including the medical requirements. 

After an Accident With a Commercial Truck, Consult a Truck Accident Attorney

Operating large vehicles requires special licensing for a reason. Getting a CDL ensures that drivers know what they’re doing behind the wheel, helping minimize accidents. 

However, truck accidents do frequently happen, leaving victims in unfavorable positions. If you’re involved in a collision with a commercial vehicle, do not hesitate to consult a truck accident lawyer. An attorney with experience handling truck accident cases can help you get on the road to financial recovery.

Contact Our Truck Accident Law Firm For Help Today

For more information, please contact Bradley Law Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free case evaluation today.

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