by Chris Grigas

What is a CDL?


Navigating the many rules and regulations of the trucking industry can be tricky. Not only do motor trucking companies have strict rules and regulations to follow, but those wanting to work as operators (i.e. drivers) have requirements set specifically for them! The biggest requirement for potential truck drivers is the possession and maintenance of a commercial driver’s license, or CDL. A commercial driver’s license is a special license that must be obtained by an applicant in order to operate certain types of vehicles.

The commercial driver’s license requirements can be broken down into three classes, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:

  • A Class A CDL is required if any combination of vehicles, including towed vehicles or trailers of 10,000 pounds or more , has a total combined weight of 26,001 pounds or more.
  • A Class B CDL is required for any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more.
  • A Class C CDL is required for any single vehicle, combination of vehicle that does not meet the definitions set forth in Class A or B, but is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is used in the transportation of hazardous material.

Once you decide which type of CDL you would like, there are state specific steps that you must follow in order to actually receive the commercial driver’s license.

Look for part two of this blog, “Obtaining a CDL in Michigan” for further information on Michigan’s specific requirements for obtaining a CDL!

This article is meant to help guide & assist in potentially determining if a specific applicant would be required to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Please consult the FMCSA website www.fmcsa.dot.gov, or contact your local Department of Transportation Enforcement Office, to determine the exact specifications for your situation.

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