Types of Driver’s Licenses Defined

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Motorcycle-licensing regulations vary, all States require a motorcycle license endorsement to supplement your automobile driver’s license. To receive the proper endorsement in most States, you’ll need to pass written and on-cycle skills tests administered by your State’s licensing agency. Some States require you to take a State-sponsored rider education course. Others waive the on-cycle skills test if you’ve already taken and passed a State-approved course. 

Types of CDL License & Endorsements

What is a CDL?

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.

Types of CDL – Commercial Driver’s License

Pursuant to Federal standards, States issue CDLs and CLPs to drivers according to the following license classifications:

Class A: Any combination of vehicles which has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more) whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) whichever is greater.

Class B: Any single vehicle which has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 11,794 or more kilograms (26,001 pounds or more), or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight that does not exceed  4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds).

Class C: Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is transporting material that has been designated as hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and is required to be placarded under subpart F of 49 CFR Part 172 or is transporting any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR Part 73.

License Endorsements List

All professional truck drivers must have a commercial driver’s license. In addition, many get 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
  • S – Driving a School Bus
  • T – Double/ Triple Trailers

Restrictions

  • L – If the driver does not pass the Air Brakes Knowledge Test, does not correctly identify the air brake system components, does not properly conduct an air brake systems check, or does not take the Skills test in a vehicle with a full air brake system, the driver must have an “L” no full air brake restriction placed on their license.
  • Z – If the driver takes the test in a vehicle with an air over hydraulic brake system, then they will have a “Z” no full air brake restriction placed on their license. In either case the driver is not authorized to operate a CMV equipped with full air brakes.
  • E – If the driver takes the Skills Test in a vehicle that has an automatic transmission, then an “E” no manual transmission restriction is placed on their license.
  • O – If the driver takes the Skills Test in a Class A vehicle that has a pintle hook or other non-fifth wheel connection, they will have an “O” restriction placed on their license restricting them from driving any Class A vehicle with a fifth wheel connection.
  • M – If a driver possesses a Class A CDL, but obtains his or her passenger or school bus endorsement in a Class B vehicle the State must place an “M” restriction indicating that the driver can only operate Class B and C passenger vehicle or school buses.
  • N – If a driver possesses a Class B CDL, but obtains his or her passenger or school bus endorsement in a Class C vehicle; the State must place an “N” restriction indicating that the driver can only operate Class C passenger vehicle or school buses.
  • V – If the State is notified by the FMCSA that a medical variance has been issued to the driver, the State must indicate the existence of such a medical variance on the CDLIS driving record and the CDL document using a restriction code “V” to indicate that there is information about the medical variance on the CDLIS record.


States may have a more restrictive category for a class of license, or have additional codes for endorsements or restrictions on CDLs that are not mentioned in the Federal regulations, as long as these items are fully explained on the license document.