CDL License Types Defined

CDL License

Drivers must have a commercial driver’s license to get behind the wheel of certain vehicles such as flatbed trucks, livestock carriers and passenger buses. Each state sets its own requirements on top of federal regulations. California drivers must be either 18 or 21, depending on the vehicle they want to operate and where they drive. If they drive only in the state, 18 is fine. You must be 21 to drive into other states. Drivers must pay fees, take knowledge tests and meet criteria such as a Transportation Security Administration background check (for a hazardous materials endorsement).

Drivers must keep their license in good standing. That means alleged infractions such as running a red light or driving a truck or tractor over 55 miles per hour could cost drivers their license. A CDL ticket defense is worth mounting in these cases. Without further ado, here’s a look at the various CDL license types.

Class C

This CDL is for vehicles that can transport at least 16 occupants, including the driver. In addition, Class C applies to hazardous materials. If you’re interested in driving passenger vans or small HazMat vehicles, you would need a Class C license.

Class B

A Class B license is what you would use to drive one vehicle weighing at least 26,001 pounds. You can also use a Class B license to tow vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds. With certain endorsements, your Class B license should qualify you to operate box trucks, large passenger buses, tractor-trailers and segmented buses, among other vehicles. You can get endorsements on your Class B license to drive some types of Class C vehicles.

Class A

With a Class A license, you can drive a mix of vehicles that weigh at least 26,001 pounds with towed vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds. With certain endorsements, you may be able to drive vehicles such as tractor-trailers, tanks, flatbeds, livestock carriers and truck-trailer combinations. You can also get endorsed to operate Class B and Class C vehicles.


Various CDL endorsements exist. Here are some common ones:

  • (P) Passenger transport
  • (T) Double/triples
  • (N) Tank vehicle
  • (H) HazMat

You apply for your commercial learner’s permit and indicate which endorsements you want to earn. At a minimum, you must pass a test (written or road skills, or both) for each endorsement and pay a fee. Endorsements open up more driving opportunities and can mean more income.

A history of tickets could jeopardize your chances of obtaining a CDL. For instance, say that you got ticketed for reckless driving last week in Sacramento. Get in touch with a traffic lawyer in Sacramento as soon as possible, and your driving record might remain clear.

Similarly, getting tickets after you already have your CDL could be harmful. Suppose you got ticketed for speeding in Santa Ana. You may be tempted to try to handle the case yourself. However, a Santa Ana traffic ticket lawyer probably gives you a better shot at protecting your rights and keeping your CDL secure and in good standing. Get in touch with an attorney right away because there are deadlines associated with traffic tickets. The more time a lawyer has to prepare, the better.