A Truck Driver’s Guide to Commercial Licensing

Since April 1, 1992, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has required drivers to have commercial driver’s licenses in order to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Consequently, the FMCSA has developed and issued standards that states must follow to issue CDLs to drivers. Restrictions are placed on CDLs when a driver’s vehicle lacks critical equipment on certain CMVs, so drivers need to take the Skills Test in the same type of vehicle for which they are seeking CDLs to operate.

Classes of licenses

According to Federal standards, States issue CDLs and CLPs to drivers according to three license classifications. Class A encompasses any combination of vehicles that have a gross combination weight rating of 11,794 kilograms or more. Any single vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating of 11,794 or more kilograms or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a gross weight rating below 4,536 kilograms is Class B. A Class C vehicle is any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not qualify as a Class A or B, but is designed to transport 16 or more passengers.


Drivers who operate certain CMVs must pass other tests to obtain endorsements on their commercial driver’s licenses. For example, a double or triple trailer driver only needs to pass the knowledge test only to obtain an endorsement. For a passenger vehicle, the driver needs to pass the knowledge and skills tests. Additionally, a school bus driver needs to pass the knowledge and skills tests.


If a CDL driver fails to pass the Air Brakes Knowledge Test, doesn’t correctly identify the air brake system components, or does not properly conduct an air brake systems check, he or she will carry an “L” no full air brake restriction on the license.

Call (877) 205-2141 to learn more about obtaining a commercial driver’s license with HDS Truck Driving Institute. We have proudly served Southern Arizona since 1991. As a fully accredited educational institution, we have trained thousands of students to pass their CDL tests and to become the kind of professional drivers that companies want to hire.

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