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What Is a Commercial Driver’s License?

A commercial driver’s license, or CDL, is a special type of license needed to drive certain classifications of large trucks and other commercial vehicles. To obtain the license, drivers need to pass certain requirements that can vary from state to state. Most states require passing a written exam and a road test. Drivers carrying hazardous materials also have to complete federal security threat assessment before they can receive the endorsement.

For truck accident victims, a commercial driver’s license may be relevant to their case because employers are required to ensure that every driver has a current CDL and a relatively clean driving record. If a driver has an expired CDL or the wrong type of classification and gets in a wreck, then the employer could be found negligent for their lack of oversight.

When you have been hurt in a truck accident, you can work with an experienced personal injury attorney team to investigate all possible instances where the truck driver or their employer was negligent. Providing evidence of their negligence allows you to file a third-party liability claim that can pay for the costs of your injuries and other accident-related losses.

If you have any questions or want to learn more about filing a personal injury claim, call (855) 969-5624 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced lawyers.

What Is a Commercial Driver’s License Required For?

Not every work-related vehicle requires a commercial driver’s license to operate. Normal vehicles operate as passenger vehicles, such as a sedan used for sales travel, generally do not require special certifications in most states.

However, larger vehicles used just for commercial purposes require a CDL. This is because these vehicles require a different set of skills to operate. Also, making mistakes while operating these vehicles is more likely to cause a serious accident or injury compared to a normal-sized vehicle.

Examples of types of trucks that require commercial driver’s licenses to operate include:

  • Tractor-trailers
  • Tankers
  • Delivery vans
  • Dump trucks
  • Buses
  • Passenger vans
  • Garbage trucks
The Difference Between CDL Class A, B, and C

Drivers can’t just have a general CDL. They must have a specific CDL class for the type of vehicle they operate.

Classifications of CDL include:

  • Class A
    • Used for combination vehicles hauling trailers or units over 10,000 lbs with a combined GVWR of more than 26,0000 lbs.
    • Applies to tractor-trailers, tankers, flatbeds, and livestock vehicles
  • Class B
    • Used for single vehicles that don’t hitch to trailers with a GVWR of at least 26,001 lbs or vehicles with a detached towed cargo vehicle weighing less than 10,000 lbs.
    • Applies to straight trucks, full-size buses, delivery trucks, moving vans, and certain trucks with small trailer
  • Class C
    • Special classifications vary. Each applies to a different vehicle category.
    • Can apply to passenger vehicles transporting more than 15 people, hazmat transport vehicles, double or triple trailer trains

Drivers operating a vehicle of any size that has a hazardous materials (hazmat) placard or towing a trailer with a hazmat placard must receive a special hazmat endorsement. These endorsements can vary according to the type of material being hauled.

How Do You Know If a Truck Driver Involved in an Accident Had a CDL?

The police will ask to see the driver’s CDL and verify that it is the correct classification and that it has not expired.

The legal knowledge of a lawyer may be needed to investigate the vehicle type and the driver’s current license standing.

If it is discovered that the driver should not have been operating the vehicle for whatever reason, that can potentially constitute negligence and help to prove fault. For this reason, it’s always prudent to see if the truck driver had the right CDL, even if they didn’t technically cause the accident.