Types of Commercial Driver’s Licenses
February 20, 2023 | J.L. King, II
When it comes to driving trucks and other commercial vehicles, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) helps ensure that drivers are trained to keep other motorists safe.
If you plan to drive a commercial-sized truck, van, or bus in Georgia, you must comply with state and federal regulations and hold a valid commercial driver’s license. Failure to obtain the proper credentialing can result in severe fines and legal consequences and puts others at risk of injury.
When Is a CDL Required in Georgia?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) defines a commercial motor vehicle as any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, a vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers, or a vehicle used in the transportation of hazardous materials.
If you drive a commercial motor vehicle as part of your job, you must have a CDL.
This includes positions such as:
- Semi-truck driver
- Bus driver
- Delivery driver
The specific type of CDL you’ll need depends on many factors, including weight and cargo restrictions.
Classes of CDL in Georgia
Georgia CDLs generally follow the same provisions imposed by the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT).
In Georgia, a Class A commercial driver’s license allows motorists to operate a vehicle with the following criteria:
- A gross weight beyond 26,001 pounds
- Towing an object or trailer over 10,000 pounds
If you drive a tractor-trailer, semi-truck, or flatbed, you’ll likely need to obtain a Class A CDL to comply with state and federal laws.
A Class B CDL is reserved for drivers of commercial vehicles that are less heavy than a typical semi-truck:
- Vehicles over 26,001 pounds
- Towing a cargo weight under 10,000 pounds
Class B commercial licenses are standard for motorists who carry smaller loads or drive light trucks. This includes moving trucks, delivery vans, tow trucks, and many specialized vehicles used for industrial operations.
Drivers who carry dangerous cargo or work in specialized industries must obtain a Class C CDL.
Currently, a Class C license is needed when you meet the following conditions:
- Operating a vehicle carrying hazardous materials listed under federal regulations
- Driving a bus or van with 16 or more passengers, including yourself
You’ll need a Class C CDL if you transport volatile chemicals, such as gasoline and propane, or drive a city bus.
How To Obtain a CDL in Georgia
To be eligible for a CDL in Georgia, you must be at least 18 years of age and be a legal resident of the state. You’ll first need to provide valid documentation as required by the state’s licensing office and pass a written test that covers basic safety laws and regulations.
After passing the written test, you’ll need to apply for a CDL learner’s permit. This permit will allow you to practice driving a commercial vehicle under the supervision of a licensed CDL driver.
As part of the state’s requirement, permit holders must complete a mandatory entry-level driver training program, which can be taken online or in person. After 14 days, you can convert your permit into an official license.
The driving test will evaluate your ability to operate a commercial vehicle and includes a pre-trip inspection, vehicle control, and on-the-road driving.
Once you have passed the written and skills tests, you’ll be eligible to obtain the classification of CDL you require.
CDLs Can Help Prevent Truck Accidents and Other Commercial Vehicle Collisions in Griffin, GA
If you plan to drive a large vehicle or carry many passengers, you’ll likely need a valid CDL. Holding a CDL ensures you know how to operate a large vehicle and helps prevent truck accidents and personal injuries on the road.
Specific requirements in Georgia can change from time to time, so it’s always wise to consult the Georgia DDS for the most up-to-date information before applying for any of the three CDL classes.
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