Commercial driver's licenses (or CDLs) are issued to people who pass a written and on-road commercial driving examination. These licenses come in three major classes: A, B and C. The classes determine the types of vehicles a commercial driver can operate. Drivers with class B CDLs can operate a wide range of vehicles, including buses, tow trucks, and garbage trucks. Class B drivers must, however, observe the various weight limits and vehicle specifications that have been set forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Class B CDL Vehicle Weight Limits
Drivers with class B CDLs are permitted to drive vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more. A vehicle's GVWR is its "gross vehicle weight rating." This number represents the total weight of the vehicle, including its cargo. Drivers who hold class B CDL licenses may also tow other vehicles, as long as the towed units don't exceed 10,000 pounds GVWR. This includes tow trucks or "wreckers" that carry private passenger automobiles.
Vehicles that May Be Driven
Commercial drivers with class B licenses can operate buses, tow trucks, cement mixers, dump trucks, garbage trucks and utility vehicles. Class B CDL license holders are not, however, permitted to drive motorcycles.
Operating Non-commercial Vehicles
It is not necessary for commercial drivers to hold a CDL and a traditional driver's license. Drivers with class B CDLs are automatically permitted to drive non-commercial vehicles such as private passenger automobiles. They may also drive cars with attached trailers, passenger vans and motor homes.
Obtaining Additional CDL Endorsements
Commercial drivers can take additional examinations to add vehicles to the list of commercial automobiles they can operate. These privilege changes are called "endorsements" and are usually denoted with a corresponding letter. For example, drivers who earn the "T" endorsement can attach two and three trailers to their main vehicles while drivers without endorsements may only attach one trailer. Likewise, drivers with an "X" endorsement are permitted to haul hazardous materials in tank vehicles.
Class B CDL Restrictions
Drivers are not permitted to hold more than one operator's license. Commercial drivers who plan to change states or jurisdictions must officially transfer his or her driver's license at the new state's bureau of motor vehicles. Many states require commercial drivers to undergo a medical examination. Upon doing so, drivers are usually issued a certified medical certificate that must be provided to the BMV. Drivers who plan to operate school buses may be required to take more than one knowledge or skills test.
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