Driving without a valid driver’s license isn’t just dangerous, but it can also land you with big fines and even criminal charges. Driving unlicensed, either because the driver had their license suspended, revoked, or never had one to begin with, is plenty of cause to find that driver negligent and at-fault for crashes they may end up in.

However, not all driver’s licenses grant drivers the same privileges. For example, a standard driver’s license, aka a “Class D” license, only gives drivers the right to drive a passenger vehicle like a car, SUV or a light-duty pickup truck. It does not give drivers the legal right to operate a motorcycle: that requires a “Class M” license.

It also doesn’t allow drivers to operate a large number of heavy-duty vehicles. For that, you will need a Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL.

VIDEO: Gary Bruce discusses the difference between lawsuits involving box truck crashes and those involving 18-wheelers.

What are the Types of Commercial Driver’s Licenses?

There are three “classes” of CDL, depending on the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and type of vehicle and cargo the applicant wishes to be legally allowed to drive/transport.

Most jobs requiring a CDL will require a Class A or Class B license.

Class A License

This license allows you to drive combination vehicles (vehicles with a detached trailer) with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more, when the trailer portion weighs more than 10,000 lbs.

Examples of vehicles that might require a Class A license include:

  • 18-wheelers
  • Flatbed trucks (such as logging trucks)
  • Livestock carriers
  • Car carriers
  • Tanker trucks

If you have a Class A license, you will also be able to drive most vehicles requiring a Class B or C license.

Class B License

This license allows you to drive single vehicles (vehicles that do not have a detached trailer) with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more, AS WELL as vehicles with a detached trailer if the trailer weight is less than 10,000 lbs.

Examples of vehicles that might require a Class B license include:

  • Box trucks (such as moving trucks and delivery trucks)
  • Dump trucks (such as rock trucks)
  • Garbage trucks
  • Large buses (such as city buses, school buses, and charter buses)

If you have a Class B license, you may also be able to drive some vehicles requiring a Class C license.

VIDEO: Gary Bruce discusses lawsuits involving moving truck crashes.

Class C License

This license allows you to drive vehicles with a GWVR of less than 26,001 lbs., including vehicles with a detached trailer if the trailer weight is less than 10,000 lbs., and vehicles transporting 16 or more passengers (including the driver).

Examples of vehicles that might require a Class C license include:

  • Passenger vans
  • Hazmat vehicles
  • Motorhomes

CDL License Endorsements

There are also special license endorsements you will need, depending on the cargo you will be required to carry as a commercial driver.

  • The “P” endorsement for Passengers
  • The “T” endorsement for a Tank (liquid cargo)
  • The “H” endorsement for Hazardous Materials (flammable liquids, compressed gases, explosives, toxic substances, corrosive substances, pollutants, etc.)
  • The “S” endorsement for a School Bus

Driving a vehicle for any of these purposes requires specialized knowledge, which is why you will likely need to take a unique knowledge and/or skills test on top of the standard CDL test to earn each endorsement.

How Can I Get a CDL in Georgia?

In Georgia, you can get a CDL starting at age 18, although you will only legally be able to drive commercial vehicles within Georgia and not on interstate routes until age 21.

Requirements for a CDL include:

  • Holding a valid Class D Georgia driver’s license
  • Holding a valid CLP (Commercial Learner’s Permit) for at least 14 days
  • Paying the Commercial Application (CAP) fee ($35 as of 2022), valid for four test attempts
  • Filling out a self-certification (declaring what category/categories of vehicles you expect to operate with your license)
  • Providing an up-to-date medical certification, if required based on the class of license being applied for
  • Providing proof of identity, address, and citizenship/lawful presence
  • Passing a vision exam
  • Passing a written knowledge exam
  • Paying any additional fees for testing and/or endorsements

Why Does This Matter?

Driving any large commercial truck is very, very different than driving a car, or even a large pickup. If the driver does not have the proper training or skill, they can very easily lose control of the vehicle and cause a crash. Further, because large trucks weigh much more than a standard car, when they do get into wrecks, they cause significantly more damage to property and people.

When trucking companies negligently try to skirt the rules by hiring drivers who are not certified for the work that needs to be done, and innocent people are hurt or killed in truck crashes as a result, those companies need to be held accountable. We have seen it happen far too often.

If you or someone you love have been injured in a commercial truck crash, contact our firm today for a free case consultation. We want to help your family get the justice and compensation you deserve for the trucking company’s negligence.