PENNSYLVANIA COMMERCIAL DRIVER'S LICENSE FACT SHEET
WHO MUST HAVE A PENNSYLVANIA COMMERCIAL DRIVER'S LICENSE (CDL)?
Anyone who drives a commercial motor vehicle. The definition of a commercial motor vehicle is:
- a combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the vehicle being
towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds;
- a single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds;
- a vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver;
- a school bus; or
- any vehicle that is transporting hazardous materials and is required to be placarded in accordance with State and
Commercial motor vehicles do not include:
WHO MUST SUBMIT A SELF-CERTIFICATION FORM?
- implements of husbandry;
- any motor home or recreational trailer operated solely for personal use; or
- motorized construction equipment, including, but not limited to, motorscrapers, backhoes, motorgraders,
compactors, excavators, tractors, trenchers and bulldozers
Every driver who currently has a commercial driver's license, as well as every
driver applying for a commercial learner's permit, must self-certify the type
of driving in which they operate or expect to operate in i.e., Non-excepted Interstate;
Non-excepted Intrastate; Excepted Interstate; or Excepted Intrastate. The self-certification
process will identify commercial drivers that operate in Non-excepted transportation,
therefore identifying which drivers are required to submit a copy of their valid
Medical Examiner's Certificate to PennDOT.
ARE THERE ANY EXEMPTIONS FROM THE CDL PROGRAM?
Yes, the following persons are not required to obtain a CDL in order to drive a specified commercial motor vehicle:
WHAT ARE THE CLASSES OF COMMERCIAL DRIVER LICENSES?
- a firefighter who has a certificate of authorization from his fire chief while operating fire or emergency vehicles
registered to the fire department;
- a driver of a farm vehicle which is controlled and operated by a farmer and used exclusively to transport
agricultural products, farm machinery, or farm supplies to or from a farm owned or operated by the owner of the
farm vehicle. The farm vehicle may not be used in common or contract carriage and may be used only within 150
miles of the farm;
- active duty military personnel, personnel on full-time National Guard duty, personnel on inactive National Guard
duty training or part-time National Guard training and National Guard military technicians who are required to wear
military uniforms while operating equipment owned or operated by the Department of Defense.
In accordance with the licensing requirements of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act, the license classifications
WHAT ARE THE REQUIRED ENDORSEMENTS?
- CLASS A - combination vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the gross vehicle
weight rating of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
- CLASS B - single vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing a
vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds
- CLASS C -
single vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 26,001 pounds if the vehicle is: transporting
hazardous materials requiring placarding; is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the
driver; or, is a school bus.
The operation of certain vehicles also require the drivers to possess commercial endorsements in addition to possessing
the proper class of license.
WHAT TESTS DO I NEED TO TAKE?
- endorsement H authorizes the driver to operate a vehicle transporting hazardous materials requiring placarding
- endorsement N authorizes the driver to operate tank vehicles
- endorsement X hazardous materials and tank vehicle (H,N)
- endorsement P authorizes the driver to operate vehicles carrying passengers
- endorsement S authorizes the driver to operate a school bus (a School Bus endorsement card will be issued annually)
- endorsement T authorizes the driving of double and triple trailers
- restriction L restricts the driver to vehicles NOT equipped with air brakes
- restriction B restricts the driver from a class A bus
- restriction C restricts the driver from a class A or B bus
You will need to pass the Knowledge Tests
that are required for
the class of license, restriction, and endorsements you wish to possess. A general
knowledge test for the Class A or Class B and C license must be successfully completed
by all CDL applicants. The information needed to pass these tests is contained
in the CDL driver's manual. This manual is available free of charge at any PennDOT
Driver's License Exam Center or on PennDOT's website. Please read and study this
- Class A - 70 Questions (50 GK + 20 Combination Vehicles) - Skills test required.
- Class B - 50 Questions - Skills test required.
- Class C - 50 Questions - Skills test required.
- Passenger Endorsement - 20 questions - Skills test required in bus.
- School Bus Endorsement - 25 questions - Skills test required in school bus.
- Doubles/Triples Endorsement - 20 questions - No additional skills tests.
- Tank Vehicle Endorsement - 20 questions - No additional skills tests.
- Hazardous Materials Endorsement - 30 questions - No additional skills tests.
- Air Brake Restriction Removal - 25 questions - Additional skills test in vehicle with Air Brakes.
Certain Oral and Spanish tests are available (by appointment only)
After obtaining knowledge test authorization(s) and passing the required knowledge
test(s) , you will also need to take a skills testin the class and type of vehicle
you intend to drive. The skills test includes a pre-trip inspection, and off-
the-road maneuver, and vehicle parking exercise. Once again, a more detailed description
of this test can be found in the CDL Driver's Manual.
Skills testing cannot be taken until 15 days after the class A, B, or C knowledge testing is passed and a permit is
issued. However, you may call the number below to schedule skills testing immediately after passing a knowledge test
or schedule on-line.
For more information, call the PennDOT CDL Unit at: 1-800-932-4600
A "CDL" is a Commercial Drivers License. It meets certain "standards" that are the same for every state. It differs from your Pennsylvania "operator's" or "chauffeur's" licenses. It is required if you drive certain kinds of commercial vehicles either within Pennsylvania or outside of Pennsylvania.
WHAT IS THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY ACT OF 1986 (CMVSA/86)?
It is a law passed by the United States Congress which requires ALL the individual states to comply with certain standards in regards to the licensing of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. Pennsylvania driver licensing standards comply with the law, requiring CMV drivers to obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) when driving applicable vehicles. A CDL license can ONLY be issued in the driver's STATE OF LEGAL RESIDENCE, and if you have a CDL, you can have NO OTHER DRIVER'S LICENSE in ANY other state.
WHEN DO I NEED A CDL INSTEAD OF MY REGULAR PENNSYLVANIA DRIVERS LICENSE?
A CDL is required if you operate any of the following CMV's . . .
- A vehicle with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 lbs.
- A vehicle towing a unit with a manufacturer's GVWR of more than 10,000 lbs. when the GCWR exceeds 26,000 lbs.
- A vehicle designed to transport 16 or more persons (including the operator) or any vehicle carrying children to or from school and home regularly for compensation.
- A vehicle of any size that carries hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding.
ARE THERE ANY EXEMPTIONS TO BEING REQUIRED TO HAVE A CDL?
Yes, a few . . .
- Active Duty Military . . . with military licenses operating military vehicles.
- Firefighters . . . meeting approved training standards and operating authorized emergency vehicles.
- Farmers . . . in certain cases.
- Individuals ....operating motor homes or other vehicles used exclusively to transport personal possessions or family members, for non business purposes.
ARE THERE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS TO OBTAIN A PENNSYLVANIA CDL?
You must meet the following requirements to obtain a CDL . . .
- You must be 21 years old. (18 years if all commercial driving is done within Pennsylvania and if no hazardous materials requiring placarding are transported and if you do not drive double or triple trailer rigs).
- Possess a valid medical certificate in accordance with MCSR 49 CFR 391.41.
- You must otherwise qualify for the license based on your driving record. Any of the following will disqualify you from obtaining a CDL . . .
- If you possess a license from any state other than your State of Residence.
- If you are currently subject to any disqualification of your commercial driving privilege in Pennsylvania or any other state.
- If your license is currently suspended, revoked, denied, or cancelled.
- If you have a conviction for operating a CMV (commercial motor vehicle) while impaired in the 24 months immediately preceding application.
- other technical rules, and further restrictions that pertain only to PENNSYLVANIA are covered in detail within the Course.
THERE ARE CURRENTLY NO APPRENTICESHIP OR TRAINING REQUIREMENTS TO GET YOUR PENNSYLVANIA CDL. THIS MAY SOON CHANGE.
Access Official Federal CDL Medical Requirements Info
By completing the following items . . .
- Show your driver's license from your State of Residence.
- Take and pass all written examinations that apply to your license class and endorsement requirements.
- Show proof of social security number.
- Meet driver record eligibility requirements as determined by the State of Pennsylvania.
- Fill out an application including certifications.
- Show proof that you passed the required written tests, pass a vision screening, and show proof of a valid DOT medical certificate (BEFORE a CDL Temporary Instruction Permit will be issued and before you will be allowed to the the skills test).
- Pay the Pennsylvania CDL fees.
- Schedule, take, and pass your CDL skills test.
A separate booklet is included with the complete Pennsylvania CDL Course package which covers information such as fees, locations, contacts, and other items specific to the State of Pennsylvania for the written and skills examinations for ALL classes of license and ALL endorsements.
What do the terms Class A, Class B, and Class C mean on a CDL?
It refers to the type of vehicle that you may operate . . .
- CLASS A . . . allows you to operate vehicles which tow trailers or other vehicles with a GVWR over 10,000 pounds when the combined GVWR is over 26,000 pounds. A Class "A" license also allows you to operate Class B and C vehicles. Applicable endorsements are required.
- CLASS B . . . allows you to operate single vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs or more OR a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, towing trailers/vehicles rated at 10,000 pounds GVWR or less. A Class "B" license also allows you to operate Class C vehicles. Applicable endorsements are required.
- CLASS C . . .allows you to operate vehicles under 26,001 lbs. GVWR, that would normally not require a CDL; except when they are designed to transport 16 or more persons including the driver; or that carry 15 or less people (including the driver) transporting children to or from school and home regularly for compensation, or carry hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding. Applicable endorsements are required.
What are Endorsement Codes and when do I need them on my CDL?
Endorsements are necessary for certain commercial driving requirements as follows . . .
- AIR BRAKES endorsement for vehicles with air brakes.
- (T) DOUBLE or TRIPLE TRAILERS. For tractors pulling two or three trailers.
- (P) PASSENGER. For vehicles which are designed to carry 16 or more people (including the driver);
- (S) SCHOOL BUS. Any vehicle transporting children to or from school and home regularly for compensation.
- (N) TANK VEHICLES. For vehicles designed to haul liquids or liquefied gases in bulk in permanently mounted tanks or portable tanks rated at 1,000 gallons or more.
- (H) HAZARDOUS MATERIALS. To carry hazardous materials in amounts requiring placards.
- (X) Endorsement code designating a Tank (N) vehicle that carries Hazardous Materials (H).
Access Official Federal CDL Hazardous Materials Info
I'M OVER 18 YEARS OLDS, BUT NOT 21 YEARS OLD YET. CAN I GET A CDL?
Yes . . . with restrictions. Until your 21st birthday, you cannot drive a commercial vehicle outside the borders of Pennsylvania. You cannot drive a vehicle requiring HAZ MAT placarding and cannot drive double or triple trailer rigs.
CAN I USE MY PENNSYLVANIA CDL OUT OF STATE?
Yes! If you are 21 years or older it is good throughout the entire United States.
CAN MY CDL BE SUSPENDED OR REVOKED?
Yes, there are MANY reasons that your CDL can be suspended or revoked. Improper use of alcohol or drugs, traffic violations, and failure to notify top the list. The Pennsylvania CDL Course details ALL of the rules regarding suspension or revocation. The point to remember is that alcohol or drug use is not tolerated and your record WILL FOLLOW YOU THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES FOREVER!!!
SO LET'S SAY THAT MY CDL IS REVOKED. CAN'T I JUST GET A CDL IN ANOTHER STATE?
No!!! Those days are gone. One computer system keeps track of all licenses THROUGHOUT the United States. In a matter of seconds it can be determined if you possess more than one license.
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