Rules for Mandatory Commercial Drivers License (CDL) in California

If any of the following are true, you will need a CDL.

  • A vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more.
  • A combination vehicle with a gross combination weight of 26,001 or more pounds with the GVWR of the towed vehicle(s) in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle that tows any vehicle with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more.
  • Any vehicle that tows more than one vehicle or a trailer bus.
  • A vehicle designed to transport 10 or more passengers including the driver.
  • Any vehicle which requires HAZMAT placards or is carrying material listed as a select agent or toxin in Title 42, Code of Federal Regulations.

There are exceptions to these rules such as:

  • Persons operating a vehicle in an emergency situation at the direction of a police officer.
  • Drivers of house cars over 40 feet but not over 45 feet, with an endorsement.
  • Non-civilian military personnel operating military vehicles.
  • Implement of husbandry operators who are not required to have a driver's license.
  • Vanpools.
  • And more...

Certificate or Endorsement

Some vehicles may also require a certificate or endorsement along with a CDL in order to be driven legally.

  • School Bus Drivers - must have a school bus endorsement ("S").
  • Shuttle Bus Drivers - may need additional certificates; check with your potential employer.
  • Taxi Cab Drivers - may have extra requirements based on your local government.
  • Chauffeur - depends on the vehicle.
  • Tank Vehicles such as a Cement Truck require an "N" endorsement.
  • HAZMAT vehicles require an "H" endorsement.

Base Requirements for a CDL

  • Be a California resident.
  • Must be 18 years of age.
  • Must be 21 years of age to drive a commercial vehicle engaged in interstate commerice or to transport hazardous materials or wastes.
  • Complete the Commerical Driver License Application (DL44C)
  • Complete an approved Medical Examination Report (DL51)

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