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What is a commercial driver’s license?

All drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). To get a CDL, you will need to pass written knowledge tests, a skills test and a DOT physical examination. This manual is a study guide for passing the written knowledge tests and the CDL skills test. For more information about the CDL, visit the Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ website at www.in.gov/bmv/2854.htm.

Who needs to know about this?

You need a CDL if you are driving a commercial motor vehicle that:

  1. Has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of at least 26,001 lbs.; or
  2. Is designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver; or
  3. Is any size vehicle carrying hazardous materials that require placarding.

There are three classes to the CDL - Class A, Class B, and Class C. Click here to see more information about these three classes.

Class A - Any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds. Examples include:

  • Tractor-Semi-trailer
  • Truck & trailer
  • Tank vehicles

Class B - Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR. Examples include:

  • Straight trucks weighing 26,001 or more pounds GVWR
  • Buses weighing 26,001 or more pounds, designed to transport 16 passengers including the driver
  • Tank vehicles weighing 26,001 or more

Class C - Any single vehicle weighing less than 26,001 pounds GVWR, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR. This group applies to vehicles which are placarded for hazardous materials or designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the operator. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Single or combination vehicles, weighing less than 26,001 pounds GVWR
  • Buses weighing less than 26,001 GVWR and designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver
  • Passenger vehicles weighing less than 26,001 GVWR

Who isn’t required to get a CDL?

  • Farmers (and their farm hands in the farmer’s vehicle)
  • Firefighters and operators of emergency equipment
  • Military personnel
  • Drivers of recreational vehicles for personal use, such as RVs

What do I do next?

If you are a driver who needs a CDL, you must:

  • Have a valid Indiana operator’s license
  • Pass a DOT physical examination (see explanation below);
  • Pass the written CDL test at any Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) license branch
  • Obtain a learner’s permit
  • Schedule and pass a skills test at an Indiana-contracted third-party CDL skills test site
  • Upon passing the skills test, submit the Skills Test Certificate within 30 days to any Indiana BMV branch

Things to Remember

  • Have a valid DOT medical
  • Be aware of when you need to renew
  • If your gross vehicle weight rating is between 16,000 and 26,000 lbs., you will need a chauffer’s license
  • If you are transporting passengers for hire and have a seating capacity of less than 15 passengers (Including the driver), you will need a public passenger chauffer’s license
 
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