When is a CDL required? Is It Time to Upgrade Your License?

When is a CDL required? Is It Time to Upgrade Your License?

Next Insurance Staff
By Next Insurance Staff
Nov 13, 2019
5 min read

Whether you need to transport equipment for a presentation or drop off supplies at a job site, the right vehicle for your daily operations can make a huge difference in time management and efficiency. 

However, certain vehicles require a special license. To own and operate one of these vehicles may also require an upgrade to a commercial driver’s license (CDL). However, before you schedule your appointment at the DMV, there are a few things to know about CDL license costs and when a CDL is required.  

What's a Commercial Driver's License (CDL)?

A commercial driver’s license or CDL is required in every state to operate a commercial motor vehicle or CMV. You must be 21 years old to apply (or 18-20 intrastate) and possess adequate skills to operate a large truck, towing system or van. 

There are commercial driver's license requirements, which can differ state by state. A written exam and a physical driving test are also required for the applicant’s specific CDL class, and you must pass both sections in order to obtain a commercial truck license. 

To operate a CMV is a responsibility that necessitates particular knowledge, experience, physical ability, and skill. CDL’s are only issued to professional drivers and are held to a much higher standard than those who hold a regular driver’s license. 

For example, CDL holders who commit certain traffic offenses risk losing certification even while operating a non-commercial vehicle. Because the stakes are higher when it comes to CDL holders, you will also want to look into signing up for commercial auto insurance to ensure that you're protected in the event of an accident. Commercial auto insurance covers a wide range of incidents and damages based on what your policy holds. This could include collision damage, personal injury, accident liability and costs of tows or rentals. 

What is the Difference Between a CDL and Non-CDL? 

A non-commercial driver's license (non-CDL) is what most people get when we applying to legally drive a car, truck, or SUV under 8,000 pounds. In many cases, a common vehicle serves as your main transportation for daily travel and errands. 

However, a commercial truck license comes in handy when your business requires a vehicle larger than a standard car. The first thing to consider is what sort of commercial vehicle you might need. This determines which type of license you or your employee should apply for, what type of insurance you need and what you need in your budget to satisfy any CDL license costs. 

When is a CDL Required for Your Business?

There are many reasons to upgrade to a CDL. The use of commercial vehicles for all classes of business can be beneficial if your current mode of transportation is slowing down your operations in any way. 

If you are a construction contractor who needs to supply job sites with more equipment than your pickup truck can fit, you don’t want to make unnecessary trips back and forth because it cannot go in one load. You can apply for a Class A CDL to legally operate anything from a small box truck to a flat-bed truck. 

Did you start a catering business with your Prius that is really starting to pick up? Your hatchback probably isn’t going to cut it. A commercial van would have enough room to load up full orders in one trip so they get to the destination promptly.

With this in mind, there are different classes of a CDL you can apply for depending on what type of CMV you need and what you plan to transport. There are different CDL license requirements for each class. 

Three CDL Classes

  1. Class A - Required to operate any tractor-trailer, flat-bed truck, livestock carrier or large tank that weighs over 10,000 pounds and carries a gross combination weight rating (GVWR) more than 26,001 pounds. 
  2. Class B - Required for any commercial vehicle with a GVWR of more than 26,001 pounds but weighs less than 10,000. This could include tractor-trailers, dump trucks, box trucks, passenger buses, and tow trucks. 
  3. Class C - Required to operate a passenger vehicle transporting 16 or more persons (including the driver), as well as HazMat trucks transporting materials considered hazardous by federal law. This could also include any other commercial vehicle not covered in Class A or B. 

There are additional CDL license requirements for each class, and you must all apply for endorsements specific to the commercial motor vehicle you operate. The endorsement usually requires additional testing and may vary from state to state. 

There are also several restriction codes that are issued to CDL’s that prohibit a driver from operating a certain CMV if they are not qualified. Additional testing can allow certain restrictions to be removed. 

What is Right for Your Business?

You may find that some of these types of commercial vehicles do not fit your business model, and that is okay. If you think you can handle your travel obligations with your current auto situation, there is no reason to change to a CDL. 

Next Insurance offers coverage options for many different classes of businesses. You can always cover your current vehicle and employees who do not require a CDL with minimal insurance costs as long as you are using a non-commercial vehicle. 

The bottom line is, if you need a vehicle larger than what suits the typical driver, a CDL might be right for your business. And no matter what type of commercial driver’s license you need, you are responsible for your vehicle and anyone who operates it. Fortunately, you can find insurance quotes for all types of businesses online that suit your unique industry needs. 

Groundbreaking companies, like Next Insurance, provide business owners with the opportunity to seek out information at their convenience and 100% online support to complement a busy and flowing schedule. Plus, you can find simple and affordable business insurance plans completely tailored to protect you on the road at all times. 

When is a CDL required? Is It Time to Upgrade Your License?


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About the author

NEXT’s mission is to help entrepreneurs thrive.

We’re doing that by building the only technology-led, full-stack provider of small business insurance in the industry, taking on the entire value chain and transforming the customer experience.

We want to make sure you have all of the information you need to make an informed decisions about purchasing business insurance. We hope you’ll find this information helpful.

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