Are you wondering what CDL stands for? We’ve all been there. Learning every term and abbreviation of the driving lexicon can be confusing and overwhelming.

However, if you are a truck driver, or looking to drive any commercial motor vehicle in the USA, then it is important to know the term CDL, and everything about it. After all, it is going to be very important to you over the course of your career! 

Luckily, this article is here to help. Here, we will discuss the ins and outs of CDLs, including what it stands for, and more. So, if this is of interest to you, then read on! 

What Does CDL Stand For?

CDL stands for Commercial Driver’s License. If you want to drive a commercial motor vehicle in the US, then you need to hold a CDL that is valid. 

How Do You Obtain A CDL?

CDLs are obtained just like ordinary non-commercial driver licenses, (Class D.) They will be issued by the state that the driver lives in.

The federal government has the responsibility for creating CDL requirements, and they must ensure that all of the states follow these requirements. 

However, states will often have their own standards for those applying for a CDL, and all applicants must meet these requirements. The requirements themselves will vary from state to state. 

What Commercial Motor Vehicles Require You To Hold A CDL?

There are many types of commercial vehicles that will require you to hold a CDL. This includes: 

  • Vehicles whose operating weight exceeds the maximum of 26,000 lbs.
  • Vehicles that are able to transport 16 or more people (driver included).
  • Vehicles that are used to transport hazardous materials.

It is also important to note that all commercial vehicles are separated into different categories. These categories are based on function, weight, and size.

Each of these categories necessitates a different CDL class, so anyone wishing to obtain these CDLs will need to pass different skill and knowledge tests. 

The Class A CDL 

A Class A CDL will allow an individual to operate vehicles that have a gross combination weight of 26,0001 lbs and more.

This is provided that the vehicle or vehicles needing to be towed weighs more than 10,000 lbs. 

Some Class A vehicles include a semi-truck, an 18-wheeler, or a big-rig. 

The Class B CDL

Class B CDLs work in a similar way to Class A CDLs. Class B CDLs will allow individuals to operate a single vehicle with a gross weight of 26,001 lbs and more, or any vehicle not in excess of 10,000 lbs when it is towing another vehicle. 

Here are some examples of Class B vehicles: 

  • Dump trucks
  • Cement trucks
  • Buses

If you are a Class A CDL holder, then you will be able to drive Class B CDL vehicles. However, if you are a Class B CDL Holder, then you will not be able to drive Class A vehicles.

What Does CDL Stand For?

What Are CDL Endorsements?

In every class of CDL, drivers will be able to access various endorsements that allow them to drive certain vehicles, or operate them in other specific ways. 

For example, drivers with a CDL will be able to operate triple trailers with an endorsement. They will also be able to drive air brake vehicles, vehicles carrying bulk gasses, liquids, hazardous materials, and buses. 

It is not necessary for CDL-carrying drivers to have an endorsement. However, if they do not then some restrictions can be placed on their CDL.

Drivers can also have restrictions placed on their CDL if they failed an endorsement test, or if they get an endorsement for only one type of vehicle class. 

To obtain special endorsements, then a driver must pass a skills and / or knowledge test. 

Are You Able To Lose Your CDL?

Yes, you can lose your CDL. If you commit any road offenses that necessitate a suspension, or even a revocation, of your license, then you will lose all types of licenses, including your CDL. 

Your CDL will last for up to five years, but after five years it becomes invalid and you will need to ensure that it is renewed by the state you currently live in. 

What Is A CLP?

When you (a driver) decide on what vehicle you want to be endorsed and licensed with, you need to obtain your CLP – Commercial Learners Permit. 

This CLP is what permits drivers to practise driving commercial vehicles on public roads, provided there is a qualified holder of a CDL present in the car next to them. 

To successfully obtain a CDL, then a driver will need to pass the necessary medical requirements and the provided knowledge tests. 

Additionally, it is important to note that all drivers will need to obtain their CLP at least two weeks (14 days) before taking the skill test for the CDL.

Is The CDL Skills Test Important?

Yes, the CDL skills test is very important. Without it, you will not be able to obtain your CDL. 

Some states even require drivers to complete CDL training before taking the skill test. Drivers will need to pass the three parts of the skills test to successfully hold a CDL. They are: 

  • The Basic Controls Test
  • The Vehicle Inspection Test
  • The Road Test

Final Thoughts 

CDLs are necessary if you want to drive a commercial motor vehicle. Just like non-commercial driver’s licenses, CDLs are obtained from the state that respective drivers live in.

To take a CDL test, drivers will first need to obtain their CLP and hold it for 14 days. Then, they will need to pass all parts of a knowledge test and a skill test. 

There are different classifications of CDLs. Class A and Class B allow you to drive commercial motor vehicles Although these classifications are similar, they actually allow you different driving privileges. However, if you hold a Class A CDL, then you will be able to operate Class B vehicles. 

Finally, the last part of CDLs is the CDL endorsements. These endorsements allow you to drive specific commercial motor vehicles, but you will need to pass additional tests to access these. 

We hope this article tells you everything you need to know about CDLs!