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CDL Classifications, Endorsements, and Restrictions

CDL Classifications

You should get your commercial driver's license (CDL) for the class of vehicle that you plan to drive.

The class of a vehicle is determined by its gross vehicle weight rating and the manufacturer's design. The vehicle's class determines the type of CDL and any endorsements that you are required to have. If you drive a redesigned or altered vehicle, the type of CDL and endorsements that you need is determined by the vehicle's original class and not by the class of the redesigned vehicle.

Class A

Any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more if the vehicle(s) being towed has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 pounds. Vehicles in this class include:

  • Tractor-trailer
  • Truck and trailer combinations
  • Tractor-trailer buses

If you hold a class A license and you have the correct endorsements, you may also operate vehicles listed in classes B and C.

Class A Vehicles

Class B

Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more. Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more towing another vehicle with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less. This class includes:

  • Straight trucks
  • Large buses
  • Segmented buses
  • Trucks towing vehicles with GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less

If you hold a class B license and you have the correct endorsements, you may also operate vehicles listed in class C.

Class B Vehicles

Class C

Any vehicle that is not included in classes A or B that carries hazardous materials or is designed to carry 16 or more occupants, including the driver.

Class C Vehicles

Class M

Class M - permits you to drive two-wheeled and three-wheeled motorcycles.

Class M2 - permits you to drive two-wheeled motorcycles only.

Class M3 - permits you to drive three-wheeled motorcycles only.

Commercial Instruction Permit (CIP) Endorsements With Restrictions

Endorsement Restriction Description
N X * You may only operate an empty tank vehicle and may not operate a tank vehicle that previously contained hazardous materials that has not been purged of any residue.
P P * You may not operate a commercial motor vehicle carrying passengers. Exceptions include federal or state auditors and inspectors, test examiners, other trainees, and the commercial driver's license holder accompanying the commercial driver's instruction permit holder.
S P * You may not operate a school bus vehicle carrying passengers. Exceptions include federal or state auditors and inspectors, test examiners, other trainees, and the commercial driver's license holder accompanying the commercial driver's instruction permit holder.

* Any CIP issued with this endorsement will automatically have this restriction added.

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CDL Endorsements

Endorsement Description
H Permits you to drive a vehicle that transports hazardous materials. This endorsement cannot be transferred from another state or foreign country. You must successfully complete the hazardous materials knowledge exam and background check.
N Permits you to drive a tank vehicle.
P Perrmits you to drive a passenger-carrying vehicle. You must take the road test in the class vehicle you wish to operate.
S  * Permits you to drive a school bus.
T Permits you to drive a vehicle towing a double or triple trailer.

*  Individuals required to register with the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry (Virginia Code Chapter 9 of Title 9.1) (Registry) will be issued licenses valid for five years. However, they are not eligible for a Virginia commercial driver's license/instruction permit with an "S" endorsement during any period in which registration with the Registry is required. Additionally, if they hold a Virginia commercial driver's license/instruction permit with a "P" endorsement they are prohibited from operating a commercial vehicle to transport children to or from school or daycare sponsored activities.

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CDL Restrictions

Restriction Description
B or Y  * You must wear corrective lenses when operating a commercial motor vehicle.
J You may only operate a school/activity bus. You may not operate any other type of commercial motor vehicle.
K You may not operate a vehicle with Full Air or Air over Hydraulic brakes. If you plan to operate a vehicle with either of these types of air brakes, you must take the air brakes knowledge test. You also must take the road test in a vehicle equipped with Full Air or Air over Hydraulic brakes.
L You may not operate a commercial motor vehicle outside of Virginia.
M Operation of a passenger bus restricted to a Class B or Class C passenger vehicle.
N Operation of a passenger bus restricted to a Class C passenger vehicle.
O You may not operate a commercial motor vehicle with a tractor-trailer (any combination of vehicles with a gross weight of 26,001 lbs or more if the vehicle(s) being towed have gross weight of more than 10,000 lbs)
V You must have your medical variance documentation when operating a commercial motor vehicle.
Z You may not operate a vehicle with Full Air brakes. If you plan to take the air brakes knowledge test and take the road test in a vehicle equipped with Air over Hydraulic brakes then you cannot operate a vehicle equipped with Full Air brakes.

* B as of 7/01/2013; Y prior to 7/01/2013

NOTE: Failure to appear at DMV to have a cancelled endorsement removed or the appropriate restriction added to a Commercial Driver's License/Commercial Instructional Permit will result in the cancellation of CDL/CIP privileges.

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