Because there is different opinions of what requires a Commercial Drivers License (CDL), we offer here an excerpt on who needs the license and a PDF file of the entire Commercial Drivers License manual from the State of California DMV. Please let us know if you have any questions.
Commercial Driver License Handbook (Excerpt)
Section 1 – Introduction
This section is for all commercial drivers
The California Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Program was enacted to improve traffic safety on our roadways. As a result, California has developed licensing and testing requirements for drivers of commercial vehicles which equals or exceeds federal standards.
It takes special skills and a professional attitude to safely operate large trucks and buses. Only professional drivers will receive and keep a Commercial Driver License (CDL). A CDL is proof of your professional skills and aptitude.
Who Needs A CDL?
To operate commercial vehicles, you must apply for a CDL. Only California residents may obtain a California CDL. Residency is established by any of the following: registering to vote here, paying resident tuition at a public institution of higher education, filing for a California homeowner?s property tax exemption, obtaining a license (such as a fishing license), or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents. You need a CDL if you operate a vehicle or combination of vehicles which requires a Class A or Class B license or Class C license with endorsements.
A commercial motor vehicle is a motor vehicle or combination of vehicles designed or used for either the transportation of persons for compensation or property and:
• Has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more.
• Tows any vehicle with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more.
• Tows more than one vehicle or a trailer bus.
• Has three or more axles (excludes three axle vehicles weighing 6,000 pounds or less gross).
• Is any vehicle (bus, farm labor vehicle, general public paratransit vehicle, etc.) designed, used, or maintained to carry more than 10 passengers including the driver, for hire or profit, or is used by any nonprofit organization or group.
• Transports hazardous materials requiring placarding.*
• Transports hazardous wastes (Health and Safety Code §§25115 and 25117).*
NOTE: Employees of school districts, private schools, community colleges, and California state universities who operate 15-passenger vans must have a CDL with a passenger transport vehicle (PV) endorsement. A 15passenger van is a van manufactured to accommodate 15 passengers, including the driver, or a van designed to carry 15 passengers, including the driver, even if seats have been removed to accommodate fewer than 15 passengers.
Excerpt from California DMV Commercial Drivers License Handbook
View or download the current and complete CDL Handbook or any other of DMV’s publications that may be helpful here: California DMV Publications Link