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CDL Endorsements and Restrictions Guide

04/13/2022 00:05

Whether you’ve been driving trucks for years or you’re just starting out, you know that earning a CDL is the first step toward an exciting career as a truck driver! But did you know you could be missing out on certain truck driving jobs because you don't have any endorsements or restrictions on your driver's license?

Commercial truck driver jobs are at an all-time low. If you have certain endorsements, remove any restrictions, and build a strong portfolio, you'll be able to get hired by a great company. Licensing endorsements also allow you to carry specific types of cargo, rather than just transporting general freight. As you continue driving CMVs, you should continue earning endorsements and having restrictions removed.

CDL Classes 

First, let’s talk about the three different CDL classifications you can earn before you add endorsements.

Class A CDL 

This is the most common CDL.or more pounds, including a towed object/vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) over 10,000 pounds. 

You can operate the following vehicles with a Class A CDL: 

  • Tractor-trailers and flatbeds 
  • Livestock carriers 
  • Tankers 
  • Truck and trailer combinations  
  • Tractor-trailer buses 
  • Semi-truck with a flatbed trailer 

If you've earned the appropriate Class A licenses, you can even be licensed to operate some Class B or Class C trucks.

Class B CDL 

You can operate a vehicle at or above 26,000 in GCRW with a Class B commercial driver’s license.cannot exceed 10,000 pounds.  

Vehicles you can drive with a Class B CDL include: 

·        Straight trucks  

·        Public transport and tourist passenger buses  

·        Segmented buses  

·        School buses  

·        Delivery service box trucks  

·        Dump trucks with small trailers  

·        Tractor-trailers  

Like you're allowed to drive different types of vehicles with a Class A license, you can operate some types of Class C vehicles with the proper Class B endorsements.

You need a Class C CDL to drive any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 26,001 pounds, a truck towing another vehicle that weighs less than 10,000 pounds, and a passenger vehicle with 16 or more people.

You must also hold a Class A CDL to drive a truck carrying hazmat under federal guidelines.

With a Class C license, you can drive any kind of truck.

·        Small trucks equipped to transport HAZMAT 

·        Passenger vans 

·        Small trucks towing trailers

CDL Endorsements 

Your CDL endorsements determine the different types of vehicles you can drive and the freight you can transport within them. How much does a CDL endorsement cost? 

Holding more endorsements only makes you a more desirable hire and increases the likelihood of earning more money and being a successful driver. Once you earn additional endorsements, you need to remember to renew them when you renew your CDL to keep them valid.  

H Endorsement 

Holding more endorsements only increases your desirability as a driver and increases the likelihood of making more money and being a successful driver.

Applicable classifications: Class A (commercial drivers), B (combination drivers), and C (non-trucking)

N Endorsement 

Drivers who hold an N CDL endorsement can drive tanker trucks or vehicles that transport liquid and gas.

Applicable CDL classifications: Class A and B
Required testing: written knowledge test 

P Endorsement 

If you want to operate a vehicle or a bus that seats up to 16 passengers, you’ll first need to get your P (passenger), endorsement. 

Applicable CDL classes: Class A, B and C.

Required testing: written knowledge test, road skills test.

S Endorsement 

The S (school bus) endorsement is the second endorsement noted above that’s required to be a school bus driver. 

Applicable CDL classifications: Class A, B, and C
Required testing: written knowledge test, road skills test, and background check 

T Endorsement 

Once you’ve earned your T endorsement, you’ll be able to haul double or triple trailers. 

Applicable CDL classifications: Class A
Required testing: written knowledge test 

X Endorsement 

A combination endorsement by nature, the X endorsement permits you to transport HAZMAT within a tank. 

Applicable CDL classifications: Class A and B
Required testing: written knowledge test 

CDL Restrictions 

You can also receive CDL limitations during the testing periods of your trucking career if you're not going to be able to pass the test. 

E Restriction 

The type of transmission your car has during your road skill tests determines whether you’ll be restricted from driving for six months. 

L Restriction 

An L restriction on your commercial driver's license (CDL) means you cannot operate a truck with a full air brake. 

M Restriction 

If you have a class A CDL and passed your P or S endorsements in a Class B or C passenger vehicle you’ll receive an M restriction on your license and you’ll be excluded from operating any class A passenger vehicles. 

N Restriction 

If you have a Class B commercial driver’s license (CDL) and obtained your P or T endorsement in a Class C truck, you’ll get an N restriction on your Class B CDL and be prohibited to operate a Class B passenger vehicle (truck). Removing it involves passing the skills test in a Class B passenger vehicle. 

O Restriction 

If you're a Class A CDL truck driver and you took your road test in a vehicle without a fifth-wheel connection, such as a gooseneck, a ball and chain hookup, or a pintle hook, you may be required to have an O restriction added. 

V Restriction 

If you have a medical variance as defined by FMCSA, your CDL will have an M restriction on it. 

The most common medical variances are: 

·        Diabetes 

·        Seizures 

·        Hearing problems 

·        Eyesight impairment 

As long as your medical certificate states you have any of these conditions, the restriction will remain on your license; however, the FMCSA may provide you with an exemption.

Z Restriction 

If your medical certificate states you suffer from any of the following conditions, the restriction will stay on your license; however, the FMCSA may grant you an exemption. 

In Conclusion

To become a successful truck driver, you need to know which types of trucks you want to drive and the best ways to legally do so, prevent license restrictions as much as possible, and work towards the endorsements you can earn. Speaking of legality, we can support you further on some drug and alcohol-related testing, Clearinghouse compliance, and more. Feel free to reach out to us at Labworks USA here.

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