Do You Need a CDL to Haul Cars?

Do You Need a CDL to Haul Cars?

Hauling cars can be a lucrative and exciting venture, whether you’re transporting vehicles for a living or moving a personal collection. However, when it comes to the legal requirements for hauling cars, one of the most common questions that arises is whether a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is necessary. 

This can typically be divided into two scenarios:

  • If you are using it for personal purposes and the total weight is less than 26,000 pounds (approximately 11,793 kilograms, equivalent to 2 cars), then you do not need a CDL.
  • If you are using it for commercial purposes and transporting 3 or more cars at once, it is advisable to have a CDL to avoid a series of troubles.

What to do if you don't have a CDL?

For 3 or more cars

When transporting 3 or more cars, if you don’t have a CDL, you may be stopped and cease transportation services due to violating weight limits. In this case, you need to contact your broker and dealer to inform them of the delivery delay. However, this can also make them view you as unprofessional and incur losses due to delays and fines.

So, if you plan to transport 3 or more cars, obtaining a CDL is best.

car trailer for 3 cars

For 2 cars

If you want to engage in car transportation without a CDL, you can transport a maximum of 2 cars at once, ensuring that you stay well within weight limits. Both open-car trailers and enclosed-car trailers are good options. Open car trailers are more affordable, while enclosed car trailers are more expensive but can transport luxury cars like Bentley. For specific guidance on how to choose, you can read this article: How to Choose Between Open Car Trailers and Enclosed Car Trailers.

car trailer for 2 cars

What Is CDL?

A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is a specialized type of driver’s license required for individuals who operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) for business or commercial purposes. CDLs are issued to drivers who intend to drive vehicles that exceed certain weight limits, transport hazardous materials, or carry a specific number of passengers.

It can be classified into three levels: A, B, and C:

  • Class A CDL: This class allows drivers to operate heavy combination vehicles, including tractor-trailers (also known as semi-trucks or 18-wheelers) with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) exceeding 26,000 pounds, provided that the towed vehicle(s) weigh more than 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B CDL: Class B CDL holders can operate single vehicles with a GVWR exceeding 26,000 pounds or buses designed to carry 16 or more passengers, including the driver. This class typically covers delivery trucks, buses, and smaller commercial vehicles.
  • Class C CDL: This class is for drivers who operate vehicles not covered by Class A or Class B, such as passenger vans, hazardous materials vehicles, or vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver).

How to Get a CDL?

To obtain a CDL, applicants must follow a specific process, which typically begins by visiting their local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or equivalent agency’s office in their respective state. Here is a more detailed explanation of the steps involved:

1. Visit Your Local DMV Office:

First, individuals interested in obtaining a CDL should visit their local DMV or the equivalent agency responsible for issuing CDLs in their state. This is where you can gather all the necessary information regarding the CDL application process and requirements.

2. Obtain CDL Manual and Study Material:

You will receive a CDL manual or study guide from the DMV. This manual contains valuable information about the CDL application process, the written knowledge tests, and the skills or road test.

3. Complete the Application Form:

You will need to fill out the CDL application form provided by the DMV. This form typically requires personal information, including your name, address, and contact details.

4. Pay Application Fees:

There may be application fees associated with obtaining a CDL. Be prepared to pay these fees at the DMV office.

5. Pass Written Knowledge Tests:

Applicants must pass written knowledge tests covering topics such as road signs, traffic rules, vehicle safety, and commercial vehicle-specific information. The DMV will schedule your knowledge tests, and you will need to study the CDL manual to prepare for them.

6. Schedule and Take Skills or Road Test:

After passing the written tests, you will need to schedule and take the skills or road test. This test assesses your ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely and includes tasks such as vehicle inspections, backing maneuvers, and on-road driving.

7. Meet Medical and Vision Requirements:

To obtain a CDL, individuals must meet specific medical and vision requirements to ensure they are physically fit to operate commercial vehicles. This may involve undergoing a medical examination and providing medical certification.

8. Obtain Specific Endorsements (If Necessary):

If your intended commercial driving activities require specific endorsements, such as transporting hazardous materials or passengers, you will need to pass additional tests related to those endorsements. These endorsements can be obtained in addition to your standard CDL.

9. Receive Your CDL:

Once you have successfully completed all the necessary tests, met the requirements, and paid any applicable fees, you will be issued your Commercial Driver’s License.

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