Mark Casto | December 7, 2023 | Truck Accidents
Up until recently, anyone with an ordinary operator’s license could drive a commercial vehicle–even an 180-wheeler truck. That all changed in 1986, when the US federal government started requiring states to issue commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) based on certain minimum standards established by the federal government.
As a consequence, Georgia offers several different types of CDLs. Although states issue CDLs, they must comply with federal requirements. To qualify for any of the CDLs that Georgia issues, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old (certain restrictions still apply to drivers under 21);
- Hold a Class C Georgia driver’s license (an unrestricted non-commercial driver’s license).
In addition to meeting these universal requirements, you must also meet the specific requirements for each class of CDL.
Types of CDLs
Georgia and the federal government both recognize the following qualifications for commercial drivers.
Class A CDL
A Class A commercial driver’s license allows you to drive a commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 pounds, including a towed vehicle of more than $10,000 pounds. A Class A license will allow you to drive:
- Semi tractor-trailers (eighteen-wheelers);
- Double and triple trailers; and
- Livestock carriers.
The Class A CDL is the highest-level CDL with the most extensive driving privileges.
Class B CDL
Like a Class A CDL, a Class B CDL allows you to drive a commercial vehicle with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds with proper endorsements. However, you can only tow a vehicle weighing up to 10,000 pounds. Drivers carrying Class B CDLs typically drive:
- Box trucks
- Cement mixers
- City buses
- Dump trucks towing small trailers
- Large buses
- Segmented passenger buses
- Single vehicle or combination of truck and trailer
- Straight trucks
- Tourist buses
You cannot drive an eighteen-wheeler on a Class B CDL.
Class C CDL
Federal law requires you to obtain a Class C CDL to operate any vehicle that can carry more than 14 passengers (not including one driver). You also need at least a Class C license to transport federally classified hazardous materials. Common vehicles include:
- Small hazmat trucks
You will also need any required endorsement to drive these vehicles. A Class C CDL will also allow you to operate any other vehicles that require a CDL to operate but do not require a Class A or Class B CDL.
You can further upgrade the scope of your permitted driving activities by earning endorsements. Endorsements allow you to drive certain types of commercials, as follows:
- Class H: Tankers carrying liquids or gas;
- Class N: Vehicles carrying hazardous materials;
- Class P: Vehicles with more than 14 passengers, not including the driver;
- Class S: School buses;
- Class T: Towing double or triple trailers; and
- Class X: Tankers hauling hazardous materials.
A driver’s qualification to drive a given vehicle depends on both the class of the CDL they carry as well as their possession of any necessary endorsements.
Proving Liability for a Truck Accident: Regulatory Violations and Negligence Per Se
Accidents involving commercial vehicles frequently involve catastrophic injury. Imagine the devastation that could result, for example, if a trucker falls asleep at the wheel. Nevertheless, commercial vehicles almost always carry enough insurance to cover any likely personal injury or wrongful death claim.
Claimants injured by accidents involving at-fault CDL holders often invoke a legal principle known as negligence per se. Under this principle, proving the defendant’s violation of a safety regulation is enough to automatically establish negligence.
It’s also enough to establish liability as long as you can also prove that the defendant’s regulatory violation is what caused your injuries. Commercial driving is extensively regulated.
Consequently, you not only need a lawyer, you need a lawyer who is familiar with the regulations governing commercial vehicles.
Contact the Columbus Truck Accident Lawyers at Mark Casto Personal Injury Law Firm Today For More Help
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