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Do I Need A Commercial Driver License?

Alabama adopted the Federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986, and is part of a nationally uniform system of classifying, testing, and licensing commercial vehicle drivers.

CDL Endorsements are required for double/triple trailers, tanker vehicles, passenger vehicles and vehicles placarded for hazardous materials.

If you drive a commercial vehicle that falls into one of the following classifications, you must have an Alabama Commercial Driver License (CDL).

CLASS A - This classification applies only to "combination" vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) exceeding 26,000 pounds, provided the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed exceeds 10,000 pounds. The holder of a Class A license, which includes any appropriate endorsements, may operate all vehicles included in Class B, C, and D (Operator License).

CLASS B - This class includes single or combination vehicles where the GVWR of the single vehicle exceeds 26,000 pounds. The vehicle in tow must not exceed 10,000 pounds. Class B licensees, with appropriate endorsements, may drive all vehicles in Class C or D.

CLASS C - Vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, and vehicles placarded for hazardous materials, that do not meet the criteria for Class A or B above fall under this classification and may drive all vehicles in Class D.

About the CDL Knowledge Tests

You will have to take one or more knowledge tests, depending on what class of license and what endorsements you need. All CDL applicants must take the general knowledge test. The table below will tell you what additional tests you must take, if any.

Test Name

Take If...

Passenger Transport

...you want to drive a bus

Air Brakes

...your vehicle has air brakes

Combination Vehicles

...you want to drive combination vehicles


...you want to haul liquids in bulk


...you want to pull double or triple trailers

Skills Tests

If you pass the required knowledge test(s), you can take the CDL skills tests. There are three types of general skills that will be tested: pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control, and on-road driving. You must take these tests in the type of vehicle for which you wish to be licensed.

1.   Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection: You will be tested to see if you know whether your vehicle is safe to drive. You will be asked to do a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle and explain to the examiner what you would inspect and why.

2.   Basic Vehicle Control: You will be tested on your skill to control the vehicle. You will be asked to move your vehicle forward, backward, and turn it within a defined area. These areas may be marked with traffic lanes, cones, barriers, or something similar. The examiner will tell you how each control test is to be done.

3.   On-road Test: You will be tested on your skill to safely drive your vehicle in a variety of traffic situations. The situations may include left and right turns, intersections, railway crossings, curves, up and down grades, and single or multi-lane roads, streets, or highways. The examiner will tell you where to drive.

What Are The Other Requirements For A CDL?

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require drivers to pass a physical examination once every 2 years. The main physical requirements include good hearing, 20/40 vision with or without glasses or corrective lenses, and a 70-degree field of vision in each eye. Drivers must not be colorblind.

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