Special Licenses in California
You'll need a commercial driver's license (CDL) to drive any of the following:
- A vehicle whose actual, registered, or gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is over 26,000 pounds and is towing a vehicle with an actual, registered, or GVWR of over 10,000 pounds
- A vehicle whose actual, registered, or GVWR is over 26,000 pounds and is not towing another vehicle with a GVWR over 10,000 pounds
- A vehicle used for towing more than one vehicle or trailer bus
- A vehicle with at least three axles
- A vehicle meant to transport at least 10 riders, including the driver
- A vehicle used to carry hazardous materials which require having a placard
- A vehicle used to carry hazardous waste
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) lists some additional restrictions, as well as some exceptions, to these rules.
Certain driving professions require having endorsements in addition to a CDL, while others don't require a CDL. We'll sort out some common scenarios below.
Besides having a CDL, school bus drivers must have a school bus endorsement ("S") and a school bus driver certificate.
Shuttle buses not only come in a variety of styles and sizes, but are used in many different ways. Drivers may need to obtain a CDL, along with a passenger or other endorsements. Check with the potential employer to find out what is needed for your particular situation.
While the Golden State doesn't issue any statewide special licenses for taxi drivers, local jurisdictions may impose their own requirements in order to drive a taxi cab within their area.
For instance, some may require an applicant to complete a taxi driving course through an approved taxi school. Additionally, the taxi cab company itself may impose its own guidelines.
It's best to inquire with local government officials and your prospective employer to determine what is needed to drive a taxi cab in your area.
Whether you'll need to have a CDL depends on the type of vehicle you'll be driving as a chauffeur.
Generally speaking, if you're driving a vehicle designed to transport fewer than 10 passengers, you'll simply need a valid, standard Class C California driver's license. Anything over that limit means you'll need to have a CDL.
However, local jurisdictions or the limousine company itself may impose additional requirements.
Californians over the age of 17 don't need to have a license to operate an all-terrain vehicle (ATV).
However, if you're 17 years old or under operating an ATV on public land, you must make sure at least one of the following applies to your situation:
- You possess a valid ATV safety certificate
- You're currently enrolled in an approved safety course under the supervision of a certified ATV instructor
- You're being supervised by someone who has a valid ATV safety certificate
The DMV provides information on other types of specialty licenses or certificates needed for certain occupations, such as for tow truck or ambulance drivers.
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- Especially for You: Information on Special Licenses
- Operating a Snow Mobile: Special Driver Licenses, Training, and Age Requirements
- What is a Special License, and Do You Need One?
- Driving All-Terrain Vehicles: Special Licenses, Training, and More for ATVs
- Special License Requirements: When and How to Apply for a Special License
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