Commercial Driver FAQs in New York

What is a New York CDL?

You need a CDL to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), which is defined as:

  • Class A: A gross combination weight rating is 26,001 lbs. or more or a trailer with a GVWR of more than 10,000 lbs.
  • Class B: A single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more
  • Class C: A vehicle designed to transport 16 passengers or more, including the driver, or a vehicle defined as a bus or any vehicle that requires hazardous materials placards

You can obtain a Class A, Class B, or Class C commercial license, depending on the type of vehicle you will be driving. If you drive a CMV without a commercial license, you could go to jail or incur a court fine.

When am I exempt from needing a CDL?

Not all large vehicles require a commercial license. Generally, RVs driven for personal or family recreation, military vehicles driven by the military, farm vehicles driven on farms by farmers, and emergency vehicles driven by emergency personnel are exempt (see section 1 of the New York State Commercial Driver's Manual for specifics).

Are there age restrictions on getting a CDL?

You can get a Class B or C commercial license at 18 years old, but federal requirements dictate that you must be at least 21 years old to drive a commercial vehicle across state lines.

May I have a CDL or other driver license from more than one state?

No. By federal law, it's illegal for CMV drivers to possess more than one license of any kind, and you may have a license only from your state of legal residence. This means that you may not have both a New York CDL and a regular New York driver license; you should surrender your regular license when you obtain a CDL. If you have licenses from other states, you must surrender those as well.

All 50 states share information about CDL drivers, and if you are found to have licenses from more than one state, you might end up with a fine or even jail time. Since your New York CDL allows you to drive both passenger and commercial vehicles anywhere in the country, it's the only one you need.

Are there restrictions on who may drive a hazmat truck in New York?

You bet. Applicants for a hazardous materials endorsement will submit fingerprints and undergo a background check. You may be denied a hazmat endorsement if you are not a lawful permanent U.S. resident, have renounced your U.S. citizenship, are wanted or under indictment for certain felonies, have been convicted of certain felonies, have been committed to a mental institution or judged mentally defective, or are considered by the Transportation Security Administration to be a security threat.

I understand that New York imposes additional requirements for bus drivers. What are they?

Under New York law, employers of bus drivers are under an additional burden to protect the well-being of passengers the buses carry.

For further details, read section 10 of the New York Commercial Driver's Handbook.

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