Commercial Driver FAQs in Washington

When do I need a commercial driver's license (CDL)?

If you want to drive the following vehicle types, you need a CDL:

  • Vehicles weighing 26,001 lbs. or more.
  • Vehicles hauling trailers weighing 10,001 lbs. or more with a combined weight of 26,001 lbs. or higher.
  • Vehicles transporting 16 passengers or more, including you as the driver.
  • Vehicles carrying placarded amounts of hazardous materials.

What class of license do I need?

Vehicles are divided into three classes: A, B, and C. The higher class CDL you have, the more vehicle types you are allowed to drive as long as you have the necessary endorsements. Here is a breakdown of the three classes of commercial license:

Class A: Any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of at least 26,001 lbs., when the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is more than 10,000 lbs.

Class B: Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a maximum 10,000 lbs. GVWR.

Class C: Any single vehicle or combination of vehicles that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 passengers or more (including the driver), or is placarded for hazardous materials.

What are the maximum vehicle sizes I can drive?

There are state rules and laws that regulate commercial drivers and their vehicles. These regulations can be found in the Washington Department of Licensing's Commercial Driver Guide, which mentions rules like:

  • Maximum length of a bus: 40 feet.
  • Maximum length of a single trailer: 53 feet.
  • Maximum length of double trailers: 61 feet combined.
  • Maximum width of any vehicle: 8.5 feet.
  • Maximum height of any vehicle: 14 feet (excluding emergency and utility vehicles).
  • Maximum speed: 60 mph, unless posted differently.

Is there any way to get around the vehicle size limits?

If you need to be waived from size limits such as those listed above, you can get permits from Washington's Department of Transportation. Contact them at:

  • Permit Office
  • Maintenance and Operations Group
  • Transportation Building
  • Olympia, WA 98504

I got a speeding ticket. Do I need to tell my boss?

Those with commercial licenses have to adhere to higher standards than those without. If you hold a CDL, you need to:

  • Let your employer know within 1 business day if your CDL is revoked, suspended, or canceled.
  • Let your employer know within 30 days if you are convicted for any traffic ticket.
  • Provide the Department of Licensing (DOL) with proof of insurance from your employer if your personal driver's license is revoked or suspended.
  • Notify the DOL of all out-of-state traffic violations within 30 days via mail at the address below:
  • Citations Unit
  • Department of Licensing
  • P.O. Box 9030
  • Olympia, WA 98507-9030

I have lots of questions about commercial licenses. Where can I get more information?

The Washington Department of Licensing offers extensive information on the following commercial driver topics:

What should I do if I get into an accident while driving a commercial vehicle?

If you're involved in an accident, it's important that if you're not injured, you help those who are. Driving such a large vehicle on the highways puts you at an advantage in an accident. At the same time, it puts those who are unlucky enough to be in an accident with you at greater risk for injury or death.

DMV.ORG BBB Business Review