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What Is A Commercial Driver’s License, And Who Is Required To Have One?

Licensing requirements have become a way of life across the United States. While licensing is important in many industries, one might argue that some licensing requirements go a little too far. For example, in Louisiana, florists must obtain a license. Three states (plus Washington D.C.) require interior designers to be licensed. Similarly, a handful of states require home entertainment installers to be licensed. Travel agents and packagers are other somewhat questionable examples.

On the other hand, many licensing requirements make perfect sense because they protect our health and the public. For example, the lawyers in this firm must have a license to practice law. Similarly, doctors, accountants, therapists, and many other professionals must be licensed. 

However, a regular driver’s license is the most familiar safety-inspired licensing requirement. Most of us have (hopefully fond) teenage memories of studying for and passing our driving test. And in that same vein comes the topic of this blog post – the commercial driver’s license. Below, we will discuss what it is and who is required to have the license.

What Is a Commercial Driver’s License?

A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is a license that Oregon requires drivers to obtain if they intend to operate the following types of vehicles:

  • A vehicle transporting 16 or more passengers. This number includes the driver.
  • A single vehicle with an actual gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more, or a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more.
  • One trailer, or multiple trailers, with an actual gross vehicle weight (or total gross vehicle weight rating) that exceeds 10,000 pounds if all vehicles combined (either actual gross combination weight or total gross vehicle weight rating) weigh 26,001 pounds or more.
  • Any vehicle that transports certain hazardous materials.

There are exceptions, such as RVs for personal use, emergency fire vehicles operated by firefighters, and emergency vehicles used by qualified emergency service volunteers.

CDLs and Trucking Regulation

In essence, CDLs are required to drive large, heavy trucks, such as semi-trucks and other vehicles that are particularly dangerous to the public or carry many passengers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recognizes the dangers these vehicles pose and that driving them requires specialized skills and training. A driver must pass technical skills and knowledge tests to obtain a CDL.

Moreover, the interstate trucking industry is highly regulated in many ways, including the requirements of a commercial driver’s license. Numerous regulations have been passed into federal law; for example, drivers must follow strict hours of service rules to reduce the chance of tiredness while driving. Similarly, many regulations apply to how trucks must be maintained, loaded, operated, and parked. 

Failure to Follow Licensing and other Regulations.

State and federal regulations of the trucking industry are necessary to keep the motoring public safe. Semi-trucks and other large vehicles can cause extreme harm when they are involved in crashes. When trucking companies and drivers ignore or violate these requirements and negligently cause harm, they can be held liable for the injuries that they cause.

Call with Questions

It can be complicated to sort out liability, insurance coverages, and other issues when you’re involved in an auto accident with a semi-truck. The personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield have experience with automobile accidents and 18-wheeler accidents. They know how to resolve these issues. Plus, we will happily answer all your questions in a free consultation. We believe that the only way to keep everyone in Oregon safer is by holding negligent drivers accountable for their actions.