Difference between a Class A and Class B CDL

Updated on July 3, 2016

A number of commercial motor vehicles require a driver to have specialized skills. These kind of skills are evidenced by that person holding either a class A or class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). It is prudent to determine the differences between these two types of licenses so that you are in the know as to which vehicle you are legally allowed to drive to avoid breaking the law.

Definitions

An example of a Class A vehicle
An example of a Class A vehicle

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is a required license for commercial motor vehicles. Commercial vehicles are those vehicles classified as having a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds. For a Class A CDL, a driver is allowed to drive a vehicle towing a trailer of a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds.

An example of a Class B vehicle
An example of a Class B vehicle

For a Class B CDL, a driver is allowed to drive a vehicle towing a trailer that does not exceed a GVWR of 10,000 pounds.

Comparison Chart

Class A CDLClass B CDL
For drivers towing trailers with more than 10,000 pounds of GVWR.For drivers towing trailers with less than 10,000 pounds of GVWR.
Allows the holder to operate Class B and C vehiclesHolder can operate Class C vehicles but not Class A vehicles.
Common careers for holders include heavy truck drivers, dispatchers, local drivers, couriers, bus driversCommon careers for holders include interstate and intrastate tractor trailer drivers

Single Class A CDL vs Class B CDL

What is the difference between Class A CDL and Class B CDL?  The difference between these two types of licenses lies in the weight of the vehicles driven.

While a CDL is a license for vehicles that have a GVWR of over 26,001 or more, each class has a specific type of vehicles that a holder is legally allowed to drive. Class A CDL holders are allowed to drive any type of vehicle. By definition, a Class A CDL holder can drive a commercial motor vehicle that is towing a trailer that is more than10,000 pounds. A Class B CDL holder, on the other hand, is only allowed to drive a commercial motor vehicle towing a trailer that is less than 10,000 pounds. This means that a Class A CDL holder can drive all vehicles including Class B ones while a Class B CDL holder can drive all vehicles except Class A ones.

Video

Attached is a video that talks about the differences between these two types of licenses and which one you need for each case:

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