Do I need a CDL under 26,000 LBS?

By ced •  Updated: 12/13/22 •  5 min read

Do I need a CDL under 26,000 LBS?

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For driving vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or more, drivers must have a commercial driver’s license. It is still sometimes necessary to get a CDL for drivers of commercial trucks that weigh under 26,000 lbs. The Gross Combined Weight Rating or GCWR that the driver would be operating with is often what determines this.

If you tow a heavy load with a heavy vehicle, and the combination of your weight and that of your truck is more than 26,001 lbs, then you must have a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL), and the law prohibits drivers who tow more than 26,001. Even if your vehicle is not weighed as much as the limit, you may still need to get a valid CDL.

CDLs are not only needed to drive vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 lbs. It is possible to get a number of types of licenses from the Federal Government. Knowing the different types that are required by law will enable you to know when your car may need a CDL even if it weighs under 26,000 lbs.

CDL Types

Below is a description of the three CDL types.

Class A CDL

Only drivers of trucks weighing more than 26,000 lbs are eligible for this sort of CDL, which is the highest category. Vehicles up to 26,000 pounds are allowed to tow objects 10,000 lbs and greater in this category. This form of CDL is important if your lorry or other vehicle will be pulling a vehicle weighing more than 26,000 pounds.

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Class B CDL

This license is often beneficial if the weight of the car you are driving is less than that which is necessary to get a valid license. You cannot legally tow more weight than 10,000 pounds with a normal license, and if you want to move more weight than 26,000 lbs, you will have to drive a heavier vehicle to do it.

For example, if your vehicle has a GVWR of 22,000 lbs. and the truck you are towing does have a GVWR of 10,000 pounds, you do not require a license. However, you require a CDL if your truck is 20,000 pounds, and you are towing a 10,000-pound vehicle.

Class C CDL

This sort of license is a perfect example of how you might require a CDL even though the vehicle isn’t really up to 26,000 pounds. since it is decided by functioning rather than weight. Drivers who transport hazardous materials or more than 16 passengers are granted this license. This implies that regardless of the weight of your vehicle, if it serves any of these two purposes, a CDL is required.

What Are the DOT Regulations for Vehicles Under 26,000 Pounds?

  1. All drivers must register according to the regulation.
  2. All of the vehicle’s doors must bear the company’s logo or decals.
  3. The car must be stored with all maintenance records nearby.
  4. The vehicle must include a fire extinguisher that is both conveniently accessible and securely mounted.
  5. A medical certificate is required for drivers.
  6. The vehicle’s equipment must all be in good functioning order.
  7. Vehicle hauling requires $1 million in insurance coverage.
  8. The driver’s medical certificate and application must be included in the driver’s qualification file, which must be accessible.
  9. A current driver’s license is required.
  10. If the vehicle is more than 150 miles from the company, logbooks are not required

Do I need a CDL under 26,000 LBS?

Do I Require A License for Trucks with GVWs Under 26,000?

No, a license is not required for vehicles under 26,000 GVW. A CDL is only required by federal law for vehicles weighing more than 26,000 lbs. A CDL is not necessary for vehicles with a GVWR of less than 26,000 pounds.

Does Driving A Truck and Trailer Require A CDL?

It varies. Driving commercial motor vehicles or extra-weight trucks with a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs. requires a CDL. You do not require a CDL if your trailer or truck does not fit into that description. You’ll need one, though, if it does.

DOT Regulations – Are There Any Exceptions?

It is referred to as an exemption by the Department of Transportation that is applicable to all fifty states. There is indeed a list of people, workers, and businesses that are not required to have a CDL license while operating vehicles that are heavier than the GVWR.

According to federal and state rules, farmers are given the most exclusions from the aforementioned list. So long as farmers—including family members who are over 21—are using it exclusively for agricultural purposes.

Farmers are free from this requirement, which also applies to the transportation of agricultural tools, materials, or goods on their way to market.

The only significant restrictions are that using any exempted machinery cannot go more than 150 air miles from the farmer’s land. Additionally, they lose their exemptions for just any commercial endeavor other than the delivery of commodities to markets.


To address the question once more, yes, you may require a CDL even though your vehicle weighs less than 26,000 pounds. Now that you are aware of how to make this determination on your own, you may inform your drivers.

Basically, whether you need a CDL or not depends on the weight of your vehicle and any additional weight. If the weight exceeds 26,000 pounds, a CDL is required. You will not need a CDL if it stays under 26,000 LBS.

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