Another member’s driver found with the wrong driver’s license.

Recently, in an article in this magazine, I covered in detail the six categories of California drivers’ licenses, as well as what type of vehicle(s) an individual can drive, and haul or tow with each type of license. The article stemmed from an incident involving one of our members who had landed in hot water when one of the company’s trucks was involved in an accident.

When law enforcement arrived, it was determined the truck driver should have had a Commercial Class B license with endorsements. The driver only had a non-commercial Class C license. The issue has come up again. Because the stakes are high, here are some vital reminders. The six categories of California driver licenses (not including licenses for motorcycles and motorized scooters) are:

  • Class C (non-commercial)
  • Class C (commercial)
  • Class B (non-commercial)
  • Class B (commercial)
  • Class A (non-commercial)
  • Class A (commercial)

The type of license and appropriate endorsements you and/ or your employees have must go hand-in-hand with the category of vehicle(s) or combination vehicle(s) and the weight limits for those vehicles. For instance, you must have a non-commercial Class A license for a travel trailer not used for hire that has more than a 10,000-pound Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).

You’re also responsible for not being overweight. It’s a common misconception that only those driving “permit loads” can be given a ticket by a law enforcement officer for being overweight. This isn’t true. You need to know and adhere to the definitions of Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), Gross Combination Weight (GCW), and Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR). The definitions for these terms are found in the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ Commercial Driver Handbook (Section 3-1). Tickets for being overweight can be extremely costly.

Driving without a Commercial Driver License (CDL) or the proper class of CDL (and if applicable, endorsements) are counted as serious traffic violations by the California Department of Motor Vehicles and law enforcement. Consequently, these violations can have grave consequences, including remaining on your driving record for 10 years, significant fines and/or suspensions, impacting your company’s safety rating, and higher insurance rates.

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