The National Safe Driving Licenses
Just about anyone who can legally obtain a driver's license does so, but what may not be well-known is the fact that driver's licenses come in different classifications. Each classification allows the driver to handle vehicles in different sizes and passenger capacity. Getting certain classes of licenses requires training and passing tests given by the state in order to prove that one has sufficient skill.
Each state classifies their licenses differently, but they all follow a general guideline so that there's no confusion when going over state lines. A majority of states follow an A, B, C, D, and M structure for differentiating between license types, but check with your state laws for further information about how it classifies its driver's licenses. Following is general information about licenses and their classifications:
Class A: Vehicles of a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,000 pounds and up. This is also known as a CD-L, or commercial driver's license. Anyone who drives a truck and hauls a trailer over 10,000 lbs. in weight needs to obtain a Class A license in order to legally drive vehicles of this size.
Class B: Similar to a Class A, but allows for operation of a vehicle that has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more. It also covers driving a vehicle of this size while towing another vehicle not weighing more than 10,000 lbs. This covers tow trucks that are capable of towing semi cabs and other large vehicles.
Class C: Also considered to be a commercial driver's license, but covers smaller vehicles that have a GVWR between 16,001 lbs., but less than 26,001 lbs. It allows for towing up to 10,000 lbs. of GVWR. Some states also use this classification for transporting more than 16 people or transporting hazardous materials.
Class D: This is the most common type of license, allowing individuals to drive vehicles not more than 16,000 lbs GVWR. All passenger cars, SUVs and smaller pick-up trucks fall into this classification. In some states, it also allows for the transport of 16 or less in one vehicle.
Class M: In this class, M is for motorcycle. Some states split the classification up depending on engine size, as in an engine that's 150cc or less requires one type of license, and anything that's 150cc and up requires another.
There are various types of licenses that are not covered here, as they are not as common. Some states require licenses for chauffeurs, and farm permits to handle farm equipment for individuals of a certain age. Always check with the state first.