Drivers who are found guilty of driving a truck without a proper license may face particular penalties. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has augmented guidelines for testing and licensing Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers.

All states require the issuance of Commercial Driver’s Licenses only to drivers who possess the knowledge and skills and have passed the tests regulated by their state. The tests relate to the type of vehicle they operate.

What is a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)?

One must first understand the scope of CDLs before knowing the dangers and penalties of driving a truck without the proper license. A CDL or a commercial driver’s license is a requirement for driving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) such as semi-trucks, tractor trailers, passenger buses and dump trucks. If you do not seek to work in the office and prefer a career on the road, then most likely you will need a CDL.

Three Classes of CDLs

There are three classes of CDLs: A, B, and C. Drivers who possess the higher class CDL are allowed to drive vehicles including those of the lower classes. Also, they must have the correct endorsements.

Commercial Driver’s Licenses determine which vehicles a driver is allowed to operate. Also, the classifying CDL is decided by the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle a driver will operate. The CDL classification is also manifested on further specific requirements.

  1. Class A CDL

Drivers with Class A CDL are permitted to operate any vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, along with a vehicle heavier than 10,000 pounds being towed

The proper endorsements and a Class A CDL will allow drivers to operate the following vehicles:

● Truck and trailer combinations

● Tractor-trailers

● Livestock carriers

● Tank vehicles

● Flatbeds

Furthermore, a Class A CDL and the proper endorsements will authorize you to operate some vehicles under Class B and Class C. In addition to a Class A CDL, you’ll also need other trucking permits to haul freight.

  1. Class B CDL

The CDL Class B requires a driver to operate a vehicle featuring a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) equal or more than 26,001 pounds, and/or tow/pull a vehicle lighter than 10,000 pounds.

The formal endorsements and a Class B CDL will allow a driver to operate the following vehicles:

● Large passenger buses

● Box trucks

● Straight trucks

● Segmented buses

● Tractor-trailers

● Dump trucks with small trailers

Also, the right endorsements and a Class B CDL permits them to drive a few Class C vehicles.

  1. Class C CDL

Drivers with Class C CDL allows them to operate vehicles that are designed and used to transport 16 or more occupants (including the driver) or hazardous materials (HazMat). On a side note, HazMats are materials that categorized as hazardous by the federal law.

The formal endorsements and a Class C CDL will allow drivers to operate the following vehicles:

● Passenger Vans

● Small HazMat vehicles

● Combination vehicles not classified under Classes A or B

The Dangers Of Driving In A Truck Without A Proper License

Drivers who are found guilty of driving commercial motor vehicles without the proper commercial driver’s license are charged with a misdemeanor.

Federal Penalty

The Federal Penalty for drivers who violated the CDL requirements is a civil penalty of $2,500. Further aggravated cases can be penalized by up to $5,000 and three months to one year in jail. Meanwhile, any employer who knowingly allowed a driver to operate a truck without the proper license can be subject to a $10,000 fine.


In addition, drivers who are convicted of driving without a proper CDL and applicable endorsements will have his/her license suspended for 90 days.

Subject to Tougher Laws

Moreover, drivers who maneuver trucks or commercial motor vehicles are subject to tougher laws. This is because defensive courses or deferred adjudication are only applicable to non-commercial license holders.

Penalties for Driving Without A Proper License

Failure to provide the proper license to a police officer may lead to a myriad of penalties depending on your situation. There are two categories to which your charges may fall into: correctable offenses and willful violations.

  1. Correctable Offenses

Forgetting to bring your CDL while operating a truck may result in a “fix-it ticket.” This offense requires you to provide later a proof that you have fixed the violation so the traffic court will dismiss the citation. On the other hand, non-fulfillment of presenting this evidence will lead to fines or further penalties.

  1. Willful Violations

An example of a willful violation is driving on a nullified, revoked or suspended license. Penalties and retributions for willful violations are more grave.

States frequently suspend driver’s licenses for offenses such as DUI since they are highly concerned with keeping harmful drivers off the roads. Thus, when drivers willfully operate trucks or any vehicles with a revoked or suspended driver’s license, they may be cited, charged and arrested for a misdemeanor offense.



Consult with a commercial driver’s license attorney if you need further legal advice concerning your options under the laws for commercial drivers’ license. Also, a CDL attorney can help review a case whenever you get convicted for driving a truck without a CDL.

Author Bio: Joanne Reed has been writing about law and business for almost a decade, and is currently writing her next big law project. She is an avid sports fan and loves watching games if she has free time.

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