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Tractor Transporting Discussion Board

Does a trailer over 10,000 lbs require a CDL

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Posted by John in La on July 08, 2012 at 11:41:41 from (

We have talked about this before but it always seems to raise its ugly head every now and then by people giving out the wrong information.

I in no way want to single anyone out for giving bad info; heck I have done so myself in the past; but rather give the correct info.

In a post below two people stated that if the trailer is over 10,000 lbs GVWR you need a class A CDL. This is not true.
The combination of the truck and trailer GCWR must be over 26,001 lbs AND the trailer GVWR must be over 10,000 lbs to require a class A CDL.

So what this means is if I have a truck that has a GCWR less than 26,001 lbs I can pull a trailer with a GVWR of over 10,000 all day and not need a CDL.
One example of this would be a 1/2 pickup pulling a 16 ft trailer with duel 7000 lb axles under it. Even though the trailer has a GVWR of 14,000 lbs there is no way a 1/2 ton pickup is legal weighing over 26,001 lbs so no CDL is required.

So lets look up the rule to back up what I just said.
Federal law.... §383.91(a)(1)
Combination vehicle (Group A)—Any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more) provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds).

Interpretation for 383.91
Question 2: Is a driver of a combination vehicle with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of less than 26,001 pounds required to obtain a CDL even if the trailer Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is more than 10,000 pounds?

Guidance: No, because the Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) is less than 26,001 pounds. The driver would need a CDL if the vehicle is transporting HM requiring the vehicle to be placarded or if it is designed to transport 16 or more persons.

Yes states can make differant rules as long as they follow the federal guidlines for doing it so lets look at them.

Quote from the N.D. CDL handbook....
You must have a commercial drivers license (CDL)
to operate:
A single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 pounds.

Combination vehicles weighing more than 26,000
pounds provided the towed unit is over 10,000

Quote from the ILL CDL handbook....
A CDL must be obtained by the driver of any of the following vehicles:
Any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR)** of 26,001
or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)* of the vehicle being
towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.

As you can see both of these states follow federal rules. In fact I have not seen one state that does not follow federal CDL rules to the letter.

Your comments welcome.

In our next lesson we can talk about how you can have a truck and trailer combination that does have a GCWR over 26,001 lbs and you still do not need a CDL.


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