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ISP > Commands > Commercial Vehicle Enforcement > Commercial Driver's License (CDL) Commercial Driver's License (CDL)


Licensing for the
Commercial Vehicle Driver, Chauffeur and Public Passenger Licenses

In 1986 the United States Congress passed the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act requiring a uniformed standard for commercial driver licensing for the United States,

The act and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations define what commercial motor vehicles require a CDL and have classified them in three groups:

Class A
Any combination of vehicles with a gross weight combination rating (GWCR) of 26,001 or more pounds provided the gross vehicle weight rating of the (GVWR) vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.

Class B
A single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR.

Class C
A single vehicle or combination weighing less than 26,001 pounds GVWR. Applies also to vehicles hauling hazardous materials or required to be placarded; and any vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver.

Endorsements can be added to the basic CDL:

T - Combination of vehicles with double or triple trailers.
N - Vehicles used to haul liquids or gaseous materials in permanent tanks or in portable tanks having a rating capacity of 1,000 gallons or more.
P - Any vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver.
H - Any vehicle used to transport hazardous materials in placardable amounts.
X - Any tank vehicle used to transport placardable amounts of hazardous materials.

One or more written knowledge tests must be passed before any CDL or endorsement permit is granted:

  1. Everyone must take The General Knowledge test.
  2. Passenger Transport test is optional
  3. Air brake test if vehicle has air brakes. (Optional)
  4. Combination Vehicle testing. (Optional)
  5. Hazardous Material test required for a driver if he hauls any waste or hazardous material requiring placarding.
  6. Tanker test if driver hauls liquids in bulk.
  7. Doubles/Triples test. (Optional)

A skills test is also required and consists of three elements:

  1. A pre-trip inspection of the vehicle being driven.
  2. Basic vehicle control.
  3. On-road test involving a variety of traffic situations.

A valid medical examination must be presented with a CDL application.

The CDL manual and additional documents can be obtained online from the Indiana Department of Revenue.

Indiana also has a requirement for a chauffeur and public passenger chauffeur licenses for those vehicles not subject to CDL requirements.

A chauffeur is defined in as:

  1. Employed by another person for the principle purpose of operating a motor vehicle registered as having a gross weight of sixteen thousand (16,000) pounds or more for the purpose of transporting property; or
  2. Operating a motor vehicle registered as having a gross weight of sixteen thousand (16,000) pounds or more for the purpose of transporting property for hire; or
  3. Operating a private bus.

A public passenger chauffeur is defined as:

  1. A person who operates a motor vehicle while in use as a school bus for the transportation of pupils to or from school, or to or from school athletic games or contests.
  2. A person who operates a motor vehicle other than a medical services vehicle while in use as a public passenger-carrying vehicle.

Both chauffeur licenses require compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (49 CFR 391) physical qualifications unless exempted under state law (IC 8-2.1-24-18).