Gianni Evangelisti Authored By: Gianni Evangelisti

New York - NY CDL Overview

A Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is a driver's license required by New York to operate any sort of vehicle which

  • is designed to move 16 or more passengers, including the driver. This includes (but is not limited to) tow trucks, tractor trailers, and buses.
  • transports portions of hazardous supplies that require warning placards under Division of Transportation regulations
  • has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lb or more for commercial use

The CDL is governed by the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986. The CDL regulations are designed to insure highway security by requiring that truck drivers and drivers of tractor trailers and buses meet minimum standards.  The Act also allows the elimination of drivers that are deemed unsafe or unqualified. States such as New York are given the authority to issue Commercial Driver’s Licenses, but the minimal federal government requirements should be met.

Prepare for your NY CDL tests with our free New York CDL practice tests

New York CDL License Groups - NY CDL Classes

Commercial Driver’s Licenses are issued by New York in line with the CDL License classes specified below.
Group A (Combination Vehicle) CDL License

Any vehicle or combination of vehicles that has a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.  For those who have a Group A CDL license, you are allowed to drive any vehicle or combination of vehicles of any size.

Group B (Heavy Straight Vehicle) CDL License

Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle less than 10,000 pounds GVWR. With a Group B CDL license, you are allowed to

drive any single vehicle regardless of weight. In addition, you are allowed to tow a trailer if the trailer’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is less than 10,000

pounds. If the trailer you are towing has a GVWR of greater than 10,000 pounds, and the combined vehicle weight rating is more than 26,000 pounds, you will need a Class A CDL.

Group C (Small Vehicle) CDL License 

A Class C CDL license is intended to cover any single vehicle, or mixture of vehicles, that doesn’t meet the Group A or Group B definitions, but that either is designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver), or is meant to transport Hazardous Materials (HazMat). With a Group C CDL license, you may drive any vehicle designed to transport sixteen or extra passengers, including the driver, if the GVWR is less than 26,001 pounds and you have a passenger endorsement. In addition, a Class C CDL also allows you to operate any vehicle used to move hazardous supplies if the GVWR is less than 26,001 pounds and you have the right endorsement.

New York CDL Examination Overview

Tests for the NY CDL License include both skills tests and knowledge tests.

The CDL Knowledge Tests consist of a general examination, one or more endorsement exams, and an air brakes test.  The exams that you will take depend upon the license classification that you're obtaining (Class A, B, or C) and the type of vehicle that you will be driving (e.g., Tanker, Double/Triple, Passenger Bus).

Please consult with our free New York CDL practice exams that can help you prepare for your NY CDL tests.

General Examination Overview

Drivers of each CDL class have to pass a General Knowledge exam which contains questions about driving safety, vehicle inspection, road indicators, traffic legal guidelines and other information you might want to find out to drive a commercial vehicle in New York.

Endorsement Examination Overview

In addition to the general knowledge exam, you need to also take and pass various endorsement tests depending on the kind of vehicle that you may be operating.  The endorsement exams are described below.

  • Hazardous materials endorsement - to drive any vehicle carrying hazardous materials.  Hazmat supplies are recognized by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services and require a Hazmat placard.
  • School bus endorsement - required to drive school buses designed to carry sixteen or extra persons, including the driver that's transport students to or from school and authorized school activities. Additionally, a driver must obtain a passenger endorsement before acquiring a school bus endorsement.
  • Passenger endorsement - to drive any vehicle, besides a school bus, designed to hold 16 or more individuals, including the driver.
  • Tankers endorsement - to drive a commercial tank vehicle (over 26,000 pounds) designed to transport any liquid or gaseous materials within a tank that's permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or chassis. Moveable tanks having a rated capacity under 1,000 gallons are not required to have this endorsement.
  • Double and triple trailer endorsement - to pull double and triple trailers.

Air Brakes Test

For those who plan on driving any commercial vehicle that has air brakes, you need to take and pass the air brakes test to remove the air brakes restriction from your CDL.  The air brakes exam is different than the endorsement exams because the air brakes examination works as a restriction instead of an endorsement.  If you do not pass the air brakes exam, your CDL will bear a mark of restriction which means that you are not licensed to drive a commercial vehicle with air brakes.

New York CDL License Requirements and NY CDL General Qualifications

Based on federal rules, a CDL operator is certified to drive a commercial motor vehicle in New York if they:

  •  Are no less than 21 years old.
  •  Can read and speak English enough to talk with the general public, to grasp highway traffic signals and indicators, to reply to official inquiries, and to make reports and records.
  •  Are physically certified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
  •  Have a currently valid commercial motor vehicle operator’s license issued by only one state.
  •  Have given out their employer a list of violations or the certificate as required
  •  Aren't disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle
  •  Have successfully passed a driver’s road test and related knowledge examinations and have been issued a commercial driver’s license by the state of New York

More detailed New York CDL Requirements can be discovered within the NY handbook link found in the part below.

New York CDL Handbook and Resources

New York CDL Handbook Manual - provides NY CDL requirements and application data

New York CDL Agency - New York Department of Motor Vehicles

6 Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY  12228

This information applies to the entire state of New York as well as the cities of : New York CIty, Buffalo, Rochester, Brooklyn, Yonkers, Syracuse.


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