Gianni Evangelisti Authored By: Gianni Evangelisti

Texas - TX CDL Overview

A Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is a driver's license required by Texas tooperate any kind of vehicle which

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

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

Prepare for your TX CDL examinations with our free Texas CDL practice tests

Texas CDL License Groups - TX CDL Classes

Commercial Driver’s Licenses are issued by Texas 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.  In the event you 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 lower than 10,000 pounds GVWR. With a Group B CDL license, you might be allowed to drive any single vehicle regardless of weight. In addition, you might be allowed to tow a trailer if the trailer’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is lower than 10,000 pounds. If the trailer you're towing has a GVWR of more 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 combination of vehicles, that doesn’t meet the Group A or Group B definitions, but that either is designed to transport sixteen or more passengers (together with the driver), or is intended to move Hazardous Materials (HazMat).

With a Group C CDL license, you may drive any vehicle designed to transport sixteen or extra passengers, together with the driver, if the GVWR is lower 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 transport hazardous supplies if the GVWR is lower than 26,001 pounds and you have the right endorsement.

Texas CDL Examination Overview

Exams for the TX CDL License include both skills tests and knowledge exams.

The CDL Knowledge Examinations consist of a general test, a number of endorsement exams, and an air brakes test.  The examinations that you will take rely on the license classification that you are acquiring (Class A, B, or C) and the kind of vehicle that you will be driving (e.g., Tanker, Double/Triple, Passenger Bus).

Please consult with our free Texas CDL practice exams that can help you prepare for your TX CDL exams.

General Test Overview

Drivers of each CDL class need to pass a General Knowledge examination which contains questions about driving safety, vehicle inspection, street indicators, traffic legal guidelines and other information you want to discover to drive a commercial vehicle in Texas.

Endorsement Examination Overview

Along with the general knowledge exam, you will need to also take and pass numerous endorsement tests depending on the type 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 identified 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. Moreover, a driver must get hold of a passenger endorsement before obtaining a school bus endorsement.
  • Passenger endorsement - to drive any vehicle, besides a school bus, designed to carry sixteen or more persons, 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 is permanently or temporarily connected to the vehicle or chassis. Moveable tanks having a rated capability 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

If you plan on driving any commercial vehicle that has air brakes, you have to take and pass the air brakes examination to remove the air brakes restriction from your CDL.  The air brakes exam is completely different than the endorsement examinations because the air brakes exam 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 approved to drive a commercial vehicle with air brakes.

Texas CDL License Requirements and TX CDL General Qualifications

In accordance with federal rules, a CDL operator is qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle in Texas if they:

  • Are at least 21 years old.
  • Can read and speak English enough to talk with the general public, to grasp highway traffic signals and signs, to reply to official inquiries, and to make reports and records.
  • Are physically certified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
  • Have a currently legitimate commercial motor vehicle operator’s license issued by only one state.
  • Have given their employer an inventory of violations or the certificates as required
  • Aren't disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle
  • Have successfully passed a driver’s road examination and related knowledge tests and have been issued a commercial driver’s license by the state of Texas

More detailed Texas CDL Requirements can be discovered within the TX handbook link found within the part below.

Texas CDL Handbook and Resources

Texas CDL Handbook - gives TX CDL requirements and application data

Texas CDL Agency - Texas Department of Public Safety Driver License Division
Customers may call 512-424-2600 for English support or 512-424-7181 for Spanish support.

This information applies to the entire state of Texas as well as the cities of: Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Fort Worth.


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