New drivers are getting on the roads every year and learning what it takes to be a safe driver. These new drivers are experiencing the beautiful freedoms that come with getting behind the wheel and driving wherever your heart desires.
One of the cool things about driving and driver’s licenses is that numerous options are available to you. Of course, it all depends on what you want to do.
Nearly everyone is familiar with the concept of a driver’s license. Most people use it as both a driver’s license and a source of identification when applying for passports and validating their age.
In this article, you’ll learn about the different types of licenses available and the requirements for each license. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what you need to do. This article will walk you through what you need to know and direct you to the appropriate sites.
Different Driver’s License Classes
As a licensed driver, you have the opportunity to create unique experiences for yourself while on the road. You are not only limited to a single license.
1) Unrestricted Driver’s License (the Normal Driver’s License)
The unrestricted driver’s license is typically the first type of driver’s license anyone receives. You are required to take a paper test and a driving test to obtain this license. Every driver you know has one of these licenses! This license is by far the most popular and most common.
2) Provisional Driver’s License
Before receiving your unrestricted driver’s license, most states require new drivers to have a provisional license first. This kind of license is restrictive and meant to teach the new driver important lessons while out on the road.
These essential lessons include:
- Paying attention to other drivers / defensive driving
- Minimizing distractions
- Implementing the rules and laws they learned
While states may differ in the requirements and nuances of this license, every state has some provisional license. It may go by a different name, but the purpose is to help new drivers acclimate to the road.
After a state-mandated amount of time, drivers with the provisional license can upgrade and transition to an unrestricted driver’s license.
3) Commercial Driver License (CDLs) – Class A, B, and C
If you plan to operate a motor vehicle under a business, you’ll need a commercial motor vehicle license. A licensed driver under this valid class can operate vehicles designed to transport people, construction materials, and other large cargo.
There are three classes of Commercial Driver’s Licenses:
- Class A CDL
- Class B CDL
- Class C CDL
Each class has its set of criteria related to what types of commercial vehicles drivers are allowed to operate.
Furthermore, these commercial vehicles often transport hazardous materials, so individuals will need to undergo specialized training before they can legally drive commercial vehicles.
18-wheeler big rigs are great examples of large commercial vehicles that will require a Class A commercial license.
Let’s take a look at the requirements of each type of commercial driver license:
Class A Commercial Driver’s License
You’ll need a Class A commercial driver’s license to “operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, to include a towed vehicle that is heavier than 10,000 lbs.”
With the proper weight and sponsorship, a Class A CDL ensures your ability to drive tractor-trailers, truck and trailer combinations, tankers, livestock carriers, and flatbeds.
Class B License for a Combination of Vehicles
A Class B commercial driver’s license permits you to drive a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lbs. in a single-vehicle while towing an additional vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs.
This license is a step up from Class A because it is a single-vehicle versus a vehicle combination. That is why the weight ratings are GCWR for Class A and GVWR for Class B CDL.
A Class B CDL licenses you to drive straight trucks, city buses, tour buses, segmented buses, box trucks, and dump trucks with small trailers.
Class C CDL (Required to Carry Hazardous Materials)
Class C commercial driver’s licenses if the vehicle needed to be driver does not meet the specifications for Class A or B and hazardous material (HAZMAT), or 16+ people are being transported (including the driver).
A Class C CDL requires extensive skill and experience because you drive tens of thousands of pounds of material. With a Class C CDL, you can drive passenger vans, small HAZMAT vehicles, and any vehicle that does not fit within Class A or B.
A chauffeur’s license differs from a Class C CDL because it’s a license for professional drivers. These drivers can transport goods, but they typically drive people around or transport luxury vehicles. Chauffeur’s generally work for a service company whose sole purpose is to transport cars and people to their various destinations.
4) Motorcycle License
If driving a car or truck is too dull for you, you might be interested in getting a motorcycle license. These two-wheeled hot rods are great options when it comes to travel time and saving gas money.
You can obtain a motorcycle license in the same way as an unrestricted driver’s license (Class D). However, it is essential to note that an unrestricted driver’s license does not license you to drive a motorcycle. Motorcycle licenses are entirely different.
If you’re interested in operating motorcycles, you’ll need to go through a few steps, which include:
- A written test that earns you a learner’s permit.
- Practicing on the road, potentially under the supervision of another licensed motorcyclist.
- A comprehensive road test before receiving the full license.
You need to check with your local and state DMV laws on the requirements for receiving this license.
5) Enhanced Driver’s License
The enhanced driver’s license is a unique license type in its own right. They were designed as part of the Federal REAL ID and Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), providing drivers with privileges beyond just driving and extending to travel.
This type of license serves as proof of identification and U.S. citizenship because of specialized features such as the RFID chip in the license. This particular feature allows you to use your license as a passport when traveling to Mexico or the Caribbean.
How to Register for Different Licenses
The process of registering and gaining different licenses differs. Not only does each class have its own process, but your state will also have its own requirements, especially when it comes to specialized types like a motorcycle license.
The first step to receiving your unrestricted driver’s license is to pass the paper test. You can take the written test on paper or a computer. However, you need to complete and pass this test before you can complete your driving test.
Everyone has to start somewhere. So, even if you plan to earn a commercial learner’s permit at some point, a Class D vehicle always comes first. Without this license, designed for a non-commercial vehicle, you won’t know the basic rules of the road and proper safety precautions.
What to Do Once You Have Your Learner’s Permit
Regardless of class, all drivers start with their permit and then move onto road tests.
As you set out on the road and gain real-world skills, you need to make sure you practice the right things. It’s important to test yourself in multiple situations but practicing on the road is only useful if you actually know the rules.
For example, everyone needs to know how to parallel park. While this particular parking method is typically used in major cities, even some rural locations may require people to parallel park on the side of the road. This tricky form of parking takes some practice, but with a few sessions, you’ll be parallel parking like a pro.
Besides hands-on practice, one of the best ways to improve is to work with a virtual program that takes you through various situations, helps you understand the road rules, and gives you the techniques you need to be a defensive driver.
The benefits of defensive driving classes go beyond just saving on insurance rates. These classes can help you prepare for unexpected road conditions and avoid the bad habits of other drivers. DriveSafe has earned a reputation for being a go-to resource that helps new and old drivers with excellent rates and reviews.
There are several different licensing options available, but all types of licenses require the driver to be safe and careful.
There are a lot of rules and regulations surrounding driver’s licenses for this very reason. But, unfortunately, we see so many accidents all too often where everyone is driving carefully, but one driver was reckless. Consequently, this singular driver can change the lives of numerous people.
Being a safe driver, regardless of your license type, is a necessity in today’s world. Cars and trucks aren’t going anywhere, so all drivers must know how to drive defensively and safely. DriveSafe online is a great resource to help you prepare for your licenses!