Stephen R. Hasner
Managing Partner at Hasner Law PC
May 28, 2024

To operate a commercial motor vehicle in Georgia, you must have a commercial driver’s license (commercial driver’s license (CDL)). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets the standards and rules for obtaining a commercial driver’s license. A CDL is essential for anyone looking to operate a commercial vehicle, such as semi-trucks and buses, highlighting the specialized type of license required for larger vehicles.

Obtaining a CDL requires you to complete a specialized knowledge examination and driving test. The tests are designed to ensure you can operate a large vehicle safely on the road to reduce the risk of a truck accident.

What Are the Types of Commercial Drivers’ Licenses Available in Georgia?

Georgia issues three types of commercial driver’s licenses: Class A CDL, Class B driver’s license, and Class C driver’s license.

Class A Commercial Driver’s License

You must hold a Class A commercial driver’s license to operate a vehicle with a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of 26,001 pounds or more, as well as to tow a vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds. Class A CDLs typically cover vehicles such as:

  • 18-wheelers
  • Big rights
  • Semi-trucks
  • Tractor-trailers
  • Livestock carriers
  • Flatbed trucks
  • Tanker trucks
  • Combination vehicles

A Class A commercial driver’s license allows you to operate Class B and Class C commercial motor vehicles if you have the required license endorsements.

If you are between 18 and 21 years old, you only qualify for an intrastate CDL that allows you to drive the vehicle within Georgia. On or after your 21st birthday, you can apply to remove the “Georgia Only” restriction from your commercial driver’s license. This restriction applies to all types of CDLs in Georgia.

Class B Commercial Driver’s License

You must hold a Class B commercial driver’s license to operate a vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, and the unit being towed is less than 10,000 pounds. Examples of vehicles you can drive with a Class B CDL include:

  • City buses
  • Tractor-trailers
  • Dump trucks towing small trailers
  • Tourist buses
  • Box trucks and vans
  • Large passenger busses
  • Segmented passenger buses

Class B CDL holders can operate the vehicles within Class C because they must have a Class C CDL before obtaining a Class B license. They must also be at least 18 years old to hold a Class B driver’s license. 

Class C Commercial Driver’s License

Class C CDLs allow you to operate class c vehicles that carry 16 or more passengers, including the driver, such as school buses and passenger vans. Additionally, with the appropriate endorsements, a Class C CDL holder can operate passenger vehicles with a capacity of 15 riders plus the driver. You may also operate smaller vehicles transporting hazardous materials that require a hazmat placard.

Endorsements to Commercial Drivers’ Licenses in Georgia

You may apply for one or more commercial driver’s license endorsements. A CDL endorsement allows you to transport specific loads.

CDL endorsements include:

  • H Endorsement – Must have to transport hazardous materials requiring a placard.
  • N Endorsement – Must have to drive a tanker hauling liquids and gases.
  • P Endorsement – Must have to drive a bus, including school buses, carrying 16 or more passengers, including the driver. If the vehicle is a school bus, you must pass a federal background check in addition to the other requirements.
  • S Endorsement – School bus drivers, including those operating vehicles transporting 16 or more persons, must have an S endorsement and pass a background check along with the other requirements.
  • T Endorsement – Must have to drive a vehicle hauling two or three trailers.
  • X Endorsement – Combination of the H & N endorsements. Must have to operate tanker trucks transporting hazardous materials.

Each endorsement requires you to pass additional knowledge tests. In addition, if the vehicle carries passengers, you must also pass an additional road test.

Truck drivers must also demonstrate they can perform a pre-trip truck inspection. These inspections are required before each trip to ensure the vehicle operates safely. The pre-trip inspection includes:

  • Checking all critical fluids
  • Inspect the coupling device
  • Check the operation of the tires, suspension, air compressor, water pump, and alternator
  • Inspect the entire brake system to ensure it is in working order, including the airbrakes, parking brake, and hydraulic brakes
  • Inspect the cab to ensure everything is in working order, including turning on the engine to check the gauges, lights, airbrake, horn, and windshield wipers

The truck driver must also check that all safety equipment is on board and in working order. The pre-trip inspection is just one of the requirements and regulations the FMCSA sets for all drivers. It also sets rules for driving hours, drug and alcohol tests, securing cargo, and safety standards.

Why Do Commercial Truck Accidents Occur?

Even though truck drivers go through specialized training and testing and the trucking industry is heavily regulated, truck accidents still occur. Many truck accidents are caused by human error and negligence. Common causes of commercial truck crashes include:

  • Lack of training and experience 
  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding and reckless driving
  • Fatigued and drowsy driving
  • Drugged and drunk driving
  • Failure to check blind spots
  • Failing to obey traffic laws

Accidents involving large trucks generally result in catastrophic injuries. Many accident victims sustain life-threatening conditions that can lead to permanent impairments. The first priority is medical treatment for your injuries. 

However, it is also important to protect your legal right to recover compensation for all damages caused by the truck accident. A truck accident lawyer investigates the cause of the truck crash, identifies the liable parties, gathers evidence, files claims, and handles all legal matters while you focus on your recovery. 

Contact the Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyers at Hasner Law, P.C. For Help

For more information, please contact the Atlanta truck accident law firm of Hasner Law P.C. at our nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We serve in Fulton County, Chatham County, and its surrounding areas:

Hasner Law PC – Atlanta Law Office
2839 Paces Ferry Rd SE #1050 Atlanta, GA 30339
(678) 888-4878

Hasner Law PC – Savannah Law Office
221 W York St Savannah, GA 31401
(912) 234-2334

Author Stephen Headshot
Managing Partner at Hasner Law PC
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Stephen Hasner is the founder and managing partner of Hasner Law PC. Since being licensed in Florida in 1997 and in Georgia in 1999, Stephen has worked tirelessly to help Georgia residents navigate the legal process following a serious injury. This includes injuries sustained at work, in motor vehicle accidents, and in cases of personal injury. The team at Hasner Law is dedicated to securing compensation for their clients who have been injured through no fault of their own.