DMV Special Certificate Hearings
When a driver in California receives his or her first driver license and begins their driving career, they almost always begin with a basic, Non-Commercial, Class C license. This class of driver license allows the holder to operate basic two and three axle vehicles for everyday use, provided the vehicle is less than 40 feet in length. This driver will normally have attended a basic driving school, passed a written exam and passed a “behind the wheel” performance exam with a DMV employee in the car.
As a driver progresses into careers that may require the operation of specialized vehicles or, the transportation of passengers or cargo, the DMV will require that these more advanced drivers hold special classes of license, specially endorsed licenses or even “Special Certificates” to operate these specialty vehicles. Essentially, as the driver becomes increasingly more responsible for the transportation of people or hazardous materials, the DMV becomes increasingly sensitive to insuring that these drivers be more highly trained and be held to a higher standard of performance and trust than the regular “day to day” driver.
Driver License Classes
Non-Commercial, Class A License
This is a “basic” license which allows the driver to operate any vehicle permitted under the Class C license. Additionally, the driver is permitted to:
- Tow a travel trailer with a Gross Vehicular Weight Rating (GVWR) or more than 10,000 lbs., that is not used for hire.
- Tow a fifth-wheel travel trailer with a GVWR of more than 15,000 lbs., that is not used for hire.
- Tow a livestock trailer weighing 10,000 to 15,000 lbs., operated by a farmer to transport livestock within 150 miles of the farm, not used for hire.
Non-Commercial, Class B License
This is a “basic” license which allows the driver to operate any vehicle permitted under the Class C license. Additionally, the driver is permitted to drive any house car (RV or motorhome) greater than 40 feet in length but not exceeding 45 feet in length. The driver may also tow a single vehicle with a GVWR of less than 10,000 lbs., including the use of a tow dolly.
Non-Commercial, Class C License
This is the true “basic” license which allows the driver to operate passenger cars, pickups, SUVs and recreational vehicles (RVs) of 40 feet or less in length.
Commercial License (CDL)
This is the license held by “professional” drivers. A commercial vehicle is a motor vehicle or combination used for hire to transport passengers or property, or which:
- Has a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more.
- Is designed, used or maintained for carrying more than 10 passenger, including the driver.
- Tows a vehicle or trailer, which has a GVWR of 10,001 lbs or more.
- Transports hazardous materials, which requires placards.
- Tows any combination of two trailers or vehicle and trailer.
In addition to the basic CDL, the driver must maintain proof that he or she is medically capable of safely operating a commercial vehicle. Section 12517.2(a) of the California Vehicle Code mandates that all applicants for a commercial driver license must file a “Medical Exam Report” (Form DL 51) with the DMV before a CDL will issue. This form is prepared by an appropriate medical professional and must be renewed every two years to document the driver’s good health.
Driver License Endorsements
An endorsement is not a separate license or certificate. An endorsement is marked directly on the driver license and grants a driver special privileges to operate vehicles within a specific category. If the DMV revokes the driver’s endorsement, the entire driver license must be surrendered and the driver must then reapply for license without the revoked endorsement.
The most frequently annotated “endorsements” are:
Endorsement and Code:
Motorcycle: M1 or M2
Double Trailer: D
Hazardous Materials: HM
Tank Vehicle: TV
Passenger Transport: PV
Triple Trailer: T
A certificate is a completely separate document the driver must possess, in addition to his or her driver license. Unlike the endorsement, which permits the driver to operate a particular category of vehicle, the certificate permits the driver to drive a specific type of vehicle. The certificate is issued to the most highly trained and highly trusted of professional drivers because of their responsibility to transport highly volatile materials or particularly vulnerable passengers. Because of the “public trust” associated with the special certificate, these drivers are held to the highest standards of training, performance and reputation. Each endorsement or certificate has different requirements, which are tailored to ensure the safe transportation of a specific passenger group of hazardous cargo.
The most frequently annotated “certificates” are:
Endorsement & Abbreviation:
Famr Labor Vehicle: FLV
General Public Paratransit Vehicle: GPPV
Hazardous Agricultural Materials: HAM
Radioactive Materials: RM
School Bus: SCH
School Pupils Activity Bus: SPAB
Vehicle For Developmentally Disabled Persons: VDDP
Youth Bus: YOB
Tow Truck Driver Clearance: TTD
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