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Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs) in NJ and When They Are Required

New Jersey created the commercial driver's license (CDL) under the NJ Commercial Driver License Act in 1990.  The purpose of this act was to reduce or prevent commercial motor vehicle accidents, fatalities, and injuries by strengthening licensing and testing standards.  You would need to obtain one if you want to be able to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • A vehicle that has (or displays) a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of over 26,000 pounds (13 tons)
  • A vehicle that has a gross combination weight rating over 26,000 pounds (13 tons), including a towed unit with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pound (5 tons)
  • A vehicle that is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver
  • A vehicle that is designed to transport 9 to 15 persons, including the driver, if the vehicle is used to transport such persons for hire on a daily basis to and from places of employment
  • A vehicle that displays a hazardous material placard or is used in the transporting of hazardous materials and is required to be placarded.

However, there are some exceptions to this.  They include:

  • Privately owned recreational vehicles
  • Farmers hauling their products and equipment within 150 miles of their farms
  • Firefighters
  • Operators of rescue and first aid vehicles
  • Taxi drivers
  • Ride sharing van drivers
  • Civilian operators of military equipment
  • Operators of construction equipment that is not used on public roadways.

These licenses are not easy to get (often unavailable to people who have committed certain serious traffic violations or other specific offenses) and carry with them more responsibility.  As a result, motor vehicle offenses can carry heftier penalties when committed in a commercial vehicle.