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. 

Do You Need a Commercial Driver's License in New Jersey?

You would need to obtain a CDL 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 pounds (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 transporting hazardous materials and is required to be placarded.

Exceptions to the Commerical Driver's License Rules

However, there are some exceptions to the rules explained above. These exceptions include:

  • Privately owned recreational vehicles
  • Farmers hauling their products and equipment within 150 miles of their farms
  • Firefighters operating official fire equipment
  • 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.

Commercial driver's licenses are not easy to get. They are often unavailable to people who have committed certain serious traffic violations or other specific offenses.

Commercial Drivers Face Stiff Penalties for Violating New Jersey Law

Motor vehicle offenses can carry heftier penalties when committed in a commercial vehicle. Commercial vehicles, including trucks, buses, and vans, are held to higher standards due to their potential risks to public safety. For example, according to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission:

  • A first DUI conviction in a passenger vehicle could result in a three to 12-month basic driver's license suspension and a one-year commercial driver's license suspension
  • Subsequent DUI convictions in passenger vehicles could result in a two-year basic driver's license suspension and a permanent commercial driver's license suspension

You could also lose your New Jersey commercial driver's license for leaving the scene of an accident or driving on a suspended license.

Steven J. Richardson
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Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.