Everything You Need to Know About Obtaining a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) in Washington State - A Complete Guide

Introduction: Commercial Driver's Licenses (CDLs)

To drive commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) on public highways, you need a specific driver's license called a commercial driver's license (CDL). There are several distinct kinds of CDLs. Each one is associated with an appropriate type of vehicle or vehicle group.

Class A CDL: Operating Heavy Vehicles

The most fundamental CDL is the Class A license, which is necessary to drive any number of vehicles with a combined weight of at least 26,001 pounds. Tank trucks, tractor-trailers, and other heavy vehicles fall under this category. An individual must pass both a written and a skills test to be granted a Class A license. They must also possess a current regular driver's license.

Class B CDL: Operating Medium-Sized Vehicles

The Class B license is the next level of CDL and is necessary to drive either a single vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds or more or a combination of vehicles weighing less than 26,001 pounds. Buses, straight trucks, and another medium-sized transport fall under this category. A person needs a valid regular driver's license and must pass both a written and a skills test to earn a Class B license.

CDL Endorsements: Specialized Vehicle Operations

A CDL can be enhanced with several endorsements in addition to the Class A and Class B licenses. These are frequently necessary for specific occupations endorsements, letting a person drive a certain kind of vehicle or a particular mix of them. For instance, a person with a Class A or Class B license and a Tanker endorsement can drive tank trucks. HazMat (for hauling hazardous products), Doubles/Triples (for driving double or triple trailers), and Passenger are additional frequent endorsements (for operating buses or other vehicles that transport passengers).

State Regulations: Differences and Specifics

It's also important to remember that some states have stricter laws than others. Some states could need additional testing or training for particular vehicle kinds or endorsements. For precise criteria and restrictions, it is always vital to check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Candidates for CDLs in Washington must pass both knowledge and a skills test and satisfy federal medical requirements. Additionally, Washington State requires candidates complete a recognized training program for appropriate endorsements, such as hazardous materials and school buses.


In conclusion, obtaining a commercial driver's license (CDL) is necessary for operating commercial motor vehicles on public roads. There are different types of CDLs, including Class A and Class B, endorsements that allow for the operation of specific vehicle types. It's crucial to check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles for requirements and regulations. If you're looking to obtain your CDL, New Sound Trucking School is a great place to start your journey, where you will find all the necessary information, training, and support to get your CDL.