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Types of Driver’s Licenses Issued by the DMV


It’s a rite of passage for most Americans — obtaining a driver’s license and perhaps your first taste of independence. This small card that says you can drive legally has become more than just a plastic document affirming your driving abilities. Most Americans use it to prove their identity, proof of age (it’s called “carding” after all) and state residence.

It can be difficult to manage your day-to-day affairs without a driver’s license.

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Requirements for obtaining a license to drive vary by state. The Deopartment of Motor Vehicles or similar state agency determines restrictions and endorsements for different classes of vehicles and cargos.

To help better understand these driving classifications, has outlined some common types of driver’s licenses issued by states. Remember to check with your state before showing up at the nearby DMV because driver’s license rules and classifications vary.

Class A, Class B, Class C and Commercial (CDL) licenses

People 21 years of age or older are entitled to apply for a Class A driver’s license. They can also apply for any CDL with a hazardous materials endorsement.

Those who have turned 18 can apply for a Class B or Class C driver’s license. These licenses generally are valid for driving the same vehicles that can be driven by a Class E driver. Class A, Class B and Class C drivers can also drive buses and trucks having a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of 26,001 pounds or more.

Operator, Class D

States generally issue this type of license to people at least 18 years old and 17-year-olds who have completed a driver’s education course. Someone with such a license is allowed to drive passenger cars and trucks with a GVWR of not more than 26,000 pounds. They are also allowed to drive trailers and other towing vehicles with a maximum weight of 10,000 pounds.

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Sometimes the driver is allowed to tow a vehicle with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds, when the combined weight of the two vehicles does not surpass 26,000 pounds.

Taxi and Livery, Class E

Class E licenses are issued to people 18 and older. This type of license applies for the same classes of vehicles that a Class D driver can drive. In addition, for-hire vehicles with the capacity of carrying a maximum of 14 passengers can be driven by those with this type of license.

Motorcycle, Class MJ

This type of license authorizes a person younger than 18 to drive motorcycles, but with restrictions. The full details of the eligibility for this type of license can be found on your local DMV’s website.

Junior License, Class DJ

These licenses are meant for people younger than 18 and are issued by the DMV with restrictions. You can get full information about them in the learner permits and junior section of your state’s licensing agency.

A teen driver’s license generally allows the holder to operate passenger cars and trucks with a GVWR of no more than 10,000 pounds. A Class DJ license holder can also drive towing vehicles with a maximum GVWR of 3,000 pounds or less.

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article originally published on Dec. 31, 2013.

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