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What restrictions can be placed on a CDL?

If you are a commercial motor vehicle driver, you know all about the CDL. The licensing requirements are pretty strict. You know that you can get endorsements added to your CDL. But what about the opposite situation – what about the restrictions that can be placed on your license? Here are some of the restrictions that can be placed on a CDL.

CDL restrictions to be aware of.


The L restriction on a CDL has to do with the Air Brakes knowledge test. There are a few reasons you could have an “L” restriction. You may not have passed the Air Brakes Knowledge Test. Or perhaps an airbrake systems check wasn’t conducted. Or you may not have taken the Skills Test in a truck equipped with a full air brake system.


This restriction is placed on a CDL when the driver has taken their test in a vehicle with an air over hydraulic brake system. (Z basically means there’s a “no full air brake” restrictions placed on the license.) The driver is not allowed to operate a CMV that has full air-brakes.


This restriction concerns the type of transmission in the truck that the driver is operating. Should the driver do their skills test in a truck with an automatic transmission, the E restriction will be there. That means that the driver isn’t allowed to drive a manual transmission.

MVR checks


Okay, this one gets a bit more technical. A driver who takes the Skills Test in a Class A vehicle that has no pintle hook or other non-fifth wheel connection will get the “O” restriction. And that means that the driver cannot drive a Class A Vehicle with a fifth-wheel connection. (Okay, maybe that wasn’t as technical as anticipated.)


A driver may have a Class A CDL but obtain their passenger or school bus endorsement in a Class B vehicle. In that case, the State has to give them an M restriction. What that means is that the driver can only operate Class B and C passenger vehicles or school buses.


This one is kind of similar to the M restriction. If a driver has a Class B CDL but gets their passenger or school bus endorsement in a Class C Vehicle the State has to put an N restriction on the license. That means that the driver can only drive passenger vehicles or school buses that are Class C. So, that’s what that means.


The FMCSA may notify the State that a medical variance was issued to a driver. Then the State has to indicate that the medical variance on the CDLIS driving record and the CDL document. They do that by putting the code V to show that there are details about a variance on the CDLIS record.

Another thing to note is that the States might have a more restrictive category for a particular type of license. They also might have extra codes for endorsements or restrictions for the CDLs that don’t show up in the Federal regulations. (And this is okay so long as these things are fully explained on the license document.)

Anyways, it’s important to pay attention to the type of license you have or want to have. Look at the endorsements you need and be aware of the restrictions that could prevent you from driving certain types of vehicles. Be aware of your State’s CDL requirements and such.

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