Class A Non-Commercial Driver’s License
A Class A Non-Commercial driver’s license is required for towing any trailer, like many of us do to trail ride, when the combined registered gross weight of the trailer and towing vehicle exceeds 26,000 pounds. If you are in any business for profit including with equines, like training, showing or hauling for pay, you will need a Commercial or “CDL” license. Commercial may be interpreted as receiving any compensation even as simple as winning a ribbon. This has nothing to do with needing a combination gross weight for your truck and trailer. That is the registration for your towing vehicle and not a driver’s licensing requirement. We have covered that in earlier newsletters.
It is really very simple to figure out if you need to obtain this Class A Non-Commercial driver’s license. If the registered gross weight of your trailer and the registered gross weight of your truck added together exceeds 26,000 lbs. and you are not operating commercially, a Class A Non-Commercial driver’s license is required.
As an example, Gwen and I use a Ford F450 to pull our living quarters trailer. The registered gross weight of the trailer is 14,000 lbs. and the registered gross weight of the truck is 15,000 lbs for a total of 29,000 lbs. This total is over 26,000 lbs. and therefore means we need a Class A Non-Commercial driver’s license because we are not in business and only trail ride.
We have a stock trailer that has a 12,000 lb. registered gross weight; so, when we tow it with that F450 that has a 15,000 lb. registered gross weight, we need the Class A Non-Commercial driver’s license because we have a combined registered gross weight of 27,000 lbs. But, if we tow that same trailer with a 12,000 lb. registered gross weight with our Ford F350 that has a registered gross weight of 11,200 lbs., the total combined registered gross weight is only 23,200 lbs. which does not exceed 26,000 lbs., so no need for a Class A Non-Commercial driver’s license.
FOLLOWING ARE THE STEPS TO OBTAIN a Class A Non-Commercial driver’s license.
- Driver goes into a Driver License Center with the DL-31 form (filling the form out is pretty straightforward). If you already have a class C license, no physical examination is necessary. You can go on line at penndot.gov and enter DL-31 LEARNERS PERMIT and the form will come up.
- The transaction to get the permit is processed (there is no knowledge [written] test that needs to be taken). The fee is $5.00. They only take checks.
- Once the permit is obtained, the operator can schedule an appointment for the skills test. This can be done by either calling 1-800-932-4600, or scheduling online at penndot.gov. The permit is valid for the period of one year from date of issuance.
- While practicing on the permit, the driver must have an accompanying driver with the same class license being applied for or higher (the accompanying driver can have either a commercial or non-commercial license – it just needs to be the same class or higher). When taking the skills test the permit holder must be accompanied to the test facility by a driver with the same class or higher license.
- When the skills test is conducted, it consists of:
- A quick walk-around of the vehicle, for safety purposes;
- Knowledge of vehicle controls;
- An Air Brake check (if the vehicle is so equipped);
- The on-road portion, which may be performed on a CDL course or actually out on the road is still scored as a non-commercial test would be. As of now, there are no Basic Control Skills maneuvers that are performed (subject to change).
Once the skills test is passed, the driver will obtain the proper class of non-commercial license.
Hope this helps you out in obtaining the license.
Bud Wills, Vice President