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When Do You Need a CDL to Drive Passengers?

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Drivers operating vehicles with a gross vehicle weight greater than 26,000 lb. need a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Federal guidelines mandate that drivers obtain CDLs for specific situations regarding the transportation of passengers.

Passenger Vehicles

A driver is required to have a CDL for transportation of 16 passengers (including the driver) in a single vehicle. A driver is also required to have a CDL to drive any vehicle designed to carry 15 or more passengers, not including the driver.

School Vehicles

Any driver transporting students on behalf of a school requires a CDL, regardless of the number of passengers. This includes school bus drivers, as well as drivers of school vans or any other school vehicle used to transport students.

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Necessary Endorsements

Transporting 15 or more passengers requires a CDL with the passenger endorsement. Drivers transporting students require a CDL with the school bus endorsement. Both endorsements require passing additional knowledge and skills tests.

About the Author

Mindi Orth began writing in 1996 as a technical writer for a consulting firm. She has experience in business documentation and has authored training and instructional materials. Orth holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Baldwin-Wallace College.

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