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How to Get a Tow Truck Permit in California

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A permit is not required to drive a tow truck in California; however, tow truck drivers must obtain a Class B driver’s license, also known as a commercial driver’s license. To obtain a Class B driver’s license, you must pass a written examination as well as a pre-trip inspection and a skills examination, all of which are administered by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Download the “Medical Examination Report form DL 51” from the California Department of Motor Vehicles website. You are required to submit to a physical examination and must have a doctor complete the form as proof. Bring the completed form to the DMV when applying for a Class B license.

Visit your local California DMV office and complete a "California Driver License Application form (DL 44 or DL 44C)." Submit the original form; the DMV does not accept copies. If you received a driver’s license in another state within 10 years of the application date, you must complete and submit a “10 Year History Record Check form (DL 939).” Submit the completed “Medical Examination Report form DL 51” with the application.

Provide the DMV with your date of birth, full legal name and social security number. A California driver’s license may be used to verify date of birth and legal name. Have your picture and thumbprint taken, and provide payment for the Class B application fee, which, as of June 2010, is $66.

Take and pass the "Traffic Laws and Signs" test. A study guide and practice tests are available from the DMV's website. Be prepared, because you have only three chances to pass this written test. Once you pass the test you will be issued a Class B permit, which allows you to drive a tow truck if accompanied by a person with a Class B license.

Call the California Department of Motor Vehicles Commercial Driver’s License office to schedule an appointment to take the driving test.

Bring a vehicle requiring a Class B license to the testing facility. Pass the pre-trip inspection, which tests your knowledge of the vehicle and its operation, and the driving test to complete the licensing process. You have three chances to pass both. Once you pass all required tests, you will be issued a Class B driver’s license, which allows you to operate a tow truck legally.


The DMV may perform a background check prior to issuing a Class B license.



About the Author

Andrew Todd has been writing since 2006. He has written for the Consumer Search website and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida. Todd has a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice from the University of Central Florida.