The Driver’s License (USA, Canada) or Driving License (UK, Ireland) is an official document which states that a person may and can drive a motorized vehicle, such as a car on a public road. As most adult citizens in the United States and Canada have a valid driving license, this document is used as a primary form of photo identification in these countries. It is used in different nondriving situations where proof of identity or age is required; for example, you will need it for boarding on your airline flights, for purchasing alcoholic beverages, etc.
Laws and regulations about driver licenses vary between countries, jurisdictions, etc. In most cases, it is needed to pass a driving test before getting a Driver’s License or a Driving License. The differences are in the age and the required level of practice before getting a license.
Driver License in the US
The requirements and procedures for a driver’s license vary by state. We list below just general guidelines and recommend driver applicants contact their proper state office for specific details. These offices are called typically Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
General Guidelines for driver license – USA
- The type (class) of the driver’s license depends on the vehicle you want to drive. There will be a driver’s licenses for people interested in driving passenger vehicles, motorcycles, trucks, etc. The minimum license age (in most of the states) for passenger car drivers must be 16 years old.
- Two forms of identification (primary and secondary) are required while drivers are on the road. They prove identity and birth date. In most of the States are requested document originals or certified copies.
- All drivers’ licenses issued in the United States require that the applicant pass an eye examination. In case you need to wear eyeglasses to pass the exam for getting the license, you will be required to wear them while you drive. This requirement will be also identified on your driver’s license.
- There are minimum test scores required by State, so you have to know what the required score for the state you want to apply is.
- The applicants can expect the following during the driver license application:
- A picture to be taken.
- Completion of appropriate courses.
- Completion of the application form.
- Completion of parental consent form just for drivers under age 18.
- Payment of application fee (which varies by state).
- Usually, driver’s license offices are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- A driver’s license is issued after successful completion of the test. In case the applicant fails, he/she can re-test after a specified frame of time.
- The driver license card is usually given at a license office or mailed and it contains the following information:
- Driver’s name.
- Date of birth.
- Height and weight.
- License class.
- License’s issue.
- Expiration dates and any restriction.
Types of Driver Licenses
Each person who drives a motor vehicle which is designed as being in either Class A, B, C, D, or E will need a different class of license before driving or operating any such motor vehicle on any road, highway or street of a State. Drivers may also be required to have proper endorsement(s) on their (CDL) Commercial Driver’s License.
There are different types of driving license, the three general are the Personal Vehicle Driver’s License or Class E, the Chauffeurs Driver’s License or Class D; and the Commercial Driver’s License or Classes A, B, and C.
Commercial Driver license (CDL) – Class A, class B and Class C
This type of license is required to operate a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of around 26,001 lbs or 11,793 kg. The class A, B and C refer to the weight of the vehicle. The General Knowledge test is required for any CDL. The driver will take the actual driving test in the vehicle that falls into the weight class for the vehicle they want and will be driving.
People who are 21 years old (or above) are allowed to apply for a Class A driver license and for any CDL with a hazardous materials endorsement.
The federal standard requires states to issue a Commercial Driving License to drivers according to the following license classifications:
The age requirements for this kind of license are 18 years or above for intrastate and 21 years or above for interstate. It allows drivers to operate of all vehicles within classes B, C,D, and E with any proper endorsement(s) and any combination of vehicles with a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of 26,001 lbs or more, provided that GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10, 000 lbs.
- In case the pulling unit of the combination vehicle is 26,000 lbs or less, a restriction must be added to the license.
- A vehicle won’t be taken into consideration if being towed has a GVWR of 10,000 lbs or less.
Class B – Heavy Straight Vehicle:
It is one of the most difficult of all licenses to obtain. A person must already have a C license to obtain a Class B license. Regarding the age requirements, he or she must be at least 18 years or above for intrastate and 21 years or above for interstate (It may vary by estate), and pass a second visual acuity examination and a road-skill test to upgrade from license class C to B. This type of license is valid for five years, but a new medical examination has to be submitted every two years for keeping an updated license.
The license class B allows the operation of any vehicle within Classes C, D, and E, with any proper endorsement plus any single vehicle with a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of 26,001 lbs (or more). Drivers are not allowed to pull a trailing unit weighing over 10,000 lbs with a Class B license (with a class A license, they can). This type of license will be also required to drive a single fire fighting vehicle; this specific type of license is known as “Restricted Class B Fire Fighter License”.
With the purpose of this class, the straight vehicle is defined as being one that does not have a moveable joint in its frame between the seated driver and passenger compartment.
Class C- Light Vehicle:
The age requirements for this kind of license are 18 years or above in case of intrastate and 21 years or above for interstate. It allows drivers the operation of any vehicle within Classes D and E, with any proper endorsement, plus any single vehicle less than 26,001 lbs GVWR. It means that the license allows driving any combination of vehicles (or single vehicle), that does not meet the definition of Class A/Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or is placarded for hazardous materials.
Class D- Chauffeurs Driver’s License
The Department of Motor Vehicle issues this license to people 18 years old and above. (If people who are 17 years old have completed a driver’s education course, they are also allowed for obtaining this class of license). This license allows drivers to operate the following vehicles:
- All vehicles that are included in class E plus any single motor vehicle that is used in commerce to transfer passenger or property if the vehicle has a GVWR of 10,001 lbs or more but less than 26,001 lbs.
- Any combination of vehicles that are used in commerce to transport passengers or property if the vehicle has a combined vehicle weight rating of 10,001 lbs or more but less than 26,001 lbs (inclusive of a towed unit with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds).
- Any vehicle designed or used for the transportation of passengers for hire or fee.
This license is not used in the transportation of materials found to be dangerous under the provisions of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act that requires the vehicle to bear a placard under the provision of Hazardous Materials Regulations.
Class E – Taxi – Personal Vehicle
If people want to get this type of license to drive taxis and livery vehicles, they must be 18 years old or older (age requirements may vary by state). This license allows drivers to operate the following vehicles:
- Any single motor vehicle under 10,000 lbs gross vehicle weight.
- Any personal use of recreational vehicle and farm vehicles. For instance, vehicles operated by a farmer for transportation of agricultural products, farm supplies, etc to and from a farm within 150 air miles of the owner’s or operator’s farm.
- Any other vehicle which is not used for the transportation of hazardous materials is required to be placarded.
This license is known as well as a restricted license and it is issued to teenagers who are between ages 15 and 17 (the age requirements may vary by state). Any applicant will be required to provide proof that he/she has completed a full driver’s education course or a pre-licensing course. Once this proof is provided and other general requirements, the learner’s license may be issued. Generally, a teenager must have a learners permit for one year while he/she is practicing their driving skills with an adult. The year, he/ she can then take the behind-the-wheel driving test for a full operator license.
If the person is 18 years or above, they are not required to retain a learner license, but they still must complete the required course and exams before going in for a behind-the-wheel driving test.