Let’s Talk CDL (Commercial Truck Drivers License)

All across America employment hiring is tight, you agree?  An equal challenge is finding drivers/workers who either already have or can obtain a CDL, (Commercial Driver’s License A or B). These licenses, as outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier apply to all 50 states.

So you’re ready to buy your next truck and because of the CDL challenge you think the answer is to purchase a truck that is 26,000 GVWR or less, (otherwise noted as under CDL requirements).  Great so you find a truck that is under 26,000 GVWR and otherwise meets your needs.  Are you sure you made the right purchase?

Trucks with GVWR of 26,000 or less may create bigger problems than just meeting legal driver requirements. Let’s say the truck says 25,900 GVWR and the trucks actual weight empty is 22,000 lbs.  You add on a load, (such as wood chips or wood)which could put your actual gross weight over the 26000 GVWR and guess what, you’re in violation of Federal Motor Carrier, state, and local weight restriction laws.

In Michigan the fine for having an in- correct driver’s license can range from $250.00-$500.00. However, the violation for being over -weight can range from .30 to .65 cents PER LB. The officer adds the actual weight of your truck, all of its contents and whatever load the truck is hauling. If the total weight combined is 26001 or higher and the Trucks GVWR is 26000 or a little less then you’ve got much bigger issues to address then the CDL requirement. And in Michigan they also add $400.00 for each axle that is over- weight.

Let’s look at one example:  A typical 2007 , 65 ft working height  forestry unit weighs 22,640 pounds with all storage compartments empty and no load in the chip box.  This unit usually holds between 12 and 17 cubic yards of wood chips which equals 7,700 lbs, (using 14 yards for this example).  Let’s also add in some weight for chain saws, gas, ropes, ladders, and other various industry related tools often carried.  The average yard of dry wood chips weighs around 550 lbs and even more when wet.  So this unit, although it might say 25999 GVWR on the door, actual needs to have a GVWR of 30,500 lbs or greater. Thus, a CDL A or B is required to meet actual and legal load weight requirements to operate this forestry unit.

Now you’ve just been pulled over and you’re over weight by 4,500 lbs.  At .65 cents per pound your ticket for this overweight violation is $2,925.00 plus $400.00 for the axle fine.  Is your greater challenge the CDL requirement or operating an over weighted truck.  You do the math.

Make sure you know the laws and how they actually apply to you and your business operation when making your next truck purchase.