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Tag - California Driving Laws

What Is A Class C California Driver’s License?

What Is A Class C California Drivers License

A California Class C driver’s license is the most popular type of driver’s license issued in the state. Here are the things you are legally allowed to do with a Class C driver’s license in California.

You may drive a…

  • 2-axle vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,000 lbs. or less.
  • 3-axle vehicle weighing 6,000 lbs. or less gross.
  • Housecar 40 feet or less.
  • 3-wheel motorcycle with two wheels located in the front or back.
  • Vanpool vehicle designed to carry more than 10 persons, but no more than 15 persons including the driver.

NOTE: A driver of a vanpool may operate with a Class C license but shall possess evidence of a medical examination required for a Class B license when operating vanpool vehicles. The driver must keep in the vanpool vehicle a statement signed under penalty of perjury, that he or she has not been convicted of reckless driving, drunk driving, or hit-and-run in the last five years (CVC §12804.9(j)).

You may tow a:

  • Single vehicle with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less, including a tow dolly, if used.
  • With a vehicle weighing 4,000 lbs. or more unladen, you may tow a:
  • Trailer coach or 5th-wheel travel trailer under 10,000 lbs. GVWR when towing is not for compensation.
  • 5th-wheel travel trailer exceeding 10,000 lbs. but under 15,000 lbs. GVWR, when towing is not for compensation, and with endorsement.
  • A farmer or employee of a farmer may drive:
  • Any combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,000 lbs. or less, if used exclusively in agricultural operations and it is not for hire or compensation.

NOTE: Class C licensees may not tow more than one vehicle. A passenger vehicle, regardless of weight, may not tow more than one vehicle. A motor vehicle under 4,000 lbs. unladen weight may not tow any vehicle weighing 6,000 lbs. or more gross. (CVC §21715)

Other classes of driver licenses/endorsements

  • Noncommercial Class A
  • Noncommercial Class B
  • Commercial Class A
  • Commercial Class B
  • Commercial Class C
  • Motorcycle Class M1
  • Motorcycle Class M2

Commercial endorsements:

  • Doubles/Triples
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Passenger Transportation
  • Tank Vehicle
  • Ambulance Driver Certificate
  • School Bus Endorsement
  • Tow Truck Driver Certificate
  • Verification of Transit Training Certificate
  • Firefighter Endorsement

NOTE: Commercially licensed firefighters must submit a Medical Examination Report (DL 51) every 2 years. Noncommercially licensed firefighters can submit a self-certifying Health Questionnaire (DL 546).

Detailed information on other driver license types and endorsements can be found in the California Commercial Driver Handbook, Recreational Vehicles and Trailers Handbook, Ambulance Drivers Handbook, California Parent-Teen Training Guide, and California Motorcycle Handbook. Please refer to these handbooks for additional information.

Who Must Obtain A California Driver’s License In 2021

Obtain A California Driver’s License In 2021

Do I need a California driver’s license?

This is a very basic and seemingly obvious question, but sometimes it’s hard to know if you actually need a California driver’s license. For example, here are some situations where it might get confusing…

  • You are a temporary resident of California with a valid out of state driver’s license
  • You recently moved to California
  • You have been driving on a learner’s permit
  • You are stationed in California as a member of the United States military
  • You are a sub-contractor living in employer housing

These are just a few areas where things can get confusing.

Obtaining a driver’s license in California is a relatively simple process, but as a part of obtaining your driver’s license, you must understand some of the basic requirements and also figure out if you actually need to obtain a driver’s license in California.

So, let’s get right to it…

Who Must Obtain A California Driver License?

Here is a basic list of people required to obtain a driver’s license in California.

California Residents

California residents who drive on public highways or use public parking facilities must have a valid California driver license, unless they are:

  • An officer or employee of the U. S. government operating a vehicle owned or controlled by the U.S. government on federal business, except when operating a commercial motor vehicle.
  • Driving or operating implements of husbandry not operated or moved over a highway.
  • Driving or operating an off-highway vehicle across a highway.

California Resident Military Personnel (U.S. Armed Forces)

If you are out-of-state on active military duty and have a valid California driver license, your and your spouse’s California driver license will be valid for the full time you are absent from California and for 30 days following your discharge date, if you are honorably discharged outside of California. Carry both, your driver license and discharge or separation documents, during those 30 days (CVC § 12817).

Call 1-800-777-0133 to obtain an Extension of License for Person in Armed Forces (DL 236) card which extends your California driver’s license.

NOTE: Your driver’s license is not valid if it has been suspended, canceled or revoked.

Nonresident Military Personnel Stationed in California

If you are 18 years of age or older, refer to the “California Residents” and “Adults Visiting California” sections on this page for additional information. Licensees eligible for military extensions should carry documentation from their home state to verify their status to law enforcement.

New California Residents

When you become a California resident and you want to drive in California, you must apply for a California driver’s license within 10 days. Residency is established in a variety of ways, including the following:

  • Being registered to vote in California elections.
  • Paying resident tuition at a California college or university.
  • Filing for a home owner’s property tax exemption.
  • Receiving any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents.

Adults Visiting California

Visitors over 18 years old with a valid driver’s license from their home state or country may drive in California without getting a California driver’s license as long as their home state driver’s license is valid.

Minors Visiting California

Visitors between 16 – 18 years old may drive with their home state driver license for only 10 days after arriving in California. After 10 days, they must have a:

  • Current California driver license, or
  • Nonresident Minor’s Certificate (which is issued by DMV) to a minor with proof of financial responsibility.

How To Obtain A Driver’s License In California

For more information about the requirements to obtain a California driver’s license, check out this easy guide.

However, obtaining a driver’s license in California isn’t a complicated process. Here is a video explaining how to do it whether you are an adult or teen just obtaining a driver’s license for the first time.

PRO TIP: For those of you new to the state of California, anytime you need to go to the DMV, make sure you schedule an appointment! In many states, you can just show up at the DMV with no problem, but in California, this could cost you a lot of unnecessary time. Always schedule an appointment online first.