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CDL Grandfathering

Change. Some people like it, some people hate it. Regardless, change is inevitable and a person must learn to cope with new things. Many times changes only apply to those new to a system and the old people get the status quo. It’s affectionately called “grandfathering”, and on July 8th, current CDL holders are being grandfathered into a new list of restrictions. The new applicants? Not so lucky.

First, a review. Commercial Driver’s Licenses are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The FMCSA then authorizes each state to manage their CDL program according to their rules. States are mandated to follow the CDL rules set by the FMCSA, which provides uniformity across the 50 states.

A few years ago, a host of changes were implemented by the FMCSA and time was given to the states to comply. First up was texting and cellphone usage. Then came the medical merge process. This summer, new restrictions on CDL applicants kick in.

CDLs are granted to people who successfully pass a written test, a pre-trip inspection, a skills course and a road test. When it comes to the final three parts, the applicant must pass these test in a vehicle representative to the class of license desired.

In other words, a person cannot get a Class-A CDL if he shows up to test in a CDL worthy straight truck without a trailer. He cannot get a CDL with a passenger endorsement if he does not test in a passenger vehicle.

Similarly, there are representative restrictions. An applicant can earn a Class-A CDL in a vehicle without airbrakes, but he will receive an “L” restriction, limiting him to driving CDL vehicles without airbrakes. If a driver holds a Class-A CDL, he can earn a passenger endorsement in a representative Class-B CDL vehicle. However, he will receive an “M” restriction meaning he cannot operate Class-A passenger vehicles.

On July 8th, the FMCSA has mandated a new list of representative restrictions. These restrictions do not apply to current Illinois CDL holders. They are grandfathered. Only those showing up to test will receive these restrictions.

What are these new restrictions? Good question! Here are some of the most prevalent ones:

“E” Restriction – Automatic Transmissions As technology progresses, manual transmissions in new trucks are slowly being replaced by automatic transmissions. Whether automatics are better or worse than manual transmissions is a matter of opinion, but they are here nonetheless.

What the “E” restriction means is when an applicant shows up to test with a vehicle representative of the CDL class desired, and it is an automatic transmission, he will be restricted from driving CDL vehicles with manual transmissions.

“O” Restriction – Truck Trailer Combinations This is a configuration restriction. A CDL applicant can receive a Class-A CDL in both semi-tractor semi-trailer (5th wheel) combinations, or in truck trailer (ball hitch/pintle hook) combinations. Currently, as long as a CDL holder has a Class-A CDL, he can operate either type of configuration. However, most Class-A CDL holders who tested in a truck trailer combination usually have an “L” restriction for no airbrakes.

With this new restriction, an applicant can still receive a Class-A CDL when he tests in a Class-A representative truck trailer combination. The difference is an “O” restriction will be placed on the CDL so he cannot operate Class-A semi-tractor semi-trailer combinations.

“Z” Restriction – Air over Hydraulic As mentioned before, if the CDL applicant tests in a vehicle without airbrakes, an “L” restriction is placed on the CDL. These vehicles typically have full hydraulic brakes on the truck, and electric brakes on a trailer.

Some trucks come equipped with “Air over Hydraulic” braking systems. Just because air pressure is part of the system does not make it a full airbrake system. Therefore, if the vehicle representative of class has Air over Hydraulic brakes, the “Z” restriction prohibits operation of vehicles with full airbrake systems.

So what does this mean for enforcement? All police officers in Illinois, local and state, have the authority to enforce CDL restrictions. A violation of a CDL restriction does not void out the CDL altogether. Violations are cited under 625 ILCS 5/6-113. These are petty offenses and eligible for Sign & Drive. They are not misdemeanors like driving without a CDL when required. However, this does not mean the driver may continue driving in violation.

If you have a CDL permit, there are still a few days left to get grandfathered in, but unfortunately there are no more appointments available.

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