You should try to have as few, if any, of the eight most common CDL restrictions on your CDL as possible.
Having a restriction means you are limited to which vehicles and/or equipment you are authorized to drive. In this article I will explain everything you need to know about the eight most common CDL restrictions and how they can impact your driving career. First, you need to know about the most common kinds of CDL restrictions.
The Most Common CDL Restrictions
These eight are the most common CDL restrictions that you will come across in every state. Some states do have additional restrictions which is why I also suggest you check with your specific state.
1. L Restriction-No Full Air Brake
This restriction prohibits the driver from driving a vehicle with a full air brake system. This occurs if one of the following happened:
- You fail the air brakes endorsement written test
- Fail the air brakes portion of the pre-trip vehicle inspection test
- Complete the road driving test in a commercial vehicle that does not have a full air brake system.
To remove this restriction you may have to pass an air brakes written test, the pre-trip inspection, as well as the basic skills and driving tests with a vehicle that has a full or partial brake system.
2. Z Restriction- No Air Brake
The Z restriction also prohibits the driver from operating a commercial vehicle with a full air brake system. This occurs if on the following happened:
The driver completed the tests with a vehicle that has a partial air system or hydraulic system. In order to get this restriction removed from your CDL you will have to complete the driving tests with a vehicle that has a full air brake system.
3. E Restriction- No Manual Transmission
This restriction prohibits the driver from driving vehicles with manual transmissions. You can get this restriction removed by completing the basic skills test and road driving test with a manual transmission instead of an automatic transmission. Don’t take your driving tests with an automatic transmission, the odds of you working for a company that has automatic transmission vehicles is very slim.
4. O Restriction-No Semi-Trailer
The O restriction means that the driver completed the basic skills and road driving test but did not drive a semi-trailer or tractor trailer. The driver is not allowed to drive a semi-trailer until they complete the basic skills and road driving test in a semi-trailer or truck-trailer. The driver didn’t drive a vehicle with a fifth wheel.
5. M Restriction-Passenger Vehicle Or School Bus Only
The M restriction means the driver possesses a Class A CDL but obtains his or her passenger or school bus endorsement in a Class B vehicle.
This means the driver will get the “M” restriction so that they are only allowed to operate a Class B or Class C passenger vehicle or school bus.
6. N Restriction-Class C Passenger Vehicle Or School Bus
The N restriction means the driver possesses a Class B CDL but obtained his or her school bus or passenger endorsement in a Class C vehicle. In this case the driver is only allowed to drive a Class C passenger vehicle or school bus.
7. K Restriction-Intrastate Only
This is the intrastate only restriction. This restriction means that the driver is only allowed to drive within the state that issued them the CDL. No interstate driving of a commercial vehicle is allowed with this restriction. If you plan on driving in and out of different states you need to stay away from this restriction.
8. V Restriction-Medical Variance
This is the newest CDL restriction. When you complete your DOT physical exam and the medical examiner states that your certificate requires a medical waiver of some kind. A medical waiver is usually diabetic, hearing, seizure, or vision, and the waiver must be sent from the medical examiner directly to the DMV. Usually the DMV will not accept a copy of this, you have to have it sent from the medical examiner directly to the DMV. As long as you have a medical variance you will have to have the V restriction on your CDL.
Note: States are also allowed to use their discretion to create additional CDL restrictions. Please refer to your state CDL manual here for more information.
Why Did I Get A Restriction On My CDL?
Restrictions are put on a CDL because the driver completed the driving test with a vehicle that is lacking certain equipment. It is recommended you take the basic skills and road driving test with the commercial vehicle that you are trying to become licensed to drive. For example, if you are trying to get a Class A CDL to drive a semi-trailer you should take the basic skills and road driving tests with a semi-trailer that has a manual transmission. If you complete the tests driving an automatic transmission you will get the E Restriction placed on your CDL. The E restriction means that you are not licensed to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission.
Having this restriction on your license is really going to limit your driving options and career opportunities because so many semi-trailers are still manual transmission.
How to get a CDL restriction removed
Getting a restriction off your CDL is not difficult but it can be time consuming. Again, I strongly suggest you do it right the first time and test with the vehicle you are planning on driving after receiving your CDL. If you want to get a restriction removed you may have to retake a written test, retake the basic skills and road driving test, and pay a fee. Be sure to check with your specific state about how to remove a restriction as states can differ.
Do All States Have The Same Restrictions?
No, not all states have the same restrictions. The restrictions I outlined above are the most common restrictions for each state but you will find that some states may have a few more restrictions.
CDL Restriction Codes
CDL codes are letters on your CDL showing which restrictions you have. Like I mentioned earlier the most common restriction codes are V, K, N, M, O, E, Z, and L.
CDL Manual Transmission Restriction
Of all the the restrictions that you can get on your CDL the one to avoid the most if you are planning on driving a Class A vehicle like a semi-truck or tractor-trailer is the manual transmission restriction. Having the manual transmission CDL restriction really hurts your career options and your availability. It is true that these days there are more and more automatic transmissions out there but the most common transmission is the manual. Also, what if the company you work for needs someone to drive a manual? Who are they going to pick? Not the person that has the manual transmission restriction. I recommend you never even get the restriction placed on your
CDL by taking the basic skills and driving road test with a manual transmission vehicle instead of an automatic. This is sound advice that any truck driver would agree with.
Stay safe and good luck in pursuing your CDL or restriction removal!