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Do You Need a CDL to Drive a Box Truck?
What You Need to Know

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Collen Clark Published by Collen Clark

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A commercial driver’s license (CLD) is required for several different vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, flatbed trucks, and more. But what about box trucks? The answer is: it depends.

Schmidt & Clark lawyers have dealt with countless CDL license cases. We’ve been practicing law for two decades, and our services are available across the US. This means we’re familiar with CLD laws in each state. So, today, we’ll explain do you need a CDL to drive a box truck and who’s at fault for a box truck accident.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • Whether you’ll need a CDL to drive a box truck depends on the truck’s GVWR.
  • You have to know how to check the GVWR and how to calculate it.
  • If you get into an accident with your truck, the police will determine who’s at fault.

What is a Box Truck?

An orange cargo box truck

Box trucks are trucks that have an elongated chassis. While most box trucks differ in size and shape, all of them have an extended chassis with a box permanently attached. This box is what gives box trucks their name. 

These are the characteristics of a box truck:

  • Cargo box bolted to the chassis
  • The cargo box is completely separate from the cab and can’t be accessed from the cab
  • There’s a rear roll-up door

Box trucks are also called straight trucks because they are essentially one long piece of equipment — they don’t have two parts, such as a semi-trailer or other trucks.

Most box trucks are used for deliveries because of their smaller size. They need less gas and are easier for the truck driver to maneuver and park when delivering goods.

Most box trucks are used as:

  • Moving trucks — U-Haul rents come in different sizes, and you can drive them yourself.
  • Delivery trucks — E.g. FedEx.
  • Service trucks — Cleaners, plumbers, and electricians often use them, as they can fit all of their equipment.
  • Rental business trucks — For example, event rental businesses use them to deliver and pick up party items, tents, chairs, and more.

Related Article: Truck Accident Attorneys

Do You Need a CDL to Drive a Box Truck?

Close up image of a driver showing his commercial license

You don’t need a CDL to drive most box trucks. In most cases, you can do it with a basic driver’s license. In general, smaller box trucks are made to be driven without a CDL. But, if your box truck is big and heavy, you’ll need a CDL. 

To determine if you need a CDL to drive your box truck, you have to check the GVWR. GVWR is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or, in other words, this is the highest amount the truck can weigh, including cargo, and still be operational [1].

There are three kinds of CDLs: A, B, and C [2].

Class A CDL Gross Vehicle Weight Rating refers to:

  • The driver can operate any vehicle with a semi-trailer or a trailer with at least two axles.
  • The GVWR isn’t over 26,000 pounds.

This means you don’t need a GVWR if your vehicle is under 26,000 pounds. 

Class B CDL Gross Vehicle Weight Rating box truck driver's license refers to:

  • If the GVWR is higher than 26,000 pounds.
  • If a vehicle towing another vehicle doesn’t exceed 10,000 pounds.

There’s also a C CDL, but this one is only for carrying special cargoes, and you don’t need C CDL to drive box trucks.

“There are three classes of CDLs that determine the kinds of vehicles you’re permitted to drive: Class A, Class B, and Class C. CDL classification is also determined by the vehicle's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and other specific requirements.” Driving Tests

To summarize, if your truck’s GVWR is higher than 26,000 pounds, even 26,001, you need to get a CDL. It doesn’t matter how long your truck is. For example, if your truck is 26 feet long, you don’t need a CDL, as it weighs less than 26,000. 

Another thing to note is that GVWR doesn’t refer to how much the box truck weighs but how much weight the truck is rated to carry. This also means the truck contents don’t affect the vehicle’s GVWR. So, it doesn’t matter if you transport cookies or a king-sized bed. 

However, there are some capacity limits that you should know to drive a box truck. For example, a 24-foot truck can have a load of up to 10,000 lbs, while a 26-foot truck has 12,000 lbs.

Related Article: Different Types of Commercial Drivers Licenses

How to Check if You Need a CDL to Drive a Box Truck?

Driver organizing his paper works To check if a box truck needs a CDL, you should check the paperwork that comes with it. However, if the truck driver doesn’t have the paperwork, it’s easy to check the GVWR. 

There should be a sticker inside the door jamb that says what’s the Gross Axle Weight Rating. You’ll see two numbers on the sticker.

One for the front axle and another for the rear axles. You should add the two numbers together to get the GVWR. Based on this number, you’ll know if you should get a CDL for your truck or not.

If you don’t feel like doing math, there’s another option. You can Google the Gross Axle Weight Rating of your large box truck, and you’ll get the answer in seconds. Or, to be on the safe side, you can contact the truck manufacturer and ask them for the GVWR.

Hot to Drive a Box Truck

Box truck driver giving a thumbs up while driving Inexperienced drivers can find driving a box truck quite challenging. If you aren’t used to driving large trucks or large vehicles, you should spend time practicing, getting used to the braking power and turning, as they are wide.

A box truck is different from smaller vehicles. It has a limited rear window view, so it’s extremely important to use wing mirrors and to signal early; otherwise, accidents happen.

Apart from the driver, rental companies that use these trucks can also be blamed in case of an accident. 

You also have to inspect your mirrors before you start. It’s a good idea to make wide turns and not try any difficult maneuvers such as parallel parking.

There are several commercial driver’s license schools where you can practice driving a box truck. This is a good idea if you’re unsure about driving larger vehicles with a stretched frame.

Who’s at fault for a Box Truck Accident?

A box truck accident on road Two parties are at fault for the box truck accident: the truck driver and the company that allowed the driver to drive box trucks.

The driver gets the blame because they are the person behind the wheel, and the company gets the blame because they didn’t take adequate measures.

The company is required to ensure they are giving box trucks to responsible drivers. They also have to make sure the box trucks are safe to drive and the maintenance is up to date. This includes tire and oil changes and other upkeep. 

The driver has the responsibility to drive responsibly and possesses the necessary driving skills. 

However, in some cases, a third party can be responsible for the accident. For example, if a third party was overtaking where it’s not allowed or recommended. 

After an accident with box trucks, police officers will create a timeline of events to establish who was at fault. 

You should hire a lawyer to make sure your rights are protected and to help you get an insurance payout.

Related Article: Semi-Truck Brake Failure Lawsuit

See all the personal injury and accidents litigations we've taken on.


Are box trucks automatic?

Box trucks can be either manual or automatic.

How can I make money with my box trucks?

There are several ways you can make money with your box trucks:

  • Rent out box trucks
  • Start a moving business
  • Offer hauling services
  • Offer towing services
  • Offer advertising on your box trucks

Get a Free Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers

Unlike semi-trailers, you don’t need a CDL to drive a box truck. However, it’s imperative that you check the GVWR. You can do it by checking the label on the door jam and calculating both front and rear axles. If your truck is over 26,000 pounds, you’ll need to get a class B CDL.

Driving box trucks requires practice and expertise. If you get in an accident, you should hire an experienced lawyer.

Schmidt & Clark lawyers value every attorney-client relationship. We can offer legal advice, explain your next steps, and help deal with the insurance company.

Contact us today for a free evaluation.