Types of Driver’s Licenses in New York (A Complete Guide)

Types of Driver’s Licenses in New York

What type of driver’s license do you need?

A Class D?

Class E?

Or maybe a Class A CDL?

For every state, the driver’s license types differ. This is why, here, we’re going to focus on New York State. 

We’ll first detail what vehicle each license type can operate. From there, we’ll walk you through the steps on how to obtain each one. 

There’s a lot to cover, so let’s begin your guide to the types of driver’s licenses in New York!

Driver’s License Types in New York

There are 6 types of driver’s licenses in New York:

  • Class D
  • Class E 
  • Class A CDL
  • Class B CDL
  • Class C CDL
  • Class M 

Let’s see what vehicle each one can operate. 

Class D

Let’s start with the Class D license. People usually refer to this when talking about their driver’s license.

This is because it’s the most common — used to operate private sedans, pickups, SUVs, etc. 

If you want the specifics, it can operate a vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or less. Also, it should only be for private use and should NOT meet the conditions of a class C CMV (to be discussed).

Class E

The Class E license is similar to Class D. 

However, it also allows you to drive vehicles that are for hire. Examples of these are taxis, livery vehicles, and limos. It also applies to other for-hire vehicles that seat less than 15 people.

Class A CDL

This is the first of three commercial licenses in New York. 

A Class A CDL allows you to operate combination vehicles that have a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of more than 26,0001 pounds. Since it’s a combination vehicle, it should tow a unit that weighs 10,000 pounds or more. 

Examples of Class A CMVs are truck trailers and tractor-trailers. 

Class B CDL

Not all CMVs are combination vehicles. If it is a heavy, straight vehicle with a GVWR of 26,0001 pounds or more, you need a Class B CDL. 

But sometimes these heavy, straight vehicles tow units. If so, then the unit should not exceed 10,000 pounds. 

Examples of Class B CMVs are city buses and dump trucks. 

Class C CDL

The last of the commercial licenses is a Class C CDL. 

It can operate combination and straight CMVs weighing fewer than 26,0001 pounds and towing a unit fewer than 10,000 pounds. 

Also, the CMV must meet one of the following: 

  • Transports 15 or more passengers
  • Hauls hazardous materials

Class M

Finally, the Class M license is used to operate motorcycles. 

If you drive both private vehicles and motorcycles, you can simply add a Class M endorsement to your Class D license. 

How to Get a Class D License in New York

New York has a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law. This means that teens between 16-17 years old must go through 3 phases:

  • Junior permit
  • Junior license (Class DJ)
  • Full license (Class D)

How to Get a Junior Permit in New York

Here are the steps to getting a junior permit in New York:

  1. Decide whether you want a Standard, Enhanced, or REAL ID license. Click here to see the differences.
  1. Create an account or log in to the NY DMV website.
  1. While there, apply for a junior permit. 
  1. Follow the online prompts. 
  1. Upload the required documents:
    1. Proof of age
    2. Proof of identity
    3. Proof of residence in New York
  1. Begin the online permit test. 

NOTE: You can only take the permit test online if you have an enabled webcam and you allow the DMV to access it. 

  1. Pass the permit test.
  1. Schedule an appointment with a DMV office. 
  1. Bring the following to your DMV appointment:
    1. Original copy of your uploaded proof of age, identity, and residency. 
    2. Your parent or legal guardian
    3. A filled-out Online Permit Test Parent/Guardian Certification form. Your parent or legal guardian must sign it at the DMV office. 
  1. Have your photo taken.
  1. Pay the permit fee:
    1. For 16 and 16½ years old – $80
    2. For 16½ and 17 years old – $76.75
    3. For 17 and 17½ years old – $92.50
    4. For 17½ and 18 years old – $89.25
    5. For enhanced licenses – $30 additional fee
    6. For those in MCTD regions – $10+ additional fee. 
  1. Receive your temporary junior permit and wait for the official one to arrive by mail. 

Phase 1 done!

How to Get a Junior License (Class DJ) in New York 

These are the steps to upgrading to a junior license (Class DJ) in New York:

  1. Hold your junior permit for at least 6 months. 
  1. Complete a 5-Hour Pre-Licensing Course or a high school or college driver’s education program.
  1. Earn 50 hours of supervised driving experience (15 hours must be after sunset).
  1. Schedule your road test and provide:
    1. Your DMV ID number
    2. Proof of driving education 
    3. ZIP code of your preferred testing site
  1. Show the following to your examiner when you go to your road test:
    1. Your valid junior permit
    2. A filled-out MV262 form signed by your parent or guardian (if you’re under 18 years old)
  1. Pass your road test.
  2. Pay the $17.50 fee.
  1. Get your temporary Class DJ license and wait for your official one to arrive via mail. 

And just like that, you only have one more phase to go!

How to Get a Full Driver’s License (Class D) in New York

The New York DMV will send you an adult driver’s license when you turn 18 years old. They also lift all previously-imposed restrictions.

However, if you completed a driver’s ed program instead of the 5-Hour Pre-Licensing course, you can apply for your full license when you’re 17 years old.

All you have to do is bring your Class DJ license to a DMV office with your Student Certificate of Completion. Exchange these for a Class D license with full driving privileges.

If you’re over 18 and are a first-time applicant, check out our detailed step-by-step guide on “How to Get A Driver’s License in New York”. 

How to Get a Class E License in New York 

If you already have a Class D license, you can switch to a Class E license. 

Here are the steps: 

  1. Download a copy of the MV44 form (Application for Permit, Driver License, or Non-Driver ID Card) and complete it.
  1. Visit a DMV office and bring proof of New York residence, age, and identity.

NOTE: The required documents for Enhanced, REAL ID, and Standard driver’s licenses may vary. Click here to determine which ones you can use.

  1. Pass the vision test.
  1. Pay the licensing fee.

NOTE: The DMV determines the amount when you visit — this is because it will depend on your license’s expiration date.

  1. Surrender your Class D license.
  1. Wait for your Class E license to arrive in the mail. You should receive it in around 2 weeks.

How to Get a Class A, B, and C CDL in New York 

Even if there are 3 commercial licenses, there is only one process to get them. 

This process involves 2 stages:

  • A CDL permit
  • A CDL

How to Get a CDL Permit in New York

First things first, you need to meet the eligibility requirements. 

  • You meet the age requirement:
    • 18 years old for intrastate trips
    • 21 years old for interstate drives, operating a school bus, or hauling hazardous materials
  • You must be a U.S. citizen (or have proof of unrestricted Lawful Permanent Residency)
  • You must live in New York and have a New York-issued Class D license
  • You must meet the FMCSA’s medical requirements
  • You can speak and write in English proficiently

If you are eligible, you can start working on your CDL permit. 

Here are the steps: 

  1. Choose your CDL class and any endorsements you might need. 
  1. Schedule your CDL permit test.
  1. Submit the following documents on your visit:
    1. Proofs of your age, identity, and New York residence
    2. Your current Class D license
  1. Pay the application fee of $10.
  1. Pass the CDL permit test (plus any endorsement tests).
  1. Receive your CDL permit.

How to Get a CDL in New York 

And here are the steps to getting a CDL in New York:

  1. Have your CDL permit for at least 14 days. 
  1. Complete an FMCSA-approved Entry-Level Driver Training course.
  1. Pay the CDL road test fee of $40 online
  1. Schedule your CDL road test.
  1. Bring the following on your visit:
    1. Your valid CDL permit
    2. Proof of age, identity, and New York residency 
  1. Pass the CDL road test and check your results online.
  1. Apply for a CDL at a DMV office.
  1. Pay the CDL fee (the price will depend on CDL type and expiration).
  1. Get your temporary CDL. Expect your official credential to arrive within 3 to 4 weeks through the mail.

For an even more detailed guide, check out “How to Get A CDL in New York”. 

How to Get a Class M License in New York

If you plan to drive a motorcycle, then here is how to get a Class M license:

  1. Be at least 16 years old to apply for a permit.
  1. Do these before you visit the DMV:
    1. Decide which license type you want (Standard, REAL ID, or Enhanced)
    2. Prepare documents proving your identity, age, and New York residence
    3. Download the Application for Permit, Driver License, or Non-ID Card form (MV44) and fill out the necessary information.
  1. Make an online reservation to take your motorcycle permit test. 
  1. On your visit, do the following:
    1. Submit all the documents you gathered
    2. Pay the fee. Click here to see all rates
    3. Pass the motorcycle permit test
    4. Receive your temporary motorcycle permit. The official document arrives by mail after 2 weeks.

NOTE: You can also pass your application and take the permit test online by logging on to the NY DMV website. However, you must still visit a DMV office to pay the fee and get your temporary permit.

  1. Prepare for your motorcycle road test by doing the following:
    1. Hold your motorcycle permit for at least 6 months if you’re under 18
    2. Attend a New York State Motorcycle Safety Program Basic Rider Course. NOTE: This is optional, but completing the program may allow you to waive the road test.
    3. Get a minimum of 30 hours of supervised driving experience. At least 10 hours must be in medium to high-volume traffic.
    4. Complete a Pre-Licensing Course or a driver’s education program if you don’t have an existing New York-issued driver’s license
  1. Schedule your road test online. Ensure you have this information ready:
    1. Your 9-digit DMV ID number
    2. Proof of driving education (if you’re a first-time license applicant)
    3. The ZIP code of your preferred testing site
  1. Pass your motorcycle road test and get your temporary license.

NOTE: If this is your only license, the official one will arrive by mail in about 2 weeks.

If you have an existing credential, you can apply for an M endorsement at a DMV office at least 7 days after your road test. It allows you to combine driver’s license classes for $12.50.

The Wrap Up

So that was your complete guide to the types of driver’s licenses in New York. 

Now that you know which license class you need, go and follow the steps to obtain it. 

We have all the information here for you. 

Good luck!

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