Looking to get a Kentucky driver’s license?
If so, you may be confused by the different types of driver’s licenses.
Now, while not every license class may apply to you, it’s still important to know about them, especially if you are unsure what class you need.
Generally, driver’s licenses are categorized into either commercial or non-commercial. Both categories are further broken down into different types, primarily depending on vehicle weight.
Below is a complete 2023 guide to Kentucky driver’s license classifications.
Driver’s License Classifications in Kentucky
These are the driver’s license classifications in Kentucky:
- Class A (Commercial)
A Class A license applies to any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the GVWR of the towed vehicle is more than 10,000 pounds.
- Class B (Commercial)
A Class B license applies to any straight truck or vehicle with two or more axles and a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, pulling a vehicle that has a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less. It is also for a single vehicle that carries 16 or more passengers, driver included, with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more.
- Class C (Commercial)
A Class C license applies to any vehicle with a GVWR of no more than 26,001 pounds, a truck transporting hazardous materials where placarding is required, and any single vehicle that carries 16 or more passengers, driver included, with a GVWR of no more than 26,001 pounds.
- Class D (Non commercial)
Also called Operator’s license, Class D pertains to the regular Kentucky driver’s license. It applies to any vehicle with a GVWR not exceeding 26,000 pounds, carrying no more than 16 passengers (including the driver) for personal use. A Class D license also allows the operation of panel and pickup trucks, station wagons, and passenger and utility vehicles.
- Class E
A Class E license allows the operation of moped vehicles. A moped vehicle is a small bicycle-type vehicle with an engine displacement of no more than 50cc and a maximum speed of 28mph.
- Class M
A Class M license applies to motorcycles.
Getting Your Kentucky Driver’s License
Obtaining a driver’s license in Kentucky requires you to go through three phases:
- Permit Phase
- Intermediate Driver’s License Phase
- Full and Unrestricted License Phase
You can begin this process at age 16 by passing a written and knowledge test. With a permit, you can drive under the supervision of an adult with a valid Kentucky license. You will need to hold the permit for 180 days while adhering to all the restrictions. If you are at least 21 years old, you will only need to keep it for 30 days.
Intermediate License Phase
After holding your permit for the required period, you can then apply for an intermediate driver’s license. You will need to pass a driving skills test. After passing, you will need to hold the license for 180 days while adhering to all the restrictions.
In Kentucky, permit holders under the age of 18 must complete a Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program. You may start the course at any point during your permit or intermediate license phase, however, you will need to complete it before receiving a full, unrestricted license.
If you want to take the GDL course from the comfort of your home, we recommend taking it at Kentucky’s only approved online driving school – MyImprov. (You can click here to check our MyImprov review!)
Full, Unrestricted License Phase
After holding your intermediate driver’s license for 180 days and completing the GDL, you will be eligible to apply for a full, unrestricted license.
The Requirements for Each Driver’s License Type in Kentucky
In this section, we’ll talk about the requirements for each classification.
Commercial Driver’s License (Class A, B, C)
To qualify for a CDL in Kentucky, you must satisfy the following requirements:
- You are at least 18 years old. You need to be at least 21 years old to drive out of Kentucky.
- You have a valid KY state driver’s license.
- You must be able to prove that you are physically capable of driving a commercial motor vehicle by providing a Medical Examiner’s Certificate signed by a doctor and approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. A self-certification that you are capable of driving a CMV in the state is also mandatory. You will need to submit these documents to the Division of Driver Licensing before beginning with your application.
- You must pay the relevant fees.
- You must obtain your Commercial Learner’s Permit, which will be valid for six months.
- Finally, you must pass your CDL exam, a specific knowledge test based on the type of vehicle you wish to operate, and the skills test.
For more information on applying for a CDL, refer to this handbook.
Class D (Non-Commercial/Operator’s Driver’s License)
If you are at least 18 years old but under 21, and you have held your intermediate license for 180 days and have completed the mandatory driver education program, you are then eligible to apply for a Class D license.
You must present your Letter of Eligibility to the Kentucky State Police License Examiner, and then schedule a driving test. Check with the Circuit Clerk’s Office regarding available testing times and locations or contact the state police at (844) 253-5680.
On the day of the road test, you will need to bring a vehicle with proper registration and auto insurance. Once you pass the test, the examiner will send the results to the Circuit Clerk’s Office. Once processed, you will need to go to the Circuit Clerk’s Office for the issuance of your license.
Class E (Moped License)
To be able to legally operate a moped in Kentucky, you must be at least 16 years old and already be holding any of the following:
- Learner’s permit or driver’s license
- Motorcycle permit or license
- Commercial learner’s permit or license
If you currently do not hold any of the above, you can apply for a Class E license at a Circuit Clerk’s Office by submitting the following:
- Completed application form
- Proof of residency in Kentucky
- Birth certificate
- Social Security Card
- Payment for applicable fees
You must also pass a written and a vision test.
Class M (Motorcycle)
To obtain a motorcycle license in Kentucky, you must first earn your motorcycle instruction permit by going to the Circuit Clerk’s Office, passing the written exam, completing a vision test, providing required details, such as proof of residency, full name, date of birth, social security number, etc., and paying a $6 permit fee.
You must hold the permit for at least one month before applying for a motorcycle license.
To apply for a license, you will need to present the following to the Circuit Clerk’s Office:
- A certificate of completion of a motorcycle rider education course OR Proof of passing a motorcycle road skills test administered by the state police
- Personal information (legal name, birth date, SSN, proof of residency)
- Payment of $24 licensing fee
What is the most common license type in Kentucky?
The most common license type is Class D, which allows you to operate common cars, pickup trucks, or any vehicle with a weight not exceeding 26,000 pounds.
What is the best online driver’s ed course in KY?
MyImprov’s online Graduated Driver’s License program for Kentucky is the best one you will find. In fact, it is the only online driving school that is approved in the state.
The school’s web-based courses are some of the most advanced and hilarious. I mean, they follow an “edutainment” style of teaching. And yes, that is education and entertainment stuck together.
Plus, by signing up for their KY GDL course, you will gain adequate knowledge that will help you obtain your license.
How do I renew my Kentucky driver’s license?
In Kentucky, you can renew your license up to six months before expiration if you are over 21 years old.
To renew your license in person, simply visit the Circuit Clerk’s Office. You will need to pay a $20 fee.
Renewals via mail are currently available to Lexington residents. So if you are from Lexington, you can download and accomplish the renewal form and submit it to the below address:
141 Leestown Center Way, Suite 125, Lexington, KY 40511.
If you are paying by check, make it payable to the Kentucky State Treasurer.
You can also renew your license online. Simply go to drive.ky.gov, and click “Start Application.” Note, though, that you cannot renew a CDL online.
Just because someone can drive a car doesn’t mean they are qualified to operate a bus or a truck, which is why there are different driver’s license classifications.
This kind of categorization helps ensure drivers only drive vehicles allowed by their license classes.
Not only does this make for a more organized system, but it also contributes to making roads safe for everyone.
We hope that this article has helped you understand the different Kentucky driver’s license classifications, as well as their requirements.