For most teens, obtaining a driver’s license signifies freedom and independence.
No more need to be driven around by mom or dad.
However, in case you didn’t know, your driver’s license isn’t an all-access pass. Just because you have one doesn’t mean you can drive any vehicle, especially the larger ones that require more skills.
That’s what driver’s license classes are for.
So if you’re a teen (or adult) in Maryland looking to get a driver’s license, the first step is to understand the Maryland driver’s license classifications.
With our complete 2023 guide, we’ll tell you about the license types and what it can operate, as well as the requirements to get each one.
Plus, we’ll add an FAQ section at the end.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started right away!
What are the License Classes in Maryland?
There are two main driver’s license categories in the state of Maryland:
Both are further divided into different classes. Let’s take a look.
As the name states, this type of license is for commercial use. Here are the classes in this category:
- Class A
A Commercial Class A license allows the operator to drive any combination of vehicles, provided the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or the combined weight is 26,001lbs or more, with the trailer weighing 10,000lbs or more.
- Class B
A Commercial Class B license allows the operator to drive any motor vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001lbs or more and tow a trailer that weighs 10,000lbs or less.
- Class C
A Commercial Class C license allows the operator to drive any motor vehicle, except motorcycles, with a GVWR less than 26,001lbs, and tow a trailer with a GVWR of 10,000lbs or less.
As you probably already guessed, non-commercial licenses mean that you only get to use them for personal purposes. For example, driving to school or work.
Let’s look at the classes of this category:
- Class A
A Class A license allows the operator to drive any non-commercial vehicle and tow any non-commercial trailer. The GVWR of the vehicle or the combined weight of the vehicle and the trailer must be 26,0001lbs or more, while the trailer must weigh 10,000lbs or more.
- Class B
A Class B license allows the operator to drive any single or combination of non-commercial vehicles, excluding motorcycles and tractors, and tow any non-commercial trailers. The motor vehicle must have a GVWR of 26,001lbs or more, with the trailer weighing 10,000lbs or less.
- Class C
A Class C license allows the operator to drive any single or combination of non-commercial vehicles with a GVWR under 26,001lbs and tow any non-commercial trailer with a GVWR of 10,000lbs or less.
- Class M
A Class M license allows the operator to drive motorcycles.
Getting Your Non-Commercial License in Maryland
As the non-commercial license is the most common, we’ll have a look at the requirements.
Maryland has a Rookie Driver Graduated Licensing Program that allows you to apply for a learner’s permit once you turn 15 years and nine months old.
This permit is the first step to getting a full non-commercial driver’s license.
How to Get a Learner’s Permit
To apply for a learner’s permit (or provisional license and full driver’s license, which we will talk about later on), you need to visit MVA’s full-service offices. To book an appointment online, go to the Motor Vehicle Administration’s scheduling center.
The online scheduling center will provide a list of acceptable documents for each of the following requirements:
- One form of identification
- One proof of social security
- Two proofs of residential address
Note: for applicants under 16 years old, you need to provide a Verification of School Attendance Form (DL-300) as part of the permit application process.
You can then proceed to schedule an appointment.
Now, to get your hands on a learner’s permit, you must pass a written knowledge test and a vision test.
A learner’s permit is valid for one year. It permits the holder to drive under the supervision of a driver who is at least 21 years old and has held a full license for at least three years. The accompanying driver must sit in the front next to the new driver at all times.
How to Get a Provisional License
A provisional license is similar to a regular full license, except it has a few restrictions:
- You can only drive unsupervised between 5 AM and midnight
- You cannot transport any passenger below the age of 18 for the first five months of your provisional license
The following are the requirements for obtaining a provisional license:
- You are at least 16 and a half years old
- You have held your learner’s permit for at least nine months
- You have completed a Maryland Driver’s Ed Program from an approved provider
- You have completed a practice log that has been signed by your parent or guardian
- You must pass a driving test
How to Get a Full Driver’s License
If you maintain a clean driving record for at least 18 months while holding a provisional license, you will be eligible for a full driver’s license. The MVA will automatically convert your license to a full license status.
How to Get a Class M License
To obtain a motorcycle license in MD, you will need to complete the Maryland Motorcycle Safety Program’s Basic Rider Course if you are below 18 years old.
If you are over 18, a basic rider course is not mandatory, but you will have to secure a learner’s permit and pass a skills test.
Below are the other documents you will need:
- Proof of identity and age
- Proof of Social Security number
- Two proofs of residency/address
- Completed application form (you can get this from your local MVA)
Once you have gathered all the required documents, you need to apply in person at an MVA office, submit the requirements, and pass the tests. If successful, you will receive your Class M license via mail within four to seven business days.
If you already have a valid license, all you need to do is complete the Maryland Motorcycle Safety Program’s Basic Rider Course. You DON’T need a learner’s permit or have to take the knowledge/skills test anymore.
Getting Your Commercial License in Maryland
To be eligible for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in Maryland, you must first obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP).
To earn your learner’s permit, you must satisfy the following:
- You are at least 18 years old. You have to be at least 21 years old to drive outside Maryland.
- You may need to provide proof of your social security number.
- You must pass a vision and knowledge test.
- You must have a valid US DoT physical card. You will also need to submit a Medical Examiner Certificate, as well as self-certify that you are physically fit to operate a commercial motor vehicle. This is mandatory for all applicants whether they are applying for a new, renewing, or correcting CDL.
To apply for a full CDL, you must pass a driving skills test. You can book an appointment via MVA’s online scheduling center or by calling MVA’s customer service hotline at 1-410-768-7000.
Make sure you prepare well for your skills test by reading the Commercial Driver’s License Manual.
Maryland Driver’s License Classification FAQs
As promised, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
Can I take an online driver’s ed in Maryland?
Yes, the state of Maryland authorizes the use of online driver’s ed programs. This means that you can get through the education requirements with great convenience and flexibility.
Can I reclassify my Maryland license?
Yes. The state of Maryland allows you to reclassify your license to a different class, for example:
- From non-commercial Class C to B, or B to A (lower to higher class)
- From non-commercial Class A to B, or B to C (higher to lower class)
- From commercial Class C to B, or B to A (lower to higher class)
- From commercial Class A to B or B to C (higher to lower class)
- From non-commercial license to a CDL in the same class (e.g. non-commercial Class B to CDL Class B)
For detailed instructions on how to reclassify (upgrade or downgrade) your license, check out this page.
Can I use a wireless communications device while driving on a provisional license in Maryland?
No. You must not use phones or Bluetooth-enabled communications devices while driving under a provisional license.
Now, can you why it’s important to understand the Maryland driver’s license classifications?
This is to make sure the driver knows what they’re driving. And in turn, this makes for a safer road for everyone.
So, which class applies to you?