What is a Class A CDL “O” Restriction For A Fifth-Wheel Connection?

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Drivers receive CDL restrictions when the driver completed the driving test with a vehicle that is absent certain equipment.

If you are looking to get a CDL license, it is recommended that you take the basic skills and road driving test with the commercial vehicle 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. On the other hand, if you complete the tests driving an automatic transmission you will get the E Restriction placed on your CDL, which means you are not licensed to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission.

These restrictions limit your driving options and career opportunities.

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 and 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.

The old “O” restriction guidelines

Before July 15, 2022, drivers would have received an “O” restriction on their CDL license if they took the skills test in a vehicle with a:

  • pintle hook
  • gooseneck
  • ball and chain hook up
  • or any other vehicle with a non-fifth wheel connection

A “fifth wheel” connection hooks your truck to what it is towing.

Once you permanently mount a 393.70-compliant fifth wheel assembly to a vehicle, assuming it meets the weight thresholds for power and towed unit, it becomes a Class A truck tractor as defined in 390.5 and the O restriction is not appropriate.

A CDL O restriction is a big deal, as it means you generally can’t drive a semi-truck with an attached trailer, and you should consider getting it lifted.

New changes to the “O” restriction

But new changes have been made to reduce the “O” restriction guidelines.

As of July 15, 2022, any class A* “fifth wheel vehicle” is a class A* without “O” restriction, unless you take a skills test in a vehicle with a:

  • pintle hook
  • or any other vehicle with a non-fifth wheel connection

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Permanently mounting the fifth wheel assembly

Permanently mounting the fifth wheel assembly changes the design of the vehicle.

In preparing the updated job aid, discussions specifically included the fact that the bed remaining on the pickup means that it can be used to carry cargo, not just haul a trailer.

The fact that the example vehicle would allow a driver to throw a hay bale or a recliner in the back, even after converted to have the fifth wheel assembly, did not negate the fact that it meets the definition of a truck tractor.

To clarify the meaning of the word “permanent”, the group that worked on the document also understood that some 393.70-compliant fifth wheel assemblies are permanently mounted to the frame of the vehicle, but the upper part can still be quick-released with pins.

This is okay and does not negate the compliance if the attachment to the frame is permanent.

However, FMCSA did distinguish this from some of the other variations of fifth wheel assemblies that are mounted to the bed, but not the frame (or even mounted to an attachment that goes into the trailer hitch, though those are usually for lighter vehicles like a small boat trailer).

How to get a CDL restriction removed

To get a restriction off your CDL is not difficult but can be time consuming as you may have to:

  • retake a written test
  • retake the basic skills test
  • retake the road driving test, and
  • pay a fee

Specifically, removing an “O” restriction requires:

  • the entire test
  • vehicle Inspection
  • Basic Skills, and
  • Road Skills

With the added component of a 5th wheel, a person taking the test would have to show that he/she can properly inspect a 5th wheel. There is no partial test for this restriction removal, so the full inspection is required.

Be sure to check with your specific state about how to remove other restrictions as states can differ.

Learn more about all levels of truck driver training and CDL permit test preparation that we offer at our CNS Driver Training Center.

If you have questions about our CDL training packages, give us a call at 717-496-9145 or email us at support@cnstrains.com.