Hotshot Hauling – Get CDL to Expand Your Operations
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Hotshot Hauling – Get CDL to Expand Your Operations

Hotshot Hauling – Get CDL to Expand Your Operations

There is a whole market of time-sensitive hauls truckers can tap into, where the pressure to deliver the loads in a shorter time and the payment for the same is high. Hotshot hauling is the new “COOL” thing in the freight industry. Smaller hauls and expedited delivery times with higher-than-standard pay have been attracting truckers to take a plunge into becoming their own masters.

But this alternative comes with its set of pros and cons. While the cost of setting up such a business is low, truckers do not require a CDL if hauling locally, and truckers can work for lesser hours and get paid equivalent to or more than a class 8 driver, the chances of failing to deliver on time are high. Moreover, the trucker scouts for new hauls and bears all costs – maintenance, taxes, insurance, etc. 

As a hot shot trucker, you can haul:

  • Landscapers
  • Excavators
  • Pavers
  • Construction Workers
  • Shed Haulers
  • Hauling Horses

Class 8 or expedited trucking is often used synonymously as hotshot trucking. However, there is a big difference between the two. The hotshot haul is about smaller rigs and lighter and time-sensitive loads compared to Class 8. These rigs have a gross weight of 10,000 lbs to 26,000 lbs, usually categorized under Class 3-5 trucks. 

  • Class 3 Medium Duty trucks – 10,000 and 14,000 pounds.
  • Class 4 Medium Duty trucks – 14,001 and 16,000 pounds
  • Class 5 Medium Duty trucks – 16,001 and 19,500 pounds.

Types of trailers you can choose: 

  • Gooseneck trailers
  • Bumper Pull trailers
  • Lowboy trailers
  • Dovetail trailers
  • Tilt Deck trailers

Most hotshot drivers prefer Gooseneck for carrying heavy loads and Bumper pull trailers for loads weighing less than 10,000 pounds.  

Here is a list of the best trucks for you:

  • GMC Sierra 2500/3500 Denali Heavy Duty
  • Nissan Titan XD Truck 
  • Ford F450/550
  • Ram 2500/3500 Big Horn
  • Chevy Silverado – 2500/3500 Heavy Duty
  • Ford Superduty Commercial F-250 XL, F 350 XLT, F450 Lariat

Thinking of Setting Up a Hotshot Trucking Business – You Need a CDL

Typically, if you are hauling locally, you do not need a CDL for hotshot loads. However, if you are serious about establishing a successful hotshot business, you need to get one to expand. But before that, let us see the weight regulations regarding the class of commercial driving license. 

According to Federal rules, any commercial vehicle with a gross weight of 26,000 lbs or greater, including that of a towed vehicle with a gross weight of 10,000 lbs or more, qualifies for Class A and B CDL.

Hot Shot Hauling - DAT
Source: DAT

The second must-have for a hotshot business is a vehicle and a trailer. The top choices for you will be either RAM 3500, GMC 3500, or Ford 350, which fall under Class 3 with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,000 lbs. They have an average payload capacity of 8000 pounds. If you opt for a 40ft gooseneck, it will weigh around 18000 lbs. It is basic math! After considering the weight of the truck and trailer, you can only carry a haul of 8000 pounds. 

Weight of the truck = 10000 lbs

Weight of the trailer = 8000 lbs

The weight you can haul without a CDL = 26000 lbs

The total weight you can carry = 8000 lbs

Also, the weight of haul you can carry depends on several things – 

  • GVWR of truck and tandem axle single wheel trailer 
  • The empty weight of the vehicle, including you, your luggage, and fuel
  • GVWR of rear and trailer axles
  • The weight of the trailer tongue

It must be clear now. As a non-CDL driver, you are stuck carrying smaller loads to avoid fines.

Yes. DOT and FMCSA do have some regulations that you need to know. It took more than a decade for the authorities to pay attention to hotshot trucking. But now, hotshot drivers with trucks and trailers over 10,000 pounds also fall under the purview of HoS and weight regulations. During the roadside inspection, if you are found without proper papers or carrying hauls above the weight limit, you might lose your license and vehicle. Any violation can also lead to heavy fines. Here are a few things you need:

  • current driver logbook
  • fire extinguisher
  • reflectors
  • DOT license plate
  • load sticker

Additionally, you also need to follow the driving and rest time regulations. 

For those planning to start their business, here is a list of documents and permits you must have: 

  • Operating Authority (MC) obtained with the USDOT
  • USDOT number required for interstate hauling
  • Papers of incorporation of LLC status
  • Business License
  • Vehicle for Service Permit
  • Vehicle documents, including title, registration
  • Proof of Insurance
  • Commercial Driver’s License (highly recommended)
  • Driver files
  • Drug and alcohol consortium
  • BOC-3
  • UCR
  • IFTA sticker or IRP plates, if your maximum operating gross weight exceeds 26,000 pounds

This list covers only a few documents you will need; the rest depends on the weight and type of haul. 

Also, check out this article wherein we have done research from your side and compiled a list of some best ELDs in 2024.

How else can you benefit from a CDL? We all know that even if hotshot hauls can bring in good money, there is a cap to it. Without this license, you will have to work and wait for the right haul. But with CDL, you can grab any opportunity that comes your way, keep busy and make the most of your resources. Getting a CDL is the best backup plan for you.

Most truckers pay anything between $3k-$10k to get their CDL. The reason is these truckers have a plethora of federal rules and regulations to follow. On the other hand, hotshot haul drivers do not require it because of the nature of the commodities they carry and the time frame they need to deliver. You can choose a driver training center that caters to your requirements and get a Class A CDL after training on an automatic F-250 with a 30-feet gooseneck trailer. 

Moreover, FMCSA has a provision where you can get your license in another state, which will still be valid in your home state. So, you can look for an affordable option in nearby states and save on the license cost. 

With a CDL, you can also save on insurance costs. FMCSA, carriers, and customers require you to have primary liability coverage and cargo insurance for every shipment. For primary liability coverage, you may have to shell out anything between $750,000 to $1,000,000. The cargo insurance costs up to $100,000 per shipment. 

So how does getting a CDL to play into this scenario? If you hold a CDL, then you are most likely eligible for discounted insurance rates. CDL comes with training and experience that reduces the risk factor – accidents that novice drivers could cause. Several insurance providers offer discounts to CDL holders, counting on their safe driving training and practices.

Top 6 reasons for you to go ahead and get that CDL for your hotshot trucking business

Freedom from GVWR limitations

Most hotshot trucks cannot drive a vehicle and trailer that weighs more than 26000 pounds or 10000 pounds, respectively. It also includes the weight of the fuel, you (driver), and your luggage. A CDL relieves you from these limitations, allowing you to drive any truck and use any trailer. 

Haul Weight Limitations

A CDL not only gets you from under the truck/trailer weight limit but also the weight of the load you can carry. It means that if you get the chance to haul heavier loads, you can go for it. 

DOT Violations

As the majority of hotshot drivers do not opt for CDL, FMCSA and DOT keep a close check on them. During a roadside inspection, if any such driver is found violating the weight limits, even by a small percentage, they may have to face heavy penalties. Rather than risking carrying that extra 100 or 200 pounds, we suggest that you play it safe and get a CDL. 

Increased Income

Sure enough, the market for hotshot hauls is on the rise, but so is the competition. You cannot always get the loads you need and may have to input resources to get continuous work. But if you get a CDL, you open doors to new prospects. Good networking and dependable load boards are all you need to make your new venture extremely profitable within the first twelve months. 

License Fee

Considering rules and regulations, hotshot drivers enjoy certain advantages. For example, they do not require expert driving training. You can get your Class A CDL from any driver training center, even beyond your state limits, at a very reasonable cost. In a future filled with profitable businesses, this is a necessary investment!

Insurance Discounts

You will agree that although insurance is a required investment, it does seem like a huge expense. Nevertheless, all hotshot drivers and businesses take out primary liability and cargo insurance as required by the FMCSA, shipping agency, and client. These expenses can go up to seven figures. However, CDL comes to your rescue again! Insurance companies view CDL as proof of your safe driving habits and decreased risk and offer discounted insurance. 


To give your hotshot hauling business a solid start, you should opt for a vehicle or trailer tracking solution. These solutions use GPS technology to record accurate locations, mileage, fuel consumption, and more. Matrack is a leading vendor in GPS-backed vehicle, trailer, and asset tracking products and services. We offer wireless and hardwired trackers with long battery life and the lowest subscription of $7 per month. Here are some of the highlights of our solution:

  • 5-year battery life, waterproof compact device
  • Real-time location, easy yard checks
  • The aggressive mode in case of theft or accidents
  • Trailer attach/detach alert
  • Easy device installation
  • User-friendly interface, available through Google and iOS apps
  • No contract, pay month-to-month
  • No hidden fee
  • 24/7 tech support through various channels

For more information on our solution, feel free to contact us at:

+1(855)658-7225 or

We will be happy to help you!

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