When looking at utility vehicles, especially aerial bucket trucks, the is a huge demand for units that do not require a CDL license. There has been confusion and many different opinions as to what qualifies a truck to be over CDL or under CDL.
After talking with the Ohio State Patrol, I think I have the final answer. The law states that if a vehicle has a GVWR of 26,000 lbs or under, it does not require a CDL license. If a vehicle has a GVWR of 26,001 or greater, it requires a CDL. There is not mention of air brakes. However, if a vehicle is 26,001 lbs or over and it also has air-brakes, then you also need an air-brake certification.
So in short, any driver can drive a truck at 26,000 GVWR with air brakes and still be legal. However, if the truck is 26,001 GVWR and has air brakes, you will need a CDL and also an air-brake certification.