Recreational vehicles have been famous for outdoor enthusiasts that wanted to camp having the comfort of their homes. It has the amenities same as houses such as bathrooms, beds, kitchen area, and dinette. Usually, an RV can accommodate up to 4 people which made them great for traveling groups.
The use of these recreational vehicles became famous for budget travelers since they can experience multi-day vacations without splurging on a hotel room. There are also allotted spaces where RVs can stay overnight or even longer days. Some RV parks even have onsite laundry services, Wi-Fi connections, and swimming pools.
Going on a vacation with an RV can be exciting. However, some states have restrictions on driving an RV. Depending on the type of RV that you will be driving, you may need a special license before hitting the road.
These motorhomes can be classified into A, B, and C. These classifications depend on their characteristics and size. Aside from states, the classification also requires a special license when driving an RV. Information in this article will help you understand that do you need a cdl to drive an RV (recreational vehicle).
Can You Drive a Class A RV with a Regular Car License?
If you own a driver’s license from any US state, you can drive a recreational vehicle as long as it is in a normal size. Also, the majority of RVs are within that characteristic.
For an RV type that weighs under 26,000 pounds, there is no need to get a special license to drive an RV. Typically, a Class A RV ranges from 13,000 to 30,000 pounds. If your RV weighs more than 26,000 pounds, you are most likely to be required a specific driver’s license.
However, this varies in different states. It is important to check the state’s DMV since each state has its own rules when it comes to RVs and special licenses. Some require a license update to use a specific RV type.
Since Class A motorhomes can weigh above the 26,000 pounds threshold, it is the only type of RV that can most likely require a special license. Depending on the state, it can be a special non-commercial license or a commercial driver’s license.
For classes B and C, drivers are not required to get a special license since it weighs from 6,000 to 8,000 pounds for Class B, and around 10,000 to 12,000 pounds for class C.
Do You Need A CDL To Drive An RV?
Since there are Class A RVs below 26,000 pounds, you do not need to have a special license to drive them. A regular driver’s license is enough for use. In California, a Class B license is required for vehicles that weigh above the threshold or are over 40 feet long. And a Class A license when towing over 10,00 pounds.
For new RV drivers, it is recommended to get a lighter vehicle to try if you can drive the RV properly with a regular license. Class A RV licenses are usually required if the RV is carrying around 16 passengers.
These Class A licenses are obtained by passing a series of written exams which includes vehicle operations, air brakes, and general knowledge. Aside from the written exams, a set of practical exams should also be passed. It includes a full inspection and a test drive on the road. It is required to pass both exams to get the Class A license.
In California, minors that are planning to get a Class A license are also required to pass the written and practical exams. There are also requirements for provisional licenses which are stated in the driver handbook.
What Is a Commercial Driver’s License?
There is two commercial driver’s license that can be obtained for an individual to drive larger motorhomes. The CDL is often required for drivers who drive tractor-trailers, buses, livestock transporter, and sometimes RVs. Since a large vehicle is more difficult to drive than other vehicles, it can be dangerous for a driver who is not experienced in driving these large vehicles.
A CDL is also used for driving commercial vehicles such as buses and delivery vehicles. If you are driving the RV for commercial purposes or if you do this for a living, you might think of getting the CDL. Some states require this if the RV that you will be driving is over the maximum requirement.
If you are using the RV for personal transportation, a non-commercial special license may also be required in some states.
It is important not to have a serious traffic violation to maintain their CDL certification.
To get a CDL, a commercial learning permit is issued to the driver so they can practice on public roads considering that they are accompanied by a CDL holder. Some states also require proof that an individual is mentally capable of driving large vehicles.
RV Weight and Driver’s License Requirements:
For vehicles that are over 26,000 pounds in their Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), a CDL is required.
The GVWR is determined by the manufacturer which includes the total weight of the vehicle including the passengers and goods that can be carried on the RV. The GCWR is also determined by the manufacturer which is the maximum weight of the combination of the vehicle, travel trailer, passengers, and the goods.
A CDL is also required for motorhomes that are 40 feet long, a towing trailer with more than 10,000 pounds, and more than 15,000 pounds fifth wheel. If you have airbrakes and double towing, a different special license is also issued.
If you come from a state that requires CDL over a regular license, it is recommended to get additional special permits. Getting one is a federal minimum standard. But some states have their laws on the issuance of licenses.
In Illinois, the maximum weight is only 16,000 pounds. Beyond this, an upgraded license is required. The weight ratings are controlled by federal standards from the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986.
States That Require a Commercial Driver’s License:
While most of the states do not require a special license to drive a recreational vehicle, some have requirements for additional CDL if you are driving an RV that reaches the maximum weight allowable in each state.
Below is the list of states that requires additional licensing when driving an RV:
- Arkansas: A Class A-CDL is required if you are driving an RV that has a GCWR over 26,000 pounds, including the towed unit that weighs more than 10,000 pounds. Class B is required for those who have a GVWR below 10,000 pounds. And a Class C license for those who use vehicles that are transporting 16 passengers.
- Connecticut: Class B-CDL is required for a single vehicle over 26,000 pounds and Class A-CDL is required for multiple vehicles with a combined weight of over 26,000 pounds
- Hawaii, Kansas, and New Mexico: A Class B CDL is required for an RV over 26,000 pounds, and Class A for multiple vehicles with a combined weight of over 26,000 pounds.
- Nevada: CDL for multiple vehicles that has a combined weight of over 26,000 pounds.
- New York: CDL for RVs that have a gross combined weight of over 26,000 pounds.
- North and South Carolina: a CDL for multiple vehicles that weigh over 26,000 pounds.
- Washington, DC: Class B-CDL for a single vehicle and Class A-CDL for multiple vehicles that weigh over 26,000 pounds.
- Wisconsin: CDL if the vehicle’s length exceeds 45 feet.
- Wyoming: Class A on towing of over 10,000 pounds and vehicle over 26,000 pounds.
These are the current requirements for each state. However, it is still recommended to check with the state’s DMV to know if there were updates or changes to the requirements. In general, vehicles that have a gross weight below 26,000 pounds do not require a CDL in any state.
If a driver applies for a CDL, the state should check the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS), and the National Driver Registry (NDR) to know if the driver is not disqualified or has no other commercial license in another jurisdiction. If the driver already possesses a CDL from another jurisdiction, he is required to surrender it to be able to apply for a new one.
States That Require a Non-Commercial Special Driver’s License:
- California: A Class B license is required for vehicles over 26,000 pounds or over 40 feet in length. While Class A is required for towing that weighs over 10,000 pounds or fifth wheels that weigh over 15,000 pounds.
- Maryland: Class B license for vehicles that weigh over 26,000 pounds
- Michigan: A recreational double endorsement (RR Endorsement) allows the driver to tow two units
- North Carolina: A Class B license or NCDL for a single vehicle that weighs over 26,000 pounds.
- Nevada: A Class B license or NCDL for a single vehicle that weighs over 26,000 pounds.
- Pennsylvania: A Class B license or NCDL for a single vehicle that weighs over 26,000 pounds.
- Texas: RVs that are for personal use (regardless of weight) are exempted from getting a CDL. However, special licenses such as “Class A (or B) Exempt” or “Class A (or B) non-CDL” are required for RVs over 26,000 pounds to tow a vehicle with over 10,000 pounds and the regular Class C driver’s license is used for regular passenger vehicles.
- Wyoming: Class B license for vehicles that weighs more than 26,000 pounds and towing under 10,000 pounds
Aside from these states, some states do not require any special licenses. However, it is again recommended to check the local DMV for more updates and questions. Below are the countries that allow a driver to use the RV without any special license:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Is there a Class E or F license?
Yes. Class E licenses are required to drive a single unit with a gross weight of more than 26,000 pounds which are solely for non-commercial purposes. While Class F licenses are required to drive a combination vehicle with a gross weight of more than 26,000 pounds which are also used for non-commercial purposes. During practice driving for Class E and F, an experienced licensed driver should be beside the practicing driver.
- Should I Submit a medical certificate when applying for a CDL?
Drivers that apply for a commercial license are required to complete a medical self-certification assessment. However, there are self-certification categories that may require a medical examiner certificate.
- Is there an age requirement to get a CDL?
Generally, a driver should be between 18 to 21 years old to apply for a commercial driver’s license. However, the age requirement may vary from state to state.
- Where can I get a CDL?
Some states process the CDL application online, while some require a driver to personally fill out an application form at their local DMV.
Since the licensing requirements vary in different states, it is important to check with the DMV for licensing restrictions for hassle-free RV driving. However, a special license may be required to drive a motorhome especially if there is an additional unit such as trailers on the recreational vehicle.
A Class A RV can be the most functional of all recreational vehicles since it can fit most of the home amenities. But this type of RV can also be subject to certain regulations since these are the larger units. It is always important to check and consider the license restrictions before purchasing a Class A type.
For some travelers, a smaller type of RV can be used especially for smaller groups to avoid the needs of licensing requirements and can be more comfortable for vacation use. These smaller RVs also have home amenities like the other types of RVs.
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