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Old 12-07-2011, 05:14 PM   #1
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Driving My Motorhome Legally!!

About five years ago my wife and I started renting motorhomes for three weeks every summer and taking the kids on our annual "adventure". We finally bought one two months ago and have really enjoyed it. Shortly, after purchasing our 43' DP, I found out I was driving it illegally. Five years of renting 40'+ DP's and no one ever told me I was breaking the law by driving without the proper license. I even asked the dealership where we bought our DP and was told "nope, don't need any special license".

Well, after discovering from this forum as well as the FMCA forum that I did indeed need a Class B license to legally drive my new purchase, I set off on my quest for the proper license. It took me calling five Dept of Public Safety offices before I found someone that knew what they were actually talking about. I studied for the test and then headed out one morning to Lewisville to take the test. I had to walk the folks there through what I was trying to do. They had no clue what the regulations were and I had to point them out in the driver's manual for them.

I took the test passed and got back in line to wait for someone to schedule my driving test. Got a different woman and she informed me that I didn't need a driving test. Handed me my paper license and sent me on my way (ugh -- I was going to argue with her but overheard them tell the guy next to me that they were scheduling driving tests three weeks out. I went home and started calling around to different DPS locations. It is amazing how different each DPS office handles the scheduling of driving tests. Almost all of them were booked out for several weeks (with most slots being taken by truck driving school students). I finally called the Mineral Wells location and was told that they schedule a day in advance. So, If I called back in the morning, I could schedule for the next day (first come, first served). I called the next day which was a Wednesday and was scheduled for the next day at 10am.

So, I reserved a spot at Lake Mineral Wells State Park (which is a really nice park set on a small lake in a hilly area of the state). My brother and I got there the the night before (he has his CDL and went with me so I could legally drive my motorhome to the DPS office) and we set out the next morning for me to take my test. Thoughts about the test:
  1. The folks at the Mineral Wells location were very nice and fairly knowledgeable
  2. The office wasn't crowded at all and I had no wait (I waited almost three hours at the Lewisville location)
  3. I wasn't asked anything about my pre-trip
  4. She didn't check for flares, safety triangles or fuses
  5. She seemed most worried about having me crane my neck at every intersection to check (just moving your eyes doesn't count) for traffic - I got dinged for this
  6. She didn't like my hand positioning on the steering wheel - I forgot 10 and 2, 10 and 2 - got dinged for this as well
  7. I did have to back for 100 feet
  8. She had me parallel park my motorhome
  9. I purposely drove 5 miles under the speed limit - I was told that if I exceeded the speed limit I would be automatically failed
We drove around Mineral Wells making right and left turns. It was mostly "city" driving and the traffic wasn't very bad at all. So, all in all, I think it worked out pretty well. The written test wasn't very difficult nor was the driving test. So there ya have my experience. I will say that I am really glad it's over and I have my license! I can also say I did learn some things I didn't know in the process.

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Old 12-07-2011, 05:17 PM   #2
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Next time, let her drive it. I bet she couldn't.
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Old 12-07-2011, 05:25 PM   #3
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Your plight on finding a license office that knows what you need is not something new. They just don't know. When I was changing my Texas Class A CDL to a straight Clas A, just for the fun of it I asked about driving motor homes and what type license was needed. The answers were all incorrect, and I also had to point out the different chapters (521 and 522) in the license manual. It took an Inspector to agree with the finding. They all learned a lesson that day. Since I was just converting from CDL to standard Class A there were no tests.

You done good!!!
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Old 12-07-2011, 07:32 PM   #4
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Not only Texas DMV doesn't have a clue PA folks looked at me like I had 2 heads when I asked, took 3 days to get the correct answer, By the way the PA manual (they use the CDL because of the airbrakes) says when backing up to have a spotter, so I told him to get out and guide me back
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Old 12-07-2011, 07:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hondo122 View Post
By the way the PA manual (they use the CDL because of the airbrakes) says when backing up to have a spotter, so I told him to get out and guide me back
Now that is priceless!!!
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Old 12-07-2011, 07:47 PM   #6
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Good job!
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Old 12-08-2011, 05:45 AM   #7
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Great story! Rook
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Old 12-08-2011, 11:58 AM   #8
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Now you know why it is usually recommended that people go to a smaller area to take their test- preferably one that has some experience with motorhomes. Livingston is the ideal place since they deal with this all of the time. We took our tests in Tyler, they do a lot of similar testing and knew what we were talking about. Didn't have to parallel park, but did have to back up in a straight line - which is real easy with the backup camera. Yes, I also got dinged on the turning the head to check the mirrors (twice each way at a stop sign!), and we did city, county roads and some 4 lane state highway driving. All in all pretty easy for us - even if Dave did get rear-ended during his test.

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Old 12-08-2011, 02:13 PM   #9
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Old 12-08-2011, 02:36 PM   #10
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I've' never much given it alot of thought. I've had my Class A CDL for years. DW has standard Class A license. With the RV's we've owned she's never needed anything other. 28.5 ft Pace Arrow now is nothing for her. She's driven my 88 Chevy CC dually pulling a 32 ft shasta 5'r and could back as easily as me. Still great story!
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Old 12-10-2011, 02:21 PM   #11
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They did not require you to do a "air check" for brake system?
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Old 12-11-2011, 01:39 PM   #12
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They did not require you to do a "air check" for brake system?
jimbrown
Surprisingly no! Like I said they didn't even ask me to show my safety equipment.
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Old 12-11-2011, 02:15 PM   #13
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DMV's are just like women, they come in all kinds.

When I got my motorcycle licence, (After riding for 15 years with out bothering no less!) I got the the panic brake part of the riding test. First go didn't make that lady happy, she said I wasn't up to speed. Next go through I really gave the spurs to my 1200 bandit and got on the brakes hard, I actually had both front and rear locking and unlocking at opposite times from each other getting that beast stopped, I even impressed my self. The lady giving the test wasn't, I failed that portion. At the end of the test I asked to be able to re do that test and was told no, I had passed everything else and that it was not needed.
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Old 02-28-2012, 04:09 PM   #14
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Not only Texas DMV doesn't have a clue PA folks looked at me like I had 2 heads when I asked, took 3 days to get the correct answer, By the way the PA manual (they use the CDL because of the airbrakes) says when backing up to have a spotter, so I told him to get out and guide me back

Your post is what prompted me to do a similar search and found out that I did infact need a Class B for my MH. I asked the RV dealer when I purchased it, called several dealers, and asl the photo center all the same response. PA law is somewhat mis-leading. I believe there is a specfic place that actually says you don't need a CDL for a Class A. I think this is taken at face value and not looked into any further. I did speak with the PA DOT who finally told me I needed a Class B regular lisc. Anyway, I decided since I had to study for the same test I might as well get my Class A CDLs. Taking the written test tomorrow, wish me luck
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