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Old 11-09-2005, 11:18 PM   #1
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Hi, I want to get a comm class A license here in CA so we can double tow with a 5th wheel, and then to teach my wife, so she can get her license as well. I used to drive semis on the farm in Canada a couple of decades ago and had a class 1 license up there, but of course it didn't transfer over to the DMV when I came to the US. I've talked to a couple of truck driving schools here and they want $1000-1500 for a full class A course. I don't think I need all that - only a refresher, but of course, a class A license is needed to rent a truck/trailer and to get it to DMV for the drive test. Anyone have an idea of the best way to get my class A with a minimum of hassle and expense? I was thinking of advertising for someone who has a class A license and may be willing to drive around with me for a few hours, and then get a rental truck to DMV. What would a reasonable hourly rate be? Any suggestions???
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Old 11-09-2005, 11:18 PM   #2
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Hi, I want to get a comm class A license here in CA so we can double tow with a 5th wheel, and then to teach my wife, so she can get her license as well. I used to drive semis on the farm in Canada a couple of decades ago and had a class 1 license up there, but of course it didn't transfer over to the DMV when I came to the US. I've talked to a couple of truck driving schools here and they want $1000-1500 for a full class A course. I don't think I need all that - only a refresher, but of course, a class A license is needed to rent a truck/trailer and to get it to DMV for the drive test. Anyone have an idea of the best way to get my class A with a minimum of hassle and expense? I was thinking of advertising for someone who has a class A license and may be willing to drive around with me for a few hours, and then get a rental truck to DMV. What would a reasonable hourly rate be? Any suggestions???
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Old 11-10-2005, 02:26 PM   #3
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I have a Ca class A with a T endorse (for doubles) that I have used for 14 years only to tow my 15' alum boat behind my fifth.

Back then I got the Ca. comm handbook, read it, found out the test is largly written, and the commercial driving test is never given with doubles.
So I got a comm. driving test appoint., took the test, almost didn't pass because of air brake ? I guessed at.

I went out to take my driving test and the lady said, who drove you? I said I drove myself and pointed at the fifth. She said you don't need a class A to drive that. I said I know that's why I drove it down for the test to get the T endorsement for towig my boat. She said Oh! I've never done this befor, but ok. I wasn't great backing with a 90 turn to a simulated dock but I passed.

In the Ca. book it says max length 75' and no trailer can be longer than 28.5'. I now tow with a 31" fifth. I have never been stopped by the CHP
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Old 11-10-2005, 05:53 PM   #4
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I don't know where you could go to just get a refresher course without the expense. You can get the handbook to study from DMV. You will need a doubles endorsement on the Class A and your total length can not exceed 65 feet in length. The 75 foot exception only applies to commercial big rigs that are subject to federal regulation. The measurement for 65 feet is from the rear mostportion of the rear vehicle to the front bumper of the tow vehicle. Outboards and out drives get included in the measurement. If you exceed 65 feet and are stopped, you could be made to drop the rear trailer. That is what usually happens. It is rare for the rear trailer to end up getting towed.
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Old 11-10-2005, 06:41 PM   #5
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Don Page 10 of the 2005 Calif veh. code says " a combination of vehicles consisting of a truck tractor, a semitrailer, and a trailer cannot be longer than 75 feet, providing the length of either trailer does not exceed 28 feet 6 inches"

above it states that a tractor and a trailer shall not exceed 65' I'm not sure I understand how the federal law would change the 75' in California. I do tow in other states. Tell me what you know
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Old 11-13-2005, 01:42 PM   #6
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I don't think you mean a "Commercial" license..

The license California and a few other states are referring to is kind of like a "Commercial" license but it does not give authority to drive ANY commercial vehicle.

The letters "C D L" stand for "Commercial" drivers license.

If you are not driving a vehicle for commercial purposes, you don't need a "Commercial" drivers license..

A lot of folks are confused about some of the states requiring a special license to drive over sized or overweight vehicles like RVs.

Not all states require a special endorsement license to drive a motor home or pull a large 5th wheel, only a few..

The confusion comes from people referring to that special license as a "CDL" .. when in fact is not a commercial license..

There used to be two types of commercial licenses... one issued by the individual states and was only good within that states borders for commercial enterprise..

Then there was the standard commercial license that was issued by each individual state , but was for "interstate" commerce. This was recognized by other States as a commercial license.

During that dark and confusing time in America's trucking history, every state devised their own tests for that interstate license..

Some were adequate and some were inadequate..

In the mid 1980's the Federal Government decided to establish the rules for commercial licensing and developed the test that we take today..
There are three different versions of the "CDL" test to make sure that if someone failed the first time, they could not memorize the test they took and therefore cheat on the next try at it..

The COMMERCIAL driving license test that is given by ALL STATES is from the Federal Government's Dept of transportation office.

and no state can change or alter that test.. they are all the same regardless of which state you lived in..

Hope this helps to understand just what a "CDL" actually is,


The bottom line is... You do not need a commercial license to drive a private vehicle that is not engaged in commercial activities..

However, a special license with certain endorsements can be required of that states residents,,,

Which means that if a person drives a motor home into California and it is licensed in a state that does not require a special license to operate, there is not a thing the state of California can do about it..

Another reason many RVer's license their RVs in other states..



best wishes,
John
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Old 11-13-2005, 04:23 PM   #7
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John that was an interesting view into the historical background on the "commercial license". The California license I obtained was not one of the riders for an over 10000lb fifth, or in relation to a 15000lb fifth. It was in conformance with the California Commercial Driver handbook. On page 5 of the 2005 edition under who needs a CDL it has 7 items. The third item is ..Tows more than one vehicle or trailer. Later on page 3 it shows special endorsement Double trailer combination-T which I have.It also shows N for tank vehicles, and H for hazardous waste, which I do not have. I am also not endorsed for air brakes because the truck I took the test in had no air brakes.

My CALIFORNIA license says under that,big print, commercial drivers License, and to the right Class A Endors:T. To my knowledge it is the only commercial drivers license issued in this state and in conformance with the only Commercial driver hanbook they have. It also requires that I maintain a medical examiners certificate, which must be updated by my doctor every 2 years, and costs me an extra $50 each time.

This may appear to be excessive just to tow a 15' aluminum boat behind my fifth. My boat, though, has a full windshield and a 50Hp Honda which would not lend itself to being removed and put upside down on a truck boat rack. So this is my solution, and more just initialy a trip through the hoops.

John the license I have and the T endorsement is the California Commercial Drivers license and the only legal way for a Californian to tow double.
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Old 11-13-2005, 05:08 PM   #8
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Hi Rick,
I don't doubt you for a moment.

California has for many years "piggy-backed" many of the US Government's laws and regulations.. and mostly it has been a good thing.

Another example of piggy-backing is the minimum wage laws.. Every state has the authority to set their own minimum wage level and many still do.

But years ago, California and a few other states adopted the Federal minimum wage as their state minimum wage.. or in other words they "piggy-backed" the feds.

There are a couple more states that have the special license requirement, often called a "CDL" for certain RV's and other non-commercial vehicles.

The only reason I brought the "Commercial" part up is so folks in other states won't think that they have to go out and get a "commercial" license to drive their motor homes.

Each person should check with their state of residence to find out what is needed, if anything.

Another point that may help RVers, is to know that private "NOT FOR HIRE" vehicles do not have to enter a weigh station in any state unless a special sign is placed out on the highway saying so.

Example: maybe they are looking for drug smuggling or maybe a child has been kidnapped and every vehicle must be inspected.

But under normal conditions, RVs of any type should never enter a weigh station...

Thanks for bringing that up Rick, so I could make myself clear.

hope to see you on the road some day,
John
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Old 11-14-2005, 02:33 PM   #9
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Rick,
Here is the clarification on length requirements. California vehicle code section 35401(a) states: No combination of vehicles coupled together, including any attachments, may exceed a total length of 65 feet.

35401(b) states: A combination of vehicles coupled together, including any attachments, which consists of a truck tractor, and a semitrailer or trailer, may not exceed a total length of 75 feet, if the length of neither the semitrailer nor the trailer in the combination vehicles exceeds 28feet 6 inches.

Truck tractor refers to big rigs and does not include pickups. Semitrailer and trailer refer to those usually used for commercial purposes and not used for habitation. Fifth wheels fall under the deffinition of trailer coaches. For the purposes of vehicle code section 35401, pickups towing a fifth wheel or travel trailer and another trailer (boat or utility) do not gain the length exception of 75 feet.

Please remember, some states do allow longer lengths. If you come from a state that allows a length of 70 feet for example and you enter California, reciprocity does not apply and you will be overlength. It is important for all who tow doubles to check with the laws regarding length restrictions of their state and of any states they will be towing into to ensure that they are in compliance. I hope this helps in providing clarification.
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Old 11-14-2005, 03:29 PM   #10
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Don thank you for responding , but your first paragraph and your second disagree. My source is only the Cal Com. handbook.

On page 10 Length of Vehicle/loads-Combination vehicles. The 65 feet is for a truck tractor and trailer. The 75' is for a truck tractor, a semitrailer and a trailer. (VC35401 and 35401.5)

When I obtained the CDL the only thing I was referred to was this 134 page handbook. While you could be right it would be hard for me to substitute someones statement that contradicts the annually updated handbook. When I took the driving test my little pickup was subtituted for a tractor in all test portions. Do you have a specific source?
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Old 11-14-2005, 04:20 PM   #11
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Rick,
I work for the CHP. I am commercially trained and regulary enforce these sections. My source is the California Vehicle Code.
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Old 11-14-2005, 11:01 PM   #12
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Thanks Don. I was beginning to get that impression. I hope you can see how the handbook leads me to think that a combination is 75 feet.

I was given a warning ticket once in Az for towing double after seeing that it was legal in the RV directory. I then went by the AAA and they gave me a copy of their code showing that it was legal. I guess I need to look at a copy of the California code. Thanks for being responsive.

I've also towed double in Mexico and don't know their law, but they showed no concern.
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