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Old 01-27-2018, 10:55 AM   #1
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CA NON Commercial class A drivers lic

Hello everybody.

I wanted to write this up a while back but I haven’t finished my actual drivers test skills test. Here in California the DMV requires you to have a California non-commercial driver license class A if you are pulling 5th wheel trailer more than 40 foot long and over 15,000 gross vehicle weight. We purchased our 2016 Winnebago scorpion that is 44.10’ in overall length and 15,000 pounds dry with the gross weight of 20,000 pounds with the pin weight of 2900# and no one told us that we needed a noncommercial class A license.

We own a 2017 Ford F350 single rear wheel with the camper package. The towing package is possible for our payload capacity is 3588 and we wanted to be legal. That being said when you go to the DMV you must pass all of your drivers test so if you have a motorcycle license you need to redo the motorcycle license and the written test for the regular drivers license plus a commercial class A license, minus the chemical test and brakes portion of the written test called a California noncommercial class A, for recreational use.

Next is the skills test which will vary upon the vehicle you’re using, for example fifth wheel trailers , motorhomes with conventional trailer that are over the limit on the DMV of California. After you do your written test and pass you will receive a permit allowing you to drive with a licensed class A driver either commercial or noncommercial for one year just so long as you learn the proper skills to do your test. You can go in and do the test anytime between that year with your permit allows you to train. You have 3 chances to pass.

When you come in to the test facility the first thing he will have to do is go over your vehicle and RV on proper pretrip inspection items such as tire pressures, stop lights, turn signals, oil indicator lights, fluid levels, felt conditions all need to be noted on the pre-trip inspection. Read your California driver license and book for a list of items necessary to check in front of the instructor and every time before a trip :-) . Next you will be asked to pull aside to a test facility or area in which you will perform some tasks they say that they vary depending on test facility. This is something that I and some of the other would-be license holders were wondering about why some people had to do an alley dock parking in a 12 foot wide space and some had to parallel park. The right-hand turn around cones which states in the handbook is no longer part of the test.

I went to the Fontana California test facility and to be honest the instructors there we’re all very nice people, however I think there are used to doing commercial class A and the non-commercial side of things seem to be maybe not written down in concrete.

The first thing I did was pulling up and back up 100 feet into a set of cones in which you had to back in straight. Fairly simple but things can get nervous when tons of people are staring at you. Next you pull up 100 feet and back into the adjacent set of cones so it’s back in 100 feet but with the turn. Next they had me do a alley dock, which check it on YouTube, there are several videos that will help you do this correct. YouTube truly helped me.

After failing the first alley dock test I watched the video for a few days and went back and it was time for another round. Since I had passed the pre trip inspection it was only the skills test left to do and boy did that video help. I passed and it was off to a drive around town and the highway luckily no mishaps and I passed!! I hope this write up is informative to fellow Californians that want to pass this test and aren’t sure about it . I’ll answer questions here on this thread if needed. Happy camping!


-on a side note, the dmv records all the vehicle vin and weight stickers . They never weigh your rig or ask for a slip which makes no sense to bring your own rig for the test. If anything ever happened you have the dmv note rising the fact that you passed a skilled and driving test with the rig so all must be legal. They wouldn’t let you on the road to begin with says the instructor I asked which brings up a question what if my truck was a lil heavier and the total sum of both rigs were “commercial territory”, hmmm??
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Old 01-27-2018, 12:10 PM   #2
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Thanks for the write-up. I believe many RV'ers don't comply with the driver's license rules in these parts and it seems insurance companies do not enforce the expectation for proper license.

On your side note...as a private RV, I would expect that the rig could never be in "commerial territory." Even a converted 45'bus RV (like Prevost) or converted 18 wheeler style RV (like SpaceCraft) should not require commercial licensing.
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Old 01-27-2018, 10:53 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scarab0088 View Post

On your side note...as a private RV, I would expect that the rig could never be in "commerial territory." Even a converted 45'bus RV (like Prevost) or converted 18 wheeler style RV (like SpaceCraft) should not require commercial licensing.
... I think it's the length,..... a 40+ foot trailer behind a truck should require a higher level of competence then towing a small bass boat around.
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Old 01-27-2018, 10:55 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Scarab0088 View Post
Thanks for the write-up. I believe many RV'ers don't comply with the driver's license rules in these parts and it seems insurance companies do not enforce the expectation for proper license.

On your side note...as a private RV, I would expect that the rig could never be in "commerial territory." Even a converted 45'bus RV (like Prevost) or converted 18 wheeler style RV (like SpaceCraft) should not require commercial licensing.


“Commercial” territory is anything 26k or higher in California, hence the non-commercial license. Most of the time CHP/DOT won’t give you too much trouble unless you give them a reason to question your weight.

Awesome write up
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Old 01-27-2018, 11:05 PM   #5
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Congradulations on making the effort to be legal in California...

The statement "California the DMV requires you to have a California non-commercial driver license class A if you are pulling 5th wheel trailer more than 40 foot long and over 15,000 gross vehicle weight. " I believe should read 15000 gross or 40 foot long. I could be wrong.
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Old 01-27-2018, 11:30 PM   #6
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in California, a Noncommercial Class A license is required if you tow:

-a travel trailer weighing over 10,000 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) which is not used for hire.
-a fifth-wheel travel trailer weighting over 15,000 lbs. GVWR which is not used for hire.
-a livestock trailer that is not for hire, weight over 10,000 lbs. GVWR but not over 15,000 lbs. GVWR, and is operated within 150 miles of the farm by a farmer to transport livestock.

It is the type of trailer and the weight, not the length of the trailer that matters. The RV rigs are limited to 65 feet overall, tow vehicle and trailer.
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Old 01-27-2018, 11:47 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Beyond View Post
in California, a Noncommercial Class A license is required if you tow:



-a travel trailer weighing over 10,000 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) which is not used for hire.

-a fifth-wheel travel trailer weighting over 15,000 lbs. GVWR which is not used for hire.

-a livestock trailer that is not for hire, weight over 10,000 lbs. GVWR but not over 15,000 lbs. GVWR, and is operated within 150 miles of the farm by a farmer to transport livestock.



It is the type of trailer and the weight, not the length of the trailer that matters. The RV rigs are limited to 65 feet overall, tow vehicle and trailer.


Non commercial class B covers motorhomes over 40’ but under 45’

https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/wcm/co...df?MOD=AJPERES
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Old 01-28-2018, 12:19 AM   #8
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The OP is towing a big 5er...and got the correct license for that. Kudos to the OP.

Drivers of the biggest Class A's (over 40') need the Class B.

Both are non-commercial driver's licenses. Operating private vehicles never requires a commercial license in CA.
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Old 01-28-2018, 07:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beyond View Post
in California, a Noncommercial Class A license is required if you tow:

-a travel trailer weighing over 10,000 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) which is not used for hire.
-a fifth-wheel travel trailer weighting over 15,000 lbs. GVWR which is not used for hire.
-a livestock trailer that is not for hire, weight over 10,000 lbs. GVWR but not over 15,000 lbs. GVWR, and is operated within 150 miles of the farm by a farmer to transport livestock.

It is the type of trailer and the weight, not the length of the trailer that matters. The RV rigs are limited to 65 feet overall, tow vehicle and trailer.
Just one additional thing about the 5th wheel towing. You can get a "5th wheel" license known as a "restriction 41" which will allow you to tow a 5th wheel over 10K pounds, but less then 15K pounds. The license is just a written test at the DMV. I have that license, and same as what the OP said about taking the writtens for the current license you have, yup, same here. Had to take the normal class "C", and motorcycle written in addition to the 5th wheel license.

Mark
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Old 01-28-2018, 12:41 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Rambeau View Post
Congradulations on making the effort to be legal in California...

The statement "California the DMV requires you to have a California non-commercial driver license class A if you are pulling 5th wheel trailer more than 40 foot long and over 15,000 gross vehicle weight. " I believe should read 15000 gross or 40 foot long. I could be wrong.
Thanks I hope others do as well this will keep our hobby fun and safe.
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Old 01-28-2018, 12:44 PM   #11
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Just one additional thing about the 5th wheel towing. You can get a "5th wheel" license known as a "restriction 41" which will allow you to tow a 5th wheel over 10K pounds, but less then 15K pounds. The license is just a written test at the DMV. I have that license, and same as what the OP said about taking the writtens for the current license you have, yup, same here. Had to take the normal class "C", and motorcycle written in addition to the 5th wheel license.

Mark
Good to here there are other alternatives , that test is no joke lol,
This is the portion of the test where you back up 100 ft in a slight turn to the next lane over cones are 12ft apart, and you’re allowed to break the lines for the first 50 ft
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Old 01-28-2018, 12:48 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Beyond View Post
in California, a Noncommercial Class A license is required if you tow:

-a travel trailer weighing over 10,000 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) which is not used for hire.
-a fifth-wheel travel trailer weighting over 15,000 lbs. GVWR which is not used for hire.
-a livestock trailer that is not for hire, weight over 10,000 lbs. GVWR but not over 15,000 lbs. GVWR, and is operated within 150 miles of the farm by a farmer to transport livestock.

It is the type of trailer and the weight, not the length of the trailer that matters. The RV rigs are limited to 65 feet overall, tow vehicle and trailer.
Yes this is the correct language from the book thanks I’ll edit my post to be more informative for others Down the road
This video helped me for the ally doc portion of the test
https://youtu.be/0DMh70Co_jI
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Old 01-28-2018, 01:36 PM   #13
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As I posted elsewhere3 recently...

My FW is 12,200 pounds so I just need to FW endorsement (aka restriction 41).

CA DMV issued me a class A instead. No test, no fees. Just fill out the application and check the FW box.

Must have been my lucky day.

I would not have passed the vision test.
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Old 01-29-2018, 01:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PopBeavers View Post
As I posted elsewhere3 recently...

My FW is 12,200 pounds so I just need to FW endorsement (aka restriction 41).

CA DMV issued me a class A instead. No test, no fees. Just fill out the application and check the FW box.

Must have been my lucky day.

I would not have passed the vision test.
I'd double check that you didn't just get a FW endorsement. My CA class A license shows an "A" in the upper right hand corner and also shows a restriction "71", not a "41" below my birthdate.

If so, what a break. It just shows how the inconsistency of the DMV can be from one location to another, here in CA. For example, I too was told I had to take all my other tests when applying for a non commercial, class A here in CA so I studied up but guess what, I only had to take the written test for class A.

Make sure you have a class A driver with you. My test inspector wanted to see that I didn't drive myself without one. An immediate fail point.

The OP didn't really expand upon the 50 some odd items involved in the pre inspection check list. According my DMV inspector, over 60% of applicants fail this inspection before they can proceed. Don't take it Lightly!

Also, on the skills test, you have to complete this test, knowing a "change in direction" to correct your rig, counts as 1 point against you. You do have up to 10 points before failure but backing up too far in the stopping boxes, and, in my test when it was still used, hitting the right side cone, was an immediate failure.

Sounds like that part of the test was eliminated. In the past, you had to turn around a right side cone with one of your trailer tires within 4" of the cone to pass.
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