In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: Do you need a Class A license to drive a Class A RV in California? We will explain what a Class A licence is. We will also discuss licence requirements in the state of California.
Do you need a Class A license to drive a Class A RV in California?
You will not need a Class A licence to drive a Class A RV in California unless:
- The RV has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lbs or more;
- The RV is carrying 16 or more people;
- You are also towing a trailer/vehicle over 10,000 lbs.
Unless you find yourself in one or more of the above scenarios, in California you will need a Non-CDL Class B licence to drive a Class A RV.
What is a Class A licence and who needs it?
According to the US Department of Transportation (DOT), a class A license is defined as “… any combination of vehicles with a GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of 26,001 pounds (11.79 tons) or more “.
What does “combination” mean?
When operating a towed commercial vehicle, the gross vehicle weight includes the combination of tractor and trailer. However, in the case of a Class A license, the trailer itself must weigh in excess of 10,000 pounds (4.54 tons).
Written exam requirements for Class A licence
To ensure you get a class A commercial driver’s license, you will need to pass a set of written exams. These include general knowledge, air brakes, and combination vehicle operation modules.
Requirements for the practical exam Class A licence
You will also have to pass a set of practice exams. In this segment of the process to obtain your license, you will have to complete a series of tasks. These will include a full formal “pre-trip” inspection and a test drive “on the road”. Again, the driver will have to pass both tasks to make sure you get his license.
Along with the operation of a vehicle of this class, there are several materials that can be transported requiring different “backups”. These include hazardous materials and tank-type trailers, each requiring its own testing.
Driver Licenses / Business Licenses
Although functionally the same as a regular driver’s license, this type of driver’s license also allows its holders to drive taxis, limousines, and vans carrying passengers for commercial purposes. If you want to work as a driver, your state may require this type of driver’s license.
While in states like Delaware, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Louisiana, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin, these types of driver’s licenses are known as driver’s licenses, most states provide CDLs.
Driver’s license classes in the United States (CDL)
CDL licenses are normally issued in three classes:
- Class A
- Class B
- Class C
Class A – CDL Required to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, as long as the towed vehicle weighs more than 10,000 pounds. Tractor-Trailers (also known as Semi, Big Rig or 18 Wheelers), Truck and Trailer Combinations, Tank Vehicles, Livestock Transporters, Platforms.
Class B – CDL Required to operate any vehicle that is not hitched to a trailer (commercial trucks that have an attached cab and cargo area with a combined weight greater than 26,000 pounds, as well as trucks with a separate towed cargo vehicle that weighs less than 10,000 pounds).
Straight trucks, large buses (city buses, tour buses and school buses), segmented buses, box trucks (including delivery trucks and furniture trucks), dump trucks with small trailers. Some Class C vehicles with the respective endorsements or endorsements.
Class C – CDL Required to operate a single vehicle with a GVWR of fewer than 26,001 pounds or a vehicle that is towing another vehicle that weighs less than 10,000 pounds, or is carrying 16 or more passengers, including the driver. Double / Triple Trailers, Buses, Tanker Trucks, HazMat Vehicles.
Some vehicles require additional training in order to be driven. The requirements for receiving these endorsements tend to be fairly similar across the country, although there may be variations from state to state.
These endorsements can be:
Q: the driver can carry passengers
H: hazardous materials
M: metal coil
N: tank vehicles
T: double and triple trailers
X: hazardous materials in tank vehicles
L: air brakes
S: school bus.
Additionally, CDLs may also have restrictions:
B: Wear corrective lenses while driving motor vehicles
C: mechanical aid required to operate vehicles
D: prosthetic aid needed to operate vehicles
E: Driver can only operate vehicles with automatic transmission
F: exterior mirror required
G: can only drive during daylight hours
K: in-state driving restriction
L: cannot operate vehicles with air brakes
M: can only operate CDL-B school buses
N: Classes A and B can only operate C school buses
Or: can only operate pin-tail hitch trailers
Z: can only be driven in vehicles with alcohol lockout devices
T: 60-day temporary license.
What states require a special licence for driving a Class A RV?
In the table below you will see what are the licence requirements for each state regarding driving a Class A RV.
|State||CDL Required?||Special License Required?|
|California||No||Yes, if over 40′ motorhome or towing 10,000lb+ travel trailer or 15,000lb+ 5th wheel|
|Hawaii||Yes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs||No|
|Illinois||No||Yes, for vehicles over 16,000 lbs or towing over 10,000 lbs|
|Kansas||No||Yes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs|
|Maryland||No||Yes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs|
|Nevada||No||Yes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs|
|New Mexico||No||Yes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs|
|New York||No||Yes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs|
|North Carolina||No||Yes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs or towing over 10,000 lbs|
|Pennsylvania||No||Yes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs|
|South Carolina||No||Yes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs|
|Texas||No||Yes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs|
|Washington D.C.||No||Yes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs|
|Wyoming||No||Yes, for vehicles over 26,000 lbs or towing over 10,000 lbs|
As you have seen above, you only require a Non-CDL Class B licence to drive a Class A RV in California. Still, you must be careful about the weight you are carrying and always be alert while driving.
For other state license requirements, please check our other articles on the same subject. And if you have any other questions, please feel free to get in contact!
Other FAQs about Class A Motorhome that you may be interested in.
FAQ on Do you need a Class A license to drive a Class A RV in California?
What are the types of licenses in the US?
The main types of licenses in the United States are unrestricted licenses, provisional licenses, driver’s or commercial licenses (CDL), motorcycle licenses, and enhanced licenses.
What are the driver’s license classes in the United States?
The main license classes in the United States are A, B, C, D, and E. There are also classes M, MJ, and DJ.
What can I drive with a type C license in the United States?
With the Class C License, you can operate any individual vehicle or a combination of vehicles that do not fit into Classes A or B. Class C is required to operate a single vehicle with a GVWR of fewer than 26,001 pounds or a vehicle towing another vehicle weighing less than 10,000 pounds, or carrying 16 or more passengers, including the driver.
What is the class D license?
The regular Class D driver’s license in the USA allows the holder to drive a personal vehicle weighing up to 26,000 pounds.
Note: You are not allowed to drive a taxi with a Class D license.
What is the class A driver’s license?
The class A driver’s license in the United States grants the same driving licenses for classes C and D combined. The requirements to obtain it vary from state to state.
What does the letter B mean on the driver’s license?
The letter B on the US driver’s license means that its bearer must wear corrective lenses while operating motor vehicles.
At what age can you have a driver’s license in the United States?
In most states in the USA, the minimum age to drive is 16 years old. However, most car rental companies require that you be at least 21 years old to be able to rent a car.
What is the maximum age to drive in the United States?
Laws vary by state, and although there is no maximum age for driving in the United States, driver license renewal requirements tend to be stricter after age 70.
- License Classes and Requirements – California DMV
- Recreational Vehicles and Trailers handbook – California DMV
- RV Driver’s License Requirements In Every State | Campanda