Have you ever wondered what´s the longest trailer you can pull without a CDL? Look no more. We´ve got you covered.
We are not going to lie to you here. The Commercial Driver License (CDL) laws in the United States are rather convoluted. In fact, we bet that there are people with a CDL that still don’t know the requirements for the types of vehicle that they can tow.
The problem with a CDL starts with the name. While it says ‘Commercial’ in the name, you will still need a license to tow some vehicles recreationally.
If the CDL kept to one system, then this would be fine. However, it doesn’t. The CDL has federal requirements and state requirements.
So, what´s the longest trailer you can pull without a CDL? In most of the states you are allowed to tow a trailer of up to 45-feet without requiring a CDL. However, the federal requirements are only ever related to the weight of the trailer. So, you could have a tiny trailer, but if you loaded it up with something heavy then you would need a CDL.
However, there are a few states that have a length requirement too.
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What is the Longest Trailer You Can Pull Without a CDL?
In theory, it is an unlimited length. The base federal legislation only mentions weight. In fact, this weight applies whether you are pulling a trailer or not.
Some states, such as Wisconsin, allow you to tow trailers of up to 45-feet without requiring a CDL.
The federal requirements are the minimum towing requirements for a particular license type (either A, B, C, or D), but the states are free to choose what the requirements for their state actually are.
For example, if license type A requires 50,000lb towing weight, then a state can set the towing weight requirement for that license to 3,000lbs (if they wanted), but never to 50,001lbs. This means that the rules can vary from state to state.
We told you it was confusing! However, things get more confusing.
What is the Maximum Weight You Can Pull Without a CDL?
We are going to give you the federal minimums here. However, do bear in mind that some states will ignore these requirements if you are towing a mobile home.
As you can probably guess, a common theme on this page is that you will always need to check state laws.
The federal requirements state that if the combined weight of the vehicle and trailer is over 26,001lbs and the trailer is over 10,000lbs, then you need to have a Class A CDL.
CDL CLASS A Pre-Trip Inspection (Updated) >> Check out the video below:
Federal requirements here are the same as the Class A license in terms of combined weight. However, you only need a class B if the trailer is under 10,000lbs.
Class C and Class D
But what about Class C and Class D? Well, Class C is a license that is for people that are driving vehicles that carry 16 or more passengers. These passengers do not need to be in the vehicle at the time.
Class D seems to be a license that some states have ‘invented’ to allow non-commercial drivers to obtain a license for pulling trailers.
Yes. This is confusing, but to make matters worse, there are some states that may require a Class C license for pulling certain trailers, even though the license is not actually defined as being a license for that under federal law.
We cannot stress enough just how important it is that you do your own research into the state that you live in. We could write a book about how much the rules can vary between states.
Remember, you will also need to think about the states that you are traveling to.
Do You Need a CDL To Pull an RV?
It depends on the state that you are in. However, we are sure that you have worked this out by now.
As near as we can tell, the vast majority of states allow you to tow a mobile home recreationally without a license. Some states, like California, have a non-commercial license that allows you to pull a mobile home.
Many states will still require you to get a CDL, though. Again, check the state information.
How Do You Get a CDL?
Getting a CDL is not going to be an easy task. Since you are going to be driving a rather hefty vehicle on the roads, the license issues need to know that you are going to be safe.
Ideally, if you need a CDL, you will have to start applying a couple of months before you actually need to use it.
👉 In order to get a CDL, you must be at least 18. However, this will only allow you to drive within your state. If you want to tow the trailer outside of the state, then you will need to be at least 21.
You will then need to head to the DVLA. They will provide you with the CDL form. You must fill this in. At this stage, you will need to prove your identity.
This includes providing your social security number and proof of residency in the United States. You will not be allowed to get a CDL if you are not a US resident.
👉 You will also need to provide a medical report. The details of this will vary from state to state, but you will be told what you need to do during the application process. You will also need to pass a vision test.
👉 Next up, you will need to complete a knowledge exam. you will be tested on driver theory here. This is to ensure that you are safe on the roads. If you pass this test, then you can get a provisional license. You can now practice.
👉 You will then have to wait 14-days, and then you can schedule a practical examination. This is an incredibly in-depth examination that tests everything about ensuring that you are safe on the roads. You will need to bring along your own vehicle for this test.
You may be able to rent one, but that is only going to be applicable in certain states.
👉 If you pass your test, then you will need to pay one final fee before you receive your license.
Once you have this license, you will be a fully-qualified driver and will be able to drive the trailers up to the level stipulated on your license.
If you are going into a new state, then make sure that your license covers any trailers that you plan on hauling there.
Do note that you may be able to skip the testing phrase if you have military experience driving certain heavy vehicles.
This is just an agreement between the states. After all, it helps to get our veterans out there to work, and it ensures that they are not bogged down by learning something that they likely already have a lot of knowledge about.
As you can see, CDL can be confusing. Most people don’t know the requirements for all the states, and we do not expect that you will know the requirements for all the states either.
However, do make sure that you up to date on the requirements for all states where you plan to travel.
After all, you really do not want to get a criminal citation. This can be the end of your hauling career.
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