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David-and-Cheryl

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  1. Texas Class A or B License Upgrade FAQs

    Congratulations, Mike. I'm glad it was helpful! David
  2. Texas Class A or B License Upgrade FAQs

    Well, technically you're correct. It's the vehicle that's exempt from needing a CDL in the appropriate class to operate it, not the license. As this page says, "Class A, B, C, and M driver licenses are issued to individuals who are exempt from obtaining a commercial driver license (CDL) or who are not required to obtain a CDL." But "exempt" is what the DPS offices generally use to refer to the four classes of licenses that aren't commercial drivers licenses. But the DPS call center in Austin specifically told me to request a "Class A Exempt" so that the local DPS offices would understand I wasn't looking for a Commercial Class A. That's also what the DL office where I took my test called it. Really, it's a matter of semantics--the office where Centexrider took his test should have known what it was. Considering how misinformed they apparently were on everything else, I don't think the terminology was the problem. That said--if you go into a DPS office and they don't know what "Class A or B Exempt" means, try calling it a "Class A or B license for a non-CDL exempt vehicle", which is the terminology used on the Form CDL-2 and on the relevant DPS test sites web page. (Note that not all DPS offices administer the exempt tests, nor do all DPS offices that give CDL tests. So if Centexrider was at a site not on the list linked above, I wouldn't be surprised if they're not familiar with the rules.)
  3. Texas Class A or B License Upgrade FAQs

    It took me a while, but I finally got around to updating the original post with the new information reported by Rob (Second Chance) in early May. If anyone has new information or a different experience to share, please do report it here so that we can share it with everyone else and I can keep the FAQ current. Thanks.
  4. Texas Class A or B License Upgrade FAQs

    Rob, thanks very much for doing that research. That is indeed new information since we took our test last year. So now it looks like the Texas DPS has made the process of getting a Class A or B Exempt even more confusing than it was before, because this is now a third list of testing sites to consult! It's a broader list than the 25 CDL locations, but it does not include all DPS driver license offices. Sheesh. In the end though, it should make it more convenient for RVers to take the test, since most won't have to travel as far to get to an office where they can take the driving test. When you go on Wednesday, it would be great if you could confirm with someone there that the right way to schedule the driving test online at one of the designated offices is to select "Driving Test - Regular Car / Pickup Truck" as the requested service (which is what it sounds like you did). The only other option is "Driving Test - Commercial Vehicle". It would be much clearer if they'd add a third option for RVs and other non-commercial vehicles. Good luck on your test, and please do report back. Assuming this all pans out, I'll update the pinned post with the new instructions. Thanks again for sharing.
  5. Texas Class A or B License Upgrade FAQs

    Rob, I'm afraid the El Paso DPS office gave you only partially correct information. Hopefully you'll see this before you go for your test on Wednesday. If you show up at that office with your rig for a Class C test, I don't think they'll be able to give you the Class A Exempt test. (Note that according to https://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/documents/DL-95pg2.pdf, the El Paso Northwest CDL testing location is underlined, indicating that it's a temporary location; the address is different from the El Paso Northwest DPS office.) She was correct that you can't schedule the test in person at the DPS office. You have to do it by email, and you find the email address online. The instructions to do that are in my original post. However, I see why you're confused, because none of the El Paso locations on the Search for Driver License Offices page contain the necessary information. (You're looking for a note that says something like, "This location offers Commercial Skills test. To schedule a CMV skills test email ____@dps.texas.gov.") Before you schlep down to that DPS office with your rig, I'd strongly suggest that you fight your way through the phone tree and talk with someone at the DPS call center in Austin to get the correct scheduling email address for the El Paso CDL location. Yes, it's time-consuming and painful...they don't make it easy. But once you do get someone on the phone, they are pretty knowledgeable and should be able to provide it to you. As an alternative, you could try going in person to the El Paso Northwest CDL testing location at 8799 South Desert Blvd, Anthony, TX 79821, and ask them how you schedule the test. They don't have a phone number, unfortunately. If you do go on Wednesday to the "regular" DPS office and they are in fact able to administer the Class A Exempt test, please do report back here on the forum, because that would indeed be new information and a change from what I was told last year.
  6. Texas Class A or B License Upgrade FAQs

    Hmmm. Yes, that's a bit of a Catch-22. We just drive a lowly F-450, so we didn't have that problem, LOL. Someone here must have experience with this kind of situation, though. Have you tried asking for help in the HDT Forum here on RVNetwork? I think there's also an HDT group on Facebook that's pretty active--not sure what it's called, but I think it's something like Heavy Duty Haulers. I bet someone in the RV community with an HDT would help you out. You might also contact Glyn Carson for advice. He's an extremely knowledgeable RV Driving School instructor, but also a very active Escapees member (not to mention a great guy). He was an "Ice Road Trucker" and currently hauls his rig (also a Space Craft) with a HDT. I don't have his email address, unfortunately, but you may be able to find him through Escapees or this forum (Diane, his wife, is "dlcarsonak" here). Also, Jack Mayer (http://www.jackdanmayer.com - he's also contributed to this thread several messages back) drives a HDT, and is an expert and frequent community contributor. I think he lives in Texas, too, so he'd be familiar with the relevant laws. David
  7. Texas Class A or B License Upgrade FAQs

    You're right that you won't be able to rent a Class A rig without the appropriate license. You'd have to find a friend who has one and would lend it to you for training and the test. However, if your only reason to want to get the license before you buy your rig is your concern about passing the vision test, I would simply visit any DPS driver's license office and see if they'll allow you to take the vision and colorblindness test for screening purposes. If they won't do that by itself, then you could submit your application for the Class A Exempt in the office. When they take the application, they'll give you the vision test. If you don't pass it, you could just stop there; if you do pass it, then you'd take the 20-question knowledge test. After that, you have 90 days to take the skills test, which would give you enough time to get your rig and practice for the test. For training, don't waste your money on a community college course--that will be a CDL course and way more than you need. Instead, contact RV Driving School (http://rvdrivingschool.com) and get one of their instructors. He'll come to you, it will cost you just a few hundred dollars for a couple days of instruction, and it will be tailored specifically to RV driving. I highly recommend them. Finally, I wouldn't worry about driving to Livingston for the skills test. If you're already in the DFW area, take it at the Dallas South Megacenter. They knew exactly what they were doing for the Class A Exempt. So to summarize, I'd approach it in this order: 1. Get a vision screening to ensure that's not an issue. 2. Buy your rig so that you can practice in it. 3. Get instruction from RV Driving School in your own rig, and practice until you feel you can pass the test. 4. Take the skills test in your own rig. Good luck!
  8. Driving to Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

    Yeah, Palo Duro in the summertime is not fun. We were there in late June, and it was too hot to do anything outside until the sun went down. It was much better when we re-visited in late October. For that matter, most of Texas in the summertime is not fun, with the possible exception of the Davis Mountains. That's why we got out as fast as we could and spent the summer in Colorado.
  9. Driving to Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

    We have stayed in both the Sagebrush and Juniper campgrounds. Both were very nice, and easy to get our 41' 5er into. Sagebrush and Mesquite are relatively close to the road out of the canyon as well as the amphitheater and other facilities. Juniper is a new campground that's a several-mile drive down to the other end of the park. The scenery is pretty, so the drive isn't painful, but just be aware that it will take additional time to get out of the park from there. If you do go to Juniper, note that they haven't updated the signage at the entry to the campground yet (at least as of late September when we were there)--if I recall, the turnoff just says "Day Use Area" (which is in the same vicinity) and you'll pass right by it unless you are looking carefully at the map. It's then a long way to anyplace where you can easily turn around. Ask me how I know...
  10. Driving to Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

    We've been there twice in the last few months with our 41' fifth-wheel and Ford F-450. About 60' long total. No problems getting up or down the road into the canyon--just go slow. It's not that hard to drive. There usually isn't enough traffic that you have to worry about meeting someone on the road, but there are a few turns that are tight enough that if you did, one vehicle would have to wait before the turn for the other to get through it. There is pretty good visibility well before each of the turns, so you can see if someone else is approaching from the other direction and time it accordingly. It's a beautiful campground. Don't let worries about getting down into the canyon stop you from enjoying it.
  11. Texas Class A or B License Upgrade FAQs

    Jack, I didn't find anything online that says you can renew by mail only every other time if you're out of state. What you're saying is true for in-state renewals, but it looks like if you're out of state, they don't require you to renew in person just to have a new photo taken.
  12. Texas Class A or B License Upgrade FAQs

    I have updated the original post with information on expiration and renewal of the Class A or B Exempt license, including instructions for out-of-state applicants.
  13. Texas Class A or B License Upgrade FAQs

    Barb, thanks for pointing that out. I too thought we were going to have to renew in person. I'll add this to the main post for future reference.
  14. Texas Class A or B License Upgrade FAQs

    I have now updated the original post with information from our driving test two days ago. It wasn't nearly as bad as we thought it might be, and we both passed easily, even though our backing-up maneuvers were weak (for safety, we always work as a team with one person outside the rig, communicating with the driver by walkie-talkie--but you are not allowed to do this on the test). We took our test in Dallas, and they were completely knowledgeable about the Class A Exempt requirements. As TrapperBob said above, the test is not nearly as hard as you might think, and the examiners are not out to fail you--they just want to be sure you can safely drive your rig. So get legal and go get your Class A or B license if it's required to drive your rig!
  15. Have you taken the Texas Class A Exempt driving test since July 1?

    Yep, I totally agree with that! Your post made me wonder: do any RV insurers offer a discount for taking an RV driving course? If not, they should. It would encourage more people to get proper instruction and improve their skills, and without the fear of failing an official driving test.
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