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Everything posted by David-and-Cheryl

  1. Mike, unfortunately many of the DPS offices just aren't very well informed about the Class A and B Exempt written testing requirements. It sounds like you got it straightened out though. As far as I know, you do NOT need to take the Air Brakes test, even if your rig did have air brakes. And on the pre-drive inspection, all the examiner will do is check your vehicle to make sure it is legal to drive--basically the same things that are checked on the annual Texas safety inspection. I think I have a mostly complete list in the original post. You do NOT have to explain any of it or have any special safety equipment on board--that's only for CDL applicants. When you've done the Impact training, would you mind posting here a description of what it was, how long it took you to complete, and any problems you had with taking it? That's a brand-new requirement and I haven't heard from anyone yet who has done it. Good luck on your driving test! David
  2. I have just updated the main post with a bunch of changes over the last year or so. Among them: Added information on the new REAL ID document requirements for proving citizenship, identity, Social Security registration, residency, and vehicle ownership; Added information on the new Improving Texas Drivers (ITD) course requirement; Updated the reference to Form DL-43, which has been superseded by by Form DL-14A; Updated the duration of license validity (now eight years instead of six) Updated the license renewal fee (now $32) Checked all links and fixed where needed. I've also turned this post into a new article for the Escapees blog. It should be published sometime in the next month or two.
  3. Well, yes and no. It's true that in a state that requires special licensing, they have to honor the requirements of the state where you're licensed. So, for instance, if you're driving in NM (which requires special licensing), you're legal if you have the proper license for the state where you're licensed. That could be a Class A or B Exempt license from Texas, or a regular passenger vehicle license from Florida (which has no special license requirements). I'm now licensed in Florida, and with my normal passenger vehicle license I can legally drive my rig anywhere in the country, even though it would require a Class A license in Texas and some other states. However, the reverse is not true. If you're driving in a state that does not require special licensing, I'm pretty confident that you won't get a citation for not being properly licensed in your home state (assuming of course that you have a valid license for a regular passenger vehicle). You're not violating the laws of that state, and a state law enforcement officer probably does not have the authority to cite you for violating the laws of any other state. For that matter, they probably wouldn't even know (or care) that your home state requires a special license.
  4. That is the correct legal answer. However, because there is no non-CDL "learner's permit" that I'm aware of in Texas, there's a catch-22: it's hard to pass the driving test if you've never driven your rig, but how do you practice for the test without the appropriate license? The fact is, most people end up doing some driving illegally because that's the only way to gain some experience. For safety's sake, if you do that, I'd have your licensed husband in the passenger seat and actively acting as an "instructor". The chances of you getting stopped and cited are small (but not zero) as long as you don't break any laws or do anything unsafe. But again, in Texas, you would still be driving illegally without a license. However, since you're going on a road trip, you can easily do your practice in a state that doesn't require a special class of license to drive your particular rig. I don't know your route, but according to http://changingears.com/rv-sec-state-rv-license.shtml, Utah, Arizona and Idaho have no special licensing requirements.
  5. Congratulations on passing your test! I'm glad it was anticlimactic. Thanks for the shout-out; I'm glad the post was helpful! David
  6. Just to clarify for the OP...I think what BarbaraOK is getting at here is that you need only a Class C license if the GVWR of your motorhome is 26k pounds or less, unless your car's GVWR is over 10k pounds (unlikely) and the total GVWR of the combination is more than 26k pounds. That would be a very rare situation in an RV unless your toad is something like a 3/4 ton pickup truck. So her point, which is a good one, is that you may not need to get a Class A Exempt license at all. Remember that the class of motorhome you're driving has no bearing on the class of license you need. Yes, that's confusing. When I answered your question, I was assuming that you had already determined that you actually do need a Class A or Class B Exempt license. That would likely be because your motorhome has a GVWR over 26,000 pounds.If that's the case, and your car's GVWR is 10k pounds or less, then you need only a Class B Exempt license. And because you'd need the same class of license if you weren't towing a car at all, there's no reason to take your toad to the driving test, and therefore no need to take the Combinations written test. To put it a different way: you'll need your toad for the driving test and you'll have to take the Combinations written test only if you need a Class A Exempt license. And you need the Class A Exempt only if your car's GVWR exceeds 10k pounds, which it probably doesn't. If you haven't already, see the table in the first post in this thread, which will help to make the "license class" requirements more clear.
  7. I can't say for certain, but I'm pretty sure the answer would be yes. A "combination vehicle" is any vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit and the trailer. So a MH towing a car would fit the definition.
  8. Poor choice of words on my part. I meant the recommended pressure on the door jamb. My conjecture was that examiners are used to looking at that for cars, and in the absence of it for RVs (I don't know about motorhomes, but most trailers don't have one), they would look at the tire's max pressure rating, which is often higher. Regardless, it's surprising to me that the CDL test requires inflation to the maximum pressure on the tire, assuming that's true. I would think that most large commercial vehicles would use the tire manufacturer's load/inflation tables (like you were), rather than just inflating to the maximum on the tire--and that examiners would be aware of that fact. But wonders never cease, especially when it comes to governmental agencies.
  9. Thanks for sharing your experience. That's the first time I've ever heard of an examiner checking tire pressures. Very interesting. I guess s/he thought the tire in question looked underinflated? Just curious, what pressure were you running the tires at?
  10. I'd have to agree with that. I've never heard of a DPS examiner checking tire pressures. Perhaps the examiner thought the tire looked under inflated and therefore had a safety concern, which is why s/he asked the OP to check the pressure. And their experience is probably limited to automobiles, on which you usually inflate to the placarded maximum pressure. But Blues is right--RVs are different, and you would hope the examiners giving Class A and B tests are aware of this fact.
  11. According to this article, which I found in a quick Google search, as long as your out-of-state CDL has not expired, you can transfer it to Texas without re-taking either the skills or driving test. So you'd end up with a Texas Class A CDL, which would allow you to drive a Class A RV for non-commercial purposes even if you don't maintain your CDL medical certification. (I have no reason to doubt the article's accuracy, but I'd still suggest verifying it with a Texas DPS office.) Note that a license "transfer" is different from "reciprocity" (which refers to honoring an out-of-state license for vehicle operations in the state), but the concept is similar. If your out-of-state CDL has expired, then it's like starting from scratch, and you DO have to take the tests in Texas. But I suspect that's true for all out-of-state license transfers, not just CDLs. David
  12. Yeah, I'd definitely have that conversation with someone at the DPS office where you're going to take the test before renting the trailer. Let us know what happens.
  13. Wow. So I guess if you borrow someone else's RV, they're unlikely to ask, but if you rent or borrow something that looks like a commercial vehicle, it's a no-go. Good to know.
  14. Just guessing here, but I think the answer is yes. Your certification on the CDL-2 applies to the purpose for which you'll be using your Class A license, not specifically to the vehicle you're using for the test. You're just taking the test in a vehicle different from what you'll ultimately be driving. You may have to explain this to your examiner, though. Not sure which "list" you're referring to. If you mean the list on the CDL-2, it doesn't matter--as noted above, that certification applies to how you'll ultimately be using your license. You should check the RV box. By the way...does your tow vehicle have a GVWR of at least 12,000 lbs? It would need to in order to qualify as a Class A vehicle in combination with that dump trailer. If it's under that, then the combination is a Class C, and in that case I don't know that they'd let you take the test in it. If it were me, I wouldn't bother renting the trailer and taking the test before you get your RV. When you come back to Texas with your new RV, plan to take the test shortly thereafter in the rig you'll actually be driving. In the extremely unlikely event that you get stopped before then, you could explain that it's a new-to-you RV purchased out of state and that you're aware of the licensing requirements, but couldn't take the test until you had the RV. It's simpler and more in the spirit of the law, if not the letter. My guess is that a law enforcement officer would just be happy to know that you're aware of the requirement, which most RVers are not, and intend to comply with it as soon as is reasonably possible. David
  15. I don't know for sure with the Class B. As of last spring, all Class A applicants are required to take the Texas CDL Combinations Test, which covers the material found in Section 6 of the Texas Commercial Motor Vehicles Drivers Handbook. It would make sense that this would not be required for Class B applicants, since most Class B vehicles are so classified because of the weight of the powered vehicle (the motorhome itself), and not because they're towing anything. But "make sense" and "Texas DPS" don't always belong in the same sentence. I'd suggest being prepared for the Combinations Test just in case. It's not that much more work to study for it. Please let us know whether you do or do not have to take the Combinations Test so I can update the information for others. Thanks and good luck. David
  16. Shaun, I'm glad you found the post and thread helpful. I can't shed any light on the testing at that location. But really, don't stress over the driving skills test. The maneuvers are basically like the regular Class C test, except that you're taking it in your rig. Drive carefully and don't hit anything, and you should be fine. Good luck. David
  17. The chart in the original post is probably easier to parse, since it does not include the CDL-specific limitations. Also, it's directly from the Texas regulations, although at a glance it looks like Oklahoma's is similar. Here's the chart again for reference. Find the GVWR of your tow vehicle or motorhome in the first column, the GVWR of your trailer or toad in the second column, and the combined GVWR in the third column. The last column shows the license class you need.
  18. You are correct. You can drive the rig you described with just a normal Class C license. It would fall into the third line of the chart in the original post: tow vehicle <= 26k, towed vehicle (trailer) > 10k, and combined <= 26k. David
  19. I think you're the first Class B applicant to report since the air brakes test requirement went into effect last May. I wonder if the new requirement for the air brakes test applies only to Class A applicants? Not sure why that would be, since most exempt Class As are pickups (without air brakes) towing large trailers, while most Class Bs are motorhomes, many of which have air brakes. More likely, you just got lucky with an office that forgot about the new requirement. I'd be sure to study the air brakes section of the driver's manual before going for your Class A test, although it sounds like you're familiar with those topics anyway.
  20. I was wondering about that too. It seems like it would be relatively easy for a law enforcement officer to visually identify a rig that was 10 feet over the limit. Of course then if you don't have the proper class of license, you'd have two violations.
  21. Wow Paul, I just looked at your website. That trailer is really impressive! I can't believe you can stuff a Kitfox, Jeep Wrangler and boat all in there! Just curious, what is the placarded GWVR of the trailer, and how much does it actually weigh fully loaded?
  22. Let me clarify what qualifies as a Class A vehicle, because there are two ways to get there: Tow vehicle with GVWR less than or equal to 26,000 lbs. towing a vehicle with a GVWR more than 10,000 lbs., but only if the total GVWR of the combination exceeds 26,000 lbs. (If the total GVWR is less than that, it's a Class C combination.) Tow vehicle with GVWR more than 26,000 lbs. towing a vehicle with a GVWR more than 10,000 lbs. You could meet scenario #1 with a dually towing a heavy non-RV trailer, as chirakawa said above. The usual scenario, of course, is a pickup towing a fifth wheel or large travel trailer. That's why we needed a Class A in Texas. Scenario #2 is less common because most passenger vehicles towed behind motorhomes have a GVWR under 10,000 lbs. But it would be faced by a larger motorhome towing a large trailer, which is apparently what Pdepperschmidt has. So to answer Pdepperschmidt's original question: I don't think I would take a 75' long combination to a DPS office for a driving test. Chirakawa is right--they should not let you take the test in an illegal rig, and it wouldn't be too hard for them to figure out that it is too long. (Although I guess you could try...the worst that would happen is that they'd refuse to administer the test; they don't issue citations.) I would first find out if they'll let you take a Class A driving test in just your motorhome, not towing anything at all. Drivers of larger motorhomes who tow vehicles four-down have to do this all the time, because you can't back up with the toad hitched. If they ask, just tell them that you'll be towing a large pickup truck, but you're not bringing it because it can't be backed up. Failing that, I'd see if someone will lend you a pickup truck that will tow your trailer, as Chirakawa suggested. As long as the truck's GVWR plus your trailer's GVWR exceeds 26,000 lbs., the combination meets the definition of a Class A. A third option would be to rent a 10,000+ lb. GVWR trailer and tow it behind your Dutch Star for the test, as you said. Either of those approaches would work, but I wouldn't go to the trouble until you know that they won't give you the test just in your motorhome. Also, you asked about the Chapter 6 Combinations written test. I don't think you will need to take that. Exempt licenses don't have endorsements for combinations, etc. like CDLs do, and to date nobody testing for a Class A has reported that they were required to take the Combinations test. As far as I know, the only additional written test you have to take (which you probably already did) is the air brakes test, which now seems to be required for all Class A & B exempt applicants.
  23. Yep, good point. And the tests are the same--so if you have a motorhome, there's really no reason not to go for the Class A to begin with.
  24. I'm glad you found the article helpful! And "affinity to kill curbs" - love it! 😁 (If Karen is struggling with the driving, she might consider getting some instruction from RV Driving School. They have instructors, mostly former truckers, all over the country, and they really know what they're doing. Cheryl found it incredibly helpful--it was money well spent. Remember the goal is not just to pass the test, but to be able to drive safely in real life.) As for going from the Class B to Class A...that's a great question, and I really don't know the answer. I'd guess that you wouldn't need to re-take the written tests, because you've already passed them, but that you WOULD need to take a new driving test in a rig that meets the Class A vehicle definition. But only DPS can tell you for sure. You could try calling the DPS customer service center in Austin. It's hard to get through to them by phone, but if you do, they're generally pretty knowledgeable. Failing that, I'd suggest going over to your local DPS office--preferably where you'd take the test--and talking to someone there. Once you do get an answer, please share it here and I'll update the FAQs with that information. Thanks! David
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