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Get a CDL or not?


GeorgiaHybrid

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OK folks, the DW is thinking about taking a full blown CDL course and getting her class A CDL. In Georgia, you need to have a class E (non commercial class A) to drive our trucks but both of us were wondering if there is any disadvantage to having a CDL vs a class E license.

 

Thoughts?

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You can take the CDL course if you want the instruction on driving for your betterment, but there is nothing forcing you to then take the CDL test with the DMV after the course. You could simply take the class E test after the course to get the license needed.

 

I personally have a full blown Class A CDL in CA even though I technically only need a non commercial class A to drive my rig (in my case the 5er's weight determines this). I however, have a need for a CDL at work periodically to drive our mobile command vehicle. My department pays for my CDL medical every two years as a result. If it weren't for this I'm not sure which way I would have gone. Although it is nice to know I can basically jump into just about any rig and drive it legally if the need arises.

 

I'm all for training and betterment. I know there are some who say stay away from CDL's at all costs if they are not required. I am not of that thinking. It really has no bearing on what you are doing as long as you are legal. It might take some extra conversation on the side of the road with a LEO as to your setup, but that really should be an easy conversation if it happens.

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I might be wrong on some/all of these but:

Log book

Med cert

Hours of service

increased fines

increased points

higher insurance

Increased 'splainin time with LEO

Just because you have a CDL does not mean you have to follow all the CDL requirements. Hours of service, log books, higher insurance and others would only apply when you are actually involved in commerce. You only have to follow the commercial rules when you are actually driving commercially. Some states do have added restrictions for CDL drivers, however, regardless of what you are driving. Things like lower BAC levels for DUI's. These are things that should be weighed in your decision and are dependent on your state's individual rules.

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Just because you have a CDL does not mean you have to follow all the CDL requirements. Hours of service, log books, higher insurance and others would only apply when you are actually involved in commerce. You only have to follow the commercial rules when you are actually driving commercially. Some states do have added restrictions for CDL drivers, however, regardless of what you are driving. Things like lower BAC levels for DUI's. These are things that should be weighed in your decision and are dependent on your state's individual rules.

Like I said....could be wrong but things to consider/investigate in your state

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In "most" states the BAC is half the number of non CDL holders, you can't do traffic school to mitigate points and, the fees are higher. I don't like the down sides to holding a CDL unless it is necessary. You may say the added restrictions are not a big deal; they aren't, until they are.

 

Steve

 

Agree with Steve. Too many downsides if you can do a Non-CDL to qualify for your rig. Most states it's a combo of truck and trailer weight. In Illinois for example a non-CDL class B covers a truck over 26k and a trailer under 10k. I have non-CDL class A which covers over 26k and over 10k for the trailer. On the back it says "All single and combination vehicles except cycles"

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For the training I would say well worth it but you do have to prove ( I believe in every state) you have a current DOT Medical card to carry a CDL, I know in my case I only qualify for a 1 year card and have to send a copy of the new card every year to DMV.

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Agree with Steve. Too many downsides if you can do a Non-CDL to qualify for your rig. Most states it's a combo of truck and trailer weight. In Illinois for example a non-CDL class B covers a truck over 26k and a trailer under 10k. I have non-CDL class A which covers over 26k and over 10k for the trailer. On the back it says "All single and combination vehicles except cycles"

Well actually, that is not factual. The BAC and the point differential is not predicated on whether you have a Cdl or a regular DL, it is based on what you are doing at the time of the offense. If you have someone driving a commercial vehicle being pulled over and found to possibly under the influence of alcohol, the BAC level needed for conviction is lower than if they are driving a non commercial vehicle.

 

A clear example of this would be a driver gets pulled over for driving erratically in a Race Team truck with racing decals all over the truck and trailer and the driver, who holds a non commercial class A license, is found to be possibly under the influence of intoxicants. That driver would be held to the lower standard for blood alcohol IF a court determined that the driver was operating a commercial vehicle at the time of offense.

 

Ally the other requirements, such as logbooks and higher insurance do not apply either UNLESS you are operating a commercial vehicle.

 

It has been said many times on here that it is what you are doing with the vehicle that determines the requirement of the level of license.

 

The one thing that has been brought up before is that if you were doing something with a vehicle that is questionable of whether your vehicle is being operated commercially, or the rare chance you encounter a LEO who is unaware of the difference, you having a CDL could bring about questions of log books, etc. However if you are worried about that, you should be buying lottery tickets, because that has greater odds

 

The overall point here is that unless your wife intends to operate a commercial vehicle, a CDL would not be required. If she wants one, she should not be told that by having one, she will be branded with a scarlet letter....lol.

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In Texas they will not let you can not do traffic school, even for a violation in a non CMV and many judges will not offer deferred for a traffic offense either. But to me the biggest issue is the medical certificate. No matter what state you are in, if you fail to submit one they will downgrade your license to a regular operators license. The training is nice if you want it, but don't bother with a CDL if you don't NEED it.

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Before doing the pre trip inspection for my SC class F license the examiner asked me "why don't you just go ahead and get your CDL?" I told her that I didn't want to be required to take the physicals and that I didn't plan on driving commercially. She said, "well, the only difference in the test is that the pre-trip inspections is a little more detailed." I told her that I had thought about it but had decided that the class F seemed better for me. After taking the driving test she said "you wouldn't have had a problem getting your CDL." I then asked her how many people she had tested for a class F and she replied "you are the only one I have tested and as far as I know, the only one this office has ever done." Everyone else has been for a CDL." I am still happy with my decision for a class F but that was just my decision. I wish you the best, whatever your decision is. Charlie

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Here in IL we are told we have to have a Medical card to drive any trailer over 10K in "commercial service", regardless of CDL. I actually don't need a CDL to drive my HDT, or even my Farm plated Semi. But I DO need a medical card. So the only real difference here is the liability thing...I've been told holding a CDL automatically ups your liability in an accident. (this was somebody at the DMV..I'm not sure how correct it is.)

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I have a CDL and I have to have the medical card and the exam every year(old man w/high B/P). The exam cost $60. I don't do anything commercial so logs aren't required. Hours of service aren't in effect. It was just a personal thing. I studied the book took the test passed then took the driving test pulling the 5er. No issue. Did the pre trip inspection on the truck and the 5er. Got the CDL. If you get a speeding ticket you can't lawyer your way out of it. So it all comes down to what each individual wants. This is all in the state of Va. Have a safe RVing day. Pat

 

 

The Old Sailor

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You guys really make me appreciate Minnesota for licensing. We have a Class A, Class B, Class C, and Class D. The A,B, and C are CDLs and the D is just personal vehicles, HOWEVER on the back of the class D there are the words "VALID SINGLE UNIT AND COMBINATIONS UP TO 26000 LBS GVWR, ALL RECREATIONAL AND FARM VEH. (M.S. 171.02)" (exact wording!). I used to have a class A, but since I can't pass a DOT physical I had to downgrade.......

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My wife has a CDL, I don't. Back when we were looking at HDTs it was written on this forum about some guy who just got his truck, got stopped and didn't have a CDL. Was kind of a grey area on what would could happen if an officer didn't understand or didn't care. My wife decided to get a CDL. Very easy. Took the written test. There was a guy who owned a automatic truck with a trailer that would teach people how to do the driving test, so since she was able to get time off work and I wasn't, she took it.

 

Came in handy for her the first winter out. She got a job for LA Mesa RV driving motorhomes all over the country.

 

The medical card. Doesn't need to get one unless she gets a job driving for someone.

 

Of course this was eleven years ago so no doubt things have changed.

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In Texas and in Washington, you can get a CDL but "self-certify" that you "are not involved in intra-state or inter-state commerce" and get an exemption from the medical card. Allows you to keep the CDL if you choose without the headache of the medical. I got my CDL in PA somewhere around 1993 (at a place where you could just flash some cash and walk right out the door...that led to some surprises later) and have kept it ever since. It did bite me after a speeding ticket in Georgetown TX (grrr...I had sped up to let a trucker know that one of his straps was flailing around behind his trailer on a 15' reach...even the cop had to dart around the strap to come get me), but I choose to keep it in case I ever hit the lottery and want to get a 5er that exceeds RV length laws but would fit within commercial...

 

I would suspect the medical self-certify option is available nationwide, but YMMV.

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Ok, for those of you old enough to remember this line "and now for the rest of the story", both of us were wondering what would happen if a fiver and truck were a wee bit over length and got stopped in a state like California. My class "E" and most other licenses are only good for a 65' OA length of an RV. Could someone with a CDL drive it as they have a different length limit? Just wondering if it would be legal for the one person in the cab to hire the other as a professional driver to get out of the state.

 

Perhaps a certain Dr Pepper swilling Texan could shed some light.

 

Not that we would ever do that of course, just wondering if we could help out some poor soul stopped on the side of the road by an enforcement officer.

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Ok, for those of you old enough to remember this line "and now for the rest of the story", both of us were wondering what would happen if a fiver and truck were a wee bit over length and got stopped in a state like California. My class "E" and most other licenses are only good for a 65' OA length of an RV. Could someone with a CDL drive it as they have a different length limit? Just wondering if it would be legal for the one person in the cab to hire the other as a professional driver to get out of the state.

 

Perhaps a certain Dr Pepper swilling Texan could shed some light.

A CDL is not going to help you unless the truck is running commercially. With all the associated paperwork, authority, etc. IF you ran your setup as a commercial load then, sure, you can avoid any of the "recreational" overlength issues. And face all the commercial issues.

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A CDL is not going to help you unless the truck is running commercially. With all the associated paperwork, authority, etc. IF you ran your setup as a commercial load then, sure, you can avoid any of the "recreational" overlength issues. And face all the commercial issues.

Not exactly. A "recreational" combination can be up to a 3 vehicle combination and is only allowed 65 ft, from front most spot to the rear most spot.

Also, once you put a load bearing bed on your HDT, it is no longer a "truck tractor". By definition it is now a "truck".

 

In Texas a "truck" and semitrailer combination is limited to 65 ft...no matter what or how it is used. A "truck-tractor" has no length limit and the "semitrailer" it is pulling is allowed to be 59 ft, but a truck tractor can only be registered as a commercial vehicle and not as a personal vehicle. So basically it doesn't matter who is driving your recreational HDT in Texas, 65ft is all you are gonna legally get.

 

I have linked this brochure before but here it is again: Length Brochure here

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And we are all under 65'. lol

I am. And I know people who aren't. I also know what court their citation was written in and which one of my co-workers wrote that citation. As it was mentioned in another thread, there are some deputies that work the other side of my county that do not care that you are driving an RV. The law is the law, and he will write you a citation.

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For the training I would say well worth it but you do have to prove ( I believe in every state) you have a current DOT Medical card to carry a CDL, I know in my case I only qualify for a 1 year card and have to send a copy of the new card every year to DMV.

 

In SD (and other states) you can self-certify that you are not engaged in any driving that necessitates having a medical card. I did that for 5 years until a few months ago when I began driving our free medical clinic's RV on occasion.

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I might be wrong on some/all of these but:

 

higher insurance

Increased 'splainin time with LEO

 

I get a (very) small insurance discount for having a CDL.

 

As for LEO's, I can cite a couple of instances where I know I received a more lenient treatment because the LEO didn't want to put points on my CDL. Doesn't always work this way, but it can.

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I am in the process of getting my Class A CDL now. Although I am getting the license for a career change, I believe the information I have learned to be invaluable in the operation of my HD truck conversion. There are some added responsibilities for "professional drivers," but I don't think it is any higher standard than that which I would hold myself up to anyhow.

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