You finally found your perfect RV to take you on your next adventure, but you have a few questions before you hit the road. Many people wonder if they need a CDL to drive an RV with air brakes and, if so, what is required.
If you have a regular driver’s license that allows you to drive in the United States, you are likely good to go unless your rig is large. The only time you would need to obtain a different type of license or CDL is if your rig or combined weight of your tow vehicle and rig is over 26,000 lbs. If you are looking at a larger rig, we recommend knowing the laws in your specific state concerning weight limits and CDLs.
This article will explain the different types of classes for RVs, and which ones typically require more licensing. We will also dive into some states requiring CDLs to drive an RV with air brakes and which states do not.
Do You Need a CDL to Drive an RV with Air Brakes
A CDL, a commercial driver’s license, is used by those who drive buses and semi-trucks. In order to obtain a CDL, you have to study and pass a driving test. CDLs are a pricier type of license, so knowing if you actually need one or not, is essential.
Many larger motorhomes are equipped with air brakes that you see on larger buses or trucks. If your motorhome has air brakes, it may have you wondering if you need a CDL to drive your RV. We will go into more detail below, but the main factor that affects whether you need a CDL is not air brakes but focused only on the weight of your rig.
Each state differs on the rules and regulations for whether or not you need a CDL license, a noncommercial license, or merely a plain driver’s license, and we will go into more detail with each below.
What Class of RV May Need CDLs
If this is the first time you are looking for an RV or have been in the RV world for quite some time, you have probably heard multiple types of RV classes thrown around.
People refer to RVs in the form of Class A, Class B, and Class C, and each one has many defining characteristics. There are certain classifications of RVs that may need a CDL, depending on your rig’s size.
Large RVs or Motorhomes compiled in the Class A grouping and are typically the larger RVs you see rolling down the road. Class A Motorhomes can typically house 8-10 people and are usually between 13,000-30,000 lbs.
Because of their large size, Class A motorhomes are the only RV classification that typically may need a CDL. If you own or are looking for a class A motorhome with over 26,000 lbs, you will need to get a CDL in some states.
There are also individual states, such as Texas, that require you to get a special non-commercial license if your motorhome or RV is over 26,000 lbs or longer than 40 feet.
Class B RVs include campervans and are incredibly user friendly. Class B RVs are small and will not need a CDL to drive legally. This RV class class is typically under 8,000 lbs, so if you own a Class B RV, you will not need a special license in any state you visit.
Class C RVs are heavier than Class B, but far less than Class A. Class C RVs typically weigh 10,000-12,000 lbs, allowing you to drive them without needing any type of unique licensing to operate.
What States Need CDLs to Drive an RV
Over 30 states do not require any kind of special license to drive an RV or motorhome. The remaining states either require you to have a CDL or a non-commercial license if your rig weighs more than 26,000 lbs. Some of these states even have specific rules that if your tow vehicle and rig combine to 26,000 lbs, you will need a non-commercial license as well.
Non Commercial License
Some states that require non-commercial licenses include California, Texas, and Wyoming. A non-commercial license simply means they need a specific license that is separate from a CDL. A noncommercial license means that you can use it for personal reasons instead of work-related reasons. They can include certifications such as class B and Class C licenses.
Commercial Drivers License (CDL)
When it comes to requiring CDL licenses, Arkansas, Connecticut, and Hawaii are a few states that require you to get a license when your motorhome is over 26,000 lbs. To obtain a CDL, you will need to pay an application fee, get your vision tested, and pass multiple driving and written tests. CDLs are required by some states and not by others, so it is recommended to always double-check before investing the money to take a CDL test.
Individual states like Nevada require you to get a Class A license for driving anything over 26,000 lbs and a Class B for a combined weight (trailer and truck) over 26,000 lbs. Illinois has the strictest rules and requires you to get a special license when your rig weighs over 16,000 lbs.
Just a Drivers License
Some states do not require anything but a regular driver’s license to drive a large motorhome or RV legally. They include, but are not limited to; Rhode Island, Vermont, Colorado, and more.
If you choose to buy or drive a larger Class A motorhome, it is recommended to reach out to your local DMV to clarify what you need. Since rules vary by state, always check with your local DMV. If you don’t want to worry about licensing, you can decide to get a smaller Class B or Class C to take with you on your next adventure.
Buying a new or used RV is an exciting endeavor for you and your family. You will have to decide how much room you will need to fit your family comfortably. There are a variety of RVs and motorhomes on the market that will fit your every need.
If you are looking for a larger RV, you will need to ask yourself if you need a CDL to drive your RV with air brakes legally. The short answer is that if you buy a huge RV or motorhome that comes in weighing over 26,000 lbs, you will likely need to get some type of separate license to drive it in most states.
There are different types of licenses that states will want you to gain if you drive a considerably large rig over 26,000 lbs. You will either be asked to obtain a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, or a noncommercial license on top of your regular driver’s license. If you have a larger rig and you are wondering about a different license, you can contact your local DMV.