Rules For Driving a Luxury RV

Rules For Driving a Luxury RV

First time RVers, or those interested in RVing, often wonder if they need a special license to drive a luxury recreational vehicle, or if there are any special rules of the road they need to know about. The answer, as with most things in life is, it depends!

The bottom line is that most states don’t have any additional licensing requirements for RVers, but there are some exceptions. Licensing requirements can get confusing, but towing a Bowlus luxury RV is simple! Even with those exceptions, you don’t need any special licenses or permits to tow either lightweight 26-foot Bowlus Terra Firma or Endless Highways Edition.

    • We’ve compiled some basic information here, but each state has its own rules, and laws do change, so you’ll want to confirm the rules with the state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) before you go. You don’t want an expensive souvenir from the highway patrol!Types of Driver Licenses
      There are a few different types of licenses available to drivers in the US. The two main categories are non-commercial and commercial.

· Non-Commercial:

      • o Class D: If you have a license to drive a car, this is what you have. It means you’re legally allowed to drive a passenger car and tow boats, trailers, RVs and other vehicles that weigh less than 10,000 pounds.
      • o Class A: Required by some states if driving a combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, so long as the towed vehicle does not exceed a GVWR of 10,000 pounds. If your RV and your tow vehicle exceed 26,000 pounds, this is likely what you’ll need.
      • o Class B: Required by some states to drive any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, or when that vehicle tows a trailer that does not exceed 10,000 pounds. This would likely be needed if you have a very large Class A motorhome, including those that tow a dinghy passenger vehicle. This will either be a commercial or non-commercial license, depending on the state.

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL): CDLs are required for those driving commercial vehicles such as semis, dump trucks, and busses. Most states do not require drivers to have CDL to legally drive a RV.

      • o Class A: Required if driving a combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, so long as the towed vehicle does not exceed a GVWR of 10,000 pounds.
      • o Class B: Used to drive any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, or when the vehicle tows a trailer that does not exceed 10,000 pounds.So, Do I Need a Special License?
        To answer this question about driver’s license requirements, you first need to know your rig’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), or the maximum amount it can safely weigh when fully loaded.

        If your motorhome has a GVWR of 26,000 pounds or less, then you don’t need a special driver’s license in any of the 50 states. This covers all Class B camper vans, which typically weigh between 6,000 and 8,000 pounds, and all Class C’s, which range from 10,000-12,000 pounds. You might run into issues if you’re driving a Class A luxury motorcoach, as they can range between 13,000 and 30,000 pounds. If you’re pulling a large travel trailer or a fifth wheel that weighs more than 10,000 pounds, you may need a special license. If you have a luxury fifth wheel with multiple slides, or a large toy hauler, you’ll want to check the sticker on your unit for its GVWR. You’ll also need to know the GVWR of your tow vehicle.

        The other critical piece of information is the length of your motorhome or the length of RV and tow vehicle combined. If your motorhome exceeds 40 feet, or your tow vehicle and trailer is longer than 60 feet, you may need a special license. With a GVWR of 4,000 pounds, you will not need any kind of special license to tow your twenty-six foot Bowlus.

        Once you have your GVWR and length noted, check with the department of motor vehicles if you live in or are traveling to any of these states, as they have additional licensing requirements depending on the weight or length of your RV:

  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Wisconsin
  • WyomingIf you’re traveling north of the border, our Canadian neighbors have no additional requirements for US RV drivers.

    RV Rules of the Road
    For the most part, the laws that apply to operating a passenger vehicle apply to RVs. Obviously, you should obey all posted speed limits and signs. It’s a good habit to avoid distracted driving when you’re in your car, and it’s even more important when you’re driving or towing your RV. Some cities and states are enacting tough distracted driving laws, so think twice before you pick up your phone. If you’re new to driving a motorhome or towing an RV, find a big empty parking lot and practice! You want to get the feel of your rig before you find yourself in a cone zone or rush hour traffic.

    Every US state except New Hampshire requires that the driver and all passengers in a vehicle wear a seatbelt, including RVs. That means that it’s illegal (not to mention dangerous) for there to be any passengers in a towed travel trailer or fifth wheel. Passengers must also remain buckled in while a motorhome is moving and even though it’s tempting, you should wait for a rest stop to use the bathroom, take a nap on the bed, or pop into the fridge for a snack. When it’s on the road, a motorhome is basically a big car – and if there’s an accident and passengers aren’t buckled in, they could be seriously injured. Motorhomes are not crash test rated with people in the bathroom. Look for seatbelts in the sofa or bench dinette of a Class A or Class C.

    You may want to check into the open container laws if you have alcohol in your motorhome. While it shouldn’t be an issue in most states, assuming it’s not in the driver’s cupholder, some states are stricter than others. US gun laws also vary by state, so if you’re carrying a firearm with you, you should understand the restrictions in each state, even if it’s unloaded and cased. It’s also important to note that a concealed carry permit may not be recognized by some states.

    As you’re planning your route, there are a couple of things to consider. First, height and weight restrictions can vary by road. If your motorhome or fifth wheel is more than twelve and a half feet tall (including the height of the rooftop air conditioner), you may not be able to go under some bridges on some county roads. That’s not something you want to find out the hard way. If your route takes you through a long tunnel, you’ll want to check weight and height restrictions ahead of time, and make sure your propane tank will be allowed. If not, you’ll need to find an alternate route.

    And now you’re ready to take your luxury RV safely and legally on an amazing road trip!