PhaetonDriver

Pennsylvania DOT Requirements For Non-Commercial Class "B" Driver's License For Motorhomes Over 26,000 pounds

83 posts in this topic

I've read many other topics posted re: Driver's License For Motorhome Over 26,000 pounds which prompts as many different opinions as there are states which is the real answer. There are no federal standards, thus each state has its own licensing regulations. In this specific discussion, I would like to focus on the Pennsylvania DOT requirements for Driver's License For Motorhome Over 26,000 pounds.

First - As with ALL of the other forums, the common thread is:> When asked, Dealers will tell you, "No special License Required, Drive & Enjoy"! In the State of Pennsylvania, IF the Motorhome is over 26,001 pounds, a NON-COMMERCIAL CLASS B License IS REQUIRED. See the following link & read the 2nd Class Definition/Class B: http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/driverLicensePhotoIDCenter/license_classes.shtml

So - for those that believed their dealer, friend or relative that state, "Just Drive & Enjoy, You Don't Need A Special License" - THEY'RE WRONG! IF you reside in the state of PA and your Motorhome is OVER 26,001 pounds - You ARE required to obtain a NON COMMERCIAL CLASS B License. Now, here is where the fun comes in to play in dealing with PENN DOT and MY ACTUAL EXPERIENCE(s)!

AGAIN - THIS IS ONLY MY FINDINGS IN THE STATE OF PA - I AM NOT DISCUSSING ANY OTHER STATE THAN PA!

Over 3 years ago, my wife & I invested in our 1st, Class A, Fleetwood Discovery 39S, Diesel Motorhome with an Unladen Weight of 26,200 Pounds – We Drove & Enjoyed! In 2012 we upgraded & invested into a new Tiffin Phaeton 40QBH, Diesel Motorhome with an Unladen Weight of 27,200 Pounds – We’ve Drive & Enjoy! (NOTE: Unladen Weight is a PA Required Measurement which is on the Title/Registration & It means, Totally Empty, No Fluids, No Contents, Just the Coach Weight). Now, in between our 1st and 2nd coach – I decided to look at the PENN DOT Driver’s License Dept’s web site & you know what I found – See the link above – YIKES!!!

I’ve been and still currently driving our Motorhome(s) illegally! We’ve been thru every state in the continental US in our coaches except for 19. This summer, we’ll traverse the other 19 states! With that said, I started the quest to become a legal owner/operator of our motorhome and went to PENN DOT Driver’s License Dept. When I arrived and inquired about obtaining a NON COMMERCIAL, CLASS B DRIVER’S PERMIT, the gentleman asked what I needed this for, and I explained, that I have a 40’ Motorhome over 26,001 pounds. He said, you mean, “AN RV”? I said, well, it’s actually a CLASS A Motorhome Sir. He said, YOU DON’T NEED A SPECIAL LICENSE! I grabbed my smartphone, pulled up the PENN DOT web site & showed him the link (above). Now, another gentleman at the center overheard us and he said, Yeah, He’s right (meaning me). I asked about obtaining my PERMIT. He said, You’ll have to take a test first & It’s $150 – WHAT???? Here comes a 3rd gentleman at the center. Now I have 3 people working on this. The 3rd said, NO, he does not need a test for the permit & its only $5 not $150. This is a NON COMMERCIAL CLASS B PERMIT. He first quoted me a CDL Permit which needed a test & $150. Finally, I obtained my NON Commercial Class B Permit which stated – I HAD to have a LICENSED CLASS B or Higher Driver with me at ALL TIMES – I Laughed Out Loud!!!!!!! It took 3 people none of which agreed nor really knew the requirements except the 3rd one and he had to look it up. This took me over an 1 hour & many discussions.

Here comes another shocker – When I asked for the handbook (guideline or study book) for the eventual test I would have to take – They came back & said, there is no handbook for the NON COMMERCIAL CLASS B LICENSE. I asked well how is the testing done & what do I have set up for such a test. Again, 3 Different answers. Now, Here comes a Supervisor. There are now, 4 people involved in this process. The supervisor hands me my permit & says “Call this 800 Number to schedule your test” at a later time. You’ll drive to the center, park it, one of the testing agents will go for a ride with you and “IF YOU DON’T HIT ANYTHING – YOU’LL PASS” – “That’s IT” was my response? Yes Sir, however, you’ll have to travel to a center that is equipped to do BIG RIG testing (meaning Semi’s, etc.). And you’ll need to have a LICENSED CLASS B OR HIGHER DRIVER with you on the day of the test. I asked the Supervisor, is there any materials or any special requirements I need to be aware of prior to the test. No Sir, there is NO Printed Material for a NON COMMERCIAL CLASS B Driver’s License. Ok, Thank You!

Now, I asked my close friend who is a Class B & HIGHER (CDL Class A License Driver) if he’d take a ½ day off of work to take this test with me (The test center is over 30 miles away). He was glad to help & took the time away to assist me in obtaining my proper credentials from Penn DOT. We arrive at the center early, met by the testing agent in my coach. He reviews my friend’s paperwork, my permit, current license, my PA registration and insurance card (the normal stuff).He excuses my friend out of the coach & into their facility. The agent began asking routine questions of the coach & my background. He then said, does this vehicle have air brakes? I said that in does have air brakes and we’re on a Freightliner chassis. The agent then says, Ok, let’s proceed with the AIR BRAKE TEST! Remember, there was NO Study guide, Handbook, nothing available to ready/study/learn with. It’s Just Get In & Drive while we observe your driving skills.

I relayed this entire process along with my initial meeting with the Driver’s License Center to the testing agent. He listened and then stated, “Let’s proceed with the AIR BRAKE TEST”! Unsure what he was after, I remembered my friend who rode with me to the test showing me about bleeding off the air on the air brakes to the point where the “Parking Brake POPPED” and I assumed that was the AIR BRAKE TEST the agent was referring to. Guess What? – WRONG!! He said, IN THE HANDBOOK it talks specifically about Air Brakes and the testing procedures to ensure your air systems are producing and maintaining proper air to stop the coach safely under any situation. My response was – “HANDBOOK” – WHAT HANDBOOK? I asked 3 other gentlemen and a supervisor on my initial meeting about a study guide or handbook and they all said there wasn’t one. He said – “they’re right there isn’t a Class B handbook – But there’s the COMMERCIAL CDL Driver’s Manual that Covers Air Brakes and the testing procedure!!!!! WHAT?????????????

The testing agent stopped the test and said, “shut the coach down, lock it up, let’s go inside to talk with my supervisor. He said that he wanted to get permission to give me the handbook, give me time to study that AIR BRAKE test and then he’d re-test me as soon as I was ready (meaning within an hour).” I said, Ok, but why have I been getting all this confusing information and lack of proper direction. He didn’t respond. He handed me the HANDBOOK – highlighted the Air Brake Test Section and said, read this, and know it like you do your S.S. Number – I’ll be back after I speak with my supervisor. The Handbook is 12 Sections long and in small print on phone book style paper and at least 150 pages long. Remember, I was told there was NO HANDBOOK to study or learn from!! The Supervisor finally comes out to the hall where I’m reading and without introducing himself or saying anything other than – YOU NEED TO RESCHEDULE AND COME BACK ANOTHER DAY! We’re too busy today to wait around for you today!

That’s about the time – IT HIT THE FAN!!!!!!!!! I stated again only with emotion this time about the insane and inept process. I had to ask my friend to take time off to do this for me and then waste ALL of my Diesel fuel driving the 100 round trip to the testing center only to be told WE’RE TOO BUSY TODAY TO WAIT ON YOU WHEN I WAS TOLD THERE WAS NO HANDBOOK!!! I looked at this STUPID-VISOR and claimed – Guess What – I’m going to do what 90% of the PA Motorhome Owners do – I’m gonna Drive & Enjoy! Forget IT !!!!!!!!!!

He shouted to me as I walked out the door, you shouldn’t do that - I’ll make this a NON TEST as opposed to a Failure on your permit – I smiled (kinda) and said, “Whatever” & left….

WHAT HAD JUST HAPPENED – This was like a scene from Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory!!!!!!!!!!

My friend & I left for home discussing the entire debacle that just unfolded – He said, you tried, NOW, Go, Drive & Enjoy!!!!!

After several hours and finally calming down, I called the main Penn DOT Driver’s License Center (1-800-423-5542). I spoke with a very nice operator and asked if there was a different facility than the one I went to earlier that day which there was but it was another 20 miles north than where I had just gone. I explained that happened, she transferred me to her immediate Supervisor who listened to the entire process and what took place at the testing center.

After a 1 hour phone call with this Supervisor and being apologized to at least 12 times – He proceeded to inform me that he had been checking with other Supervisors in the Main Licensing Center and they had sent messages to other divisions across the State of PA and ALL CONFIRMED that for the PA NON COMMERCIAL CLASS B TESTING – It was to be a DRIVING & SKILLS TEST ONLY!!!!

WHAT???????????????????

He apologized numerous times again and then asked me what center I had gone to and who the testing agent was which I only had his 1st name and then he asked the Stupid-Visor’s Name which I explained he didn’t introduce himself and just told me to reschedule for another test on another day! I was asked WHAT DID HE LOOK LIKE? I did my best to give a description and also did my best not to laugh (or cry) at this point! He closed the phone conversation stating that by the middle of next week, I will receive a phone call from himself or another Main Center Supervisor to confirm their findings and WHY I was being asked to do more than the Driving & Skills Test Only!

Now, at this point, I am going to see this through and I WILL GET MY PENNSYLVANIA NON COMMERCIAL CLASS B LICENSE!

I share this entire process and story ONLY to give a True Life Experience with “Government in Confusion” and how people with Titles of Stupid-Visors need to KNOW what their JOB is and what proper guidance/direction is needed to both their employees and the civilians who come to their centers with unclear answers seeking proper guidance and directions as well…….

There are those that really do care and want to perform at a high level in their occupation – It’s sad that this is so hard to find in government where actually THEY work FOR US!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PLEASE SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES AS I STRIVE FOR UNDERSTANDING – THANKS

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Just trying to figure out how one understands illogical / logic. :wacko::blink::huh::o:mellow::lol:

I have been down that road and until something bad happens, I may never know if I have the proper documentation. Just have to wonder how many continuances will be needed from in front of the Honorable _________, will be needed.

One of those mysteries in life!

Thanks for your time putting the experience into words.

Rich.

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PhaetonDriver,

Are you sure you were not at the Louisiana DMV? Sure sounds like you were!!!

Good luck to you and I admire your perseverance.

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Thanks Rich & Paul....

I appreciate your thoughts & especially the humor. I guess we need to find the humor in all situation less we turn into a DMV AGENT :D

There is such little information from other owner/operators on their findings & experiences - I needed to take the time to pen mine. Hope it helps somone!

Be Safe, Happy & Always Enjoy Riding Inside The Postcard!

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Yes, welcome to PennDOT. I also was told by the dealer that I did not need a special license to drive my 28000 pound Bounder when I purchased it new.

While reading these forums some time ago I was surprised to learn that a non commercial Class B was needed. I have a CDL so I was OK but that was all my wife needed to know so that she doesn't have to learn to drive the RV. Ask a State Trooper and you will find few that know of the requirement. I have to visit the Troopers when renewing my CDL every 4 years and that is how I can say that few that know of the requirement.

Dealers should know and should disclose. I wonder what would happen if you had a serious accident and the insurance company found out that you did not have the proper license.

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PhaetonDriver,

As an after thought, could you post what your test drive consisted of?

Thinking it might be as informative as the face to face regarding the DMV

Rich.

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Rich,

Once I'm able to take the "Driving" portion of the testing - I certainly will.

As I mentioned earlier, after the "Air Brake Test" section - the Stupid-Visor ended the entire process.


Stay Tuned

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In NC a class A non cdl is required....I went thru some of that mis information too. But was able to obtain a license without too much trouble but at the MVD they did try to give me the regular CDL test until I raised a question about it. Driving test was a trip around the block.

When we moved to NM, was told no special license needed for RVs....

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Actually in NC, a Class B (non CDL) license is required to operate anything over 26001lbs. I just got mine last year, with pretty much the same requirements as the OP, but without the confusion about what material to study. I was given a CDL handbook and told to study just the general driving safety and air brake sections and then tested on those areas. The driving test was really just a short drive thru the small town and a couple miles on rural roads and back to the licensing office. I did have to demonstrate the air system check, i.e. show the air pressures and when the low air alarm sounds, etc, but all in all I thought it was a pleasant experience.

It's too bad some of the folks in PA apparently don't know their job.

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As a recently retired Pa Trooper and DOT inspector and proud owner of a DP over the magic number of 26001lbs yes a non-cdl class B license is required. I can also agree that most troopers don't get concerned with class of license until they have you stopped on the side of the road or at a accident scene then within minutes they will know what license the driver should have.

Years of inspecting CMV I can say I never looked at a RV unless it was being used as a CMV. It comes down to if you don't plan on being stopped do you need to get the proper license-- probably not but its quite a risk because should you be stopped not only do you risk getting a citation the Trooper is not going to allow you to drive your coach from the stop. Good luck.

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What about if you live in another state that doesn't have these requirements and you merely drive "through" one of the states that do?

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What about if you live in another state that doesn't have these requirements and you merely drive "through" one of the states that do?

No problem. All states recognize other state's drivers licenses.

But, you DO have to comply with any vehicle restrictions as you go through each state (things like max length, speed, weight, etc).

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I'm from PA and went from under 26000 to over 26000 and got a class B drivers license. I was told while I only had a permit a class B driver or higher had to be with me. Got a permit, scheduled a test ( driving only) and took the driving test in Washington PA. Answered questions about air brakes but only to inform me how they work, not really part of test. Was told I was the first to take the test in my area. My big concern was if stopped and my driver license didn't match the weight of the MH it would require towing. Also, if I had and accident the insurance would have a reason not to pay because I was not legal in PA. It seems I was lucky and the DMV office in Belle Vernon and driving test facility in Washington knew what was required. Five dollar permit, help of a friend ( CDL driver), knowledgeable PA workers and I'm legal. Remember, RV dealer won't tell you because I believe they don't know or care but just want to sell.

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What about if you live in another state that doesn't have these requirements and you merely drive "through" one of the states that do?

Just be sure you are in compliance for the state you are licensed in. There were rumors in another thread that CA state troopers were pulling over large motor homes from other states (e.g. Texas) to verify the person had the proper license.

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I was chuckling when I read the OP, as it sure sounded like Texas. It was back in '86 when I went for a test for a Class B CDL. At that time, even though I was driving a vehicle under 26,000 pounds the trailer was over 10,000 pounds (remember I said AT THAT TIME) and it was 3 inspectors and one supervisor later that I explained the manual to them and finally they agreed a Class B was needed.

So don't pick on PA as I have read from many other RV owners that the state of confusion they are from is the same as PA.

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In most states there is confusion as to what is required for testing for a motorhome over 26,000 lbs. 26,000 Lbs is pretty much the standard weight agreed upon for requiring a special license but what I required for the test is always a point of discussion. To begin with many policemen don't even know that one is required. Where you have problems is that if you are involved in an accident and the other driver or an attorney does know then you can be charged with driving out of class and receive a ticket.

I have been teaching CDL drivers many years in NYS and still find that some DMV clerks are not familiar with the permits and occasionally I will run across a summer or part time examiner who is not familiar with a RV test.

In NYS the test consists of three rights, three left turns and parallel parking and or backing up to the examiner. Before backing you must shut the coach off, secure the parking brake and walk behind the coach to make sure it is clear and then ask the examiner to observe for you.

Where some examiners are confused they may require you to do a brake test which consists of shutting your engine off, taking your parking brake off and holding steady pressure on the foot brake for one minute to insure that it does not loose more than 2 lbs. of air in a minute. Then with your parking brake on and your engine off you pump the air down until the warning buzzer comes on. When you start to move you must apply your brakes within the first 50 feet to insure that they work properly. This is not required on an RV test but sometimes it is wiser to go through the process if asked to do so instead of getting off on the wrong foot with the examiner. No other pretrip is required. I have only had one person fail an RV test and that was a retired police officer who got into an argument with the examiner about a brake test prior to the road test and even though he was a good driver he failed with 100 points. I had the test rescheduled for the next day and he passed with flying colors with a different examiner.

Diplomatman2002

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PhaetonDriver,

Have you gotten your non commercial class b yet? I, too, live in PA and am having difficulty obtaining my non comm class b for my Winnebago Journey that I have been driving since 2006. Already been to the local license/driving center, they have no clue. Called Harrisburg, still waiting for a call back from the "experts". Also, according to what I have read, I need someone who already has a non comm class b to drive with me to the testing site, which I have no clue as to the location for handling Class A MH - I don't know anyone with this type of drivers license so don't know what to do.

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PhaetonDriver,

Just got off the phone with a wonderful helpful lady at the number you listed in your post which connects with an automated system for scheduling exam appointments. I chose the "speak to a representative" option.

Told her I was already a licensed driver in PA but needed a license to drive my MH that is over 26001#. She said I only had to fill out form DL901 which is a non commercial driver's license/ID Card/Learner's permit application to renew/replace/change/correct.

Check the Driver's license box at the top. Fill out sections A, B - checking the change/correct box and license/ID card box and in section C in the space marked OTHER CHANGES write "change from non commercial class C to a non commercial class A."

Sign at the bottom. Write a check for the fee and take it to the PennDott location closest to me. NO WRITTEN OR DRIVING TEST REQUIRED.

Now I have done everything except take my check and filled out form down to the PennDot location, so we'll see if this works out like Ellie said it would.

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I also live in PA and drive a DP which is over the 26001 weight limit. I went to the Penn DOT office in Harrisburg and spoke to a gentlemen who was very knowledgeable and explained the procedure to me. I read the entire CDL handbook, just because I wanted to know all I could to be as safe as I could. I found a friend with a CDL to take me for my test, which consisted of the air brake test and about an hour on the road. We went from interstates to local highways to small residential streets to make sure I could control my 40 footer under all circumstances.

My experience was much different than Phaeton Driver because I was fortunate enough to find an individual at Penn DOT who knew what he was talking about and was willing to take the time to explain the process to me. We even discussed RV dealers handing the keys to a 40 foot coach to someone who largest vehicle experience was an SUV and how that was a recipe for disaster.

This all happened 4 years ago but I wish I could remember the gentlemen's name as I would strongly recommend him to you. It was a real positive experience for me and I feel much more confident in my ability to handle my coach since I took the time to go through the process.

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PhaetonDriver,

Just got off the phone with a wonderful helpful lady at the number you listed in your post which connects with an automated system for scheduling exam appointments. I chose the "speak to a representative" option.

Told her I was already a licensed driver in PA but needed a license to drive my MH that is over 26001#. She said I only had to fill out form DL901 which is a non commercial driver's license/ID Card/Learner's permit application to renew/replace/change/correct.

Check the Driver's license box at the top. Fill out sections A, B - checking the change/correct box and license/ID card box and in section C in the space marked OTHER CHANGES write "change from non commercial class C to a non commercial class A."

Sign at the bottom. Write a check for the fee and take it to the PennDott location closest to me. NO WRITTEN OR DRIVING TEST REQUIRED.

Now I have done everything except take my check and filled out form down to the PennDot location, so we'll see if this works out like Ellie said it would.

After reading all the replies to this topic I went to my local Penndot license center and the fellow was very knowledgable. I bumped my license up to class B, cost me $5.00, I have to take a drivers test with the motor home, "to see if you can handle it". Handle it, been driving it 10 years. Then he asked "does it have air brakes?" I said yes, he said be knowledgable about them. The $5.00 got me a permit to drive the motor home for a year, I have to schedule a test drive before it expires. So, that is what I found out. My wife looked at the permit and started laughing, she point out that is has on it Pennsylvania Learner's permit. Oh well, not the first time I have been laughed at!

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Truly interesting read:

My compliments to PheatonDriver for his fortitude and ability to handle the situation with grace and humor. Based on his experience i must say i am glad to be just south of the Mason Dixon line in WV. When I entered the ranks of class A MH owner/driver, I too was told by the out of state dealer that a CDL was not required. I was not convinced so I contacted WVDMV and after going through a couple of representatives was told that RV's were exempt for CDL requirements and that my regular drivers license was all that was need. Not wanting to find myself on the side of the road facing a ticket with only this verbal, i confirmed in the WVDMV CDL handbook the following:

Who must have a West Virginia Commercial Driver’s License?

If you live in West Virginia and want to drive a commercial motor vehicle on the public roads, you must have a

West Virginia Commercial Driver’s License, unless you are expressly exempt........

Who is exempt?

• The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 exempts vehicles used exclusively for personal use as

recreational vehicles and rental trucks used only to transport the driver’s personal and/or household property.

I just confirmed that this is still what is posted on the WVDMV website so unless someone has better info, i will blissfully drive and enjoy

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I'm not from PA, but you may be very correct in not requiring a CDL. However are there specific class licenses in PA for the weight of the vehicle you are driving. As I have heard, there is.

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Most DMV's are like that. Motor homes are a twilight zone for them. My state allows you to drive with no special licensing. I know Texas and California require a non commercial class B (for over 26000lbs.). There have been many discussions on various forums about this. Even most owners don't know if their state requires it or not. Dealerships are really in the dark, and probably don't care. To them, it's sell, sell, sell.

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I am certainly glad I found out about this class B license for a rv over 26000 lbs. This Summer I made a appointment up at my local Penn Dot drivers license place. Went up filled out the info they needed, paid my additional $5. They said they would be with me shortly. Two hours later, the fellow who takes you on a drivers test got me and out to the motor home we went. I asked why it took so long and was told they called Harrisburg to find out how to test for a class B non comm. and was waiting on a reply!!

He asked me what do I do to the motor home before leaving, told him, check lights, oil, tire pressure, etc. He checked the lights, horn, and wipers, we have a state inspection system and all that was checked with the sticker on the window!! We got in and went for a test drive and came back and I got 100% but this office and I think Penn dot doesn't as yet know what they are doing!! Oh well, I am legal and that's all I care about.

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