When you first get your luxuriously sized class C RV, you will wonder at just how much more space you have to enjoy vacations now. These RVs are usually just large enough to be bigger than a van, but not as long and big as normal RVs, which makes requiring CDLs for them so much more confusing.
You do not need a CDL license in the United States to drive your class C RV through any states; the CDL is only required in some states when the RV reaches a certain weight and length limit. If you plan to tow something behind the RV, you will potentially need a CDL as this increases the weight/length.
There are many things about CDL licenses and their use that have made people and RV owners across the world confused. Knowing when and where you will need the license is important as it will allow you to easily travel around the United States without being impounded or ticketed.
What states require a CDL to drive an RV?
While most states will allow you to drive with your class C RV wherever you want easily, a few of the 50 states have limitations. This is because some states have different classifications on what requires a CDL license, making it clear when you need to use one.
Usually, these states are the ones that have experienced a lot of traffic in the past or have RVs that regularly visit it over the vacation seasons. The requirement of a CDL for vehicles above a certain length or weight allows for safer situations on the road, with fewer people losing control of their RVs.
Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Nevada, South Carolina, Washington DC CDL Requirements
In these seven states, you will need to have a CDL if your Class C RV weighs more than 26000-pounds, with class A and class B RVs also requiring the CDL if weighing more than 26000-pounds. We recommend that you measure your class C RV when it is fully packed and ready for travel.
If you drive through these states without the right license, you may be given a warning, a ticket, or in some rare cases, have the RV impounded. However, if you are driving properly and are never pulled over, the chances are low that you will be pulled over for weigh-in or by the police for a check.
The CDL Requirement in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin laws around CDL are not measured by weight but by length, which means that your RV can weigh anything, and you won’t need a CDL. However, if your class C RV is 45 feet or longer, you will have to have a CDL; remember, anything you are towing is counted as part of total length.
Usually, drivers of class C RVs that are ticketed in Wisconsin are towing a trailer or SUV behind the RV, causing the total length to be much longer than expected. Before you drive through the state or plan to take a vacation to it, we recommend measuring everything just for safety.
North Carolina, Illinois, California CDL Requirements
These three states have a caveat to their overall weight requirements for CDLs and class C RVs, with North Carolina requiring a CDL if the RV is over 26000-pounds and is towing something more than 10000-pounds. While Illinois requires has the same requirement but start the RV weight at 160000-pounds.
California has one of the most confusing requirements for CDL licenses, with a class C RV over 40 feet long requiring a CDL. But also requiring that if anything is towed that weighs more than 10000-pounds requiring that you have a CDL license ready.
What Is The Biggest RV You Can Drive Without A CDL?
The maximum amount that your RV can weigh is 150000 pounds with a length of only 40-feet if you want to drive through every state in the US without a CDL. You can increase the weight to 25000-pounds if you are willing to drive around a few states that have lower weight limits.
However, we recommend getting a CDL license anyway if you will be driving with an RV across the country. There are many behavioral and weight maneuvers that driving an RV has that you will never have experienced before, all requiring a different way of driving.
If the largest vehicle you have ever driven is a small hatchback, suddenly getting behind the steering wheel of an RV can be cataclysmic. The CDL license is more than just preventing people from driving their vehicles wherever they want to; it helps develop skills.
What Kind Of License do You Need For An RV?
You can drive it with a normal car license; however, with larger RVs, you will need to get a CDL to be legally allowed on the road. Many states will have this listed on their websites, indicating at what point you will need to get a CDL license to be legally allowed on the road.
However, many states across the US have no special requirements to drive any RV. When using the RV as a commercial income, you will need to get a CDL license; otherwise, you can use the RV with your normal car license.
It should be noted that this is changing as the general skills of drivers have changed over the years, with more laws bringing in regulations. This is because newer drivers may not be capable of properly driving something longer than a bus and weighs almost three times the amount.
What Is The Largest Motorhome You Can Drive On A Car License?
With a normal driver’s license, you can drive most motorhomes when living in the United States with only a few restrictions. The license allows you to drive any vehicle with a certain weight and length, which means that most motorhomes are perfectly fine for you to drive.
However, it should be noted that as the RV gets larger and longer, you will have to get the CDL to be legally on the road. If you are not sure about your ability to drive a large RV or smaller motorhome, we always recommend going for the full CDL.
It may take you a bit longer to go on a vacation with your new RV, but it will allow you to easily and comfortably control it at any speed. We have seen several people that lost control of their RVs simply because they have not taken the time to learn how to drive something as large and heavy.
If your class C RV is above a certain weight and length, you will have to get a CDL license to drive the vehicle anywhere in the United States properly. However, if you are only planning on staying within a few states, you may be able to use your normal car license to go wherever you want. Please always ensure that no matter what license you have, you know how to control the vehicle you are in!
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David is an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.