Do you need a special license for an RV?

One day I was talking with my brother, who has a CDL (commercial truck driver’s license) and he asked if I had the right license to drive that RV.  I was pretty sure that I didn’t need anything more than my regular driver’s license that I have had since I was 16.

But he said to check the back of my license.  So I looked and it said that I was licensed to drive vehicles up to 26,000 pounds.  That sound like a lot.  I should be OK.

The truth is I didn’t have any idea how much the RV weighed.  I had to wait until I got home to check on the weight.  When I did I found that the GVWR was 28,000 pounds!  Oh, oh!

I had driven the RV home from the seller in Virginia, 3 states away!  I had driven it to get fuel!  I had driven it to put it in storage and to get it back out, which is about an hour away!  Oh, oh!  My current license didn’t cover that driving!

So now I had to research what type of license Annette and I needed and what it would take to get one.  Fortunately, we do not need a CDL.  That would have involved a yearly physical exam and a very tough driving test.

What we need was a Class B, Non-commercial Driver’s license.  OK, but how do you get one?

I have to tell you that the Pennsylvania DMV website was not very clear (actually, not clear at all!) on the process to get this license.  So, Annette went to the place where you take your driver’s license test.

She found out that it wasn’t so bad.  Just give them $5, take an eye test and they gave you a permit.

This permit is just like the permit you had when you were first learning to drive.  You can NOT drive all by yourself.  You need to have a licensed driver with you.  And I had done all of that driving!

Rather than going into the driving test cold, Annette and I found Allen Gingrich of RV Safe T to give us a lesson or two about our RV and driving it.  He was very flexible.  We split the 8 hour lesson into two days so that he could go with me to the driving test (remember you have to have a licensed driver with you at all times when driving on your permit.).  He was very knowledgeable and very patient with us.

Allen took us to a large parking lot, setup some traffic cones and had us practice backing up straight and parking.  Allen also taught us how to do a truck inspection.  He included everything you would have to do as a pre-trip inspection of an 18 wheeler.  This included things like checking the lights, tires, brakes, suspension, filters, etc.

So after the practice, Allen went with me to the driving test appointment.

It was kind of funny when the examiner came in from a previous test and asked who’s next?  I raised my hand and he thought I was joking.  He was used to 16 year old kids and was shocked to see someone in his 50’s!

The examiner was a good guy, but he was only 1 month on the job!  He had to ask some of the others how to give the Class B test.

I like to be over-prepared and Allen did that for me in spades!  When the examiner said to do the pre-test inspection, I started to tell him about the suspension and brakes and he said, “No, no.  Let’s just check the lights.  Get in and turn on the headlights.”  So that is all we did.

So then we got in, tested the air brakes and then embarrassed myself!  He said to pull out and go out to the traffic light.  So I put it in gear and started to drive and we went over a bump.  What was that???  Oh, oh.  I had chocked the wheels and forgot all about them!  Embarrassing!

But the good news is that I have my class B, Non-Commercial driver’s license and i am now driving legally!


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