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Old 09-18-2019, 12:52 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
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Driving through BC Canada with a USA non-commercial license in a bus with air brakes

I've been on the phone with ICBC all morning and they say that I would need an air brake endorsement if I had a BC license but that I do not qualify for one because I am not a BC resident and am just passing through on my way to Alaska.

I currently have a basic California drivers license. Because my registration has been legally converted to Auto MH (Motor Home) I am allowed to drive it without a CDL.

ICBC wasn't able to recommend any printable documents to keep in my skoolie to show in case I am pulled over and questioned about the brakes. One of the workers recommended that I go to the DMV in California and ask for a note that specifically states that I am allowed to drive an auto MH that uses air brakes with the license that I currently have and do not need any further endorsement or CDL.

Can anyone share experience or advice related to this situation?
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Old 09-18-2019, 01:01 PM   #2
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Sorry I can only add to the confusion....

I have driven many miles through 4 Canadian Provinces, including BC, in an air brake equipped bus. I do not have an air brake endorsement and have never been licensed in a state that offers a non-commercial air brake endorsement. I did not have any issues.

I have heard many stories and met two couples who were turned away at the BC port of entry because they didn't have an air brake endorsement.

IIRC: they were both from AZ. A bit of a drive to be turned away at the border.
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Old 09-18-2019, 03:15 PM   #3
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I suggest you consider getting a CDL even though you're not required to. Holding a CDL trumps trying to persuade an officer on the side of the road.



Although your bus is titled as a motorhome it could be used for the road test portion of a CDL exam with air brakes. This is so because it has a GVWR over 26000 pounds and is equipped with air brakes. The fact that you aren't required to hold a CDL to drive it doesn't matter; you could still use the vehicle for road testing toward a CDL.



There is a small bit of headache getting and maintaining a CDL. The renewal fee is probably a little higher, and you may need a DOT medical card depending on whether you classify yourself as interstate or intrastate (but since you don't actually drive commercially, maybe you can elect the one that doesn't require a DOT medical card).
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Old 09-18-2019, 04:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by family wagon View Post
I suggest you consider getting a CDL even though you're not required to. Holding a CDL trumps trying to persuade an officer on the side of the road.



Although your bus is titled as a motorhome it could be used for the road test portion of a CDL exam with air brakes. This is so because it has a GVWR over 26000 pounds and is equipped with air brakes. The fact that you aren't required to hold a CDL to drive it doesn't matter; you could still use the vehicle for road testing toward a CDL.



There is a small bit of headache getting and maintaining a CDL. The renewal fee is probably a little higher, and you may need a DOT medical card depending on whether you classify yourself as interstate or intrastate (but since you don't actually drive commercially, maybe you can elect the one that doesn't require a DOT medical card).


Curious if you hold a CDL?
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Old 09-18-2019, 07:42 PM   #5
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Curious if you hold a CDL?
Yes. My CDL journey started when the local transit authority hired a couple hundred temporary drivers when the winter Olympics came to Salt Lake City in 2002. Paid training, a couple weeks of actual driving, and I got a class B license out of the deal. Those familiar with CDL classes will recall that the B license is for any length and weight of straight truck, plus a trailer not more than 10,000 pounds.


Fast forward several years. I had (still have) a 3/4 ton pickup with 8800 GVWR and a dump trailer with a 12k GVWR, so the combination came to 20,800. Somehow the CDL topic came up with a police officer who pointed out the 10k limit on my class B vs the 12k rating on my trailer. I talked with several people in the driver license division, police, and department of motor vehicles. Some said my combination isn't CDL because GCVWR is under 26,000 while others said I need class A because the trailer is heavier than the 10k limit of class B.. I believe the former is correct but didn't want to find myself pulled over some time and haggling with a police officer with a different view.



I decided to eliminate all doubt and upgrade my license to class A. I made a connection with a guy who had a Peterbilt tractor he used to tow a gooseneck horse trailer about 30 feet long. It wasn't so different to my pickup towing the 35 foot gooseneck RV I had at the time, but it looked like a commercial vehicle, it had air brakes (on the tractor only), and it had GCVWR over 26000. I took it out for a half hour one evening to get the hang of it and passed the driver license road test with it the next day. The nice thing about that rig was that it was marked "Private RV - Not for hire" on the side. That meant I was legal to drive it in Utah even without a CDL, but at the same time it checked all the boxes so I could use it for upgrading my CDL.
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:07 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by OlgaAK View Post
I've been on the phone with ICBC all morning and they say that I would need an air brake endorsement if I had a BC license but that I do not qualify for one because I am not a BC resident and am just passing through on my way to Alaska.

I currently have a basic California drivers license. Because my registration has been legally converted to Auto MH (Motor Home) I am allowed to drive it without a CDL.

ICBC wasn't able to recommend any printable documents to keep in my skoolie to show in case I am pulled over and questioned about the brakes. One of the workers recommended that I go to the DMV in California and ask for a note that specifically states that I am allowed to drive an auto MH that uses air brakes with the license that I currently have and do not need any further endorsement or CDL.

Can anyone share experience or advice related to this situation?
as long as you are driving legally in your own state, you are legal in Canada too - you could be asked to provide documentation that you are legal in your state - I would think a copy of your pertinent state law would be sufficient - the following is an excerpt from a letter from ICBC

'You are permitted to operate the same type of vehicles in British Columbia that you can operate on your home jurisdiction driver's licence. However, the burden of proof is on you to provide documents that verify you are able to operate vehicles equipped with air brakes without having an air brake endorsement if you are ever requested by law enforcement to prove this.'
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:12 PM   #7
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I went by the DMV today and picked up the book for CDL. It is really long and want to start heading north ASAP. How long realistically should I expect to need to get a CDL? Would a class B be enough to eliminate doubt about the bus?
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Old 09-18-2019, 10:40 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
I have heard many stories and met two couples who were turned away at the BC port of entry because they didn't have an air brake endorsement.
do you know which entry port it was? The BC border is pretty long. Are there checkpoints that are harder to pass than others?
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Old 09-20-2019, 04:03 PM   #9
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I went by the DMV today and picked up the book for CDL. It is really long and want to start heading north ASAP. How long realistically should I expect to need to get a CDL? Would a class B be enough to eliminate doubt about the bus?
Yes, class B is sufficient for a bus. Probably should get the passenger endorsement too -- as I recall that requires answering ten more multiple-choice questions and paying a few dollars.


As for how long it takes - it depends on how good you are at cram and dump test taking. The written exam is your first hurdle. You may be able to find practice exams. If so, maybe begin there and find out how much you already know and/or can solve by intuition, and then focus your study on the areas where you're lacking.


This gets you a learner permit. You need to accumulate something like 40 hours actually driving the vehicle. If you've had your bus very long you may have accomplished that already. I don't recall whether I was required to keep/show a written log of these hours.



The road test is the second hurdle. As I recall it consists of four broad things: remember all the minutiae of a pre-trip inspection, drive confidently but carefully, don't forget to stop, open the door and window, and look both ways before crossing the train track, and make a mental note of every road sign you pass. The examiner will ask "We just passed a speed limit/bridge height/etc sign. What did it say?"
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Old 09-20-2019, 04:32 PM   #10
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California DMV - RV license Handbook

Quote:
Originally Posted by family wagon View Post
I suggest you consider getting a CDL even though you're not required to. Holding a CDL trumps trying to persuade an officer on the side of the road.



Although your bus is titled as a motorhome it could be used for the road test portion of a CDL exam with air brakes. This is so because it has a GVWR over 26000 pounds and is equipped with air brakes. The fact that you aren't required to hold a CDL to drive it doesn't matter; you could still use the vehicle for road testing toward a CDL.



There is a small bit of headache getting and maintaining a CDL. The renewal fee is probably a little higher, and you may need a DOT medical card depending on whether you classify yourself as interstate or intrastate (but since you don't actually drive commercially, maybe you can elect the one that doesn't require a DOT medical card).

I uploaded for you the California DMV Handbook for RV's.
You find the licensing answers to your questions.

It seems that California does offer a NON-Commercial Class "A" license for RV's.


On the flip side of holding a CDL license, you will be held to a higher standard when it comes to violations.
The alcohol blood content is much, much, lower and I know that at least in Florida, if you get a ticket you cannot opt to go to traffic school.

Also, if you got into a bad accident, you would most likely be held to professional standards versus just being John Doe on vacation with his family.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf California DMV - RV & Trailer Handbook.pdf (1.51 MB, 1 views)
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:57 PM   #11
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My personal opinion on this topic is that the less one has to do with bureaucrats the better. I prefer to ignore them as much as I can.

And what Sleddgracer said above is correct, if a tourist is legal to drive in their home jurisdiction then they are legal while they are visiting BC. For one thing there are international agreements about reciprocity that will be followed. But visitors should be prepared to prove they are legal if that fact is not obvious, and especially in a complicated situation like this one.
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:54 PM   #12
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To avoid all of the above i had our bus registered with a weight less then 26001 Lbs and titled as RV. Never got pulled over by DOT or police.


Good luck, Johan
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:02 PM   #13
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To avoid all of the above i had our bus registered with a weight less then 26001 Lbs and titled as RV. Never got pulled over by DOT or police.


Good luck, Johan
What did you do to get the GVWR below 26000?
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:23 PM   #14
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Just get an empty weight slip and tell the inspection station to lower the gvwr on the vehicle. Our empty weight was I think 21000 or so, it is somewhere in my build thread. The inspection station paperwork was then transferred by my favorite third party title transfer company. Penndot gave me the title listed at 26000. Easy .
Now going heavier would be complicated.


Later Johan
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:27 PM   #15
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Thanks, that's very interesting. I will have to see if Oregon DMV will do that. I'm getting close to asking them to take my WA schoolbus title and give me an OR motorhome title.
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:01 PM   #16
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To be complete.. my process was.. by a bus in North Carolina. Get a temp tag from the north Carolina DOT. Drive bus to PA.



My third party Tag company advised me to Convert the bus to Motorhome... have it inspected and then register directly as Motorhome . That would avoid paying registration twice.

Converted 4 out of 6 in a hurry... still was a month late... Took the bus with photos and all required documentation to a licensed registered inspection station that is allowed to approve vehicle alterations.. Paid him $ 150 and asked to lower the GVWR on the paper work that would be sent to Penn DOT.
Passed inspection. With the inspection paperwork I went to My third party Tag company. They filed it and one week later my new title/ license plate came in.
I am not very good with bureaucrats but my third party Tag company always does a great job for a small fee.


Johan
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:30 PM   #17
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That does sound complicated. I had to run "third party Tag company" past DuckDuckGo. I don't think there's anything like that in Oregon. But they may reduce the GVW some if I ask.

Up until a few years ago Oregon DMV was not very helpful to people who wanted to convert schoolbuses. Some of their practices seemed deliberately designed to discourage people. Like having to drive to the state capitol to have your conversion inspected.

Then about 3 years ago that attitude changed and now they are much easier to deal with, explaining different options and things like that. Plus now people don't have to drive to the state capitol to be inspected.
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Old 09-21-2019, 10:12 AM   #18
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in texas

What state do you currently live in?


In texas,
class c, normal drivers license
class b, over 26k weight with no trailer or trailer less than 10k weight
class a, over 26k, with trailer that weights over 10k,
each license class can be with or without a cdl, class only means weight, cdl means you get paid for driving,



My bus is over the 26k limit so in texas I got a non-cdl class B with air brake, their is no need to get a full cdl, look at your state regs, they will have something similar,


It was a single written test and a normal car type driving test, with a 3 minute air brake test/quiz
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Old 09-21-2019, 10:30 AM   #19
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Changing the weight on our bus was quick and easy. We brought Florida's weight change form to a Pilot, weighed the bus on their CAT certified scale, and had the manager sign and stamp our form. The DMV fixed us up, we went from 28k to 16k and are under the requirement for any additional licensing in any state.
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Old 09-21-2019, 12:13 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gs1949 View Post
My personal opinion on this topic is that the less one has to do with bureaucrats the better. I prefer to ignore them as much as I can.

And what Sleddgracer said above is correct, if a tourist is legal to drive in their home jurisdiction then they are legal while they are visiting BC. For one thing there are international agreements about reciprocity that will be followed. But visitors should be prepared to prove they are legal if that fact is not obvious, and especially in a complicated situation like this one.
SO true! Easy way to prove it is to print out YOUR home state laws and keep a copy in the bus...just in case.

So here is Florida Law for you to print out and keep in your Florida registered bus. Notice that "Weight" has nothing to do with it, RV's are exempt!

https://www.flhsmv.gov/driver-licens...-designations/


CDL Exemptions

The following persons are exempt from the requirements to obtain a commercial driver license:
  • Drivers of authorized emergency vehicles that are equipped with extraordinary audible warning devices that display red or blue lights and are on call to respond to emergencies;or
  • Military personnel driving military vehicles; or
  • Farmers transporting farm supplies or farm machinery, or transporting agricultural products to or from the first place of storage or processing or directly to or from market, within 150 miles of their farm; or
  • Drivers of recreational vehicles used for recreational purposes; or
  • Drivers who operate straight trucks (single units) that are exclusively transporting their own tangible personal property which is not for sale.
  • An employee of a publicly owned transit system who is limited to moving vehicles for maintenance or parking purposes exclusively within the restricted-access confines of a transit system’s property.
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