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Old 05-08-2008, 11:47 PM   #1
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Re: Legal operation of a skoolie

The general rule is to pull the passenger seats and register it as an RV. RV's have a limit to passenger seating capacity (I'm guessing less than 15). RV's also need cooking, sleeping & pooping arrangements. It generally has been one of the last free spots in our great country--do what you want, just don't kill or maim anyone; most states don't inspect. Insurance is more of problem.

Most of us get a trip premit and make toad's wild ride on that first trip home.
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Old 05-09-2008, 07:48 AM   #2
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Re: Legal operation of a skoolie

Yep, just like was said above. The 26,000 lbs limit applies only to commercial vehicles in MOST states. Double check your own state's regulations to be sure. You can also easily get around this by just registering it for less weight. There is no need to register a TC2K for close to 30,000 lbs. My bus weighs about 21,000 lbs fully loaded with food, drink, people, and their stuff. Registering for less weight will make the CDL thing a non-issue if your state even cares with RV plates and will have a lower wheelage tax in most cases.
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Old 05-09-2008, 09:24 AM   #3
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Re: Legal operation of a skoolie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brynsbark
Hello,
I've been lurking about this site for some time now, and am researching the requirements of actually purchasing (and operating) a retired bus.
A local district is retiring a couple of BB tc 2000 busses. Reasonable mileage, good condition and the mind just wanders with the possibilitys. Dmv indicates tagging is not a problem BUT... the GVW on all of them exceeds the 26k limit for a standard drivers license. (27.8k to 30k on the vehicles that will come available soon)
Is there a solution for this or should I be looking for a bus that falls below the 26k (non commercial) limit? I would prefer to stay away from the additional work of getting a CDL for operation of these beauties!
First...welcome aboard!

There's actually a lot written on the subject here and a search should turn up a fair amount but to summarize...

The Federal government sets the regulations for a CDL and the individual States administer it unlike non-commercial licenses which are totally up to the States. A State can add to the requirements of a CDL but they can't change the basic regulations; one of which is that Recreational Vehicles are exempt. This is in the Federal regs and easy to find. So, in short, a State can not require a CDL for operation of a Recreational Vehicle. What they can do however, is require an endorsement to a non-commercial license and there's nothing to keep them from making that endorsement equal to the CDL in terms of testing. Most States, if they have such a thing, require the endorsement for heavy and/or long vehicles (such as California for 45-footers) and others require endorsements for air brake equipped vehicles. Many require nothing but a valid Operator's License.

Every State I've checked on has had a web site with the pertinent information and it's far better to research it than to call your local licensing office. When I was looking into this in my home state of Washington (even with regard to getting RV plates for the bus) I got a different answer from each licensing office I called. They simply don't know for the most part since it's not a situation they deal with very often. I got the statutes online, printed them out, and carry them in the bus. If I ever get stopped I can hand over something definitive rather than hoping the officer is aware of the statutes.

I'd venture to say that almost every 40-foot motorhome out there on the road (and probably a lot of the 36 to 38 footers) are all over the 26,000 GVW rating so it's really the norm rather than the exception; you'll have lots of company. Not to mention the older Blue Bird Wander Lodges which are siblings to the bus you're considering.

Have fun and best wishes!
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Old 05-09-2008, 12:55 PM   #4
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Re: Legal operation of a skoolie

In CA and NV, ( and prob most states) you need a NON-COMMERCIAL CLASS B license to drive anything over 26,000 lbs. If the VIN plate states a GVWR over that amount, and you register it for less, and for whatever reason someone looks, I suspect you may get a ticket if you don't have the right endorsement. GVWR is what it is. You can't just arbitrarily change it. Doesn't matter what the registration says. Get in an accident, and the vehicle is mis-registered, well I'd ask my insurance company BEFORE that happens. Get in an accident with an improper license endorsement, well, again, probably an extra citation, and extra liability issues.

I suspect most DMV workers say you need a COMMERCIAL license out of ignorance. Here in NV, you take a written test and then a driving test. It all boils down to wether the little bit of extra hassle is worth it to you. You never know what the other guy on the road is going to do....
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Old 05-09-2008, 08:29 PM   #5
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Re: Legal operation of a skoolie

Here is a link to a summary of what each State requires for heavy RV operator licensing:

http://changingears.com/rv-sec-state-rv-license.shtml

As of the time the list was put together 15 states require special license endorsements (mostly over 26,000 pounds but a couple vary). The remaining states require only a valid Driver's License. [Things can change...make sure you to some checking.]

Hope this is of interest.
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Old 05-09-2008, 08:51 PM   #6
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Re: Legal operation of a skoolie

Quote:
Originally Posted by elkoskoolie
If the VIN plate states a GVWR over that amount, and you register it for less, and for whatever reason someone looks, I suspect you may get a ticket if you don't have the right endorsement. GVWR is what it is. You can't just arbitrarily change it. Doesn't matter what the registration says. Get in an accident, and the vehicle is mis-registered, well I'd ask my insurance company BEFORE that happens.
Ah, on the contrary! The GVWR is the maximum weight the vehicle itself can handle as set up from the factory. You can, of course, weight/haul less than this. The states do not care ONE BIT what the vehicle manufacturer determined the GVWR to be. Not only can you register a vehicle for LESS than the rating, but you can also register it for MORE. Aside from the normal safety and documentation type stuff a commercial enforcement officer is only going to be concerned with axle weights (not ratings...actual weights), whether or not the tires can handle the weight, and that your gross weight is below the registered GVWR of the vehicle. It's all about the tax money from wheelage tax, man.

Like I said...my bus is registered for well below the GVWR stamped on the VIN plate. The DMV did not bat an eye when I asked if that was possible. They said to rate it as low as possible without rating it lower than it would actually weigh because my wheelage tax would be less. It was a simple single form called a "Change of Weight Class."

You don't have to take my word for it, but if your registration fee is based on weight I'd get on the horn with the DMV the next time you need plates.
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Old 05-10-2008, 08:35 PM   #7
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Re: Legal operation of a skoolie

The tax office sent me down the street to the certified scale at the local grain mill. The bus(tc2000) weighed 16900lbs that is what they used. I got them to register it as an RV instead of a bus by asking them to, I had the two pictures they did not even look at them. As an RV a regular license is all you need and the insurance is much cheaper.
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Old 05-30-2008, 03:46 PM   #8
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Re: Legal operation of a skoolie

ask your local and or state police department for the legal description of a RV and or bus they are the powers thbat are going to enforce laws in your state, most states reciprocate, ie what ever is legal in the state of registration will be considerde legal whereever you are.
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