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Old 05-28-2015, 07:16 PM   #1
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Post Legal questions: Moving permit, insurance, etc.

I'm a highly competent handyman and professional engineer, who is SO ready to get started on building a skoolie. I am not a lawyer, and it seems like Ill need to be, just to get a bus into my driveway! Here's some of my questions.

I live in GA, and I'm planning to buy a cab-over bus with a GVWR of around 30,000. The problem is it's in another state, in the midwest.
I understand you can get a moving permit within a state, but how does this fair across multiple state lines?

The moving permits I find also stipulate you have insurance on the vehicle you are moving. How am I supposed to tell my insurance company I want to insure a bus which I am not licensed to drive? Can I get insurance from another company temporarily on my "RV-to-be"

GA's DMV shows you can get a class F non-commercial licence to drive vehicles over 26,000GVWR, but you must have already been driving the vehicle for 3 months. How am I supposed to get a license to drive a vehicle when I must have already been driving the vehicle to get the license?

I understand you can call the bus an RV once you pull the seats out, but I wont be able to do that till I get it to GA. Am I supposed to get a CDL just to move the bus to my state?

Thanks for any input!
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Old 05-28-2015, 07:49 PM   #2
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In Michigan we can buy the thing and drive it home without plates or insurance. That's what we did but we only had to drive 40 miles. One forum member drove theirs "naked" cross country. Check with the state DMVs to see what's legal then go from there.
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:50 PM   #3
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Progressive will give a commercial policy. They don't care what license you have.
Just tell them you need it for business.

Its not actually an RV as soon as the seats are out, at least in my state. Also any RV insurer will want to see pics of the conversion.

Just get a commercial policy till the conversion is done enough to get RV insurance. Get a temporary tag in the state where you're getting it. Call ahead to see if thats possible.
When I bought my bus in Ky they wouldn't give me a temporary tag. They don't use them except for a few circumstances and you have to go to Frankfort for one.
I just drove back the 800 miles tagless. It was a little unnerving but eventually I got over it. I did have insurance.

Since Ga is your home state, I can't offer much guidance as far as all that but there are members here who have sorted that out. Seems like Ga can be quite a pain.
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Old 05-29-2015, 10:08 AM   #4
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A short-term temporary/transport permit/tag/registration should be honored across state lines until its expiration just like any other permit from the same state would be.

In addition to Progressive, you might also call National General. Like EastCoastCB says you'll be asking for a commercial policy for personal use. It's confusing but that's just the way the insurance companies do it. You might also check whether any of your existing auto policies have a provision for automatic coverage of a newly-purchased vehicle, and whether it's reasonable to believe that such provision would cover a bus... (that's the strategy I went with for bringing mine home from California).
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Old 05-29-2015, 04:54 PM   #5
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For personal use, you do not need a CDL to drive it, just make sure the flashing lights are covered and the words "school bus" are painted over and the school district name is covered or removed from the sides
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Old 05-29-2015, 09:24 PM   #6
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call your insurance agent.

i drove mine home across 3 states, arizona, new mexico and colorado, with out plates or any insurance card. i was covered by my primary auto policy for 2 weeks from the date on the bill of sale.

im pretty sure you cant insure a vehilce you dont own yet. they give you some grace period to get it home and insured.
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Old 05-29-2015, 11:24 PM   #7
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YOu can insure vehicles you don't own yet. They can start the policy the date you pick up the vehicle.
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Old 05-30-2015, 09:08 AM   #8
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just to clarify,
the type of drivers license you need is directly related to how the bus is titled and not how it is being used,

many on this site believe some states dont require any special license for the over 26000 gvwr buses but I disagree since all states must follow federal guidelines, it can be hard to fine the exact reg that specifies it, while you dont need a cdl once the title has been transferred you will need to upgrade your license due to the buses gvwr, what the license is called does vary from state to state,

in texas a class C license is the normal car license and a class B is for a +26000 vehicle not towing a +10000 large trailer, it is a simple written test and a simple driving test along the same path regular cars drive, and just to confirm it is possible to get a class B non cdl license, as well as a class A non cdl.

I wrote up a long article on how I did my DL and title change on my page, expect the dmv and tax assessor people to just look at you and many will tell you that it is not possible to change the title so you will need to find the regulations yourself to prove it to them, and I know you are not in texas.

if it is a school bus or private bus and you have only a few passengers and you have a bill of sale the cop will probably NOT make you park it until a cdl driver arrives to drive it away, even though that is what he should do,
in my experience many cops dont even know about the 26000 gvwr requirement for cdl's and they will just see an empty bus with a bill of sale and let you go with a ticket,

the real cdl issue appears if you get in a wreck and someone decides to sue you, then they will see you are not licensed for that vehicle which then means your insurance will be retroactively cancelled and you will be convicted of driving while improperly licensed and personally liable for all damages.

now with all that being said very few skoolie owners were properly licensed when they got their first bus, driving slow and being big and yellow goes a long way to not getting in a wreck and not getting pulled over.

imho
get insurance before, they will probably want the VIN number and the seller should not care to provide it ahead of time, get any insurance just to have a card and cancel it once you are home if it is expensive,

I paid a few dollars and did a vin number search online before I bought mine to make sure the seller was still listed as the current owner,

5 minutes after I got my bus I went to the local tax assessors office to do a "title only" transfer, this transferred ownership into my name, it was about $10 also just for safety to make sure their was not some issue with the title,
I also got a temporary transport only license plate (paper), cant remember what it was called exactly, it also cost about $10, they just needed the vin and the address I was driving the bus to,
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Old 05-30-2015, 02:15 PM   #9
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In CA, 26,001# requires a Class B license. Pulling a trailer with a GVW of 10,001# requires a Class A. This is the one that gets people nailed. If you register as a motorhome, regardless of the GVW, you don't need anything but a regular drivers license.
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Old 05-30-2015, 06:28 PM   #10
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Just to put in my 2... I bought mine in GA and took it to NC. Before I went down to pick it up, I contacted my insurance agent and she set up a business account. I called her with the VIN on Saturday and she gave me an agent binding # which she said was like an insurance policy # on the temporary. I went on Monday and signed the policy application and paid the policy premium. Ours had a valid GA tag so we just hit the road. We were passed by several sheriffs patrol cars and they didn't even slow down or show any real interest.

Having said that, I'd recommend caution re: driving the bus home without a CDL b/c of the issue bubb mentioned...you're okay unless you wreck...then you are FUBAR b/c your insurance co won't back you.

A few things I should have considered before our pickup:

Have you driven a vehicle this large before? If not, find a parking lot quick and try to get comfortable with turning radius, clearances and check your mirrors.

Read your states CDL test manual to learn how to test air brakes before you head out.

Check all of your lights before you leave so you'll know how to turn them on if it gets dark on your way back. Which leads me to...leave on your return journey as early in the day as possible. We did okay until we got home and discovered that the motor wouldn't turn off (at 11pm...neighbor love!) Was a stuck solenoid but still....

And last but not least, some folks (including me) have advocated on this forum to leave your bus titled as a bus so you can concentrate on pleasing yourself re: the conversion. However, if you do that you will likely need to take the driving test in what is considered a 'complete bus' so don't start demo until after you pass the driving test or you will need to find yourself another pre-demo bus to drive for the test.

I don't know how singular NC is in its requirements so definitely call your friendly neighborhood DMV office and ask.
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Old 05-31-2015, 06:26 AM   #11
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to register you will need a weight slip as well. when i weighed, i was only 18K, plenty legal for a regular class C drivers' license.
dont sweat the small stuff. class c should allow up to 14 passegers, and 26,000 lbs. more than that, and yes you need a cdl.

a recent bill of sale should be all you need for your trip home. imo
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Old 05-31-2015, 07:03 AM   #12
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I'll bet if you think about it, you no someone with a CDL, offer them a few bucks, turn it into a road trip and have some fun. People like to be part of our crazy adventures.
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Old 06-04-2015, 04:25 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the great info everyone. This is very helpful.
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Old 06-04-2015, 04:49 PM   #14
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I don't have a CDL, and I don't plan to get one. Before I start bidding on the bus I want, I'll have someone lined up that does have a CDL to drive it home for me. Two people need to go anyway, because someone has to drive the car back as well.

As far as insurance goes, I think it varies by state, but I'll call Progressive and print a temporary proof card just to get me back home legally. If they cancel the policy for one reason or another, it won't be for a few days at least.
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Old 06-08-2015, 03:48 AM   #15
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I drive a 3/4-ton van, and I have an above-average driving skill with no tickets or at-fault accidents. I also have a strong technical understanding of air-brakes, and diesel engines, and I am comfortable with minor repairs on the road and such. Basically, I'm quite sure I can get this thing home with no problems, as long as nobody gets in my way.

The fact is, however, I will be driving an 84-pass transit bus across multiple states (probably a 2-day trip) with no prior experience, I am not used to tail-swing, or forward-control seating. Therefore, I see the probability of getting in a minor wreck as uncomfortably high.

It's no biggie if I get a ticket, but I do not want to get sued because I bent someone's bumper. As far as licensing, in GA you can get a Class-F license, which basically allows you to drive non-commercial vehicles over 26,000 GVRW. It's easy enough to get. My issue is that a bus technically is commercial as long as there are more than 15 seats in it.

The best solution I can think of is to get myself a Class-F, bring an angle-grinder when I pick the bus up, and cut out all but a couple seats and dump them. I can then tell the insurance company it's non-commercial, and avoid the hassle of obtaining a CDL and commercial insurance.

The title will still say it's commercial until I get the bus home and change it over, but it would fit the criteria of being non-comercial. If I got in a minor accident on the way home, will the insurance company try to drop me due to the official commercial status of the title?

Anyway. Thanks again for all the advice and detailed responses!
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Old 06-08-2015, 06:00 AM   #16
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I bet you'd be better at driving it than you think if you're mostly on larger highways...maybe stay in the right lane and just don't go over speed limit. You'll just want to watch out for the bozo who wants to jump into your braking gap...happens in traffic and near exits, me thinks.

Another option to think about...pass the CDL written test (and vision and medical test) to get your learner permit and then hire someone with CDL to go along. You can split the driving time and get valuable experience instead of just riding in your new home. You don't have to pursue the CDL if you don't want it and it only cost $30 or so plus medical certification (perhaps your reg doc would fill it in gratis?).

Perhaps a craigslist ad for an adventurous school bus driver?
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Old 06-08-2015, 06:20 AM   #17
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I concur with everything Seroflorus said and more. When I was lead vehicle training instructor with my last Guard unit, I'd conduct maybe an hour of classroom training (aka Powerpoint and videos), then stick the students behind the wheel and drive out the gate and into *real* traffic. I did this with everything from Humvees to LMTV and 5 ton cargo trucks on loan from the Army Guard, and regardless of rank behind the wheel. And it made my squadron's personnel better drivers because of it, IHMO.
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Old 06-08-2015, 07:44 AM   #18
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My insurance agent wouldn't insure my bus in a non-commercial policy but they were super sensitive to the idea that it was a private vehicle, so you may be stuck with the commercial policy for now. The insurance agent just wanted pics of the outside and didn't care about # of seats. I'd ask my agent before going through all the effort of cutting out seats if its for no benefit.

Worst case scenario is that your insurance co would not only drop you but refuse to honor any claims...which is where the real risk lies IMO.

Check these guys out for a potential help. http://www.qualitydriveaway.com/php/services.php They *may* even ride with you some if you decide to get the CDL driving permit (which would be good for practice).
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