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Old 01-15-2016, 04:41 PM   #1
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PA license requirements and titling



I would like to make sure I understand the rules for my state correctly, and haven't found many PA threads. I have seen other forums and articles referring to PA as requiring a CDL for any vehicle with air brakes, but from my read of the rules (and others interpretations as well) this is not the case.

From my understanding, air brakes require an additional certification IF you are driving a vehicle that requires a CDL, but there is no rule for normal licenses and vehicles that fall under 26000 GVR.

I get my information from this sheet from the DOT: http://www.dot.state.pa.us/Public/DV...ets/fs-cdl.pdf

That being said, it seems as though the drive home will still be risky, given the fact that there are punishments of up to $2500 for driving a commercial vehicle without a license, and PA is rather strict on the school bus to RV title transfer rules. Given that the bus I intend to get has air brakes, punishments can be even higher. I was informed that in 'aggravated or extreme' cases jail time is not out of the question, but I am guessing that is for someone doing more than driving an empty school bus home to convert.

Others have apparently been told by the state to have the bus towed to where you want to convert it, convert it, have it towed to a special inspection station, have it towed back home, pay for a special inspector to come and initial photographs, send everything in, then wait for your RV tags before you can legally drive it...

Anyone have any experience in PA? I'm assuming almost everyone just drives it home and hopes for the best, right? I have no other need for a CDL and can't find anywhere local that offers any type of training, so I'd be looking at $500-$1000 to take tests, pay for permits, pay for some type of training to make sure I know the things they test for, and pay for the license addition. And it would take about a month on the short side to get that all done.

Any comments here are welcome!
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Old 01-15-2016, 05:41 PM   #2
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The people to ask are NOT in these forums. You'll get so many answers, you'll be confused even more. The people WITH the answers are located at your local DMV office or State Police barracks or, in the case of Philadelphia, the Highway Patrol.
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Old 01-19-2016, 03:26 PM   #3
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ditto

I am in the same place as you and have the exact same questions and concerns. If you could provide an update with any information you find I would greatly appreciate it.

One other option that came to mind was finding a person with a CDL to do the driving, but unfortunately I have not found that person for myself.
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Old 01-19-2016, 04:08 PM   #4
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I'm going to be doing as CaptSquid suggested and contacting people tomorrow. i'll report back.

I'm also trying to find someone I know to do the drive, but no luck so far.

Let me know if you find out anything as well...
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Old 01-19-2016, 04:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptSquid View Post
The people to ask are NOT in these forums. You'll get so many answers, you'll be confused even more. The people WITH the answers are located at your local DMV office or State Police barracks or, in the case of Philadelphia, the Highway Patrol.
This is the correct answer. Why would you want to get an answer to a question like that here instead of going to the source. If you get pulled over, I can guarantee you that the trooper will not give a hoot that someone on skoolie.net told you differently.

As for a driver, check uShip. you can get quotes for drivers to drive your bus for you. Make sure they have a current CDL and insurance!
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Old 01-19-2016, 05:37 PM   #6
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Also...contacting the "right people" in several different offices will very likely yield several different "right" answers. At least that's what experience here has shown.
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Old 01-19-2016, 06:02 PM   #7
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Well, in the sovereign nation of TEXas, you can always count on DPS for the right answers.
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Old 01-19-2016, 08:05 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Also...contacting the "right people" in several different offices will very likely yield several different "right" answers. At least that's what experience here has shown.
+1 at least on that! *sigh* I had a class B CDL from prior employment but upgraded it to class A because of exactly this phenomenon.

For any who are somewhat inclined to get a CDL "just because" so long as it isn't too difficult, there's a strategy you can use to make it much more accessible. Regular readers will remember I've written about this before. Find somebody who'll lend you a large-ish late-model pickup truck, and also find a heavy trailer. They don't actually have to be all that big. The key is in the GVW of the pickup and trailer. If you can pair a dual rear wheel pickup with 13k GVW with a tandem-axle trailer with 14k GVW (for example), then you've got yourself a combination that when used in commerce requires a class A CDL. That means you can use it for the road test portion of a CDL exam. This is potentially much easier to source, and also easier to quickly learn to drive, than a full tractor-trailer rig. As for the written test part of the CDL.. you probably can get a copy of your state's commercial driver license manual online, read it through once or twice one evening, and go pass the written test in the morning. There's a DOT medical exam required too which is different but comparable to a basic physical exam.

I believe most states (all?) offer a low-cost transport permit you can use to make the vehicle legal to be driven for a few days and thus avoid tow fees. Then you need a driver. If you had a transport permit issued in your personal name, that's probably a good leg to stand on in claiming that you're driving the bus for personal use and so exempt from CDL requirements. It at least shows a good-faith effort on your part to play by the rules.

EDIT: One other thought. Instead of a pickup truck, maybe look for a U-Haul. Their web site says the 20 ft truck has GVW 14,500 and the 26 ft truck has GVW "20,000 max." Get either of those and hook up a trailer with enough GVW to push the combination over 26k and you're set.
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Old 01-19-2016, 11:09 PM   #9
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Appreciate all the advice. family wagon, that is a fantastic idea. I'm going to look into whether or not this will work in PA, but this is the type of thing I was hoping to find, thank you. I have access to all of the things you mentioned with a little bit of planning, and am surprised I didn't think of trying something like this.
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Old 06-09-2016, 09:17 PM   #10
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So what did you come up with, PigPen? I'm in Pittsburgh and also in the market for a Skoolie. Did things work out for you?
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