Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 02-15-2018, 11:29 PM   #1
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,128
Do I or do I not need a CDL?

The issue of whether or not you will need to have a CDL seems to be a continuing question.

As someone who has been training drivers to drive school buses in WA state before the CDL rules came into practice I think I am in a position to answer that question.

One caveat, the rules to which I refer are the rules in WA state and apply pretty much the same way in OR.

The rules are really simple. If it is yellow and has black stripes and it says School Bus on the front and rear of the bus you will be required to have a CDL with a school bus endorsement. If you have driven a church bus, motorcoach, charter bus, or a transit bus and you have a CDL with a passenger endorsement you still can't drive a school bus. And the opposite side of the coin applies as well that if you have a school bus endorsement you can't drive any other sort of bus.

If your bus is no longer a school bus (the crossover lights are inoperable, the top paddle is removed, and it no longer says school bus on the front and rear of the bus) it would fall under the category of bus which would require you to have a CDL with a passenger endorsement if the bus has seating positions for more than 15-passeners in addition to the driver. Here on the left coast it doesn't matter if you are driving the bus empty, for hire, for free, or just for fun you will still need to have a CDL with a passenger endorsement.

If however after you have removed or disabled all of the school bus equipment and removed enough seating positions so that there are no more than 14 seating positions in addition to the driver you can then go through the process of changing the title, registration, and license from school bus/commercial bus to recreational vehicle (some states will change the designation to motor home or house car or some other classification that is not a commercial or school bus classification). If however you don't remove enough seating positions your bus will still be classified as a bus (see entertainer coaches for example that have kitchens, bathrooms, and sleeping berths for 20 people).

The fact your bus may have a GVWR in excess of 26,001 won't matter if it is classified as an RV. In fact, the only time GVWR comes into play in regards to buses is anything under 16,000 GVWR requires only a class 'C' CDL but anything heavier requires a Class 'B' CDL.

Here in WA state the weight cops have gotten together with the licensing people and you can no longer renew a vehicle license on any vehicle with seating positions for more than 15-passengers in addition to the driver or a vehicle over 16,000 GVWR without proving why you do not need a USDOT number to operate said vehicle. The exemptions are farmers and fire departments. In other words, in WA state if you don't change the classification you will have a difficult time renewing the license.

There are some work arounds that you can do but they are only good for a trip or two. I have been involved with buses since 1976. In all that time I can count on one hand how many times I have ever seen a yellow bus pulled over for a traffic infraction. The odds of you getting pulled over to have your license, registration, and proof of insurance checked are virtually zero. It isn't legal but moving your bus home from wherever you purchased it will rarely catch the eye of any cop unless you are blatantly violating traffic codes.

WA driver's licenses do not have any classifications for any non-commercial operation. A normal run of the mill driver's license that allows you to drive your family mini-van is the same license that will allow you to drive a 45' converted motorcoach pulling a three axle enclosed trailer with a GVWR of 20,000 lbs. If you were to try and pull that same trailer behind any truck on which you pay tonnage you would be required to have a Class 'A' CDL because the trailer GVWR is greater than 10,000 lbs.

I suppose what I am saying is you need to know what you have to have in regards to driving legally in the jurisdiction in which you live. There are a lot of variables across the country and the enforcement is greater or lower depending on a lot of factors with revenue generation being high on the list for motivation to enforce laws.

Good Luck and Happy Trails as you embark on a great adventure with a bus!
cowlitzcoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2018, 11:38 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
jjhwick119's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Frisco, Texas
Posts: 804
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: Dt466e
Rated Cap: 71
good info. gonna throw this in case anyone else from tx looks here

For TX ive come to understand that any bus under 26,001 can be driven with a normal class c license, but anything higher requires a class b cdl, while the vehicle is registered as a bus. Seems to be similar case in some other states as well. To get the bus registered as an RV though, you have to meet certain steps (4 out of 6 i think), and bring the vehicle in for inspection
jjhwick119 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2018, 12:21 AM   #3
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,128
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjhwick119 View Post
good info. gonna throw this in case anyone else from tx looks here

For TX ive come to understand that any bus under 26,001 can be driven with a normal class c license, but anything higher requires a class b cdl, while the vehicle is registered as a bus. Seems to be similar case in some other states as well. To get the bus registered as an RV though, you have to meet certain steps (4 out of 6 i think), and bring the vehicle in for inspection

I think the 4 out of 6 steps are pretty standard around the country:
  1. Stove--this can be as simple as an old Coleman stove set up on a table or one of the new camping stoves that has legs
  2. Toilet--this can be as simple as a toilet seat on a bucket
  3. Bed--this can be as simple as a mattress thrown on the floor
  4. On board water system--this can be very simple but requires a storage vessel and some sort of delivery system to a sink
  5. On board 110-VAC electrical system--It has to be something more than a drop cord stuck out a window
  6. Refrigerator/ice box--this can be as simple as a cooler mounted to the floor
cowlitzcoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2018, 05:07 AM   #4
Bus Nut
 
BurlKing's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 502
Year: 92
Coachwork: Thomas Built
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 5.9L
Rated Cap: 77
spot on cowlitz.

I only have my class A for work purposes. When I first had the bus I didnt have it and people would ask me in person "dont you need your CDL for that?" and i'd reply with a "No, not if....etc and go on a big ramble" and they'd still be a little skeptical. Now all i say is "No, but i have it anyway." was so tired of explaining to people i see why you dont.
BurlKing is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2018, 09:19 AM   #5
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 4,936
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Thank you Cowlitz,

Very well put!
PNW_Steve is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2018, 10:36 AM   #6
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Owasso, OK
Posts: 2,627
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner MVP ER
Engine: Cummins 6CTA8.3 Mechanical MD3060
Rated Cap: 46 Coach Seats, 40 foot
There is something odd going on in Washington State that appears to be at odds with most of the country.

What Cowlitzcoach said above, I wouldn't even begin to dispute in any way at all.

However, that description of the process doesn't match the rules in other places.

Do I Need A CDL?

To determine whether or not you need a CDL you have to ask yourself one question:

Am I driving for a commercial purpose? This includes ferrying kids to church, boy scout camp, etc.

If the answer is "No", then generally you do not need a CDL. This is because the CDL rules are Federal rules imposed under the Commerce Clause of the constitution. The CDL rules are predicated entirely on their opening that states that the rules apply only to those driving for a commercial purpose.

The rules are about driving, not about vehicles. The rules go on to impose restrictions on the vehicle you may drive, but the premise remains the same.

Driving is an activity regulated by the states, with the sole exception of commercial driving.

So you then have to go to your state to see what restrictions are placed on your regular state drivers license. In my case I was good to go, because Oklahoma imposes no additional restrictions. Vehicles are not regulated either by weight or type in my state so all I had to do was ensure that I was driving for personal reasons only (moving a bus, my bus, from Nebraska to Oklahoma. Moving it for my personal use, not for any reason connected with commerce).

Not all states are as loosely regulated. In Texas, and in common with many others, your driving privileges are restricted usually by weight. In that state I would have needed a Non-Commercial Class B added to my license before I was entitled to drive. So if Texas issued your license, or any one of a number of states, then you too would need the extra Class or Classes adding before you drive. In Oklahoma everything is a car, unless you are driving commercially.

The outlier in all of this is Washington State. I haven't looked at the rules there and have zero reason to dispute someone with a deep knowledge of his own state. This is not the first time someone has said that you need a CDL in WA to drive a bus for personal reasons.

I don't really know what I would do if faced with that. It's clearly not lawful to make that requirement, and probably not enforceable, but who wants to be the guy who challenges it?

WA is perfectly entitled to incorporate the provisions of the federal regs into their codes, but they are not entitled to modify federal regulations in the way they seem to have done. They can't, for example, insist on a CDL for non-commercial driving, because those regulations do not cover non-commercial driving, and states don't get to amend federal rules.

I don't know the answer. Maybe they have changed state law and I have missed it, but insisting on a CDL is wrong ... and I'm glad I don't have to worry about it.

I don't want to enter any kind of dispute about this, please feel entirely free to tell me I'm wrong, provide examples, etc. I am not personally invested in this matter. I know the rules in my state and I understand that the rules vary frome state to state.

As with all things, check the rules that apply to you, yourself. Be aware that the people in your Tag Office, or local DMV might not know the answers, and that the state will only give you accurate information if you ask them the correct questions.

It's a minefield, the saving grace being that big yellow buses are almost invisible to law-enforcement. Do your very best to comply with the laws, drive carefully and don't be a dick and the chances are good that you will get home completely unscathed.
__________________
Steve Bracken

Build Thread
Twigg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2018, 10:49 AM   #7
Bus Geek
 
o1marc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 7,452
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
How do you get around the 26000GVWR? Here in Ga. you would need a class B CDL. on the mere weight alone, no matter the use of the vehicle.
o1marc is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2018, 10:54 AM   #8
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 4,936
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
In Washington RV'S, used for non-commercial purposes, are exempt from the CDL requirements.
PNW_Steve is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2018, 10:59 AM   #9
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Owasso, OK
Posts: 2,627
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner MVP ER
Engine: Cummins 6CTA8.3 Mechanical MD3060
Rated Cap: 46 Coach Seats, 40 foot
Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
How do you get around the 26000GVWR? Here in Ga. you would need a class B CDL. on the mere weight alone, no matter the use of the vehicle.
In Georgia I believe you need a Non-Commercial Class E or F.

They are one of the states that uses different letters.
__________________
Steve Bracken

Build Thread
Twigg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2018, 11:02 AM   #10
Bus Nut
 
jjhwick119's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Frisco, Texas
Posts: 804
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: Dt466e
Rated Cap: 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
In Washington RV'S, used for non-commercial purposes, are exempt from the CDL requirements.
its the same in texas. no cdl at all once its registered as an RV. all i can advise is check what limitations georgia has on RV
jjhwick119 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:39 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.