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Old 09-06-2008, 12:02 PM   #1
Bus Nut
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 362
Re: Anyone for an argument about CDL requirements in Virginia?

I spent a bit of time on this issue right after I bought my thomas, and started checking on how to get it home.

Basically, you need a CDL to operate any commercial vehicle that meets certain requirements. You clearly defined those with the Class A, B, C stuff. This is a federally instituted system implemented by each state.

However, there are also pieces of law that exempt some vehicles from being classified as commercial. If it isn't commercial, it doesn't need a CDL.

Here's some information to support this:

Go down to page 9. There are 4 situations where a vehicle that would normally require a CDL is exempt.

1. Operation of a vehicle for personal use only, such as a recreational vehicle or truck to move your personal belongings

2. operation of a fire truck or other emergency vehicle

3. operation of a farm vehicle that meets the requirements of a farm vehicle

4. Operation of a vehicle for military purposes while the operator is on active duty carrier.

The first exemption is all it really takes.

It took me some time, but I finally found the section of VA law that specifically states this and printed it. Ahh, found the link:

"Commercial motor vehicle" means, except for those vehicles specifically excluded in this definition, every motor vehicle, vehicle or combination of vehicles used to transport passengers or property which either: (i) has a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds; or (ii) has a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds inclusive of a towed vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds; or (iii) is designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver; or (iv) is of any size and is used in the transportation of hazardous materials as defined in this section. Every such motor vehicle or combination of vehicles shall be considered a commercial motor vehicle whether or not it is used in a commercial or profit-making activity.

The following shall be excluded from the definition of commercial motor vehicle: any vehicle when used by an individual solely for his own personal purposes, such as personal recreational activities; or any vehicle which (i) is controlled and operated by a farmer, whether or not it is owned by the farmer, and which is used exclusively for farm use, as defined in § 46.2-698, (ii) is used to transport either agricultural products, farm machinery or farm supplies to or from a farm, (iii) is not used in the operation of a common or contract motor carrier, and (iv) is used within 150 miles of the farmer's farm; or any vehicle operated for military purposes by (a) active duty military personnel, (b) members of the military reserves, (c) members of the national guard on active duty, including personnel on full-time national guard duty, personnel on part-time national guard training, and national guard military technicians (civilians who are required to wear military uniforms), but not U.S. Reserve technicians, and (d) active duty U.S. Coast Guard personnel; or emergency equipment operated by a member of a firefighting, rescue, or emergency entity in the performance of his official duties.
The important thing here is that your vehicle is exempt from being a commercial vehicle, which exempts you from needing a CDL.

To think about it another way, you can go rent a big u-haul truck that exceeds 26,001 pounds and not need a CDL since you are operating it for personal use.

Now, this might not stop a cop from giving you a hard time about it if you get pulled over. Even though the law would be on your side in this.

On the other hand, if you're using your bus for commercial purposes *at all*, these excemptions no longer apply. If your bus then fits one of the other categories, you will need a CDL.

I know a guy that works for a wrecker service, and the rollback he drives is rated for 26,000 pounds, and no air brakes, so he doesn't require a CDL to operate it. 1 more pound of GVWR or adding air brakes would flip him into the CDL category. That is a vehicle that is obviously used for commercial purposes.

I hope all this helps you.

jim -- getting blown around by the tail end of hannah

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Old 09-13-2008, 09:52 PM   #2
Bus Nut
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: downriver, detroit mi
Posts: 794
Re: Anyone for an argument about CDL requirements in Virginia?

just my opinion, if you have a RV title you are exempt from the commercial legalese, it is your own personal recreational vehicle and clearly not for hire. when you performed the work to change from a bus to rv title you became the manufacturer just like when somebody bought the chassis and installed a body that turned it into a schoolbus, you have now manufactured a legal rv as described and titled in the commonwealth of virgins.
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Old 09-14-2008, 10:06 PM   #3
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 704
Re: Anyone for an argument about CDL requirements in Virginia?

I carry a printed copy of THIS PAGE in my bus with me... it helps to have your bus registered as "Bus for private use" or Titling a Reconstructed, Specially Constructed, or Replica Vehicle may be useful too...

In short it states...

How do I know if I need a commercial driver's license (CDL)?
If you plan on driving a tractor trailer, tank vehicle, or school bus that carries 16 or more passengers, you need a CDL. There are a few exceptions to the types of vehicles that require a CDL to operate them, though. You do not need a CDL for the following types of vehicles:

* Emergency vehicles, such as fire trucks or ambulances.
*School buses carrying fewer than 16 passengers including the driver?but you will still need a school bus endorsement and to pass the school bus and commercial driver tests.
* Recreational vehicles and rented moving trucks used for personal use.
* Military vehicles if you are on active duty military.
* Farm vehicles when used by farmers; used to move farm goods, supplies, or machinery to or from your farm; not used as a contract motor carrier; and used within 150 miles of your farm.

You just might be a Redneck if...
...your motor home used to be a school bus!
...Your living room has a steering wheel!
...Your home has brake lights

1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee
1989 Thomas Diesel Pusher (Cat 3208/Freightliner)
Chesapeake, Virginia
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Old 09-15-2008, 09:57 AM   #4
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Re: Anyone for an argument about CDL requirements in Virginia?

You should not need a CDL if you register as an RV, not a bus. Another good thing about registering it as an RV is that insurance is cheaper in most cases.

Normally, the requirements for a vehicle to qualify as an RV is:

1. a permanent place to sleep
2. cooking facilities
3. heat or A/C independent from the vehicle (i.e. propane or electric heater, roof air conditioner, etc)
4. independent power (110 VAC Generator)
5. running water
6. a bathroom (shower, toilet)

Normally, most states require four of the 6 items, in an RV, before it can be registered as an RV.

Check with the state about registering it as an RV instead of a private bus or truck.

Hey, I registered mine as an RV even though my bus grosses out at 32,000 lbs. And yes, I'm legal.
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Old 10-02-2008, 10:51 PM   #5
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Location: Adirondack Mountains NY
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Re: Anyone for an argument about CDL requirements in Virginia?

You should not need an "S" endorsement anywhere unless you are actually transporting school children. The "original class" of an altered vehicle (e.g. ambulance) should refer to the weight class, not vehicle use type. Up here they use skoolies to drive rafters to and from the river(s). Commercial use, yes. School bus, no.

Check to see if the introduction to the Motor Vehicle laws have definitions, specifically of what a "school bus" is.
(Never mind, I found it: ... d+46.2-100)

§ 46.2-100. Definitions.

"School bus" means any motor vehicle, other than a station wagon, automobile, truck, or commercial bus, which is: (i) designed and used primarily for the transportation of pupils to and from public, private or religious schools, or used for the transportation of the mentally or physically handicapped to and from a sheltered workshop; (ii) painted yellow and bears the words "School Bus" in black letters of a specified size on front and rear; and (iii) is equipped with warning devices prescribed in § 46.2-1090. A yellow school bus may have a white roof provided such vehicle is painted in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Department of Education.

§ 46.2-1090. Warning devices on school buses; other buses; use thereof; penalties.

Every bus used for the principal purpose of transporting school children shall be equipped with a warning device of such type as may be prescribed by the State Board of Education after consultation with the Superintendent of State Police. Such a warning device shall indicate when such bus is either (i) stopped or about to stop to take on or discharge children, the elderly, or mentally or physically handicapped persons or (ii) stopped or about to stop for another such bus, when approaching from any direction, that is stopped or about to stop to take on or discharge any such persons. Such warning device shall be used and in operation for at least 100 feet before any proposed stop of such bus if the lawful speed limit is less than thirty-five miles per hour, and for at least 200 feet before any proposed stop of such bus if the lawful speed limit is thirty-five miles per hour or more.

For any new bus placed into service on or after July 1, 2007, such warning devices, at a minimum, shall include a nonsequential system of red traffic warning lights, a warning sign with flashing lights, and a crossing control arm such that when the bus door is opened, the red warning lights, warning sign with flashing lights, and crossing control arm are automatically activated.

Failure of a warning device to function on any school bus shall not relieve any person operating a motor vehicle from his duty to stop as provided in §§ 46.2-844 and 46.2-859.

Any person operating such bus who fails or refuses to equip such vehicle being driven by him with such equipment, or who fails to use such warning devices in the operation of such vehicle shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Transit buses used to transport school children in the City of Hampton may be equipped with an advisory sign that extends from the left side of the bus and displays the words: "CAUTION-STUDENTS." Such sign may be equipped with not more than two warning lights of a type approved for use by the Superintendent of State Police.

What I see on the RV boards is that there is a Federal exemption from a CDL requirement for Recreational Vehicles. If you have an RV title You may need a CDL if it is 26,001+ and the bus is used for any business purpose, whether that's leasing out an on-board recording studio, or a carpenter transporting his tools from jobsite to jobsite.

If your title is for a "truck" under 26.000 lbs., and it has no more that 15 seats and no air brakes, you are golden (though I appreciate the difficulty explaining it to the unknowing).
Someone said "Making good decisions comes from experience, experience comes from bad decisions." I say there are three kinds of people: those who learn from their mistakes, those who learn from the mistakes of others, and those who never learn.
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Old 10-03-2008, 08:27 AM   #6
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Re: Anyone for an argument about CDL requirements in Virginia?

your other option is to spend a day studying the manual, take the physical, (that we all should do annually, have the paperwork filled out), go pay your money and tak the test for a straight truck or bus and get the license. it might just come in handy for something else.
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