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Old 12-20-2017, 08:35 AM   #1
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Soon to Be Bus Owner: All About CDL and Driving a Bus Conversion?

I'm from Oregon and currently in Arizona shopping for a bus. What is the real deal on the CDL and if I just quickly take out all the seats, will that bypass the need for any other license but the standard one I have...
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Old 12-20-2017, 08:47 AM   #2
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From the states I've checked, if you aren't using your bus for commercial purposes, you don't need the CDL. The only place I"ve heard anything weird is PA expects a Class B endorsement if you're over 26k GVWR regardless of use.
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Old 12-20-2017, 10:28 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by DesertMax View Post
I'm from Oregon and currently in Arizona shopping for a bus. What is the real deal on the CDL and if I just quickly take out all the seats, will that bypass the need for any other license but the standard one I have...
You do not need a CDL, in any state, if you are not driving "commercially". That can include volunteering to drive a church bus, or boy scouts, etc. If you are driving a School Bus, as a School Bus, you need a Class B CDL with S and P endorsements. If you are driving the same vehicle privately, you do not.

So for most of us a regular Class D state-issued license is just fine, but a few states vary.

Some states require an endorsement for air-brakes (which, by the way, is a good idea).

Some states put any vehicle over 26000 lb GCVW into Class B on a regular license, and into Class A if you are towing a trailer over 10000 lbs. You have to test to get the class added to your regular license.

None of those state requirements are in any way related to a CDL. Those rules are Federal, and there is an exemption to the rules for an RV of any weight.

You simply have to check what your state demands.

Once you are legal in your home state, even the states that make no extra demands, you are legal anywhere there is a reciprocal arrangement. That is all 50 US states, and Canada.
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Old 12-20-2017, 11:03 AM   #4
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If you're in AZ looking for a bus, I can only assume you wanted one with AC. We have some pretty good buses here in Oregon.

What part of OR are you from? There is a growing bus trend on the west coast lately, but the east coast seems to be dominate in the number of skoolies on the road.

This would be a good time of year to be in southern AZ. What kind of beast are you looking for?
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Old 12-20-2017, 11:33 AM   #5
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The research I did into "needing" a CDL directly parallel Twigg's advice above. I even went so far as to contact my state's State Police "Commercial Enforcement Division". Their response also echos Twigg's statement.

As long as you are not driving "commercially" (e.g. not making a living doing it), then there's no need for a CDL.

Think of it this way - the driver's licenses are issued for "why" you are "driving", not "what" you are "driving".

That being said, I'd love to attend some classes on how to drive something so freakin' big as my 45' bus.... I can do it, I've proved it to myself, now I'd like to learn more of the "gotchas" for driving something so big (as compared to driving my Aveo). Getting some exposure to some of the more, ahem, extreme situations and what to do in them would make me a bit more confident.
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Old 12-20-2017, 11:52 AM   #6
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Once you get used to the butt swing on these buses during a turn, the rest is a piece of cake. If I'm going straight down the road I'm only driving about the first six feet of the bus. Lane changes and turns are a different story.

Of course you guys are correct, there is no CDL requirement in Oregon for a private use vehicle. Here a class "C" license is the common license.
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Old 12-20-2017, 11:58 AM   #7
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OK That is Great News :::

Thanks for all the great responses..

Also, to Robin.. many more questions arise! I read the link you included in your response and about insurance :::
I am basically a snowbird Oregon to Arizona like so many others but my new home base is Oregon and Florence out on the coast to be exact.

Here is what I am going to purchase somewhere hopefully towards the and of this winter season about Feb or March..



I like the pushers and have plans for the entire 40 feet of interior space..
I am in touch with a salesman at Las Vegas Bus Sales who has 30 of these!!!
(I visit Government Auction site on a regular basis and realize the savings buying it from them would bring but it's complicated because I don't want to travel out of state and all the auctions seem to be on East Coast etc)

Ok Q1: I do have a conundrum in that I live in my truck camper which I need to sell here in AZ since it appears they are in demand in these parts however I love my truck and will be keeping it. Truck in AZ, bus to be driven back to Oregon by me. I've checked what seems to be all the possibilities on towing and it is sketchy at best. Do not want anyone else driving my truck so the CraigsList ads (drivers available) do not appeal to me. Left with storing the truck here in AZ and then flying back down to drive it home...
Sooooooooo.. you mention buying buses in Oregon? I am leery of mold the union's most beautiful state propagates and felt comfortable getting one down here in the sunbelt. Am I missing something not considering just coming home and making my deal in OR?

Q2: Insurance ::: Would insuring it here in AZ be a possibility and if so, does that carry to Or???
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Old 12-20-2017, 12:22 PM   #8
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I can understand your aversion to mold issues, but the OEM insulation seems to be capable of producing mold across the country based on reports from numerous builds. The glass fibre insulation itself doesn't mold. It does however catch dust from airflow which reacts with humidity/condensation and or leaks to produce mold. I had very little indication of mold, which is also common in other people's builds here in OR and WA. We have quite good buses compared to many states.

Actually, the link was supposed to show the deadbolt arrangements other individuals have made with their doors.

If you've got a truck you want to keep why not simply have a class 5 hitch installed on your bus and pull your truck home? It's not sketchy, except the part about you driving a new to you vehicle. Honestly with a truck towed behind, it should make you feel more secure about not getting broke down somewhere because you'd have a secondary vehicle to rely on.

I'm sure you can get a decent bus here in OR. That said, there's not always what you want when you want it. That's why so many people travel great distances to get the right bus.

Yes, if you get insurance in AZ it will be fine here in Oregon. Depending on where you spend most of your time you should pick up an insurance agent in that area when you settle down.
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Old 12-20-2017, 01:07 PM   #9
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Arizona :: Oregon

Thanks for that Robin. You know, I had planned a flatbed tow behind when I began this adventure and I guess it was on the Ford Truck Enthusiasts forum where the sketchy stuff began. Guys were saying highway patrol and state troopers like to stop those towing the heavier trailers and what not..

That being said, I did check out adding the hitch assembly to the new bus and it is not a problem. Just where to rent a trailer capable of carrying my truck.
Went to local Ford dealer and got a print out on my trucks VIN which states weight as 9400 lbs. The truck forum guys seem to think that was way wrong on the heavy side and it did surprise me when they handed it to me...
Anyhow I hear United and Ryder do rent them but I believe you can only use them behind that companies rental truck which I of course do not need...
On goes the battle...
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Old 12-20-2017, 01:10 PM   #10
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Some of the best buses I saw while searching were being sold by Oregon school districts.

The only issue for me was the 1800-mile drive home. I didn't mind the drive, but it added around $1000 to the price of the bus in my yard.

You don't need to worry about mold if you are stripping it to a bare shell inside before the build-out.
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Old 12-20-2017, 01:45 PM   #11
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OK then... that is good info and indeed I am stripping it down for the build...
Thanks for that...
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Old 12-20-2017, 02:01 PM   #12
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CDL

Take the class at a local community college- you get to drive semi trucks, too ! You will learn all about air-brake basics and feel more comfortable in your abilities.

It's a hoot. You don't have to get CDL license, but don't tell instructor until end.
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Old 12-20-2017, 03:56 PM   #13
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I bought my bus in AZ and took it back to Oregon to title and license it. I looked deeply at AZ law, CA law, etc.

Oregon is the best, easiest place to title and register it as an RV.

Arizona's DMV website was unclear, saying "a vehicle that carries 16 or more passengers" requires a passenger endorsement on your driver's license.. Has seats for 16 people? Has 16 people aboard?

It really matters where you have you driver's license at. That state's laws apply to you and your vehicle in all other states. I had a Hawai'i license, and after hittin' the road, I noticed the small print that said "up to 15K GVW". My bus is 25K GVW.

For sure driving through AZ is the white-knuckler. That is a real police state. Cops every 10 miles on the interstate, swarms in Phoenix and Tucson.

I got a temp (3-month) tag for I think $15 in AZ and booked it up to OR and the cops never looked twice at me. Painted over the "school bus" sign. Kept it under the speed limit, though. The temp tag says "just purchased, following the law, and leaving you alone" so they generally give you leeway. Once registered/titled as an RV in AZ and OR, the weight restrictions do not apply. CA will require a special endorsement for heavier private vehicles, though. If you do get stopped or asked, just explain you just bought it (temp tag backs you up), and that is your intention for it to be an RV/Motorhome, and they "should" be cool.

The scariest part was just after crossing into CA, I stopped at the first exit for food and fuel. I somehow managed to get back on the highway headed back to AZ, and was worried about the Eastbound weigh station, as I saw it full of cops when I drove past heading west. Fortunately, Stateline Road saved me....

Oh, and I saw the same bus in Oregon and Arizona, and the Oregon bus had rust and smelled really musty inside, and the seats had a bit of grean stuff growing on them
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Old 12-20-2017, 04:22 PM   #14
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Ohio told me something different when i called... CDL requirements apply to what you are driving.. if im over 15 seats or 26K GVWR and NOT REGISTERED as a motorhome then the DMV claims you need a CDL.. a DOT number and CDL restrictions on driving like hours of service are NOT required if not used in commerce..

now granted, many of the ohio laws specifically mention church busses so its possible the DMV people i talked to classed a private vehicle like a church bus.. which requires a CDL to drive..

Ive driven busses around for years and not ever been bothered.. ive had to show a license in the past and never been asked by a cop "wheres your CDL".. i have been asked "am i commercial?".. honest answer of course is nope..

every state seems to vary. and a common theme is that many DMV people have no idea how to handle private ownership and operation of school busses..
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Old 12-20-2017, 05:28 PM   #15
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every state seems to vary. and a common theme is that many DMV people have no idea how to handle private ownership and operation of school busses..
-Christopher
That's been my experience, too. My BMV told me to get a CDL so that I'd "be in compliance." What does that even mean? (Yes, that's a rhetorical question....)
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Old 12-20-2017, 08:20 PM   #16
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the seats had a bit of green stuff growing on them
Yep, my girlfriend in Oregon has a cool little Geo Metro that stopped running after I left to come down here in search of my new bus. She left it parked under some trees and didn't check it for a while. She says it has mold growing on both front seats and black puddles on the front floors.. That's Oregon!
And what I love about Oregon is that the State Troopers are not petty about stuff like CHP and the rest. I am convinced that if the country ever did go on total lock down, Oregon is the place to be...
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Old 12-20-2017, 09:29 PM   #17
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Some of the best buses I saw while searching were being sold by Oregon school districts.

The only issue for me was the 1800-mile drive home. I didn't mind the drive, but it added around $1000 to the price of the bus in my yard.

You don't need to worry about mold if you are stripping it to a bare shell inside before the build-out.
Oregon and Washington typically have nice buses!
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Old 12-20-2017, 09:55 PM   #18
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Soon to Be Bus Owner: All About CDL and Driving a Bus Conversion?

Every state is different. What people say about CDLs is true with regard to federal law, but irrelevant if your state (where you are licensed) says you need one. AZ is one of those states. A regular license does not cover any vehicle titled as a bus, and they do not offer any non-commercial license that does as far as I can tell. So in AZ to legally drive any vehicle titled as a bus you it appears you need a CDL regardless of commercial or personal use. You donít have to have a passenger endorsement unless you actually carry passengers as far as I know. Once itís titled as an RV you are covered under a regular license.

Like most (all?) states AZ honors the licensing rules of other states, so if you have have a license from another state where itís legal then you should be good in AZ.

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Old 12-21-2017, 08:43 AM   #19
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About My Ca Drivers License :::

I have permanent Oregon residence but still have my Ca Drivers License. Does anyone think this will cause problems when I bring my Arizona purchased bus back up to Oregon and go to the DMV there??? Also, what about the drive back home.. I guess that's where the temporary reg comes in and I would get that from Arizona DMV... All very confusing isn't it...
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Old 12-21-2017, 10:21 AM   #20
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I have permanent Oregon residence but still have my Ca Drivers License. Does anyone think this will cause problems when I bring my Arizona purchased bus back up to Oregon and go to the DMV there??? Also, what about the drive back home.. I guess that's where the temporary reg comes in and I would get that from Arizona DMV... All very confusing isn't it...
Generally you can only register a vehicle with a license from the state you are registering in.

If there is a workaround, others might know.
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