Do I need a CDL to drive an RV?
It’s hard for people to believe that driving a 40′ Class A motorhome towing a 15′ car behind it doesn’t require a CDL, or “Commercial Drivers License” like big-rig truckers are required to get. The key word in that phrase is “commercial,” and as long as you aren’t driving for business, a CDL is not required in most states.
The CDL is a federal minimum standard, but states make their own laws about how they license drivers. However, if you happen to be a rare bird driving a big rig motorhome in Hawaii, you might need a CDL. There are also some large towing combination lengths that might require a CDL in some states. But most importantly, many states require a special non-commercial license for RVs over 26,000 lbs or certain towing combinations. Illinois is perhaps the most strict state, requiring an upgraded license over 16,000 lbs.
Below is our chart, which we believe to be accurate as of May 2017, of the state-by-state requirements. It is not always clear on the state websites whether the weight considered is the actual weight of the vehicle or if it is the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating). Usually, the weight considered is the total weight rating (or GVWR) of your rig, including tow vehicles, towed vehicles, dollys, and trailers. You may also need a different license if you are double towing, or if you have air brakes.
States have reciprocal agreements on driver’s licenses, so if you have the proper license in your home state, you should be ok with it across the country. We have linked a source where available so that you can further investigate what your state requires.
Note: RV Miles has found many errors in other RV websites’ listings of driver’s license requirements. You should always check with your state’s driver’s license servicer to see what license is required for your rig.
|State||CDL Required?||Special License Required?|
|California||No||Yes, if over 40′ motorhome or towing 10,000lb+ travel trailer or 15,000lb+ 5th wheel|
|Hawaii||Yes, if over 26,000 lbs||No|
|Illinois||No||Yes, if over 16,000 lbs or towing over 10,000 lbs|
|Kansas||No||Yes, if over 26,000 lbs|
|Maryland||No||Yes, if over 26,000 lbs|
|Nevada||No||Yes, if over 26,000 lbs|
|New Mexico||No||Yes, if over 26,000 lbs|
|New York||No||Yes, if over 26,000 lbs|
|North Carolina||No||Yes, if over 26,000 lbs or towing over 10,000 lbs|
|Pennsylvania||No||Yes, if over 26,000 lbs|
|South Carolina||No||Yes, if over 26,000 lbs|
|Texas||No||Yes, if over 26,000 lbs|
|Washington D.C.||No||Yes, if over 26,000 lbs|
|Wyoming||No||Yes, if over 26,000 lbs or towing over 10,000 lbs|