Pursuing a CA CDL

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sparr
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Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by sparr » Mon May 21, 2018 10:55 pm

This seems slightly topical... I need to get a CA CDL to drive my latest big vehicle acquisition out to the burn this year. I'm not confident I can have all zillion things on my own vehicle ready to pass an inspection on any given day, so my current best plan is to use a service that does a few hours of hands on practice and walkthrough and rents me a known-good vehicle to take the test in, which will cost $700-1000 and require a trip to Sacramento or Redding (I'm in the bay area). Anyone have tips on shaving off some of that price or travel?
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by Ratty » Tue May 22, 2018 12:27 am

Sparr, I don't understand. What do you get for your money. Instructions. Driving lessons. The use of a car. You must know how to drive already. Just make an appointment at any DMV outside of the city. Take a friend to lunch and use their car for half an hour.

Oh. I get it. It's a special license. Nevermind.
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by Captain Goddammit » Tue May 22, 2018 6:03 am

You’re opening up a huge can of worms stepping into the CDL world.
You’re gonna have to cross every scale and potentially get thoroughly inspected - and whatever thing you’re coming in with is highly likely to get singled out.
Fines are pretty steep. ALL your shit has to be in order, shit you didn’t even know about like how your brake lines are secured, exactly how your brakes are adjusted, all sorts of detailed stuff.
You need a current medical certificate too.
You need the proper insurance.
You’re subject to the laws regarding hours of service and keeping logbooks.
If uuu ever have a beer or two, remember that even when you’re in your personal vehicle doing personal driving, the DUI limit for CDL holders is point-oh-four, a number REAL easy to hit.

There are classes you can take to get a CDL but they’re generally $7500-ish.

If it were THAT easy to get the license, more people would do it and get jobs.
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by ygmir » Tue May 22, 2018 6:27 am

what is your new big vehicle? sounds interesting...
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by AntiM » Tue May 22, 2018 7:21 am

You can rent a Penske or Budget vehicle, but you'll need someone with a CDL to drive it to the testing area. I don't know if anyone offers this service or not in your area.

Enjoy driving 55 mph in CA. The DOT is a whole new world.

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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by Token » Tue May 22, 2018 8:26 am

And you are sure that a non-commercial class A or B can’t cut it for your needs?

https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detai ... 8/dl648pt2

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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by sparr » Tue May 22, 2018 9:34 am

ygmir wrote:what is your new big vehicle? sounds interesting...
60ft articulated SFMTA bus, originally. Now... slowly becoming something else.
Captain Goddammit wrote:You’re opening up a huge can of worms stepping into the CDL world.
You’re gonna have to
I only need the CDL for state requirements for the vehicle length and weight. I don't plan for it to qualify as a "commercial motor vehicle" federally or "commercial vehicle" in CA, or do anything that makes me subject to federal DOT requirements aside from getting the license in the first place. Thanks for the warnings, though, and I'll keep all that in mind if I ever do wade into those waters as the new license would allow me to.
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by sparr » Tue May 22, 2018 1:36 pm

Looks like the best option is going to be to drop the better part of a grand and a day trip to Sacramento to rent a truck or bus and do the test in that.
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by Captain Goddammit » Tue May 22, 2018 5:09 pm

Not doing anything that subjects you to FMCSA rules would consist of not driving the thing on a public highway.
It’s an over-26,000 vehicle that requires a CDL. Hopefully you don’t get taught the rules the extremely expensive way, from the wrong DOT officer.
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by sparr » Tue May 22, 2018 6:50 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:Not doing anything that subjects you to FMCSA rules would consist of not driving the thing on a public highway. It’s an over-26,000 vehicle that requires a CDL.
As far as I can tell, just being heavy doesn't require a CDL, federally. You also have to be driving a vehicle "used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property". And the federal weight threshold is 10000, not 26000.

26000 is a state threshold, unrelated to any federal requirements, and it doesn't apply to motorhomes. Pro tip: convert every large vehicle you have into a motorhome, if you aren't going to use it commercially. That way you can drive it legally with a plain ole noncommercial class C license, if it's <40ft long.

If more people knew these rules, more people would be willing/able to bring big vehicles to the playa. Please don't spread misinformation; if you have some regulations to cite that back up your claim, I would really like to read them.
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by Ratty » Wed May 23, 2018 12:06 am

Spar, It's confusing but in the United States I'm afraid you'll need a lot of special training and licensing. The weight of the vehicle appears to be the factor. Not whether or not you are going to use it for commerce.
Start with the U.S. Regs. They override the state regs.

In the United States, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 established minimum requirements that must be met when a state issues a CDL.[1] It specifies the following types of license:

Class A CDL drivers. Drive vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or greater, or any combination of vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or greater when towing a trailer weighing more than 10,000 pounds. Transports quantities of hazardous materials that require warning placards under Department of Public Safety regulations.
Class A Driver License permits. Is a step in preparation for Class A drivers to become a Commercial Driver.
Class B CDL driver. Class B is designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including driver) or more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation.
This includes, but is not limited to, tow trucks, tractor trailers, and buses.

Pre-1986
Driving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), which are primarily tractor-trailers (or Longer Combination Vehicles (LCVs)),[2] requires advanced skills and knowledge above and beyond those required to drive a car or other light weight vehicle. Before implementation of the commercial driver's license (CDL) Program in 1986, licensing requirements for driving larger vehicles and buses varied from state to state.

Many drivers were operating motor vehicles that they may not have been trained or qualified to drive.[citation needed] This lack of training resulted in a large number of preventable traffic deaths and accidents.[3]

1986 when the Act became law, all drivers have been required to have a CDL in order to drive a Commercial Motor Vehicle. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has developed testing standards for licensing drivers. U.S. states are able to issue CDLs only after a written and practical test have been given by the State or approved testing facility.

After 1986
A driver needs a CDL if the vehicle meets one of the following definitions of a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV): [4]

Class A: Any combination of vehicles which has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more) whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) whichever is greater.

Class B: Any single vehicle which has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 11,794 or more kilograms (26,001 pounds or more), or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight that does not exceed 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds).

Class C: Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is transporting material that has been designated as hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and is required to be placarded under subpart F of 49 CFR Part 172 or is transporting any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR Part 73.[5]

A state may also require a driver to have a CDL to operate certain other vehicles legally. A driver licensed in New Jersey must have a CDL to drive legally a bus, limousine, or van that is used for hire, and designed to transport 8 to 15 passengers.[6] A driver licensed in New York must have a CDL to legally transport passengers in school buses and other vehicles listed in Article 19-A of the state's Vehicle and Traffic Law.[7] Drivers licensed in California must have a CDL if their primary employment is driving, whether or not they actually drive a commercial vehicle. California defines a commercial vehicle as one that transports for hire either people or products.[8] In addition, possession of a CDL in California changes the threshold for a Driving Under the Influence citation from 0.08% to 0.04% Blood Alcohol Content.[9]

Prospective licensees should verify CDL requirements by referencing their state specific CDL Manual.[10]

The minimum age to apply for a CDL is usually 21, as required by the United States Department of Transportation, although some states allow drivers who are 18 to 20 to apply for a CDL that is valid only within the driver's state of residence. A single state CDL only restricts driving of CMVs within the holder's state (not non-commercial vehicles), and automatically converts to a 50 state CDL at the age of 21.[citation needed]
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by Captain Goddammit » Wed May 23, 2018 12:34 am

Misinformation?
I’ve held a CDL for 30 years.
You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

You’ve got so much shit wrong...
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by sparr » Wed May 23, 2018 12:45 pm

Ratty wrote:After 1986
A driver needs a CDL if the vehicle meets one of the following definitions of a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV): [4]
I need to find some time to correct that wikipedia page. If you follow the [4] footnote, you'll see that someone has erroneously copied the Idaho state requirements and put them forward as federal requirements.

You can find part of the actual federal requirements here under the definitions of "commercial motor vehicle":

https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveEC ... 9.5.390_15

https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveEC ... 9.5.383_15
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by sparr » Wed May 23, 2018 3:55 pm

A lot of the confusion here seems to stem from states requiring a CDL to drive things that the DOT does not require a CDL to drive, and how highway vehicle size limits work.

Regarding what you can drive:

CA requires a CDL to drive anything longer than 45ft and most things longer than 40ft. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detai ... /lic_chart

USDOT requires a CDL to operate some vehicles in interstate commerce, and has a whole bunch of regulations about how you can do that, which is what Captain Goddamnit was referring to above. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/faq/how-do-i- ... ulations-0

Regarding size limits:

USDOT sets *minimum* limits that states must honor in their state laws, which actually range from 40ft to about 55ft. https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/public ... ex.htm#bus

Then states set maximum limits at or higher than those minimums. CA has set the limit for an articulated bus at 60ft. http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces ... nNum=35400.

So if it's just you, your 60ft articulated-bus-based giant salamander art car, and the road, then a Class B CDL is all you need, and the DOT won't care about you until you start carrying passengers or cargo for profit.

If I've misunderstood anything here, or if any of these references are incomplete (which I am well aware they might be), I would love to find more thorough information and would appreciate links to the same.

PS: I actually do plan to carry paying passengers occasionally, and I know FMCSA will apply when I do. But I think most people bringing monstrous vehicles to BM want to bring art cars, not passenger buses, so it would be awesome if more people knew these rules.
Last edited by sparr on Wed May 23, 2018 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by sparr » Wed May 23, 2018 4:02 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:I’ve held a CDL for 30 years.
"I've been writing tickets on this highway for 30 years, I know how a CDL works" is what the officer said to me right before they had my first bus towed in SF because I didn't have a CDL (which I wasn't required to have). That was a hell of a learning experience. It cost the city about four grand in towing and storage fees by the time the tow desk opened back up three days later and I could talk to them to establish that the officer was wrong about the requirements. The tow lot guys said they had never seen a big vehicle tow get overturned outside of court before.
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by Captain Goddammit » Wed May 23, 2018 7:04 pm

I’ve also been wrongly ticketed by DOT officers who either didn’t know the law properly or just felt like writing a ticket.

Apparently in your world that means after three decades I don’t know WTF about CDL laws. (And you do!!???!!)

One of the many things you don’t know is that DOT cops are known to write tickets just because they want to. Or because you annoyed them. And no reason for a stop is required.

For the first time, I find sympathy for them...
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by AntiM » Thu May 24, 2018 6:53 am

A bus headed to BMan from Utah got pulled over because someone called 911 as it was swaying, not holding their lane. Improperly loaded. The highway patrol called the DOT, who brought out the portable scales. Overweight. There were friends following in an RV who took part of the load, but a large ticket was given to the bus driver, and they wouldn't let everyone back on the bus, not enough seat belts! Stuck along I-80 because the owner of the bus was a damn fool.

You can cite all the laws you like, but what is decided by the officer on the roadside is the final headache. Large vehicles are expensive to operate, fuel, and maintain, and if you screw up, you'll get little leeway from the DOT. This is why many people don't bother. Given the Mutant Vehicle rules, it is easier to trailer in than be street legal and go through the expense if a CDL. They also want to avoid the weigh stations.

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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by sparr » Thu May 24, 2018 3:26 pm

AntiM wrote:Given the Mutant Vehicle rules, it is easier to trailer in than be street legal and go through the expense if a CDL.
Easier, but also more restrictive. You don't see a lot of even 40ft vehicles, let alone 60ft, at BM, because trailering them is difficult to nigh impossible. If more people knew the laws about big vehicles, more of them would end up at BM.
AntiM wrote:they wouldn't let everyone back on the bus, not enough seat belts! Stuck along I-80 because the owner of the bus was a damn fool.
I would like to know more about this. AFAIK seat belts aren't required for non-front-seat passengers in almost any type of vehicle, so this sounds like some regulation I'm entirely unaware of and need to know about.
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by AntiM » Thu May 24, 2018 5:11 pm

sparr wrote: I would like to know more about this. AFAIK seat belts aren't required for non-front-seat passengers in almost any type of vehicle, so this sounds like some regulation I'm entirely unaware of and need to know about.
It was a remark from an acquaintance who was on the bus when it was stopped, so I don't know the legal details. Perhaps because the bus had been modified? Decision of the officer on scene? I have no reference for the legality of it.

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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by Popeye » Thu May 24, 2018 7:12 pm

Looks like both California and Nevada require seat belts for all passengers both frot and back.
https://www.ghsa.org/state-laws/issues/Seat-Belts
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by sparr » Thu May 24, 2018 11:04 pm

Popeye wrote:Looks like both California and Nevada require seat belts for all passengers both frot and back.
https://www.ghsa.org/state-laws/issues/Seat-Belts
That looks like it's only meant to describe normal size passenger vehicles. They don't seem to have made any attempt to include distinctions for buses or RVs.

I had to go look it up, and CVC 27315 looks like the primary source of CA's seatbelt requirements. It doesn't include buses (because they are explicitly excluded from the "passenger vehicle" category, oddly enough), but does seem to include RVs. I can't remember ever seeing an RV with seatbelts for all the rear seats, so that's kinda weird and maybe I'm missing another exception somewhere else?
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by gbus » Fri May 25, 2018 2:55 pm

Opened this thread and thought 'oh, it's that guy... wonder if he has mellowed...'

Na

:)

Good luck!

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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by Ratty » Wed May 30, 2018 8:51 am

So I assume you are going ahead and getting the commercial license. Your Buspatch camp and rideshare pages say that you have converted the vehicle to a motorhome. Yet, your transportation page is set up just like Burner Express Bus. Can't have it both ways. Transport paying customers, (even if they are on couches with no seat belts and in hammocks ), and that makes your vehicle a commercial bus. Have you contacted the Borg? They may be able to clear up some of your questions about licensing.
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by sparr » Wed May 30, 2018 10:58 am

Ratty wrote:So I assume you are going ahead and getting the commercial license. Your Buspatch camp and rideshare pages say that you have converted the vehicle to a motorhome. Yet, your transportation page is set up just like Burner Express Bus. Can't have it both ways. Transport paying customers, (even if they are on couches with no seat belts and in hammocks ), and that makes your vehicle a commercial bus.
Sparr wrote:PS: I actually do plan to carry paying passengers occasionally, and I know FMCSA will apply when I do. But I think most people bringing monstrous vehicles to BM want to bring art cars, not passenger buses, so it would be awesome if more people knew these rules.
Despite having already addressed your point, I'll also add that I have since sought legal advice on the subject. I am led to believe that the confluence of a few factors will make this use not qualify as interstate commerce. In particular, the trip being one I am already taking in my personal vehicle, and operating at a loss, both of which are more indicative of carpooling than of commercial transport operation. We may take the extra precaution of having the passengers give their money directly to the fuel station / auto parts store.
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by Ratty » Wed May 30, 2018 12:38 pm

Sparr, this venture brings up lots of questions. You have a website advertising that you will haul people there and back for a fee. Extra charge for extra luggage or bikes. That looks a lot more like commerce than carpool. You've asked some questions about your license to drive there. If you get stopped and the officer refuses to let you proceed, others will be greatly affected. Also, you haven't driven this in the mountains. You don't have the experience to drive a extra large vehicle. You are risking other people's lives.

You never mentioned the RV length restrictions when you leave the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.

Are you planning to get the non commercial class B with house car endorsement?

You're worried about passengers having a ticket and getting in. I'd worry about anybody arriving.
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by sparr » Wed May 30, 2018 1:36 pm

Ratty wrote:Sparr, this venture brings up lots of questions. You have a website advertising that you will haul people there and back for a fee. Extra charge for extra luggage or bikes. That looks a lot more like commerce than carpool.
You can find hundreds of other people doing those same things on a dozen burning man rideshare sites/forums/pages/threads, including the official one. As I described above, the major distinctions between carpooling and commerce is whether I'm already going to the place (I am), and whether I'm making a profit (I'm not).
Ratty wrote:You've asked some questions about your license to drive there. If you get stopped and the officer refuses to let you proceed, others will be greatly affected.
If that happens, we have a contingency plan to bring in two smaller vehicles that don't have these concerns. If a few hour delay in arriving on playa feels like "greatly affected", that sounds like someone who has never been through the gate line.
Ratty wrote:Also, you haven't driven this in the mountains. You don't have the experience to drive a extra large vehicle. You are risking other people's lives.
This is my fourth large bus. I've driven extra large vehicles thousands of miles on the highway, and hundreds in the city. I've crossed mountains in them repeatedly (Appalachian, Rockies, and Sierra Nevada). I've even gone through Donner Pass under a snow advisory, with snow chains, in a 35000lb bus. The CDL I'm getting next month is *more* than is required to drive this vehicle; I'll be subject to tests and questions I don't actually need to pass.
Ratty wrote:You never mentioned the RV length restrictions when you leave the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.
Can you elaborate on this? CA allows articulated buses up to 60ft on [almost] all roads, and NV up to 65ft. If there are additional rules I should be aware of, I would be very grateful if you bring them to my attention.
Ratty wrote:Are you planning to get the non commercial class B with house car endorsement?
No, I am planning to get a commercial class A with passenger endorsement, because it's oddly cheaper than a commercial class B which is my alternative. Can't drive something this big with a noncommercial class B in CA.
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by Sham » Wed May 30, 2018 1:37 pm

Why do you want to become a bus company? How did this thought come to you?

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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by sparr » Wed May 30, 2018 1:39 pm

Sham wrote:Why do you want to become a bus company? How did this thought come to you?
I don't. I want to drive my bus to Burning Man, which requires a CDL whether I'm carrying passengers or not. I also want more burners to be aware of the rules about big vehicles, and the easiest path to making them legal, so we can have more big art cars on the playa.

Since I'm driving a vehicle with more seats than my partner and I need, I want to find other burners who need a ride and can help pay for the cost of the trip, just like everyone else posting to http://rideshare.burningman.org
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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by Token » Wed May 30, 2018 9:00 pm

sparr wrote:
Since I'm driving a vehicle with more seats than my partner and I need, I want to find other burners who need a ride and can help pay for the cost of the trip, just like everyone else posting to http://rideshare.burningman.org
Since you know the start and destination, the approximate MPG of the vehicle, and number of available seats, should be real easy to set the fuel cost for the round trip rideshare.

I think you’re on top of this just fine. Just iron out the details and it’s gonna be a blast. Good job Sparr, you’ve come a long way since the Zorb incident.

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Re: Pursuing a CA CDL

Post by Captain Goddammit » Wed May 30, 2018 11:46 pm

No... articulated busses are Class B rigs. You can drive them with a Class B CDL.
Class A and Class B aren’t about the size of the vehicle, it’s whetwhr there is a trailer over 10,000 pounds involved.
Articulated busses are not considered trailers, they are permanently attached and the rear usually contains the engine and drive axle.

A buddy of mine used to drive metro busses for the city. Articulated. On a Class B.

I’ve driven tow trucks, dump trucks, flatbeds, a fire truck or two, log trucks, curtain vans... my current occupation is operating crane trucks, some as heavy as 105,500 pounds, and hauling horses to Ca and back in a 379 Pete with a 51 foot horse trailer with 14 horses at a time.
But three decades of that, and dealing directly with the DOT, WTF do I know compared to a little google searching...

Enjoy those California scale houses. They are the pickiest anywhere. Don’t have a brake air line missing a hold down clamp, or a loose steering joint anywhere, or a brake out of adjustment... and watch the axle loading, most burner busses are way overweight.

If you were smart, you’d get that thing retitled as an RV. That would avoid so much hassle and potential expense.
And you could bypass the scales. If that thing doesn’t look completely clean nice and professional, it’s highly likely to get pulled into the inspection lanes.

I’ve had them ticket me for a “cracked frame crossmember”. It was a little piece of angle iron that used to hold the license plate. I told the guy that. He said “it’s a piece of metal that goes from one framerail to the other, so it’s a crossmember, and it’s cracked. Here’s your ticket.” Some DOT cops are real assholes.

An RV title avoids all that.
GreyCoyote: "At this rate it wont be long before he is Admiral Fukkit."

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