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Old 09-26-2012, 10:37 PM   #1
StaggeringGoat
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Default Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

For a long time I've wanted to build a pickup truck based on a medium/heavy duty semi tractor. I found a GMC Brigadier that I want for cheap, but it's way, way over 26,000 GVW. Would I need to have a CDL to drive a truck like that, for non commercial purposes?
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Old 09-26-2012, 10:41 PM   #2
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

I think it depends on the state or province.

I know that here in Quebec, I could own and drive a Peterbilt 379 without a CDL if I use it only for personal use like pulling a 5th wheel RV.
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Old 09-26-2012, 10:41 PM   #3
Steve.S
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

Generally, if it has a GVWR of 26,001 lbs or more, you need a class B CDL. Might be some exceptions in your state for farm machinery or vehicles, though.
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Old 09-26-2012, 10:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

the short answer is probably, but it varies from state to state.

does it have air brakes?

you MAY be able to register it as a farm vehicle, but there are restrictions in the use of the vehicle.
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Old 09-26-2012, 10:50 PM   #5
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

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Originally Posted by bentwrench54 View Post
does it have air brakes?
Yep. I'll have to spend some time on the DMV's website...
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Old 09-26-2012, 11:18 PM   #6
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

For personal use no need for a CDL.

Test drive it well before you buy it. A bobtail brigadier will beat you mercilessly.
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Old 09-26-2012, 11:28 PM   #7
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

here in calif you do need a cdl. you need to get a non commercial class A for the huge mororhomes here.its a big deal if you get caught w/o a cdl here. that 70s gmc with its spring suspension and non air ride cab will beat you up!

Last edited by chris142; 09-26-2012 at 11:31 PM.
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Old 09-26-2012, 11:33 PM   #8
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

In Oregon if it is personal and licensed for under 26k you can drive with out a CDL. If you have proof your farming then you can get farm plates for it BUT you have to use it for farm use. Many restrictions for farm. Farm plates are ~20% of the cost of commercial plates.

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Old 09-26-2012, 11:41 PM   #9
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

Since this would be a highly custom truck, I wonder if I could somehow re-rate it to a lower GVW? It's not like I'll be pulling a 40 foot trailer, the biggest thing it would ever have attached is my 3,000lb boat.
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Old 09-26-2012, 11:45 PM   #10
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

Federal requirements seem to indicate no. The catch is that individual states can be more restrictive, but not less restrictive than the federal requirements.

http://www.dmv.org/or-oregon/cdl-faqs.php

Checking the page linked above, it appears that operation of a vehicle over 26,001 requires a CDL, with no distinction between commercial and personal use. It does give an exemption for farm vehicles and RV's, but they need to be titled as such. If you really wanted to be sure, I'd call both the DMV and the local commercial vehicle enforcement division and get the answer in writing.

In the OP's case, to be on the safe side I'd be sure to have at minimum a class B CDL and a medical card in case some commercial vehicle enforcement officer decides to get inspection happy.
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Old 09-27-2012, 01:36 AM   #11
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

Tag it for under 26,000? Unless it has airbrakes.
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Old 09-27-2012, 02:05 AM   #12
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

The trick will be how you get it licensed. Sometimes the state will have issues changing from commercial to non-commercial registration
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Old 09-27-2012, 04:22 AM   #13
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

Your from Oregon, so I can actually help. The answer is yes. Not all states require a CDL for over 26k but Oregon does. The larger issue you may have is dealing with getting a dot number and all the paperwork that comes with that.

You can register it for a lower weight though and I think that'll get you out of the dot number but because the air brakes your probably still gonna need a CDL. The info is all on the dmv's site, it's important you read the Oregon specific stuff. Also if you do end up being able to get around some of the commercial stuff you better plan on carrying the ors sections with you and be well versed lest you get some dumb odot officer trying to tell you otherwise.
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Old 09-27-2012, 05:51 AM   #14
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

In my state if the vehicle has air brakes it is automaticaly considered a CDL required vehicle.
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Old 09-27-2012, 05:52 AM   #15
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

Straight from Ohio State Patrol Inspector (only applies to Ohio). You can drive anything you want, including a class 8 truck with no CDL. But as soon as you start making money off of it , you need a CDL. Even some of these lawn care companies with big trucks and trailers are going over the combined 26k lbs and by law require a class b.
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Old 09-27-2012, 06:40 AM   #16
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

I worked for a towing company years ago when the whole cdl thing got started. The attitude of the owner was, a book can tell you one thing, the dot in your state can tell you the same thing, any one can tell you what ever they want. But when you get stopped, it is how that enforcment officer interprets the law. You may be legal, but it sucks being detained by the side of the road.

We had every endorcement of the cdl except hazmat and school bus. One nice evening I was pulled over, and the officer informed me that because of the full gas can I carried, I would be sited for not having the hazmat endorsment. I quickly poured the gas in to the car I was towing and he let me go. All of us drivers got the hazmat endorsements the next day.

We go to alot of auto races. Some of the toter homes, towing the enclosed trailers are semis. Everyone one of them say motorhome not for hire on the side.

A actual cdl is not that big of a deal. Staying current on a physical, logbooks, etc that are associated with it, is. I would not screw with the license tonage of the truck. That information is just a few mouseclicks away any more, and the officer would know that you altered it.
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Old 09-27-2012, 07:08 AM   #17
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

The magic number 26k. Stay under that for business and life is easier.. Go over-- now the fun begins--you are at the mercy of the officer. Yes its true, if it is for personal use the 26k is relaxed....
The DOT officer tolded me they look at the MFG sticker for GVWR on the tow vehicle, and then they look at the GVWR plate on the trailer--- If they add up to 26k or less your good to go,,, If not you need a CDL for that weight of combination..
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Old 09-27-2012, 08:06 AM   #18
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

Lets do this the easy way.

Oregon DMV states you need one for over 26,001LBS.
http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/pages...d/classes.aspx
http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/pages...dlclasses.aspx

You will also need an air brake endorsement.
http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/pages....aspx#airbrake

As to your question of de-rating the truck's GVWR. If it was brand new & it had never been registered, I know that it can be done. Now that it's been registered, I don't know. There are 2 problems with doing so,
1. It can never be raised back to the factory rating.
2. You still need the air brake endorsement. This will still require the physical & testing. If you're going that far, just get the CDL.
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Old 09-27-2012, 10:20 AM   #19
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

Yep your going to need the CDL, If it didn't have the Air brakes you could get away with dropping the Payload to 25,500 Max but you would still have to get a Medical Examiners Certificate and if you get caught with one pound over tickets are big; And so are the $s for quarterly stickers on the plates, funny thing is motorhomes with air brakes are fine.....
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Old 09-27-2012, 11:52 AM   #20
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Default Re: Do I need a CDL to drive a big truck?

Oregon is one of the states that requires a CDL, there are many states that have a class A and B exempt license. The class A exempt allows you to drive any combination vehicle up to 80K pounds "not in commerce"

In Oregon you would have to find a second stage truck manufacture to replate the weight of the truck. If you dropped an axle in the back and went to lower load rated suspension or tires you could meet the magic 26K number.

I would agree with the comments regarding finding a more people friendly chassis, that one is going to beat you up.

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