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Guide to Texas Driver’s License Requirements for RVers

Many RVers are not aware that more than one-third of U.S. states require a special driver’s license to legally drive certain types of RVs. Texas, one of the most popular domiciles for RVers, is among those. 

Do You Need a Special License in Texas for Your Rig?

Texas defines three driver’s license classes—A, B and C—based on the weight of the vehicle, including anything it’s towing. Because these license class definitions are the same for both commercially- and privately-operated vehicles, some RVers mistakenly think that they need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) if their rig falls into the A or B classes. That is not the case. Texas operators of RVs for personal use, regardless of weight, are exempt from CDL requirements. (see item 4 under “CDL Exemptions”) For this reason, their special licenses are often called “Class A (or B) Exempt” or “Class A (or B) non-CDL” to distinguish them from both CDLs and the regular Class C driver license used for regular passenger automobiles. 

The table below can help you determine whether you need more than a Class C license in Texas to legally operate your rig. Find the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of your motorhome or tow vehicle in the first column, the GVWR of your trailer or toad in the second column and the combined GVWR of both vehicles in the third column. The last column shows the class of license you will need.

Be aware that all the regulations use GVWR, which is the maximum weight for which the vehicle is rated. Your vehicle’s actual weight (gross vehicle weight or GVW) does not matter. 

(By the way, don’t confuse the classes of Texas driver’s licenses with “classes” of RVs. Even though they use the same letters—A, B and C—they have absolutely nothing to do with each other. For example, most Class A motorhome owners will need only a Class B license, while Class B and most Class C motorhome owners will need only a Class C license. And many owners of large fifth wheel trailers, which don’t have an RV “class” at all, will need a Class A license! Just remember that the required license class is based on GVWR, no matter what kind of rig you have.)

Consequences of Not Having the Proper Required Class of License

If you don’t have the proper class of license for the rig you’re driving, you could receive a citation for driving without a license. In other words, having the wrong class of license for the vehicle you’re driving is treated the same as having no license at all. 

In Texas, driving without a license is a misdemeanor that can result in a fine of up to $200 for a first offense, but penalties can be much higher if you’re also driving your rig under the influence, or if you’re cited in combination with another offense. You’re unlikely to be stopped by a law enforcement officer for the sole purpose of checking your license; however, if you’re stopped for another infraction, it’s likely you’ll receive the driving-without-a-license citation too. 

The other possible consequence arises if you’re involved in an accident: an insurance company could deny your claim if they discover you were driving without the correct license. 

Validity of your Texas Driver’s License in Other States

Each of the 50 U.S. states honors valid non-CDL driver’s licenses from the other states. So if you are properly licensed in Texas for your rig, you can legally drive your rig in any other state, even if that state has different licensing requirements. 

However, if you are driving in a state with special licensing requirements for RVers and you don’t have the correct class of license from the State of Texas for your rig, the consequences could be the same as they would be in Texas. For example, if Texas would require you to hold a Class B Exempt license for your rig, but you have only a regular Class C license, you could be cited for driving without a license in any of the 14 states with special licensing requirements.

How To Upgrade Your License Class in Texas

If you need a Class A or B Exempt license in Texas, upgrading is a two-step process: first, submit an application and pass a knowledge test on a computer, then take a skills (driving) test. Again, contrary to what many believe, these tests are not particularly difficult, and you don’t need to be a driver with 18-wheeler wrangling skills to pass them.

Application & Knowledge Test

You can apply for the Class A or B Exempt license and take the knowledge test at any Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Driver License Office in the state. You don’t need to take the knowledge test at the same location where you take the skills (driving) test.

When you go to take the knowledge test, bring with you: 

When you arrive at the DPS office, you’ll give the forms and your current driver license to the DPS representative. Then, you will take a test for visual acuity and colorblindness, and your new photograph will be taken. You will provide your thumbprints and pay the $11 fee. Finally, the agent will set up a computer in the testing area for you to take the knowledge test.

Everyone must take the “Texas Commercial Rules Test” knowledge test (formerly known as the “Texas CDL Special Requirements Test” or the “Texas CVO Knowledge Test”). You do not have to take the CDL General Knowledge Test, nor do you have to take the CDL Air Brakes Test, even if your rig has air brakes. In addition, if your rig is a combination–for example, a truck towing a trailer–you’ll also be asked to take the Texas CDL Combinations Test. (Because many DPS offices don’t do non-CDL tests very often, you may find that some of the staff are confused as to what tests you actually need to take.)

The Texas Commercial Rules Test covers the material found in Section 14 of the Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook, while the Combinations Test covers the material found in Section 6. (Personally, though, I think every RVer should read Section 2 of the Handbook, plus Section 5 if your rig has air brakes. Even though these are not on the test, they contain a lot of valuable information that will help you be a safer driver.)

There are 20 questions on each of the knowledge tests, and you must answer at least 14 questions correctly to pass. Although you’re given up to eight hours to complete each test, if you’ve studied, it should take you only 15 to 30 minutes. You may not have or consult any written material during the test, nor can you use your cell phone.

CDLStudyBuddy.com offers practice exams for the Commercial Rules (formerly “Special Requirements”) Test and the Combination Vehicles Test. Don’t waste your time on sites that offer practice tests for the CDL General Knowledge Test, because that is not the test you’re taking. It’s important to make sure your practice test is for the “special requirements” or “commercial rules” test.

Scheduling and preparing for the Skills (Driving) Test

Once you’ve passed the knowledge test, you’re ready to move on to the skills (driving) test. You must pass the skills test within 90 days from when you paid the application fee. If you don’t, you’ll be required to start the application process over.

After you pass the knowledge test, you can register for the driving test in the Texas DPS appointment scheduling system. You’ll log in with your driver license number (if you already have a Texas license), date of birth, and last four digits of your Social Security number. Once logged in, go to the Road Skills section and click the “RV” button, and fill out the requested information to book your appointment. (Unlike the knowledge test that you can take at any DPS office in the state, only certain DPS offices administer the skills test.) The system will then show you available dates and times for your test and allow you to book an appointment. Within the appointment scheduling system, you can also cancel and reschedule appointments and check for, and change to, better dates and times when they become available and search other offices for better appointments.

Before you take the skills test, you’ll need to complete the new Impact Texas Drivers (ITD) Program, a free online video course about the dangers of distracted driving. Upon completing the ITD Program, you’ll be issued a certificate of completion. You must take your skills test within 90 days of completing the ITD Program. (You do not, however, need to comply with the Federal “Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT)” requirements; these apply only to CDL applicants.)

You should drive your own rig for the skills test. If you have a motorhome and you usually tow a vehicle (“toad” or “dinghy”) behind it, you are required to bring it for the test only in the unusual situation where the combination of vehicles bumps you into a higher licensing class. In this case, you would need to bring your toad connected for towing but be sure to tell the examiner if your combination can’t be safely backed up because of the risk of damaging the toad.

So, how can you legally drive your rig to the test without the proper license? Unofficially, at least, this is simply not an issue. One person who asked was told by the DPS office, “We are licensing, not enforcement.” With so many RVers unaware of the Class-A/B licensing requirements, the DPS staff is likely to be appreciative that you are trying to take appropriate measures.

In addition to your rig, also bring your: 

  • current Texas driver license 
  • eyeglasses or contacts, if you’re required to wear them for driving
  • proof of current liability insurance 
  • most recent registration receipt (with a current registration sticker on each vehicle) 
  • most recent safety inspection report for each vehicle

Beginning of the Skills Test

You’ll be relieved to know that the skills test is not the same as the rigorous CDL test described in the Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook. Instead, it’s more similar to the test you took when you first obtained your driver license for a passenger car, except that you’re now driving your RV.

The examiner will review your documents and then inspect your vehicle to ensure each of the following mechanisms are working properly: 

  • headlights 
  • front turn signals and emergency flashers 
  • taillights 
  • brake lights 
  • rear turn signals and emergency flashers 
  • horn

If any of this equipment is not working properly, or if you’re missing current license plates (front and rear, both physically mounted to the vehicle), windshield wipers, rearview mirrors or safety belts, your vehicle is not legal to drive. You will receive a courtesy warning and not be allowed to take the driving test. For this reason, check all these items yourself before going to take your test. Unlike a commercial vehicle, you are not required to have emergency equipment on board, such as a fire extinguisher or reflector triangles.

Next, the examiner will get into the front passenger seat with you. No one else (including your spouse) is permitted to ride along. The examiner will grade you on four areas: 

  • vehicle control 
  • observation (including turning your head to look in your mirrors and blind spots) 
  • positioning your vehicle in the driving lane 
  • signaling turns

He or she will also remind you that you are responsible for the control and safe operation of your vehicle, and that if you cause an accident or break any laws, you will fail the test. This is the time to ask questions, as conversation is not permitted during the test itself.

“Off-street” Portion of the Skills Test

The skills test is administered in a single phase, and you must score at least 70 points to pass. Because the parking maneuvers are part of this single phase, you can pass the test even if you fail your “off-street” maneuver–something that is not possible for a CDL applicant.

The first part of the actual test is the “off-street” portion, during which you’ll be asked to perform one of the following maneuvers in a course marked with orange cones in a parking lot: 

  • Straight-line backing: back up approximately 60 feet in a straight line between two rows of cones without touching or crossing over them. 
  • Offset backing: back into a space that is to the left or right rear of your vehicle. You will drive straight forward to a point that the examiner designates. From that position you must back the vehicle into the opposite lane until the front of your vehicle has passed the first set of cones without striking the boundary cones. 
  • Parallel parking: You will drive past the entrance to the parallel parking space with your vehicle parallel to the parking area, and then back into the space without crossing front, side or rear boundaries marked by cones. You are required to maneuver your entire vehicle completely into the space without hitting the curb or side boundary. 

Each of these maneuvers is explained in Section 12 of the Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook.

You are not allowed to use an outside helper or “spotter.” And, unlike on the CDL test, you are not allowed to exit your vehicle to check its position. Instead, you must use your mirrors. You are allowed to pull forward to clear an encroachment or get a better position, although if you do this excessively, expect a points deduction. 

“On-street” Portion of the Skills Test

After the “off-street” portion of the test, the examiner will direct you to an adjacent road. You will be instructed to turn left or right when needed and told when to change lanes. The directions are specific, so listen carefully. Many directions will be preceded by, “when it’s safe to do so…”, as a reminder that you are responsible for safe operation. You’ll drive around secondary and neighborhood roads mostly, but a highway might also be included. 

You’re graded on control, observation, positioning and signaling in each of the following maneuvers: 

  • starting 
  • stopping 
  • changing lanes
  • merging into traffic 
  • use of lanes 
  • yielding right of way where required 
  • approaching corners 
  • traffic signals and signs 
  • left and right turns (at least three of each)

Be sure to come to a complete stop at intersections with the front of your vehicle behind the heavy white line. Then, if needed, pull forward to see into the intersection. Also, be sure to observe applicable speed limits, but don’t drive too slowly. This can also cause a points deduction. Finally, check your position in your lane frequently, using your wide-angle mirrors. The examiner will be watching this closely.

Congratulations - You Passed!

Start to finish, the skills test will last about 20 to 30 minutes. At completion, the examiner will summarize your performance, tell you if you passed and give you a copy of the test results. If you passed, the examiner will collect your driver license and ask you to wait inside for a few minutes, after which he or she will return your license with the top cut off, along with a temporary license printout. You must carry both licenses with you when driving until you receive your replacement plastic license in the mail about 2-3 weeks later.

License Expiration and Renewal in Texas for RVers

A Texas Class A or B Exempt driver license is valid for eight years, just like a Class C license. However, upgrading from a Texas Class C license to a Class A or B Exempt license does not reset your existing license renewal date, so your initial Class A or B license will have the same renewal date as your old Class C license.

Unlike Class C licenses, a Class A or B Exempt license must be renewed in person at a DPS office unless you are outside the state and can meet the eligibility requirements for out-of-state renewal by mail. Because you can renew your license anytime within the one-year period before it expires and keep the same expiration date, if you are visiting Texas anytime during this period, the easiest way to renew is to walk into a DPS office and take care of it in person. 

If you can’t get back to Texas during your renewal window, you can find the entire list of eligibility requirements to renew by mail in the Out-of-State/Out-of-Country Renewal Packet. It’s a long list, but the major requirements are:

  • You are a US citizen domiciled in Texas,
  • Your existing license expires in less than one year and has not been expired for more than two years,
  • You are less than 79 years old, and
  • Your vision, physical, or mental condition have not changed in a way that affects your ability to operate a motor vehicle.

If you’re eligible, the specific requirements to renew by mail are explained on the Out-of-State Renewal or Replacement page of the Texas DPS website and in the Out-of-State/Out-of-Country Renewal PacketBasically, most applicants will need to complete and submit the following:

  • Out of State/Country Application (Form DL-16)
  • Copies of two acceptable documents from different companies or agencies containing your name and Texas address, OR a notarized Texas Residency Affidavit (Form DL-5)
  • Eye Specialist Examination (Form DL-63), including results of a vision test conducted by an eye specialist or authorized driver license personnel from another jurisdiction
  • Texas Class A or B Driver License Application, Non-CDL Exempt Vehicles (Form CDL-2), which must be notarized since you will not be signing it in person at a DPS office
  • A check for the required fee ($32.00 as of 2020)

All of the forms listed above except for the Form CDL-2 are contained in the Out-of-State/Out-of-Country Renewal Packet.

Authors

David Goldstein

DAVID GOLDSTEIN, a former attorney and entrepreneur, is now Escapees Hangouts Director with his wife Cheryl. Since 2016, they have lived full time in their 40-foot, fifth-wheel trailer towed by a Ford F-450. Both earned their Texas Class A exempt licenses in 2016. Follow their travels at LandmarkAdventures.net

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121 Responses to “Guide to Texas Driver’s License Requirements for RVers

  • Russell McFall
    2 years ago

    Thank you for that information, it was very helpful in preparation to take the Written test. Little worried about having to parallel a 5th wheel RV but we will see how that goes.

  • Lisa Reich
    2 years ago

    Thank you David, this is a great article.

  • Dave Plamann
    2 years ago

    What is the process if I have a class “A” cdl in another state and change my domicile to Texas?

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      Dave, unfortunately I’m not familiar with the requirements to transfer a CDL from another state to Texas. I’ve heard that some or all of the testing requirements are waived, but I don’t know much more than that about the process. I’d suggest contacting the Texas Department of Public Safety to find out for sure. I CAN tell you, however, that once you have your Texas Class A CDL, you will also be able to legally operate any type of RV for private use under the same license.

  • We are considering changing domicile to Texas. It looks like we would fit into the Class C requirements. Please let us know if we will need to take a written, practical, or both to obtain a Texas Class C driver’s license.

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      Sharon, assuming you already have a passenger vehicle license in the state where you’re currently domiciled, you won’t need to take any tests to change to a Texas Class C license. Class C covers all standard passenger vehicles, and is the license you get by default (unless you’re driving a motorcycle). The procedure is outlined on the TxDPS site here: https://www.dps.texas.gov/driverlicense/movingtotexas.htm.

  • David,
    Thanks for the quick reply.

    Follow up question. What is required to keep our motorcycle endorsement that we have on our Alabama license? I didn’t find that answer in the link provided.

    Thanks,
    Sharon

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      Sharon, I don’t know on the motorcycle endorsement, although I’d guess that it’s treated like the rest of your license–paperwork and fees, but no testing.

      • I had to take the written test when transferring from CA to TX.

  • Thanks David

  • Help please. I am new to RVing. I am getting a bit confused as direction I should go and appropriate steps to take.. If you have another home in another state, but want to use Escapee mail service and tag an old classic car in Texas because it is cheaper, do you have to register the car and get a TX driver’s license? Are there other requirements to utilize TX tags? Must car insurance be in Texas?

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      Hi Martha. You have to choose one and only one state as your legal domicile. Then you register and insure your vehicles, get your driver’s license, vote, etc. in your domicile state. In general, you can’t domicile in one state and register and insure your vehicles in another. So if your question is, “can I keep my current domicile in the state where my house is but still register my classic car in Texas?”, the answer is no.

      Simply using the Escapees Mail Forwarding Service won’t automatically make Texas your domicile. Many members use the service just as a mailing address while maintaining domicile in another state. On the other hand, if you do want to make Texas your domicile, there are additional steps you have to take besides just using the Mail Forwarding Service as your address.

      Your home in another state may or may not present a challenge to establishing domicile in Texas, if that’s what you want to do. Domicile itself is a complex subject, but you may find this article by Susie Adams, an attorney specializing in domicile issues, helpful as an introduction. There’s also a section of the Escapees website devoted to domicile for RVers. At the bottom of that page, there’s a form where you can request a free legal consultation for your specific circumstances. I’d encourage you to do that if you still have questions after reading the material above. Good luck!

  • Matthew
    2 years ago

    Do you need a 5th wheel for the test? We are texas residents and looking to buy a 1ton truck and 6-8mo get a 5th wheel. We will buy that out of state more then likely while we are on assignment somewhere. Can I take the test and get legal beforehand.

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      Matthew, you need a trailer meeting the requirements for the class of license you’re testing for. Since you specified a fifth wheel, I assume that means that you’re planning to get a fairly heavy trailer for which you’d need a Class A Exempt license. It doesn’t have to be your trailer–you can borrow one–but the GVWRs must get you into the right class. Some people have reported that they were allowed to test with a rented utility trailer with a gooseneck hitch, but others have said they were turned away with that kind of setup because it wasn’t an RV, so it’s hard to know. Most people wait to take the test until they have their own trailer.

      • Matthew
        2 years ago

        I more then likely will be doing this near the Livingston escapees headquarters, do you know of anywhere near there that might make this possible?

        • David Goldstein
          2 years ago

          By “this” do you mean renting a trailer? If so, unfortunately, I don’t.

  • Russell
    2 years ago

    I am looking to get a Class A to drive a Semi tractor in front of my 5th wheel. I suppose I will have to take the whole house with me to get the driving test done? Is there going to be any kind of confusion with the Class A exempt being taken in a ex-commercial rig?

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      Russell, yes, you must take the test with your trailer connected. Your second question is harder to answer, because it may depend on the testing center and individual examiner and their experience with non-commercial HDTs. You’re certainly not the first one to do it. I’d think they would be fine letting you test with it, since the license you get wouldn’t let you drive commercially, but you might have to explain it to them.

  • R.L. Cove
    2 years ago

    On the skills portion of the test, you may be required ( depending on location) to do an air brake test. Simple procedure, just need to understand how it’s done. Be prepared.

  • Thanks for all the great information. I now have my Class A exempt license for my F450 and 5th wheel. My question is about the tow vehicle. I’m considering stepping up to a MDT as a tow vehicle that has a GVWR of 29,000 pounds. I’ve read that a vehicle with a GVWR greater than 26,000 pounds requires a CDL. I’m not using it for commercial purposes, just to tow my 5th wheel. Is my current Class A exempt license sufficient for the tow vehicle in this example?

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      Alan, glad you found the article helpful. No, you do NOT need a CDL if you move up to a MDT as your tow vehicle. As long as you’re not using it for commercial purposes (which you’re not if you’re just towing your personal RV), all you need is the Class A Exempt, which you already have. (By the way, the reason you may have seen “Private Vehicle – Not For Hire” on the side of MDTs used this way is to make it clear to law enforcement officers that no CDL is required.)

  • That’s good to know! Thanks for the quick reply.

    Alan

  • Great information, thank you!
    My husband and I have two RVs: a Class A motorhome (>26k pounds) that we typically vacation in (with a toad <10k pounds), and a very light fifth wheel (<26k pounds) that we typically work in (towed by a Ram 2500).
    Based on all I've read, we will need Class B non-CDL licenses. Will they require us to bring both RVs to the skills test, and test both of us in each one? Or, can we choose which to bring for the test?

    Thanks again! :o)

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      Hi Mandi. Yes, you’re correct that you’ll need a Class B exempt to drive your motorhome, with or without the toad. Since you described your fifth wheel as “very light”, you probably need only a regular Class C license for it. The only situation in which you’d need a Class A (not B) for the fifth wheel would be if the combined weight of your Ram 2500 plus the fifth wheel exceeds 26,000 lbs, which it probably does not.

      Whichever class of license you need, you do not need to test in more than one rig. Once you take the test in any RV meeting the class requirement, you’re legal to drive all others in the same class and in any lower class.

  • Thank you, David, we greatly appreciate the prompt reply and info!

  • Hello-
    We are Texas residents and have purchased our 5th wheel toy hauler in Minnesota. We anticipate picking it up later this spring, spending time up north and returning to Texas later in the year. Will we be able to register our RV and get our license plates before obtaining the class A drivers license? I do not believe we will have access to the appropriate size rv prior to our departure from Texas.

    Thanks for your input.

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      Dee, yes, you can register your RV in Texas without first obtaining the Class A Exempt license.

      You should also be able to register it initially in Texas when you pick it up, rather than first registering it in Minnesota and then re-registering it in Texas. If you’re buying from a dealer, the dealer’s title agent can register it in Texas. If you’re buying from an individual, you’d have to do it yourself by mail, but the instructions are all online. That will save you from paying registration fees twice–probably only a couple hundred dollars, but still.

  • James G
    2 years ago

    Does anybody know if theTexas Class A (non-cdl) for operating RV’s reguire a physical if you have high blood pressure?

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      No, it does not. Physicals are required only for CDLs.

      • David,

        First off, thanks for this article.

        I was told this morning at the DMV I would have to have a medical card and is required for all non-cal class A and B exempt licenses.

        When I got home, I called the DMV call center and asked if the medical card was required. They told me that it was more of a DOT requirement than anything else due to the size of the vehicle.

        Anyone else have a similar experience?

        Thanks,
        David

        • David Goldstein
          1 year ago

          David, I think the DPS office gave you incorrect information. It happens occasionally since they don’t see many applicants for non-commercial licenses, so they often assume that the CDL requirements apply to those. Unless there has been a very recent change to the law, which I doubt (and I couldn’t find anything in a quick Google search), medical certificates are required only to exercise the privileges of a commercial driver’s license. Since the exempt Class A/B licenses are by definition NOT commercial, no medical certificate is required.

          • David, many thanks for your guidance and help. Other than this article the details are very sketchy. I obtained my license today, after running into some initial problems at a location that does a large number CDLs each day. There was some confusion over what was required to get me registered for the tests, which may have been complicated by me not explaining myself clearly. I ended up going to a different location, gave them my paperwork, took the written test, had my driving test scheduled and was out the door in about half an hour. Today I took the driving test and was headed back home in less than an.hour. As I said before, many thanks!

  • Chris R
    2 years ago

    Thank you so much for this article! It was very helpful for me to obtain my Class B non-CDL. The Texas website is just not very clear on this.

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      That is, unfortunately, a true statement. 😉 Glad you found the article helpful.

  • Scott C Vermilye
    2 years ago

    To learn to drive a car, you get a learners permit. Is there something similar for learning to drive an RV?

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      There is, although you may have to work a bit to get a DPS office to issue you one, because most of them don’t know about it. You’ll need to first take and pass the knowledge test and comply with all its prerequisites (application, fee, vision test, thumbprint, etc.). Then ask the staff at the office where you take the test to issue you the learner’s permit. You may actually receive a CDL learner’s permit for the license class you’re seeking–I’m not sure if there is an exempt/non-exempt distinction at the learner’s permit stage.

      Note, however, that a learner’s permit in Texas requires a properly licensed driver in the right front seat. That means that a learner’s permit benefits you only if you are taking lessons from or at least accompanied by another driver with the appropriate Class A or B Exempt license. If you’re planning to practice solo or with someone else who also doesn’t yet have the appropriate class of license, the learner’s permit won’t make you legal.

      CDL applicants train with an instructor before they take their practical test, which is why the CDL learner’s permit exists. But most RVers teach themselves. For that reason, most RVers don’t bother with a learner’s permit–they just get their Exempt license as quickly as they can.

  • John Rome
    2 years ago

    What written tests would I have to take for a Class A 45ft Coach flat towing a Wrangler?
    1. The Texas CVO General Knowledge Test.

    and what about the Texas CDL Combinations Test.

    Im trying to figure out which tests to study for.
    Thanks, John Rome

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      John, because your rig is considered a combination since you’re towing your Wrangler, you’ll need to take both the General Knowledge test and the Combinations test. You’ll also need to have your toad hitched up for the driving test so that the entire setup qualifies as a vehicle requiring a Class B Exempt license.

  • If you get a Class A Exempt, does that also allow you to drive anything that would only qualify for a Class B Exempt? In other words if I am required to have a Class A for my trailer and get it, yet drive my friends Motor Home (that he is required to have a Class B Exempt for), I am covered or do I actually have to get both an A and a B?

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      Yes. Each class also authorizes you for a lower class. So a Class A Exempt also covers Classes B and C. You would not need to pass a separate test for the motorhome.

  • Thank you David, that is what I thought, but was having a hard time finding confirmation

  • Jay Phillips
    2 years ago

    What a great article…thank you!

    We have our C license but need to get our Exempt Class A or B; we do not presently tow but expect to in the future. I assume we should take the combination test even though we wouldn’t be towing for the driving skills test. Correct?

    Also, the State’s “easy” appointment system is confusing as to what service I am requesting. Am I asking for the “Return for written test?”

    Sorry to ask stupid questions but whoever thought you should be able to call or email the DPS? Alas…

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      Jay, whether you need to take the Combinations written test depends on whether you’ll be towing for the driving test. If you need a Class A or B Exempt license because of your towed vehicle, then you would need to tow that vehicle for your driving test. (The general rule is that you must take the driving test in a vehicle that meets the requirements for the license class you’re seeking.) I’m guessing from your question, however, that you’re needing a Class B because you’re driving a motorhome over 26,000 lbs. GVWR. In that case, you would not need a towed vehicle for the driving test, therefore you would not need to take the Combinations written test. Your Class B license would then still make you legal to tow a vehicle not exceeding 10,000 lbs. GVWR, even though you didn’t test with it. The only thing you would NOT be able to do would be to tow a heavier vehicle or trailer, because that would require a Class A Exempt license–but that’s a pretty rare situation for a motorhome owner.

      On the scheduling system…yes, it’s confusing! Since you already hold a Texas Class C license, you’d click “CHANGE, REPLACE OR RENEW TEXAS DL/PERMIT”. I think that “RETURN FOR WRITTEN TEST” applies only if you’ve already submitted your application and fee at a DPS office but didn’t get to take the written test. This is a relatively new system, though, so if you discover something different please let us know.

  • Kevin W.
    2 years ago

    Hi, really good info. Thxs!!!

    I’m trying to get my class A Exempt license. I need to take the written test in the dallas/collin county Texas area. However, it looks like the written tests are by appointment only and they are book up till at least end of July/beginning of Aug 2021. Its March 18, thats 4-5 months from now. Are they really that booked up, or am I looking at the wrong place by the DPS web site?

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      Kevin, before COVID you could just walk into a DPS office without an appointment to take the written test. But during the pandemic, DPS instituted the online reservation requirement. I don’t know how booked up they are, although 4-5 months seems pretty extreme–but I suppose it’s possible. You’re looking at the right place in the online scheduler, though, if you clicked “CHANGE, REPLACE OR RENEW TEXAS DL/PERMIT” (if you already hold a Texas Class C license) or “APPLY FOR FIRST TIME TEXAS DL/PERMIT” (if you don’t).

  • kevin W.
    2 years ago

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the reply. When I was looking at the Texas Schedule appointment, I had tried both CDL “Apply for first time Texas CLP/CDL” and “Service not listed or my license is not eligible” which both are backed up for many months. I did however, take your advice, and selected the “change, replace, or renew Texas DL/Permit” and I was able to get an appointment in April.

    My only concern, is if the DPS location I picked, does the Class A – non-CDL written test.

    Thanks for your help!!
    Kevin

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      Kevin, the last time I checked, any DPS office that does the written test can give you the ones you need for a Class A Exempt. They’re all computer based. Note however that this is not the case for the DRIVING test–only certain DPS offices give those. In any case, you should be fine taking your written test at the office where you made your appointment.

  • This article is enormously helpful, thank you so much! The DMV is never an easy agency to work with and you have made this process very easy to understand and follow! Sincere thanks!

  • David, I just took the special requirements test today and told them I will be towing a Jeep and they said it’s under 10,000lb and I didn’t need to take the Combinations test, only special requirements. I also don’t need to bring the Jeep for the driving portion of the test.

    • David Goldstein
      2 years ago

      Marty, assuming you’re driving a motorhome, what they told you is correct. Your motorhome requires a Class B exempt license because of its weight alone. You don’t need to tow another vehicle for it to qualify as a Class B-type rig. Therefore, you don’t need to tow anything for the test, and for THAT reason you don’t need to take the Combinations written test.

      With a motorhome, the only reason you’d need to tow another vehicle for the test (and take the Combinations written test) would be if your towed vehicle was over 10,000 lbs. GVWR, because that would bump you up to needing a Class A exempt license. The general rule is that you must take the driving test in a vehicle (or combination of vehicles) that meets the requirements for the class of license you’re testing for. And you need the Combinations written test only if you’ll be driving a combination of vehicles for the test. Clear as mud, I know.

      Glad you found the article helpful. Good luck on your driving test!

    • Thomas Mehrkam
      1 year ago

      My question is about the new Texas DPS appointment scheduler. It took me a month the get the appointment for the application for a class B exempt for my Motor Home. Now I am trying to schedule the drivers test. They have a selection for RV and another for Class A B exempt driving test. Which one do you select for a Motor home towing under 10,000 lbs? I selected RV and I am worried I selected the wrong one since there are two selections that seem to cover the same thing. I will towing a 4500 lb jeep wrangler four down so I do not need the combined vehicle test. Thank You T.O.M.

  • Tom Giattino
    2 years ago

    David,
    Thank you for such a well-written, in-depth article on attaining a Texas Class A license. Without your article, I would have spent many hours searching for all the Texas Class A requirements. They are not easy to find!

    I passed my Class A driving test with my F-350/Fifth Wheel combination on 25 Mar 21 and wanted to pass on my experience. I studied the material found in Section 14 of the Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook, and the Combinations Test material found in Section 6. The CDLStudyBuddy.com practice exams for the Special Requirements Test and the Combination Vehicles Test was an outstanding resource. In fact, I could have passed the test by just taking the practice exams several times.

    I took my test at a DMV (close to my house) that was not on the list for the Class A driving test. And as you mentioned, they had no clue about Class A license testing requirements. I was only required to take the Texas CDL Special Requirements Test. It took less than five minutes. I then received a Class A learners permit. The restriction placed on this permit only allowed me to drive with someone over 21 who possessed a Class A license. That meant I was driving illegally since I don’t know anyone with a Class A license. This is a definite flaw in the process.

    I went online to sign up for my driving test, but the link included in your article did not work. I recommend you use this link instead: https://public.txdpsscheduler.com. All the dates were months in the future, so I drove to the New Braunfels Texas Department of Public Safety, 119 Conrads Ln, New Braunfels, TX 78130. They made me an appointment for the next week. I was very impressed with the operations and people at the New Braunfels DPS office. They were very knowledgeable and helpful! I would highly recommend taking your Class A driving test at this location.

    My test was scheduled for 1005 hrs and I arrived 25 minutes early (you can arrive up to 30 mins early). I parked and went inside. They scanned my appointment sheet and told me to go back to my vehicle and wait for an examiner. After about 10 mins the examiner came over and introduce themself. They checked my registration and insurance and then asked me to put on my lights, blinkers, flashers, and brakes. Once everything checked out they got into my truck and explained the process. I did not have to back up or park, just drive around. I drove a couple of miles on I-35 southbound and then exited the interstate. I then drove on the city streets for a block or two and then took the interstate northbound back to the DPS office where we started. The entire drive took 20 mins max. Once we arrived back at the DPS truck parking area the examiner said she would be right back with my license. It was that simple.

    All in all, it was a painless process. You could tell that the DPS examiner wanted me to pass and made it a stress-free event. I highly recommend everyone who is required get their Class A license. The DPS folks told me that if you get pulled over and do not have the correct license the officer will make you leave your RV on the side of the road since you don’t have the proper license.

    David, I want to thank you again for writing your article, it made getting a Class A license simply and painless!

    Kind Regards,

    Tom

  • Kevin W.
    1 year ago

    FYI, I just took my class A written test and they required me to take the combinations tests as well. They said it was because I was going to tow a fifth wheel. So, study up for the Combinations test.

    They were trying to set me up with a Class B license at first, but since I’ll be towing about 16K lbs I told them I need a class A license. So, research, research, research.

  • Darrel Hagerman
    1 year ago

    David,
    Thanks for the information in your article. I use to have my CDL when I was younger and drove 18 Wheelers. Well I am 60 now and that expired a long time ago. I am renting a Motor Home in July of this year to drive with my grandkids and family from Houston to Amarillo Texas. The RV I have picked out requires a B class license as it is 44000 GVRW and greater than the 26000 min for the C class license that I currently have. I don’t own a motor home to take the driving portion of the test….I would think this is pretty common but I am not sure. I assume I could ask the Rental Place to allow me to take the test with the specific vehicle? Is that normally what takes place with folks with the same issue.

    Thank you,

    Darrel

    • David Goldstein
      1 year ago

      Darrel, sorry I missed seeing your question sooner. If you had a Texas Class A CDL at one time, do you still have the Class A or B endorsement on your current (non-CDL) driver’s license? If so, you have everything you need. But assuming you don’t have that, then you raise a good question concerning licensing for drivers of rented RVs. You’re correct that you would need a Class B Exempt license to legally drive your rented motorhome. But I’d bet that rarely, if ever, do RV renters actually obtain the required license for the short time that they are driving the rented vehicle. (Most RV owners don’t even bother! 🙁 ) So I guess I’d suggest doing two things: first, ask the rental company if they (or their insurance) requires you to have a Texas Class B Exempt license to drive your rental. If they do, then they should already have procedures in place to allow you to take the test in their rig. If not, then ask if you could borrow the rig to take your test before your rental begins. I’d guess they’re going to want to charge you for that day. Second, call Texas DPS in Austin, and ask if you can take the driving test in a vehicle you do not own. The answer is probably yes as long as you have the required current registration (on the window) and proof of insurance, but I don’t know that for sure. If you are able to get an answer, please reply and let everyone know what it was!

  • What happens if you fail the color vision test?

    • David Goldstein
      1 year ago

      I could not find any specific information to answer your question. You would probably be referred to an eye specialist for further evaluation, just as you would if you failed the visual acuity portion of the test, but I don’t know what would happen after that. I would guess you might have limitations placed on your license (like daytime driving only under 45 mph).

  • Absolutely amazing write-up. Clear tone and instructions. Thank you!

  • Tom Lavka
    1 year ago

    FYI…Just went through the process this week with Texas DPS to apply for upgrade from Class C to Class B non-CDL using the guidance in this article. Based on my experience this article is spot on. As a side note the DPS appointment scheduler in our area of Texas showed no appointment availability for weeks or months so we decided to search for appointments in rural west Texas towns, bingo. Choose you day and time. Great excuse for a road trip.

  • Kevin Mundt
    1 year ago

    Awesome write up.
    I needed a Class A for our big 5th wheel and as you point out the local DMV office struggled with what test were needed. I did not need the combinations test, but did need to take the Special Requirements test.
    However – The Special Requirements test has been renamed. It is now called the Texas Commercial Rules test. The questions are exactly the same as the Special Requirements test from CDL Study Buddy. It seems that this is just a name change for the test. You may want to update the article with the name change.
    Thanks for the article. This helped eliminate a lot of confusion and helped me guide the folks at the DMV.

    • David Goldstein
      1 year ago

      Kevin, thanks for that feedback. I have updated the blog post with the new name of the test. That name makes a lot more sense than “Special Requirements” anyway!

  • Brian Sanders
    1 year ago

    Thank you David! My wife and I will be upgrading to Non-CDL Class-A. From your article (just to confirm)…
    We will complete and bring with us to our DPS Office completed DPS Forms DL-14A and CLD-2, and the appropriate documents and payment. We will complete the TX Commercial Rules Test and TX CDL Combinations Test at that office (testing must be at DPS, not at home, correct?), and leave. Then we will return on our appointment day and times with our rig to complete the skills test (we already set up appointments approximately 60 days from now).
    Is that a good plan?

    • David Goldstein
      1 year ago

      Brian, it sounds like you have everything lined up correctly. Yes, you do have to take the knowledge test at a DPS office; you can’t take it from home. Good luck!

  • trent cox
    1 year ago

    Hey David,
    i am scheduled to take the skills test on June 9 in Canton Texas. I don’t have a rig and so I am wondering what to rent to take the skills test. I have been told that Diesel rigs complicate things because of the air brake and air ride. I’ve been told to look for a large gas model. I am not having much luck locating gas models of motorhomes that exceed 26,000 lbs GVW. So I am wondering what are the options for diesel models. Does taking the skills test with a diesel model mean that I will need to acquire extra knowledge of air brake system?
    Thanks,
    Trent

    • David Goldstein
      1 year ago

      Trent, that’s not surprising–I suspect that most if not all motorhomes that are heavy enough to need a Class B Exempt license will be diesel pusher models just due to their weight. However, you shouldn’t need any detailed knowledge of the air brake system for the skills test, beyond the ability to operate it under normal driving conditions. In other words, you won’t be quizzed on that specifically as you would if it was a CDL test. And I’ve never heard of anyone being tested on the air ride subsystem.

      That said, if you’re planning to eventually buy a motorhome that heavy–which I assume you are, or else you wouldn’t be seeking a Class B Exempt license–it wouldn’t be a bad idea to familiarize yourself with air brake systems by reading section 5 of the Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook, just for your own education.

      On the other hand, if you’re planning to buy a gas motorhome that’s less than 26,000 pounds GVWR, you don’t need a special license at all, unless you intend to tow an unusually heavy (more than 10,000 pounds GVWR) second vehicle. In that case, you’d need a Class A Exempt and you’d need to have your second vehicle in tow for the skills test.

  • I can’t Thank You enough for your explanation of obtaining a non commercial class a. Just completed and passed my driving test on June 11th! I was absolutely prepared! Took my written test at the Mega Center in east Ft Worth and driving test in Canton, Texas!

    • David Goldstein
      1 year ago

      David, thanks for the shout-out. I’m glad the article was helpful to you. Congratulations on passing your test and being legal to drive your rig!

  • Chris duBois
    1 year ago

    I have a current Texas Class B CDL and School Bus endorsement. I do not currently drive school buses,, but I’d like that option in my retirement. I now also own a fifth wheel with a GVWR of 18000 lbs which puts me in Class A range because my 1 ton dually has a GVWR of 14000 and the trailer is over 10k.

    To keep my bus driver endorsement, do I have to upgrade to a Class A CDL? If so, I am guessing that my truck and fifth wheel will not be suitable for the Commercial Class A skills test. I also assume that I will need a new DOT physical for an upgraded CDL. I am stumped what to do. I do not want to give up my school bus driver endorsement, but I also don’t need the headaches affiliated with obtaining a Class a CDL. Advice?

    • David Goldstein
      1 year ago

      Chris, I don’t really know enough about the CDL licensing to be able to answer your question accurately. I would think that you could hold both a Class A Exempt and a Class B CDL with the School Bus endorsement at the same time…but I’m assuming common sense in a governmental agency, which is not always a safe assumption. 😉 I would highly recommend calling the Texas DPS in Austin to ask–or better yet, stop in at one of the CDL testing centers and ask someone knowledgeable there. Sorry I can’t be more help. If you do find out the answer, please reply back on this thread so everyone can see it!

  • Chris duBois
    1 year ago

    Thank you for the quick response! I will post what I find out,

  • The link to the TX CDL handbook is broken – even on the DPS’ own website. – http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/internetforms/Forms/DL-7C.pdf

    use
    https://www.dps.texas.gov/internetforms/Forms/DL-7C.pdf

  • Chris duBois
    1 year ago

    Hello again, David –

    So after several rounds of calls to DPS Austin, CDL Division, and confirming with the dedicated CDL Office that I will test with – here’s the scoop:

    I make an appointment to take the Combinations written exam and submit an application for a Class A Permit. After 14 days I will be eligible to take the driving test with my combination / rig that meets the Class A requirements (trailer over 10k or combination exceeding 26k). No air brakes test needed, unless I were to be driving a Class A diesel pusher with air brakes, of course….

    With successful Combinations, Pre-trip and driving tests, my license will be upgraded to a full Class A CDL – and my school bus and passenger endorsements carry forward.

    • David Goldstein
      1 year ago

      Chris, that’s great news. I’m glad you were able to find out the answer and that it worked out well. Thanks for sharing the update!

  • This was great!
    Any issues using the Ford “back-up assist” on the skills exam??

    • David Goldstein
      1 year ago

      Jeff, that’s a great question. I can’t say for sure, but I’m going to guess that you will not be allowed to use the backup assist feature on your skills test. I’m basing that guess on two things. First of all, when I took the test (in a 2012 Ford Super Duty), I was docked some points for using the rear-facing camera on the truck to gauge the truck’s alignment with the trailer during backing. The examiner told me that she wanted me to use the mirrors. Second, DPS is licensing you to drive any vehicle in the license class–and since not all tow vehicles would be equipped with Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist system (or its equivalent from other manufacturers), but they WOULD be equipped with mirrors, the examiner is going to want to see that you can back up successfully with just the mirrors. It’s not necessarily “real world”–if it was, they’d allow you to have a spotter with a radio outside, like my wife and I always do–but there is some logic to their approach.

      So in summary, I’d say you should be proficient and confident in backing without Backup Assist. It won’t hurt to ask the examiner–before the test begins–if you can use it, and if they say yes, then by all means go for it. But if they say no, you’ll be prepared to do without it. (Let me know what they tell you; it would be interesting to know the official answer for future reference.) Good luck on your test!

  • David, just finished the process to get my non-commercial class B CDL. I want to thank you for this great information. It really helped take the mystery out of the process. Here are a couple things I experienced that may help others. First, the DPS folks in Texas are awesome. All were very helpful and also have the tough job of letting people know bad news if they don’t come with the right documents. With Texas Real ID, there are pretty strict requirements and I heard the DPS tell several folks that they were going to need to find a way to get a certified copy of a doc no matter what. Thank goodness I had all of mine in order.

    I will say that when I went in for the application and written test, I was asked for my CDL medical exam. I gently reminded the person I was there for the non-commercial CDL and it was not an issue.

    The test was a little more difficult than I thought in how the questions were worded. Be careful to read every question and all choices.

    I took my road test in Garland. First, you have to bring the RV to a fire lane that runs along the back side of the building. I came in headed the wrong direction and the evaluator asked me to find a way to get it turned around. She waited patiently for me to come back. Trying to find a way to turn around was a feat. I had to go out on the Mai road a few parking lots to get turned around. Recommend calling ahead and google map the area before you get there.

    My evaluator was awesome. I didn’t have to do any backing but my road test took me through major construction and detours on I635. I told the instructor I should be earning two licenses for that. She was very empathetic with the challenge. I passed with flying colors and she told me I did better than many of her CDL applicants. No discrepancies. I did find a video of a trucker who filmed the driving test by himself and it was very helpful, but I realized it was from a DPS office that doesn’t do skills tests anymore. I don’t have the link anymore but I would recommend searching for similar videos.

    Somewhere I read that you have to take the distracted driver video course before the skills test. I took the course and printed the certificate but was told I didn’t need it since I already had my license. I would recommend the course to everyone regardless. It is a tear jerker but will never look at my phone while driving again. I wish we could enforce distracted driving laws better…it is so dangerous.

    I hope this helps someone.

    Thanks again to David for the awesome details.
    Mike

    • David Goldstein
      1 year ago

      Hey Mike, you’re welcome, and I’m glad you had a (mostly) good experience on your test! And thank you for sharing all those details so others can benefit from them.

  • Can you drive your Class A RV to the skills test without your Class B non-commercial license?

    If you fail the skills test, can you drive your Class A RV away?

    • David Goldstein
      12 months ago

      Mike, this is a common situation. Technically, the answer to both your questions is “no”, but as a practical matter, people do it all the time because they usually have no alternative (that is, another properly licensed driver who can transport the RV to and from the testing site), and DPS understands that. Here’s the best answer I can give you, from the blog post:

      So, how can you legally drive your rig to the test without the proper license? Unofficially, at least, this is simply not an issue. One person who asked was told by the DPS office, “We are licensing, not enforcement.” With so many RVers unaware of the Class-A/B licensing requirements, the DPS staff is likely to be appreciative that you are trying to take appropriate measures.

  • Thank you for the article. I needed to upgrade my class B non cdl to class A non cdl. my non cdl B was from job as a firefighter, class A non cdl needed for fifth wheel 16800lbs plus tow vehicle 11400lb.
    I went to Fredericksburg for the written test. when I arrived I was told I did not need to take the written test I would only need to take the driving test since I already had the B non cdl license. They called two other supervisors in other cities to confirm. It was decided i would not need the written test. 4 weeks later I Just took and passed the class A Exempt license road test in Kerrville. It was pretty simple route. I did have to do the parallel parking and straight backing part. was given lots of room for the parallel parking part.
    Would like to say the employees at both facilities were very pleasant and helpful during the process.

    • David Goldstein
      12 months ago

      Rey, yes, it makes sense that you would not need to re-take the written test when upgrading from a Class B to a Class A. It would be the same test you previously took for your Class B, and since you passed it once, I assume they feel there’s no point in making you take it again. Glad everything else worked out for you!

  • Kelly Whittaker
    12 months ago

    This was perfect. Only thing I would add: on the road test, the vehicle inspection, add the following:

    The front license must be attached to the vehicle.

    We went today and were immediately told we could not take the test because our front tag was on the dash, in the windshield. We were informed that it had to be attached to the front bumper. We had to cancel our tests, drill holes in the fiberglass (no pre-drilled holes for a license plate), attached the license plate, and then reschedule our tests.

    That is the only item that we suggest be changed.

    • David Goldstein
      12 months ago

      Hi Kelly. The post does say, “If any of this equipment is not working properly, or if you’re missing current license plates (front and rear), windshield wipers, rearview mirrors or safety belts, your vehicle is not legal to drive.” But I’ll clarify that they must be mounted on the vehicle.

  • I took both the written and skills for the Class A non-CDL October 2021 at the Lubbock DPS DL office. I have a 44ft 5th wheel. The state no longer requires the Combination (Section 6) test for RVs. Also the examiner only requires me to back in a straight line with my TT.

    • David Goldstein
      11 months ago

      Congratulations on passing your test, Ben, and thanks for sharing your experience. The requirement for the Combinations written test hasn’t been uniformly applied…some offices require it and some don’t, I assume because of their general lack of familiarity with the non-commercial licenses. So I’d still recommend that anyone planning to tow a combination be prepared for that test, even if they end up not having to take it.

  • Has ANYone ever had to parallel park a 43′ motorhome?

    • Georgianne_Admin Austin
      9 months ago

      At least once, if they’re licensed in Texas 😉

    • David Goldstein
      8 months ago

      On the driving test, yes, definitely (but not always). In real life, hard to know, but I’d imagine it happens. I know we’ve occasionally had to parallel park our fifth wheel–the whole rig is 62 feet long hitched up–but never within the tight confines that you’d have on a driving test!

  • Just wanted to give an update for anyone in the central Texas area. I took my class A driving test today at the New Braunfels DMV. Easy course to navigate, 5 mile course down IH35 north a couple of exits under IH35 and back up IH35 North back to the DMV. Total trip took about 20 minutes. I have heard stories about driving on tight roads with little room to navigate and tight turns. Hope this helps anyone looking in central Texas to take your driving test.

  • Carl Dominguez
    8 months ago

    Great article! Though I passed my written test for my nonexempt Class A last year I was not able to get a driving test scheduled in time. My biggest issue was I need to find a trailer that is between 10,000 and 15,000 lbs to pull behind my diesel pusher (max towing capacity is 15,000). I am getting a stacker trailer but do not yet have it.

    Wondering if you have any ideas what I should pull behind the RV to meet the requirement and also what I might be expected to do skill wise with a trailer behind my unit? I was thinking a small trailer with a heavy skid steer or generator to meet the weight requirement but also be nice and short to keep the driving test a bit easier for me.

    Thanks again

    • David Goldstein
      8 months ago

      Carl, I’m afraid I can’t offer much help as to what you should tow for your test. Anything in the weight range you stated would work. Another option, of course, would be to just wait until you get your stacker trailer and then take the test with that. If your motorhome’s GVWR is 26,000 pounds or less, then you can drive it without the trailer without needing a special license. But I’m guessing from your question that the GVWR is more than that, meaning you’d need a Class B exempt to drive it without the trailer and a Class A to drive it with the trailer, and you’re trying to avoid testing twice.

      As far as what maneuvers you’ll be expected to perform, what you’re towing has no bearing at all on that. (The one exception being a vehicle towed four-down that can’t be backed up without damage.) So as on any other Class A or B test, you should anticipate having to do either a straight back, offset-back, or parallel park.

  • Jim Poland
    7 months ago

    What is the sequence of events in becoming licensed when moving to TX from another state that does not have any special license requirements for driving a 43′ class A RV? Specifically, do you first have to make an appointment to exchange your non-TX license for a TX Class C license, and THEN make another appointment to take the Class B Exempt written test, and THEN make a third appointment for the actual driving test to complete the Class B Exempt requirements? OR, can you start right with the Class B Exempt test appointment (acknowledging the gray area of driving your rig to the skills test without being licensed to do so). Right now, using my non-Texas, non-CDL (exempt or otherwise) license, I am currently legally driving my rig in Texas. If I have to give up that license and obtain a TX Class C license to just begin the TX process, I’m arguably being forced to drive illegally from that point forward. Since we are full-timers and have to move our rig from time to time, this is a real catch-22 situation for me. Thanks for your input

    • David Goldstein
      7 months ago

      Jim, that’s a great question. I haven’t explicitly asked, but I’m virtually certain that the answer is that you do NOT need to first get a Class C license–you can go directly to testing for your Class B Exempt as your first Texas license.

      Here’s my reasoning: when you move to Texas from out of state, you can continue to drive with your out of state license for 90 days. As you note, you can legally drive your rig with that license under the laws of your “old” state, so you’re OK in Texas as well under the reciprocity rules.

      Then when you apply for a new Texas license, you surrender your old state license, and Texas honors the license class you had in your old state. In other words, if you were applying for a Texas Class C license, which would be equivalent to your old license, you would have no testing requirements–so for practical purposes, your old state license functions just like a Texas Class C license up to this point. So it stands to reason that you can upgrade from your old state license directly to a Texas Class B using exactly the same procedure as you’d follow if you were upgrading from an existing Texas Class C license.

      Along the same lines, the Texas Driver License Application Form DL-14A indicates that any existing state license is treated the same as a Texas license. It asks, “Have you ever had a driver license.. in Texas or any other state?” and if you have, you provide that information on the form.

      Even if you were to fail either the written test or the driving test for the Class B, I think you’d still be OK: I’m pretty certain that you don’t surrender your old license until the Texas one is issued to you, so you’d just continue to drive under your old state’s license until you passed your test.

      Good luck with the upgrade, and please do let me know if anything I’ve said turns out to be incorrect!

  • So glad you have kept this blog going. I just wanted to follow up on my original question and my experience taking my non-exempt Class A driving test.

    Firstly, when taking the test the it is the vehicle’s GVWR and trailer’s GVWR that matter for the test. in my case I rented a dump trailer with a GVWR over 10,000 lbs to pull with my 41,000 lb motorhome. Initially I emailed DPS licensing division to ask them if the trailer really needed to have a GVWR over 10,000 or if any trailer would work. A dozen emails later they were still stuck on the fact that I only needed a Class B license for my RV. The concept that I was testing for a Class license so I would not have to retest later went right over their heads. They just did not know the answer.

    I did have a skid steer in the dump trailer as well for my test because i was not sure if they would want the trailer to actually weight over 10,000lbs for the test. Luckily I reviewed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules on strapping down cargo so I have the skid steer properly strapped….not that my examiner knew the specific rules but it was obvious I was well secured to the trailer. Another note for anyone testing with a trailer is to be careful to follow the the rule that the total length must not exceed 65 feet. I was very careful to make sure I rented a very short dump trailer for my test. They don’t weigh a lot and have high GVWR’s compared to their length.

    I took my test in Castroville and they were great. It was simply a quick ride around with a civilian examiner who stated from the start that she just wanted to make sure I could drive my RV safely. It was a very low stress event and was simply a quick drive. They completely understood it was a non-exempt license versus a CDL. I highly recommend that testing location and applaud the staff for getting it all correct!

    • David Goldstein
      6 months ago

      Thanks for following up, Carl, and I’m glad you had a good experience with the test. You are correct that it is always GVWR, not actual gross vehicle weight, that matters both for DPS and the Texas laws.

  • David, Thanks for the article. My wife and I are moving to Texas From Washington) with intent to be full timers based out of her sisters home. Establishing residency is going to be an issue. I don’t plan on being in Texas long enough to complete all these requirements in the first year of retirement. May have to suck it up and pay 2 times the Taxes and register the RV i just bought in Washington.

    • David Goldstein
      6 months ago

      Jim, glad you found the article helpful. Domicile is not my specialty, but I do know that you should not have to pay sales taxes twice. If you already paid tax on the RV in Washington, Texas gives you credit for that (as I think all states do). That doesn’t apply to title and registration fees, though–if you’ve already titled and registered your RV in Washington, you will pay those fees again when you eventually re-title and re-register the RV in Texas. But there you’re only talking about a few hundred dollars, not thousands. Remember that Escapees has partnered with Loring & Associates, a law firm in Livingston that specializes in domicile issues, so that you can get a free consultation to answer questions like that (and others you’ll probably have about changing domicile). You can request the free consult using the form at the bottom of this page.

  • Hey David- Great info… A link no longer works (Handbook link, specifically) as DPS has changed from http://www.txdps.state.tx.us to http://www.dps.texas.gov... (NOT a complaint, just thought might be a helpful update- as some others have been updated!)

    Complete new link for other user’s ease: https://www.dps.texas.gov/internetforms/forms/dl-7c.pdf

    • Georgianne Austin
      5 months ago

      Thanks for the heads up, Eric! We’ve fixed that one, and are working on the others that are similarly affected.

  • If you have a license for motorhome plus trailer from another state (one which does not have a maximum total length spelled out), do you need to retake all the tests to get same/similar license in TX? What if your total length with trailer IS over 65 feet? Do you have to take the test with a rented trailer (as noted above) that makes total length under 65 feet?

    • David Goldstein
      5 months ago

      AJ, I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. It’s the gross vehicle weight rating(s), not the length, that determines what class of license you need in Texas. If you are licensed in another state–such as Florida–that does not require any special licensing for heavier RVs, your license would entitle you to a Class C license in Texas. If you need a Class B Exempt license in Texas due to your vehicle weights, then yes, you would have to take all the applicable tests to qualify for that license.

      With respect to length restrictions, the longest combination you can legally tow in Texas is 65 feet, regardless of your license class. If your motorhome/trailer combination is longer than that, I definitely would not bring it to your driving test, because I doubt you’d be allowed to take the test in it. (Realize also that if the length of your motorhome/trailer combination exceeds 65 feet, having the Class B Exempt license won’t keep you from being cited during a traffic stop for violating the length restriction.)

  • The link in this section is out of date:

    “(Unlike the knowledge test that you can take at any DPS office in the state, only certain DPS offices administer the skills test.)”

    • Georgianne Austin
      5 months ago

      Thanks, John! We’re working on getting the links updated, as they aren’t all 1:1 replacements. DPS moved their website and rearranged some information, so it’s taking a little longer to locate and confirm the new URLs. You’ll see all the links updated this week 🙂

  • Aldo A Morell
    4 months ago

    This thread was very helpful, so I’d like to share my experience.
    I failed the written test on the first try. The test is based on Section 14 of the Texas Commecial Vehicle Handbook. The handbook has a chart (figure 1-2) that shows which sections to study for each type of license, but It doesn’t show section 14. They mailed a new Class B license to my home with a restriction requiring a Class B licensed driver to be with me.
    For the skills test, I had to drive an hour and a half to Bryant where I could get an appointment within the 90-day limit following the written test. The next available appointment in my local facility was 7 months out.
    Although I arrived 25 minutes early for my 2:00 appointment, they didn’t take me until 2:40. (They never asked if I had a licensed driver with me on the way to the exam facility.) Then they repeated all the steps I had to get the restricted license – 2 forms, finger prints, new photo, eye test, pay $11.
    I completed the one-hour, no-line ITD (Impact Texas Drivers) course, but I’m not sure I needed it. They didn’t ask for it, but it may have automatically shown as completed in the syste. (A person next to me was not allowed to take the skills test because she had not completed the course even though the Texas .gov web site says it is not required for drivers over 25 years of age.)
    Then I was told to go to the RV and wait for the examiner (~15 min). She checked the registration, insurance card, and tested the horn, turn signals, flashers. For the skills test we went on the highway, stopped at stop signs and traffic lights, turned left across traffic and backed straight back (no parallel or off-set parking). I passed with a few points off for turning the wheel too much to keep the motor home in the lane in a heavy cross-wind and not staying in the right lane to turn to into a tight street on the right (I was conscious of the requirement, but chose to cross the middle line slightly).
    Overall the process was not too difficult, just tedious.

    • Georgianne Austin
      4 months ago

      Thanks for sharing your experience! Glad to hear it was relatively painless 🙂

  • Robert Kienlen
    4 months ago

    Dave – to get my Class B, Non-CDL (i.e Exempt) license in Texas, do I have to take the ELDT training that is discussed in the TX DPS website? This website says that ELDT is now required for all Class B CDL licenses, but I can’t seem to get clarification on this from DPS, regarding a Class B, Non-CDL license.

    Thanks,
    Robert Kienlen (Dallas area)

    • David Goldstein
      4 months ago

      Robert, it’s a great question and I don’t have a clear answer for you. (See the comment directly above yours, for example.) I’d recommend being on the safe side and taking that training–that way you’re covered if it’s needed. It’s not a big investment of time.

  • Robert D Kienlen
    4 months ago

    David – I finally got hold of TX DPS, by both phone and email, and have verified that an applicant for a Class B, Non-CDL (exempt) license does NOT have to take ELDT training.

    Thanks, Robert K.

    • David Goldstein
      3 months ago

      Thank you, Robert! Another member who recently tested got the same answer from TX DPS at the test center. I’ll update the blog post to reflect that information. (By the way, I misunderstood your original question–I thought you were referring to the Impact Texas Drivers [ITD] program, which as far as I know is still required for all driver’s license applicants. But ELDT definitely is not required, except for CDL applicants.)

  • I have a F450 and 52′ horse trailer with full living quarters and slideout. It dies put us over 26000 so I would need a Class A non CDL for that. We also have a single axle peterbilt that is only used to also pull our horse trailer, also putting me over 26000. Would my class A cover me when driving the Peterbilt as well?
    Also, could I use the 450 and trailer to take the driving test?

    • Escapees RV Club
      3 months ago

      Thank you for reading the article and your comments. Regarding your questions, in the section “Do You Need a Special License in Texas for Your Rig?” there is a link which takes you to the Texas Department of Public Safety website. The page has updates effective February 2, 2022 and should contain current information that you will find helpful.

      • mark pilgrim
        3 months ago

        Did the written test on 6/15/2022 at Hillsboro, they were not familiar with the Class A exempt process but they called around and got all their info together. Took the section 14 test with no issues. Scheduled the skills portion at Canton Tx on 6/28/2022, they actually called me twice to see if I wanted an earlier slot…evaluator came out, introduced herself, went over my license, insurance and registration (Truck and 5th wheel) checked lights and horn, hopped in and gave me the briefing on the test and ask if I had any questions. Skills portion consisted of five right turns, seven left turns and that was it! No interstate driving (even though the test center is on the I-20 service road) no backing at all, just a leisurely drive down the I-20 service road through Canton, back down the service road and done! They never ask if I had a licensed driver with me. ELDT is not required, I took the 1hr impact Texas drivers online course but was never asked anything about it.

    • David Goldstein
      3 months ago

      Bri, sorry for the delay in replying – I’ve been out of the country for a few weeks. A Class A exempt license qualifies you to drive any Class A or B rig (as well as a Class C passenger vehicle, of course). So yes, your Class A exempt would cover both your vehicle combinations. And similarly, you can take the driving test in any vehicle that fits the definition of the license class you’re applying for, so you could use the F-450 and the horse trailer for your driving test.

  • Chris Mtchell
    2 months ago

    I’m new to Texas and no one in my department can point me in the right direction. I’m a firefighter and need to get my class b exempt. What test is it that I take and what do I need to study. Is it the normal driver’s license knowledge test every already takes, or is it the CDL knowledge test that I take and what do I need to study. Any help please.

    • David Goldstein
      2 months ago

      Hi Chris. Are you needing the Class B license to drive an RV for personal use, or to drive a firefighting vehicle? If it’s for an RV, please read through the article above. It specifically answers your questions about which tests you need to take and what to study. If you’re needing the Class B license for anything other than driving an RV, I’d suggest contacting the Texas Department of Public Safety’s help line in Austin, as the requirements may be different than for RVs operated for personal use.

  • Good article. I have a question – I own a dually (GVWR 14,000 lbs) and pull a 5th wheel (GVWR 16,000), we are considering selling the 5th wheel and getting a motorhome. I would prefer to get the Class A license (since that should cover al A,B, and C ratings. If I sold my fifth wheel before I could take the driving test – could I just rent a flat bed trailer with a GVWR of at least 12,000 to use for my driving test?

    • David Goldstein
      2 months ago

      Yes, you should be able to do that. Other members have rented trailers for their test in similar situations. Or, you could take the test before you sell your fifth wheel–that would give you a Class A license which would cover you no matter what kind of rig you end up with.

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