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Class A Non-commercial Licensing In San Diego Area

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With thanks to Turbaru, I took my Class A-Non-Commercial Tests today.

Like he and some others said, it is a no-s*** for real testing process. I actually got there about 20 minutes early, and they were able to start earlier. Brought in my license, permit, registration for trailer and truck, and proof of insurance.

The pre-inspection test is just like in the book, touch everything, and tell them what you are looking for, let them tell you to stop. Do complete vehicle, and complete trailer. During my pre-inspection, he actually said let's get in the truck and get ready for the skills test. Don't stop!!!! This is where I got my only errors..... this happened as I stepped back to check for levelness of the truck AND the trailer (2 points here, 1 for each). I assumed he was good, got in. And then he dinked me for the fire extinguisher check...which was sitting right beside him. arrggh! Don't argue (I didn't) they are right and you'll only make it worse and raise your own blood pressure. :bangin: they can ask you about gauges, fuses, flashlights, etc. Then he asked about all the indicators and switches in truck: headlights, high beam, defroster, horn (use it!), turn signals, wiper, drivers window (yes!) passenger door, seatbelt, parking brake and foot brake. Clean glass/mirrors are a must!

Skills test is next, it's on the ROP yard next to Jamacha. This was easy, but if you're not used to backing your rig on off camber landscape, you might want to practice somehow. Basic stopping at a limit line, backing up (on a slope that makes the trailer want to go to the right (downhill side) Watch the cones. Then an alley dock, uphill against the slope; don't hit any cones. In this one you can pull forward up to 5 times to straighten out (only inched it up once, cause I didn't like the angle on the inside cone) and stop no more than two feet from a cone you can't see, there are corner cones to guide you. Then up and around and a right turn around a cone. For this one, there are two white marks that you have to put the trailer tires thru, it was a cinch. NO ERRORS :sha:

On to driving test. I'm going to lay-it-out, so that local peeps can check it out. I understand that they can vary the test; I'll speak of that at the end. You take off up Jamacha Road, make a right on Hillsdale, and then another right to pass Valhalla High school. This ahs them checking your right turns, looking at traffic, and keeping the tires off the curbs. Then at the top of Hillsdale, pull over and park uphill, dork* the tires, and check brakes, etc. Then up over the top and on the downhill side, pull over and park downhill tires, brakes, etc. At this point he asked me about the procedures for downhill driving..so state braking, lower gears, runaway ramps, etc. He asked me a few questions on the braking systems. then at the bottom, you turn right on Willow Glen Road (alongside Cottonwood Golf Course) and head back towards Rancho San Diego. Mind your braking behind vehicles, got to see the tires! His seat was lower and he was shorter, so we had a brief moment when he asked me if I could see the tires and I responded "Yes". Minor seat adjustment on his side and more room between vehicles in front (no points subtracted...but this is something to adjust for) Left onto Jamacha Road, and head towards 94. Couple of lane changes on Jamacha, and then onto 94. Guess I was doing good, since we turned off at Casa De Oro Sweetwater Exit, left turn there, left turn onto Sweetwater, and then another left turn back onto 94. Back thru RSD, and then a left turn on to Fury Lane to go behind the shopping centers. One thing, as you notice traffic situations, and find yourself having to brake hard or wait to do his instructions, VERBALIZE IT! I did my test at 1 pm, so there was heavy traffic and at one point a nice shiny BMW cut me as I was changing lanes.

At the next light, a right turn on to Via Rancho San Diego Drive. This was the other exciting moment...as this is a hard right turn, single lane; with a bike lane next to you. I kept the trailer wide, had lights on for the turn, and at the stop light, had a Merc and a BMW stopped behind me; when light went green, and I pulled forward to start the turn...both vehicle made the right turn inside me as I was turning!! Single lane turn..WTF!! (Both were women drivers for those of you who like to keep score.) I joked if he got their license plate. The inspector was shaking his head at this obvious display of sh##%^ty driving skills and courtesy. From here, went behind the stores on to a Right turn on Brabham Lane, then a left turn on to Jamacha, and back to the ROP/DMV facility.

NOTE: The entry to this facility is a bit of off-camber with bumps, so 5ers, watch your truck bed/apron clearance

Passed!!! 2 down checks: Apparently, I didn't check for traffic well enough thru two intersections. Book says slow down and check; thought I did, but what the heck..passing score with only 2 down marks.

The part that I didn't get, that someone else did, was the overpass height check. Didn't go under any on this route; but I was prepared with trailer height (13'10" 07 SLC3905) Book states 14' is maximum for normal loads. Nor did he ask me any questions about signage.

In talking with these guys, they were unaware of the CHP enforcement on licensing. They stated that they had been wondering why so many people were starting to take these tests. Mentioned that they should be seeing a steady stream soon; and spoke of some of the stuff that has been going on up in O.C. and L.A. (stories from the board..without naming the board :wink: ) These guys are pretty good guys, and very helpful. Guy came who had a firefighter license, added the 'A' non-comm; yet when he got pulled over, the trailer for non-comm wasn't on his temporary license. The inspector is taking him over to the office to have it fixed. WOW! Note: Since the guy was on leisure time, the firefighter endorsement didn't qualify, the CHP pointed that out. So it looks like they are even taking into account the ones that are employment rated.

When I picked up my permit, I noted that it said I had to have a licensed driver with me. DMV (Normal street) said as long as I was driving it to the test site, CHP/Police should be lenient. Mentioned this (after the fact!!) to the testers...they too felt the same way. However....I got the names/numbers of the DMV folks and a written statement to cover my arse. That being said, I remember reading somewhere that in certain places the fuzz was actually ticketing folks driving up to DMV facilities for their test. So if you any of you peeps here in San Dog want a licensed person to accompany you, drop me a note or PM me, and I'll see what I can do. Am taking a week off here in the near future, so I might be able to ride shotgun if ya need.

I'll post route tomorrow.

Good luck all.....

Route URL (sorry for the size) http://maps.yahoo.com/broadband#mvt=m&...50936&mag=4

New office in Spring Valley, moved from the Kenwood site:

3322 Sweetwater Springs Blvd, Spring Valley, CA 91977

Call them at 619-660-3902. You can do the written test walk-in (20 questions common sense) but call to schedule the driving and skills test.

NOTE: In the handbooks, use the number under the driving test to schedule, not the one under the skills test.

post-2138-1190854739.jpg

Edited by Desertdogs

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GREAT write-up, thanks for the info.

I am kinda in a weird situation. When I went to register my F650, which was bought out of state, the DMV required a VIN verification to process registration. The guy at the DMV certified/verified my truck as a "Motor Home" because it has a bed in it. I just went along with them because the difference in registration was over $1,000 a year. I talked with one of the scale masters at the Cajon Scales and he told me not to worry about it as long as I am pulling an RV trailer. When I asked about having to get a class a non-commercial endorsement due to my trailer being over 15k GVWR he went back to "It's a Motor Home", don't worry about it.

Thoughts?

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Congratulations! And, great write up!

:turby:

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GREAT write-up, thanks for the info.

I am kinda in a weird situation. When I went to register my F650, which was bought out of state, the DMV required a VIN verification to process registration. The guy at the DMV certified/verified my truck as a "Motor Home" because it has a bed in it. I just went along with them because the difference in registration was over $1,000 a year. I talked with one of the scale masters at the Cajon Scales and he told me not to worry about it as long as I am pulling an RV trailer. When I asked about having to get a class a non-commercial endorsement due to my trailer being over 15k GVWR he went back to "It's a Motor Home", don't worry about it.

Thoughts?

I am no expert on this, but how I understand it, if the tag trailer you tow is rated over 10,000 pounds or the 5th wheel you tow is rated over 15,000 pounds, you are required to have a class A non-commercial license.

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GREAT write-up, thanks for the info.

I am kinda in a weird situation. When I went to register my F650, which was bought out of state, the DMV required a VIN verification to process registration. The guy at the DMV certified/verified my truck as a "Motor Home" because it has a bed in it. I just went along with them because the difference in registration was over $1,000 a year. I talked with one of the scale masters at the Cajon Scales and he told me not to worry about it as long as I am pulling an RV trailer. When I asked about having to get a class a non-commercial endorsement due to my trailer being over 15k GVWR he went back to "It's a Motor Home", don't worry about it.

Thoughts?

I am no expert on this, but how I understand it, if the tag trailer you tow is rated over 10,000 pounds or the 5th wheel you tow is rated over 15,000 pounds, you are required to have a class A non-commercial license.

^^^^^ This is my understanding as well.

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^^^^^^ Agreed, it's states that in the book. Sorry TAG guys!

I'm pretty sure that they will tag all 5ers over 10K as well....seemed weird that there was a gap. Granpa with his 40' non toyhauler...

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Here is my dilemma. We have a 23 foot tag that the sticker has 10,400 lb. rating on the 2 axles. I do not thing think the trailer could hold enough to weigh that much. Should I worry about this or just play dumb if we are ever checked.

Edited by Oldman

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Here is my dilemma. We have a 23 foot tag that the sticker has 10,400 lb. rating on the 2 axles. I do not thing think the trailer could hold enough to weigh that much. Should I worry about this or just play dumb if we are ever checked.

Take the sticker off and play dumb. :cheers:

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Here is my dilemma. We have a 23 foot tag that the sticker has 10,400 lb. rating on the 2 axles. I do not thing think the trailer could hold enough to weigh that much. Should I worry about this or just play dumb if we are ever checked.

I have a 21 foot with a 11,000lb rating beleive it or not. So if for some reason I ever was questioned on the weight.... (its sooo small!! hahah) Im thinking about changing the sticker on the cabnit. Whatcha think?

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Awesome Write up! Great Bit of Info, thank you for the heads up. I need to get mine up here in OC I am not aware of any potential problems, if you know or have heard of issues any help is appreciated.

Regards Don

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Here is my dilemma. We have a 23 foot tag that the sticker has 10,400 lb. rating on the 2 axles. I do not thing think the trailer could hold enough to weigh that much. Should I worry about this or just play dumb if we are ever checked.

I just got off the phone with Sacramento CHP any questions they are happy to help 916-445-1865 just ask for an Officer to ask a quuestion.

To answer your question re your weight. Ca Veh Code Sec #12804.12 give detailed info that a CLASS C is ok up to 10K GVWR on a Tag Trailer and 15k GVWR on a 5th Wheel. If a Trailer USED for Personal USE NOT FOR HIRE is in excess of either the OPERATOR MUST have a Restricted Non Commercial Class A license.

ALSO any Pick-up Truck that has a GVWR of LESS THAN or EQUAL to 11500 is OK for a Class C License and if a P/U has a higher GVWR then the vehicle by DEFINITION is Classified as a MotorTruck (Ca Veh Code Section #12804.9 and if not for hire must have an endorcement on its REGISTRATION soas to be legal when being towed on a highway in CA called "Motor Carrier Property Permit" cost is like $35.00

Also ANY MOTORHOME over 40 Feet also Requires an Endorcement on their license, if pulled over and checked but not inm possession they can Impound the Vehicle and cite you as an Unlicensed Operator which when convicted carries the same weight of 2 points on your driving record as a DUI does, so you cost of insurance will skyrocket.

If an OUT of STATE operator drives into CA and the state they are licensed and reside in does not require any special license then the CHP recognizes this and they RECIPROCATE however the max length is STILL 65' NO Exception to this Rule

Below is a Link to table of contents of the Ca Vehicle Code and is linked by Section of the Code for Download

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.html/veh_table_of_contents.html

Good Luck to ALL. Regards Don

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Thank you all for the great info. Taking my tests in the morning. I have a 26' foot tag.

Thanks again

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Excellent info from all of you... I was smiling all the way until the 40 moho came up... mine is 42 so I guess I've got some work to do! Thanks again guys for sharing!!!

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Passed the test! It is very easy and I was done in 1 hr. I will add some info later.

Thanks again to you all. It definetely helps to know what they are looking for. Got dinged for a small chip in the windshield.

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Passed the test! It is very easy and I was done in 1 hr. I will add some info later.

Thanks again to you all. It definetely helps to know what they are looking for. Got dinged for a small chip in the windshield.

For North San Diego County, Escondido DMVC is designated as a "Commercial Testing Facility."

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I was told by the commercial tester to let people know to use the Commercial DMV in Spring Valley. They will know what paperwork and producers to follow, unlike the regular DMV offices.

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The non-commercial test sounds like more of a pain then the commercial test

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Congratulations! And, great write up!

:turby:

Turbaru, Do I need to worry about this special license?

I have a 2500HD Silverado that pulls a triple axle WW Front Bath 30 footer pull trailer. What do I need to look for on my weight sticker? How can a CHP officer that pulls you over determine if you're over weight?

R

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I have heard they are lookin for triple axle trailers, but my last double axle trailer fell into the requirement of needing the class A non-commercial license.

It is the total rated weight of your trailer that decides. More than 10,000# for a bumper pull trailer, and 15,000# for a 5th wheel. Most trailers have a sticker on an inside cabinet door with this information.

Towing the rated weights above without a class A non-commercial license is considered towing out-of-class. I have heard stories that the CHP made the truck and trailer sit on the side of the road till a properly licensed driver came for the rig, or call a tow service. I bet that's not cheap either way.

Let me know if there is anything I can help you with.

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I passed my behind the wheel class A non-commercial at the Fullerton, CA DMV office on Friday. Thanks to Tubaru and Desertdogs for the heads up on the test, I was a lot more prepared. I pull a 2009 Stellar 28DBL which is rated for 12,000 lbs. GVWR.

Just like others have stated, it's has three parts to it. Pre-inspection test, small closed course skills test, and 45 minute real drive.

Pre-inspection Test: Go over TV and trailer and explain everything you are supposed to check before a trip and state out loud. Check oil levels, coolant, power steering, belts, hoses. Inspect each tire, lug nuts, rims and the minimum tread depth required(I missed). Explain the hitch system in detail. Go over the trailer and check the axles, drums, rims, tires, etc. Double checked that the rear ramp door is properly secured and locked(that was actually on the test, since toy haulers have a rear-door just like 18 wheelers). Showed the examiner my hazard triangles, fire extinguisher and three flares. I missed a few points on this portion, as I didn't inspect the following: Axle seals, brake drums for cracks, minimum tread depth requirement and that the rig is 'level' from front to back and side to side. Overall grade: PASSED

Closed Course Skills Test: Had to back into a 12 foot wide coned spot by starting out 90 degrees to the spot, just like you would do backing into a tight campground spot. I pulled back out twice to straighten out, lost one point each, you are allowed 5 pull outs. It's backing up on your left side, drivers side, so it's a little easier. Had to back up in a straight line between cones for 200 feet. Had to clear a sharp turn around a cone. Mised two points for two pull outs. Done. PASSED.

Driving Test: 45 minute drive, always stay in the far right lane, watch your speed, height clearances, bicyclist, etc. Of course don't cut any corner, my examiner kept looking the mirror himself to see if I was making all of them. Slow down before rail road tracks and look both ways. Call out clearance if going under a road or railroad and know your trailer clearance. Got on the freeway, kept my speed at 55mph for the first time(the legal limit....hahaha!). Got back to the DMV, and he told me, "congratulations, you passed! Have fun RVing and drive safe!". Zero point deduction for the driving test.

Cool knowing I have it now. My advice, study the RV handbook and in detail the pre-inspection test items. As long as you are comfortable pulling your rig and backing up, you shouldn't have any problem with the driving portion of it.

Obviously, this regulation is old and 15+ years ago, to have a ball hitch trailer that was rated for more than 10,000 lbs. GVWR or a fifth wheel rated for more than 15,000 lbs. GVWR was very rare, and the DMV wanted those rare trailer owners to get a class A non-commercial for towing them. Jump to 2008, with the power advancements in 3/4 ton and 1 ton trucks now a days, and the popularity of toy haulers, ball hitch trailers that are over 10,000 lb. GVWR are all so common. And even fifth wheels now a days, over 15,000 lbs. GVWR are very common also. It's not a rarity to have these heavy GVWR trailers anymore. We have got sucked into taking this Class A non-commercial to be LEGAL to tow. I think it's time for the DMV to revise the regulation and bump up the weight requirements to 13,000 lbs. + for ball hitch trailers and 17,000 lbs. + for fifth wheel before needing a class A non-commercial. Doubt they will though, so the law is what it is.

It's not a hard test if you are comfortable towing your trailer.

Edited by 87Honda250R

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I passed my behind the wheel class A non-commercial at the Fullerton, CA DMV office on Friday. Thanks to Tubaru and Desertdogs for the heads up on the test, I was a lot more prepared. I pull a 2009 Stellar 28DBL which is rated for 12,000 lbs. GVWR.

Just like others have stated, it's has three parts to it. Pre-inspection test, small closed course skills test, and 45 minute real drive.

Pre-inspection Test: Go over TV and trailer and explain everything you are supposed to check before a trip and state out loud. Check oil levels, coolant, power steering, belts, hoses. Inspect each tire, lug nuts, rims and the minimum tread depth required(I missed). Explain the hitch system in detail. Go over the trailer and check the axles, drums, rims, tires, etc. Double checked that the rear ramp door is properly secured and locked(that was actually on the test, since toy haulers have a rear-door just like 18 wheelers). Showed the examiner my hazard triangles, fire extinguisher and three flares. I missed a few points on this portion, as I didn't inspect the following: Axle seals, brake drums for cracks, minimum tread depth requirement and that the rig is 'level' from front to back and side to side. Overall grade: PASSED

Closed Course Skills Test: Had to back into a 12 foot wide coned spot by starting out 90 degrees to the spot, just like you would do backing into a tight campground spot. I pulled back out twice to straighten out, lost one point each, you are allowed 5 pull outs. It's backing up on your left side, drivers side, so it's a little easier. Had to back up in a straight line between cones for 200 feet. Had to clear a sharp turn around a cone. Mised two points for two pull outs. Done. PASSED.

Driving Test: 45 minute drive, always stay in the far right lane, watch your speed, height clearances, bicyclist, etc. Of course don't cut any corner, my examiner kept looking the mirror himself to see if I was making all of them. Slow down before rail road tracks and look both ways. Call out clearance if going under a road or railroad and know your trailer clearance. Got on the freeway, kept my speed at 55mph for the first time(the legal limit....hahaha!). Got back to the DMV, and he told me, "congratulations, you passed! Have fun RVing and drive safe!". Zero point deduction for the driving test.

Cool knowing I have it now. My advice, study the RV handbook and in detail the pre-inspection test items. As long as you are comfortable pulling your rig and backing up, you shouldn't have any problem with the driving portion of it.

Obviously, this regulation is old and 15+ years ago, to have a ball hitch trailer that was rated for more than 10,000 lbs. GVWR or a fifth wheel rated for more than 15,000 lbs. GVWR was very rare, and the DMV wanted those rare trailer owners to get a class A non-commercial for towing them. Jump to 2008, with the power advancements in 3/4 ton and 1 ton trucks now a days, and the popularity of toy haulers, ball hitch trailers that are over 10,000 lb. GVWR are all so common. And even fifth wheels now a days, over 15,000 lbs. GVWR are very common also. It's not a rarity to have these heavy GVWR trailers anymore. We have got sucked into taking this Class A non-commercial to be LEGAL to tow. I think it's time for the DMV to revise the regulation and bump up the weight requirements to 13,000 lbs. + for ball hitch trailers and 17,000 lbs. + for fifth wheel before needing a class A non-commercial. Doubt they will though, so the law is what it is.

It's not a hard test if you are comfortable towing your trailer.

Great post, very detailed.

One thing the Non-C Class A does, is make people THINK, both about their TV and their TH mechanics.

You've probably seen the Noobs out there, that treat towing, like driving a VW.

Driving a 20K+ lb rig down the highway takes some added responsibilty.

I would like to see an emergency braking exercise added during the DMV driving protion of the test. That way you'll know before hand how your rig is going to react during a panic stop.

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Thought I would bring this one back up. Has a lot of good info that is being asked about right now.

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Great Advice. I take my test tomorrow morning at 7am. I'm a little worried about backing up straight, but everything else should be no problem. I hope! When/If I pass the test do they give you paperwork saying that you passed? I only ask because I'm going to Oregon in 2 weeks and probably won't get my hard copy in the mail yet and want to be clear if I get stopped.

Thanks

Andy

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You leave with paperwork saying you are good to go. My new license came in the mail within a couple weeks. I was surprised how fast.

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Just passed the test yesterday. :yay:

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