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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. 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 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 Packet. Basically, 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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86 Responses to “Guide to Texas Driver’s License Requirements for RVers

  • Russell McFall
    1 year 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
    1 year ago

    Thank you David, this is a great article.

  • Dave Plamann
    1 year ago

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

    • David Goldstein
      1 year 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.

  • Sharon
    1 year ago

    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
      1 year 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.

  • Sharon
    1 year ago

    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
      1 year 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.

  • Sharon
    1 year ago

    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
      12 months 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!

  • 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
      11 months 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.

      • 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
          11 months ago

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

  • 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
      11 months 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
    11 months 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
      10 months 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
      9 months 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
      9 months 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.

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

    • David Goldstein
      8 months 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
          2 months 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!

  • 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
      8 months ago

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

  • Scott C Vermilye
    8 months ago

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

    • David Goldstein
      8 months 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
    8 months 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
      8 months 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
      7 months 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
    7 months 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
      7 months 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.
    7 months 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
      7 months 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.
    7 months 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
      7 months 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
      7 months 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
      6 months 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
    7 months 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.
    7 months 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
    6 months 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
      6 months 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
      6 months 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
    6 months 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
    6 months 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
      5 months 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
    5 months 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
      5 months 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
    5 months 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
      5 months 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
      4 months 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
    4 months 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
      4 months 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
    4 months 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
    4 months 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
      2 months 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
      3 months 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
      2 months 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
      3 weeks 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
      2 weeks 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
    3 weeks 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
      2 weeks 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.

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