Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Monday, April 14, 2014

There's a Reason to Avoid Making Too Many Assumptions

At Rayford Crossing RV Resort, Spring, Texas...

We have set up at Rayford Crossing for another week or so near the kids and will celebrate Easter with them.  It is somewhat noteworthy that I finally drove Phannie here LEGALLY!

You see, I had assumed (bad idea, hence the title of this post) that a standard class C driver's license would be quite sufficient for operating a motorhome in non-commercial use in Texas. After more than three years of driving Phannie around the country, I found out that a class A or B (normally classified as commercial) license is required-- with a waiver from the commercial part--when you operate an RV weighing more than 26,000 pounds on Texas highways which, of course, Phannie does.  For goodness' sake, Sandy's clothes in Phannie's bedroom closet probably weigh that much!

How did I not know about this licensing requirement?  Certainly, the salesman who sold Phannie to me failed to mention it (no surprise there!); none of the MH owners I know ever mentioned it either, and I only discovered it reading a blog post of another MH owner who was also surprised to learn of the requirement.  Yes, I am guilty of having made an assumption instead of checking it out.  I know better, but growing older seems not to have made me wiser in this case.

Upon learning of my omission, my first thought was, "What a stupid requirement--having to get a commercial license and then getting an exemption from it at the same time!" This is clearly something the legislators of my beloved state have dreamed up to fatten the treasury, I guess.  (The upgraded make-believe CDL costs $11.00.) 

After considering just blowing it off as a protest to yet another regulatory atrocity, I suddenly had a vision of a trial lawyer's questioning me before a jury as to whether I was properly licensed to drive my motorhome at the time of the accident.  Then I realized that if I answered that question in the negative, I would probably be left destitute by the jury award, irrespective of my responsibility for the accident. 

So, I printed the forms I needed from, got them notarized per the requirements, and took them to the DPS office for a long, painful wait for processing and setting up a computer-based written test and a road test with a DPS officer.  The clerks gave me a commercial license study guide and briefed me on the parts that were applicable.  After reading through the material a couple of times, I came back and made 90 on the exam--more than good enough.

The next day, I brought Phannie back for the road test, which lasted about a half hour.  Worthy of note about this were the requirements to conduct a rather detailed air brake check and to perform parallel parking!  I told the examiner that he had to be kidding about the parallel parking!  (He wasn't.) Actually, it wasn't very difficult; it involved merely backing up and cutting in beside the curb--without having to park between other vehicles, thankfully. Backing over the curb would have caused me to flunk, and I was careful not to do that.

After this, we drove back to the DPS office, where the clerks cut up my operator's license and issued me a new Class B temporary license.  Chalk one up for the legislators, regulators and lawyers--God bless 'em!


  1. congrats on being 'legal'..we have rules and regulations here in BC too..I do believe the 'trailer' being towed cannot weigh over a certain amount and if so you need to do a test to be legal!

  2. Congratulations. We had to to the same thing when we got a class A in 2008. Did the theoretical and then the air brake test on a semi that was parked (!). We opted to do it both, in case one of us might be unable drive for one reason or another. Well, that was that. Now we are back to a van and travel trailer. But it was an experiment nonetheless.

  3. Always good to be legal. A pain in the butt but a good thing.


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