Wednesday, November 29, 2023


California 5th wheel owners may need special license

Are you licensed to drive in California and tow a fifth-wheel trailer? If so, you may need a special license. Here’s the scoop from the California Department of Motor Vehicles:
A driver must have a fifth-wheel recreational trailer endorsement added to his/her Class C driver license to pull a fifth-wheel trailer over 10,000 lbs., but not over 15,000 pounds GVWR which is not used for hire. The endorsement is not required if the driver has a commercial or noncommercial Class A driver license.
To obtain an original fifth-wheel recreational trailer endorsement, adults must:
•Complete an application for a driver license (DL 44).
•There is no fee unless your license expires within six months.
•Pass the Recreational Vehicles and Noncommercial Class A Trailers law test.
•Pass the basic Class C law test, unless you renewed your Class C license within the last 12 months.
•Pass a vision test.
•You are not required to submit a Health Questionnaire or Physician’s Health Report.
•You are not required to take a pre-trip, skills, or driving test to add a Recreational Trailer endorsement to your current license.
Minors must complete all the steps above and meet additional requirements listed in the California Driver Handbook.
Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.



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Scott (@guest_30477)
5 years ago

Dude, I just read the hand book, it clearly says a basic class C CAN TOW a 5th wheel 10-15k. This is straight miss information. I hate Calie for a lot fo reasons, but people tend to bash it over crap thats not even real.

Go check yourself:

Al Florida (@guest_26104)
5 years ago

You are using the words “you may need a special license” which makes it unclear if you are saying CA requires or is proposing a special license. You do seem to quote the state handbook, but you don’t put the info in quotes or specifically state this is the state law.

It would be much clearer if you were to state that CA is requiring a special license for trailers between 10,000 and 15,000 pounds and here is the quote from the handbook.

Also it would be much more helpful if you gave info about trailers over 15,000 pounds. Is a different license required for those trailers?

Dick Danger (@guest_25813)
5 years ago

Really pleased to see people staying out of California! Most of them are not wanted.
Let us enjoy our state and you stay in yours!!

Rollin McKim (@guest_25908)
5 years ago
Reply to  Dick Danger

Step on it.

Laurel Deveso (@guest_26232)
5 years ago
Reply to  Dick Danger

Tourism in CA supports over one million jobs and brings in 10.3 BILLION in state revenue – and you want us OUT? If people listen it will serve you right!!

Tommy Molnar (@guest_25795)
5 years ago

We just stay OUT of California every chance we get – which is always. It’s a shame because the state has some beautiful country, but it is SO screwed up in SO many ways it’s just better to stay out.

Rob (@guest_25969)
5 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar


Michael Robinson (@guest_49308)
4 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

You are so right. All same people move out and leave us with no votes. I am a native Californian. Burnt out of my home last year and my county says I can’t rebuild after living 61 years in a home. We are devastated and broken. So much for by the people, for the people.

Rufus (@guest_25763)
5 years ago

And by the way, our speed limit in California for anybody towing a trailer is 55 mph.

jt (@guest_25887)
5 years ago
Reply to  Rufus

Driving an rv over 60 mph is nuts. You should keep it at 60 or under 5th, travel trailer or motor home should be under 60 mph. I see people doing 80 to 85 mph towing.. They should be taking off the road.

Rob (@guest_25970)
5 years ago
Reply to  Rufus

On my recent trip down I5 in CA i set cruise at 58….and for past continually by bigwigs and RVers…looks to me that none of the CA residents Care much for the speed limits.

Jeff (@guest_25759)
5 years ago

California has been off my RVing List for a Long Time. It’s California!
That;s all that needs to be said!

Rob (@guest_25971)
5 years ago
Reply to  Jeff

I am thinking CA won’t be in my travel plans much – people tend to be rude to those pulling trailers. When we left CA and entered Oregon we felt a change in social climate. BTW, most parks we stayed in in CA had nice folks running the place.

Bob Godfrey (@guest_25756)
5 years ago

Knowing CA officials it will only be a matter of time before fees will be attached to these licenses. Wait and see.

Dave J (@guest_25603)
5 years ago

Well I’m told that they ticket 5th wheel rigs pulling a ATV trailer behind the 5er even if it perfectly legal in the state where all three are licensed. That said nothing Cali does surprises me anymore.

Tom Anderson (@guest_25600)
5 years ago

I wonder if they will try to reach out and ticket other state licensed drivers passing through Cali that are pulling fivers that exceed the 10,000 pounds restriction.

Rory (@guest_25606)
5 years ago
Reply to  Tom Anderson

Calif Hwy Patrol will not ticket drivers passing thru provided they are towing only one vehicle. You may not tow a third vehicle in this state nor inost states I have been in. I fyour 5er exceeds 10,000 lbs Cali will recognize the laws of your state re: liscensing. I have included below the states requirement re lincenses for RV’s
Class A: Any combination of vehicles, if any vehicle being towed has a GVW rating of more than 10,000 lbs.; any vehicle towing more than 1 vehicle; any trailer bus; any vehicle under Class B or Class C.

Class B: Any single vehicle with a GVW rating of more than 26,000 lbs.; any single vehicle with 3 or more axles, except any single 3-axle vehicle weighing less than 6,000 lbs.; any bus except a trailer bus; any farm labor vehicle; any 3 or more axle vehicle or vehicle with a GVW rating of more 26,000 lbs. towing another vehicle with a GVW rating of 10,000 lbs. or less; any motor home over 40 feet in length; any vehicle covered under Class C.

Class C: Any 2-axle vehicle with a GVW rating of 26,000 lbs. or less, including when such vehicle is towing a trailer with a GVW rating of 10,000 lbs. or less; any 3-axle vehicle weighing 6,000 lbs. or less; any 2-axle vehicle weighing 4,000 lbs. or more unladen when towing a trailer not exceeding 10,000 lbs. GVW rating; any motor home of 40 feet in length or less; any 5th wheel trailer under 10,000 lbs. if not for hire or under 15,000 lbs. with endorsement; or vehicle towing another vehicle with a GVW rating of 10,000 lbs. or less.

Class M1: Any 2-wheel motorcycle or motor-driven cycle; Class M1 endorsements may be included on Class A, B, or C licenses upon completion of the exam.

Class M2: Any motorized bicycle or moped; Class M2 endorsements may be included on Class A, B, or C licenses upon completion of the exam.

DMV may accept a certificate of competence in lieu of the driving exam for Class A or B applications so long as applicant has first qualified for a Class C license, and for Class M1 applications, if approved by law enforcement. A certificate of satisfactory completion of a novice motorcyclist training program may be submitted in lieu of driving test for Class M1 or M2 applications..

Brosig (@guest_90065)
3 years ago
Reply to  Rory

Are the laws of the state your vehicle is licensed and your driver license, valid in the visiting state or California is the nice one? Example, with a FL driver license and 5th wheel. If the GCVW is over 26,000 lbs am I ok to drive in all states?

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