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Old 07-19-2004, 12:27 PM   #1
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Are You Licensed To Drive One Of These Trucks?

Are You Licensed To Drive One Of These Trucks?
By STEVEN ISBITTS sisbitts@tampatrib.com
Published: Jul 19, 2004 Tampa Tribune


CLEARWATER - Clifford Bink thought the Florida Highway Patrol officer was kidding when he handed him a ticket for driving his Ford F-250 pickup without a proper license.

After all, the 62-year-old St. Petersburg retiree has had a Florida driver's license in good standing for years, and he has been driving big pickups for decades. But Bink's June 20 citation on Interstate 4 near Lakeland was no joke. State law requires a driver of a pickup with a gross vehicle weight rating exceeding 8,000 pounds to have a class D driver's license. Most motorists, including Bink, only possess a class E license, the certification for passenger vehicle drivers.
``I knew I was speeding and I expected a speeding ticket, not this,'' Bink said. ``I had never heard of this law, and I was never informed when I bought my truck. `My dealer even let me take it home and test drive it for a couple of days. Something isn't right in the system.''
This morning, Bink is scheduled to be arraigned in a Polk County courtroom on the second-degree misdemeanor charge, which could, although it's unlikely, land him 60 days in jail.
His plight came as a surprise to many car dealers and government officials.
``To my knowledge our office has not prosecuted that, if ever. It is a very infrequent charge,'' said Sandra Spoto, chief prosecutor for misdemeanors, traffic and juvenile offenses for the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office.
Bob Murray, a manager at AutoWay Ford in St. Petersburg, where Bink bought his pickup last year, said his dealership was unaware of the law regarding class D licenses. ``This is new information to me,'' he said. ``We would be eager to do whatever we can to let our customers know the laws, and follow them ourselves.''
Among Ford vehicles, the 2003 and 2004 F-250 and F-350 pickups have a gross vehicle weight rating that calls for a class D license to drive them. The manufacturer establishes the gross vehicle weight rating - the maximum weight recommended for the vehicle, passengers and cargo, not including a trailer.
The latest Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 are two other popular pickups that require a class D license. So do some Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras. David Gonzalez, general sales manager at Jerry Ulm Dodge in Tampa, said Friday his dealership was unaware of the need for anyone - customers or salespeople - to have a class D license to drive those pickups. ``We don't have a policy,'' Gonzalez said. ``In 14 years, I've never heard of this.''
Who Needs A ``D''
Although many sport utility vehicles are larger than pickups, they are considered passenger vehicles and do not require a class D license. Recreational vehicle drivers also are exempt. So are people who rent a truck less than 26,001 pounds or 80 inches wide when using the truck to transport personal property. Some passenger vehicles, such as the Cadillac Escalade or Chevrolet Avalanche, can be configured to look like pickups, but they, too, are exempt. ``This law has been in a race to keep up with what's on the ground,'' said Robert Sanchez, spokesman for the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
``We've had issues like this classifying golf carts and scooters.
``This law has been around for years. The big pickups are designed for hauling, and that's really why they require the class D license.'' For those with a standard driver's license, obtaining a D license requires passing an additional written test. The D license fee is $20. One sample test question provided by the state was: ``Give three examples of loads that need to be covered due to falling or blowing on roadway?''
``I passed, and it wasn't terribly difficult,'' said Elisabeth Bink, 50, Clifford's wife. ``I studied for less than two hours, and it wasn't that much different than the regular written test. ``I want to be able to drive our truck if I have to.'' Clifford Bink has not taken the test yet. If the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has its way, the Binks will not need a class D license to drive their pickup after next year.
Sanchez said his department has recommended eliminating the 13-year-old law mandating class D licenses.
Senate Bill 1526, which included language removing the requirement for class D drivers' licenses, was passed by the Senate this year. The House did not vote on the matter before the end of the session. ``Our department will again recommend that the class D requirement be eliminated,'' Sanchez said. ``The feeling is there is not enough of a distinction between D and E. ``We have three categories of commercial licenses. That should be sufficient.''
A Secondary Offense
Law enforcement officers cannot pull over pickup drivers solely to check their licenses, said Lt. Bruce Doras, a Tampa Bay area shift commander for the Florida Highway Patrol. But Doras said officers will not shy from issuing a citation for driving without a class D license when a stop is made for another reason, although such a ticket is ``not very common.'' ``The gross vehicle weight shows up with the registration information,'' Doras said. ``As for issuing a ticket, we go by what the law states.'' Rod Reder, a spokesman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, also said such citations were rare.
Bink just hopes his experience is a lesson to Florida drivers, and to the state, which does not provide license applicants a list of vehicles requiring class D licenses. ``Whatever happens to me, I just want people to know that if they get stopped without that license, they may not make it home so fast,'' said Bink, who waited hours for a ride home. And it might be helpful if dealers provided the same information, he said. ``People should know what they're getting into when they buy a pickup.''
Reporter Steven Isbitts can be reached at (727) 799-7413
E OR D?
Classifications
There are five driver's license classifications in Florida: class A, B, C, D, and E. Classes A, B, and C are for drivers of commercial motor vehicles such as large trucks and buses. Classes D and E are for drivers of noncommercial vehicles.
Who needs a Class D license?
Anyone who operates a pickup or other truck with a ``gross vehicle weight rating'' of at least 8,000 pounds but less than 26,001 pounds - or is more than 80 inches wide - needs a class D license. However, sport utility vehicles and recreational vehicles are exempt, as are rental trucks used to transport personal property. Farmers and drivers of authorized emergency vehicles who are not required to obtain a commercial license, must obtain a class D license.
Special test
The class D license examination has 20 questions and 20 road signs. There is a $20 fee for the test. For information, visit www.hsmv.state.fl.us.
MORE THAN 8,000 POUNDS
* Chevrolet Silverado 2500
* Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD
* Chevrolet Silverado 3500
* Dodge Ram 2500 (regular and quad cabs)
* Dodge Ram 3500 (regular and quad cabs)
* Ford F-250 (all regular, super and crew cabs)
* Ford F-350 (all regular, super and crew cabs)
* GMC Sierra 2500 (regular and extended cabs)
* GMC Sierra 2500HD (regular, extended, and crew cabs)
* GMC Sierra 3500 (regular, extended, and crew cabs)
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Old 07-19-2004, 12:34 PM   #2
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But you don't have to have an endorsement for a 45 ft. air brake equipped class A?

John
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Old 07-19-2004, 12:44 PM   #3
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brett

yes i do!

i am endorsed for A B C N and M
the A allows for:26,001 gcwr and towed unit over 10K

the B allows for:26,001 gvwr, and towed unit over 10K

the C allows for haz mat

the N is for tank trucks

the M is for motorcycles.

i got the tank endorsement because i plan on driving the water truck for road construction when i retire!

what ya hauling?...water, where ya going? back to get more water!

JOHN
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Old 07-19-2004, 12:59 PM   #4
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John,

COOL, Thinking long term, novel idea!

The article only applies to Florida tagged vehicles and Florida Licensed drivers. In a way it points out how the laws that are on the books are rarely enforced, and that some of them are considered outdated. I am with Argosy24 on the issue of no additional licensing being necessary for a 40 foot MH. I do think that there needs to be some sort of certification here, but the AARP lobbyists will say it is the first step to "taking away" the drivers licenses form the elderly.

I do think it is a wake up call to the Florida members that are towing with one of the trucks listed that they may want to spend a few hours getting "legal" just in case. You know your insurance company will use the fact that you were not properly licensed to be driving _________ so we are gong to deny the claim excuse.
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Old 07-19-2004, 01:36 PM   #5
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Just think about all those "older" drivers in huge Motorhomes chugging down I 75 at 75 mph plus. Its a reassuring thought.......not!
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Old 07-19-2004, 03:34 PM   #6
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RV license

The Georgia legislature considered requiring a special license for motorhomes and RV's a few years ago. When they studied the issue, they found that there were relatively few accidents involving RV's, too few to justify special licenses. Like many things, the perception (and fear) doesn't match the reality.

Neal
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Old 07-19-2004, 03:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
AARP lobbyists will say it is the first step to "taking away" the drivers licenses form the elderly.
Judging by the number of articles, news reports, etc. I have seen the last few months about the elderly driving through houses and stores it's about time for the AARP to look out for the future elderly.

John
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Old 07-19-2004, 03:56 PM   #8
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I'll bet that few of the COPS in FL that have 3/4 ton trucks with a 10k gross have the required licenses!

Roger
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Old 07-19-2004, 10:58 PM   #9
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2500?

Our government bureaucrats at work! There are some stupid laws on the books and this is one of them. Now granted, if I chose to use a Peterbilt to tow my Airstream then I should have an endorsement for the air brakes and other systems. My current class B license has a P endorsement for vehicles carrying greater than 15 passengers including driver (I drive a 48 passenger bus) and an S endorsement for School Bus which has all those questions concerning letting kids on and off the bus. One of the two buses I drive is 454 powered and the other is a front engine diesel, both using air brakes. I hardly compare my 2500hd extended cab pickup to either of these monsters.
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Old 07-20-2004, 10:15 AM   #10
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I have a Class A CDL with Hazmat so I think I'm covered.................
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Old 07-20-2004, 01:51 PM   #11
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We have an interesting law in Missouri that allows some trucks to be titled either as trucks or a passenger cars. For example, in some cases it may be adventageous to title my van as a truck and purchase local truck state plates, which limit the travel of the vehicle (plates cost less $$). Where this comes back to bite you is in parking or access restrictions.

For example the City of St. Louis prohibits truck parking in city parks. So my van with its auto plates can be parked right behind another van with truck plates. The truck plated van gets a ticket and I don't.

In most cases of no trucks allowed on certain streets, automobile plates on trucks dictate that the vehicle be classified by law enforcement as an automobile.

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Old 07-20-2004, 04:20 PM   #12
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There was something about this on one of the Florida fishing forums. Apparently, they're making sweeps through campgrounds, writing tickets, somewhere down in Florida. I don't remember exactly where it was though. Didn't affect those with out-of-state tags though.
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Old 07-20-2004, 06:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnG
I have a Class A CDL with Hazmat so I think I'm covered.................
Class A license is required towing a trailer weighing more than 10,000 pounds. I am not sure if the RV loophole will get you out of trouble, I haven't heard of any problems yet, but you never know...
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Old 07-20-2004, 08:07 PM   #14
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Class A license is required towing a trailer weighing more than 10,000 pounds. I am not sure if the RV loophole will get you out of trouble, I haven't heard of any problems yet, but you never know...
Terry
In Georgia, the operators license is a Class C. On the back of the license it states: "Class C - May operate single vehicles less than 26,001 lbs. GVWR. May tow less than 10,001 lbs. GVWR. All recreational vehicles are included in this class."

The attorney for the State Patrol has stated that this class covers the operation of all recreational vehicles - regardless of their weight. And the information is available on the State web site.

Of course, this didn't prevent the GSP Sergeant from writing my father a ticket stating that he had to have a Class A license to pull his 10,300 lb GVWR Coachmen trailer. He also wrote that the truck he was driving was too small ( a 2001 2500 HD Diesel/Allison- rated to pull 12,000 lb bumper hitch) and that he had to have a 1 ton truck. And also wrote a ticket for driving in the left hand car lanes in Atlanta. An RV can drive in any lane, even the HOV if there are 2 people in it. The tickets were thrown out by the judge after we contacted our State Rep and Senator, but the patrolman impounded the trailer, and we had to pay $150 fee and go get the thing in the middle of the night in a trashy part of Atlanta. He wanted to impound the the truck too, and leave my 84 year old father and 77 year old mother on foot in slumland Atlanta. I guess the cop should be happy, it upset my father enough that he sold the truck and parked the trailer. Daddy didn't know what the law was, or how to show the cop that he was wrong. You can bet that everyone in the family carries copies of the law when we pull an RV.

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