Do You Need a Commercial License to Drive an RV?

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When it comes to RV licensing, there are several important factors to consider. Depending on the type of recreational vehicle you are driving, you may need a valid driver’s license and an RV-specific license or endorsement. Having the right license can help ensure you can drive safely and legally. It is frequently asked whether CDL is required to drive an RV with air brakes.

No, you do not need a CDL to drive an RV with air brakes. However, special licensing may be required in some states or provinces. It is important to check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles for more information on the necessary licensing requirements for driving an RV with air brakes in your state or province.

how to drive a rv

Additionally, brushing up on the rules and regulations for safely operating an RV with air brakes in your jurisdiction is a good idea. Here is more you should know about RV CDL and; license policies of different states. Keep on reading to know every detail about this topic.

When Do You Need A CDL?

To drive a commercial vehicle, you must have a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). A CDL is required for any vehicle that requires special licensing. This includes vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, buses designed to transport 16 or more passengers

Additional regulations may apply if you plan on driving such a vehicle for interstate commerce (traveling between different states). It’s important to check with your local DMV for more information about the licensing requirements in your state. Having a CDL can open many doors for those interested in driving professionally, and with the right training, you can make sure you have the skills needed to be a successful commercial driver.

Check Out Do You Need A Special License To Drive An RV?:

Which RVs Have Air Brakes?

\Not all RVs have air brakes, but some do. Depending on the size and type of RV you are looking for, an RV with air brakes is a great option for your needs. Air brakes provide improved stopping power over hydraulic systems and can be used in heavier vehicles such as hauling large trailers or fifth wheels.

Some of the more common models that do offer air brakes include Class A motorhomes like the Fleetwood Bounder, Winnebago Adventurer, and Thor Tuscany. Class C motorhomes, such as the Coachmen Freelander and Forest River Georgetown, also feature air brakes.

However, travel trailers and fifth wheels generally do not have air brakes installed because they are typically towed behind vehicles with their own braking system. If you’re looking for an RV with air brakes, check with the manufacturer or dealer to ensure they are included before you buy.

Advantages of RVs with Air Brakes

Regarding recreational vehicles (RVs) and air brakes provide several unique advantages that can’t be found in other systems. Let’s explore some of these benefits.

Improved Stopping Power

One of the most significant benefits of air brakes is improved stopping power due to their greater efficiency. Because they use compressed air instead of mechanical force, they can generate more force than other braking systems and provide a quicker, smoother stop when necessary. This means you can trust that your RV will slow down quickly and efficiently, giving you more control over its speed when approaching other vehicles, traffic lights, and other obstacles on the road.

Enhanced Durability

Air brakes also offer enhanced durability when compared to other systems. This is because air brakes are resistant to wear and tear caused by frequent use, making them ideal for RVs that will be driven over long distances or in rough terrain. Additionally, air brakes require less maintenance than traditional braking systems, allowing you to enjoy worry-free performance without worrying about expensive repairs or replacements.

Greater Control

Finally, one of the key advantages of air brakes is greater control compared to mechanical braking systems. Since they generate more force than these other systems, they provide better leverage for weight distribution and superior traction when it comes time to turn or stop. This allows you to maintain greater control over your RV in all driving conditions, giving you peace of mind every time you hit the road.

Ultimately, air brakes offer a variety of benefits that make them an excellent choice for RVs and other vehicles alike. With improved stopping power, enhanced durability, and greater control, they will give you confidence on long journeys and provide reliable performance regardless of terrain or weather.

Check Out How to Perform an Air Brake Check on a RV or Motorhome:

Disadvantages of RVs with Air Brakes

RV’s with air brakes come with disadvantages too. Before making a purchase, it is important to go through these disadvantages.


RV’s with air brakes are significantly more expensive than RVs equipped with mechanical brakes. This is because the cost of repairing and maintaining an air brake system is much higher because of the specialized parts required for repairs. Additionally, it may be difficult to find quality repair shops that specialize in servicing these vehicles. This can lead to delays if major repairs or replacement parts need to be ordered.


Air brake systems require regular maintenance to function properly and safely on the road. This includes routine inspections, lubrication, and other services that must be performed regularly to ensure proper operation. Failure to adequately service an air brake system can result in decreased performance or even system failure, which can be dangerous.


RVs with air brakes are generally heavier than their mechanical brake counterparts due to the additional components required for operation. This means they require more power to move and can be less fuel efficient on long trips. They may also require larger tires to safely handle the extra weight, increasing tire costs over time.


Air brakes have been reported to fail when drivers rely on them, leading to potential accidents if the driver is unable to react quickly enough. Additionally, some drivers may find the braking response of an air brake system different from what they’re used to with a mechanical system, requiring more practice and skill to use safely. As such, it’s important to thoroughly understand an air brake system before operating an RV with one.

The Pros:

  • Improved Stopping Power
  • Enhanced Durability
  • Greater Control

The Cons:

  • Cost
  • Maintenance
  • Weight
  • Safety

What Special License Each State Needs When Driving With An RV with Air Brakes?

In some states, you’ll need a special license to operate an RV with air brakes. Whether or not you require a special license will depend on the state where you’re driving.

For example, in California, if your vehicle has an overall gross weight of 26,000 pounds or more (including any trailers) or is equipped with air brakes, you’ll need a Class B Commercial Driver License (CDL) to drive it. In New York, an RV with air brakes requires either a Class C license or a Class D Regular Operator’s License.

In Florida, if your vehicle has an overall gross weight of 26,000 pounds or more and is equipped with air brakes, you’ll need a Class A Commercial Driver’s License. And in Texas, an RV with air brakes will require at least a Class B Commercial Drivers License. 

To get an up-to-date list of license requirements for each state, it’s best to contact the DMV or other relevant state licensing agency before taking your RV out on the road. That way, you can be sure you’re driving legally and safely.

No matter which state you’re driving in, it’s important to remember that operating an RV with air brakes requires additional safety precautions and a more comprehensive knowledge of the vehicle than when driving a regular car. Here, we have special licenses for driving an RV with air brakes.

Regular License

In some states, you may need to pass a written test or an on-road driving exam. It’s important to check with your local DMV to make sure you have the right license and endorsements to drive your RV with air brakes. Additionally, you should always check with RV manufacturers for the latest information about required licenses. You can enjoy a safe and enjoyable RVing experience with the right license and endorsements.


Talking about the non-commercial license, it is important to know that no single type of license is available. Depending on the size and weight of your RV, you may need to obtain a special license. For example, if your RV is more than 26,000 pounds, you may need to obtain a “Class B” license. Many states also require a special endorsement on your driver’s license to be legally allowed to drive an RV.


CDL is a great way to ensure that your commercial driver’s license is up-to-date and valid. With CDL, you can check the status of your license, find out what documents are needed for renewal or replacement, and even view the fee requirements for each state. Plus, you can use CDL to ensure that your medical card and other documents are still valid.

Other Licenses

Depending on the state, some locations offer additional licenses that allow drivers to operate recreational vehicles. For example, in California, RV owners may opt to take a course and obtain an “RV Driving Safety Course Certificate,” which allows them to drive certain RVs without having to obtain a commercial driver’s license. 

In other states, such as Florida, drivers must obtain a special driving license, often referred to as an “RV Driver’s License.” For these states, the requirements are often more stringent and may include taking a driving test, providing proof of insurance, and other requirements. Some states even have special rules for those who drive RVs for a living.

How To Apply For A CDL To Drive An RV with Air Brakes?

  • To apply for a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) to drive an RV with air brakes, you’ll need to contact your local DMV office and ensure they offer the necessary tests. 
  • Once you know what type of tests are required in your area, you can start preparing for them. 
  • As part of the preparation process, it is important to familiarize yourself with the laws governing commercial vehicles in your state. Additionally, you may need to take a written test, as well as a skills road test. 
  • You will also need to fill out an application form and provide documentation such as a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance, and medical certificate. 
  • Once these documents are collected, you must submit them to the DMV. The length of time this process takes can vary from state to state. 
  • After the application is approved, you will be issued a CDL allowing you to drive an RV with air brakes legally.

Remember, all drivers of commercial vehicles need to understand and follow the laws and regulations about their licenses. Additionally, it is important for RV drivers to always practice safe driving and maintain the vehicle in proper working order. Safe driving will help save lives, protect your property, and ensure you can enjoy your travels in an RV with air brakes.

How To Get An Air Brake Endorsement?

Getting an air brake endorsement is easy and can be done in four simple steps.

  • The first step is to meet the age requirement. Depending on your state, you must be at least 18 years old or older to obtain an air brake pedal endorsement.
  • Second, you’ll need to pass a knowledge test about operating vehicles with air brakes. This test can be taken either at a local DMV office or through an approved third-party testing provider.
  • The third step is to pass a physical examination that ensures you are physically capable of operating vehicles with air brakes in a safe manner. Your doctor must sign off on this exam before it can be completed.
  • The last step is to take a driving test that demonstrates your proficiency in operating vehicles with air brakes. You must pass the driving test to get an air brake endorsement.

Once all of these steps are completed, you will be issued an air brake endorsement that allows you to operate any vehicle with air brakes.

Related Questions

What class RV can I drive with a regular license?

Depending on your state, you may be able to drive a Class A RV with a regular license. However, some states may require a special endorsement or permit for operating one of these larger vehicles. Be sure to check the specific regulations in your state before hitting the road!

Remember that if you plan on driving an RV weighing more than 26,000 pounds, you will need a Class A or Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). You may also need a special permit if the RV is over 10,000 pounds.

Do you need a CDL to pull a camper?

In most cases, the short answer is yes. Depending on what kind of camper you’re pulling, you might need a special license endorsement. Most states require a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) if your camper weighs more than 26,000 pounds or has three or more axles. 

So it pays to check with your state or local department of motor vehicles to find out the exact requirements for your situation. You should also ensure that you are properly insured for all vehicles and trailers; however, if your RV is less than 25,000 pounds, you do not require CDL.

Do you need a special license to drive an RV in Texas?

In Texas, you do need a special license to drive an RV. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) requires all drivers of recreational vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 lbs to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). There are some exceptions for smaller RVs if they meet certain conditions. 

If your RV does not meet the TxDMV requirements, you may need to take a state-approved driver training course to drive it legally. Check your local TxDMV office for more information about getting an RV license in Texas.

Do you need a CDL to drive an RV in Florida?

No, you do not need a CDL to drive an RV in Florida. A Class B driver’s license is usually all you need to operate an RV or a motorhome – as long as the vehicle weighs less than 26,001 pounds and is designed for up to 15 passengers. However, if your RV has features like air brakes, you may need a CDL to drive it, so check with the DMV before hitting the road.

The Bottom Line

As of now, you are aware of the fact when CDL is required and when not. However, we suggest you compare the advantages and disadvantages of an RV with air brakes before making a purchase. This will give you extra security. 

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Written by William Perry
William was born and raised in the United States and currently lives in Utah. A retired police officer, he is the father of three and grandfather of six. Along with writing, he enjoys traveling, the outdoors, reading and spending time with his grandchildren.
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