Lightweight Vehicles and the DOT

Posted on February 24, 2009 
Filed Under GENERAL

1-ton-pickupDOT rules and regulations apply to all vehicles, and their drivers, used in interstate commerce with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GWVR) of 10,001 pounds or more. The GVWR of a vehicle is a value assigned by the manufacturer. It is how much he thinks the vehicle can safely carry, including the weight of the vehicle. It is not the weight of the vehicle, or the weight at which you register the vehicle. The GVWR is commonly found on a metal plate on the inside of the door.

Power units are not the only vehicles with GVWR’s; trailers have them as well. When determining the GWVR of a combination unit, you must add the GVWR of the truck to that of the trailer. If it is 10,001 pounds or more, and goes across state lines, it is subject to the rules.

It doesn’t take much to come up with a 10,001 pound or more rig. A ¾ ton pickup probably has a GVWR of around 8,000 pounds. A one ton pickup is close to 10,000 pounds, if not over. If you pull any sort of trailer with these type of pickups, you are very likely over 10,001 pounds for the combination, thus making you subject to the rules.

A vehicle, which has a GVWR of over 10,001 pounds, but not over 26,001 pounds, which is a CDL vehicle, is subject to all of the same rules as a CDL vehicle, except for drug and alcohol testing. This means if you have a one ton pickup, pulling a kiddie ride, going state to state on your route, that driver must fill out logbook. He must have a medical card. The truck and the trailer must have an annual inspection. The truck must have a fire extinguisher and reflectors. The truck must have a USDOT number on it.

Trucks being used for non-commercial purposes are not subject to the rules. For example, you use your one ton truck to pull a trailer loaded with construction equipment for your job: subject to the rules. You use your one ton truck to pull a trailer with some ATV’s on them so you can so four-wheeling on the weekend: not subject.

Undoubtedly, you are thinking, “hey, I see those type of hot-shot combinations all the time on the highway, and none of these guys have USDOT numbers on them”. They’re probably violating the law. Most DOT cops don’t bother with the smaller combinations. However, if a DOT cop wants to write some easy tickets, all he needs to find is a one ton pulling a trailer for a business purpose with out-of-state plates, and no USDOT number on it. It just a question of if the officer wants to spend the time writing all those tickets that day. If you get stopped in one of these smaller rigs, and your driver is not adhering to any of the rules, it can be several hundreds of dollars in tickets. You should review their equipment and determine if they have any of the 10,001 – 26,001 pound GVWR vehicles. These vehicles and their drivers are subject to nearly the same rules as the big trucks!


Eric Arnold is a Former Enforcement Agent with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and a leading expert on USDOT compliance for small businesses. Do you have a question for Eric Arnold? Email him at

Arnold Safety simplifies D.O.T. Compliance for commercial vehicle operators. Get Eric Arnold’s USDOT Compliance Guide, DVD, & Regulations at ArnoldSafety.Com.

Learn more about Arnold Safety compliance consulting services at ArnoldSafety.Com.


74 Responses to “Lightweight Vehicles and the DOT”

  1. D. Gill on March 18th, 2009 10:12 am

    In New York State, all pickup trucks are designated commercial no matter what you use it for. I pull a horse trailer with my one ton crew cab dually. Since I live one mile from the NY/PA state line, I frequently drive the truck and trailer “interstate”. I did apply for my DOT number and someone called me from the DOT. They asked if I had pulled the trailer across the state line yet and I said no. They said I didn’t have to be audited etc until I went interstate. Hmmm, are they kidding me or is that true? Thank you.
    D. Gill

  2. Eric Arnold on March 19th, 2009 7:35 am

    Well, whoever called you was probably from the Feds. They only have jurisdiction over interstate transportation, ie, across state lines. Some states conduct audits of motor carriers who operate wholly within their state (intrastate). I don’t know if New York does that, I don’t think so. So as long as you do not cross the state line, the Feds probably won’t bother you. Of course, it sounds like you do go “interstate”. Well, as long as you’re not driving way over the line, you’re exposure is limited, they’ll probably never know you were here.

  3. Richard Shilling on March 11th, 2010 2:11 pm

    I researched this for my employer when I picked up 4 violations. To comply with Federal Regs (States vary and some use the Federal definitions), vehicle or combos over 10,001 GVW that are owned by a business and cross state lines have to comply with virtually all the regs applicable to big rigs except Commercial Driver’s License and mandatory drug testing. Log book, medical certification, specific documents to be carried,etc. per the Regs. To drive through states you either need a transit pass or apportioned registration. Oh, the horse people saw this coming and got an exemption, but read the regs.

  4. Lana on May 4th, 2011 2:15 pm

    This article is misleading…if you have a private pickup and private trailer and haul your own private vehicle you do not need a US DOT # on your pickup. IF you haul freight for “money” or are “for hire” you definitely need a US DOT#. Each state may be different but for the central US there are no requirement for a pickup hauling a trailer with personal items (jeep, building, lumber, ect) you do not need a US DOT!!

  5. Eric Arnold on May 5th, 2011 11:01 am

    Lana: you are correct, if you use your private pickup and private trailer for private business across state lines, it is not subject to a DOT number. If you use the pickup or trailer for a business purpose, ie, commerce, then it is subject to a DOT number. That’s why the article, and the regulations, use the word “commerce”. The article is not misleading.

  6. Shawn on October 16th, 2011 8:42 am

    Hi Eric, So I drive a truck for work with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs, by definition, not a DOT truck, it has a USDOT number on the side of it. We on occasion will haul loads of less than the reportable quantity (RQ) of hazmat, and other times haul loads with more than the RQ of hazmat requiring placarding of the trucks. Should the driver of the truck: 1, have a CDL to drive the truck with no load or less than RQ of hazmat? I have my DOT medical card. 2. Is the driver required to keep HOS log and have available hours to drive when the truck is carrying less than RQ or no load? We often travel Intrastate, but just the last few weeks my daily trip was Interstate.

  7. Eric Arnold on October 27th, 2011 5:07 pm

    Shawn: even those you have a smaller type vehicle which does not have a GVWR of 10,001 lbs. or more, you are still subject to all of the DOT safety regulations when you have to placard the vehicle for Hazmat. The presence of the placards is what makes you subject to all of the safety regulations. Hope that helps, sorry it took me so long to answer your question.

  8. Jennifer Jones on June 26th, 2012 3:29 pm

    1/2 ton toyota tundra with flatbed trailer pulled behind it…… what weight do you think I am?

  9. Eric Arnold on June 26th, 2012 4:03 pm

    13,000 lbs. What do I win?

  10. Kenneth Kallus on July 31st, 2013 2:50 pm

    If the driver of the truck pulling a trailer is dot at time the trailer is attached. Does he have to keep log book up to date when he is not pulling trailer and is not under dot. Say he log ends on July 1st and does not pull trailer again till Sept 1st. will he need to have the log book fill between those two dates.

  11. Craig C. on September 7th, 2013 4:23 am

    We have company owned cargo minivans that cross state lines. We do repair work in a border state. Do we need USDOT? Do we need log books and drug testing etc.?

  12. Eric Arnold on September 9th, 2013 9:15 am

    Not sure, without knowing the GVWR of the vehicles….

  13. Craig C. on September 9th, 2013 9:49 am

    The gvwr is 5090 lbs. Its a Ford Windstar cargo van.

  14. Chris on October 28th, 2013 11:17 pm

    I sell hobby supplies and travel to weekend events to sell onsite. Some of the products are hazmat(1.4C) but I do not have to display placards(under 1000lb). Do I need to get DOT numbers and run a log book? I am not for hire for other loads, just my own. I have a 2500 series truck(GVW <8600lb) and will soon have a trailer(2990 GVW).

  15. Victor Balancia on October 31st, 2013 10:04 am

    I am a Civil War re-enactor with a Ford dually (GVWR 14,000)and 3-horse trainer (GVWR 10,700). Am I correct that I do NOT need a CDA since I am under 26,000lbs total and not in commercial use, but hobby use only. Also, is it correct that I am NOT subject to DOT regs when I travel out of Virginia since I am not in interstate commerce. Others in my group are likely over 26,000lbs and I have some unhappy news for them if they don’t know the rules.

  16. Eric Arnold on November 4th, 2013 6:54 pm

    Do you re-enact for the North or the South? If you re-enact for the South, you must have a CDL. If the North, no. Just kidding. My stepson does re-enacting for the North.

    You are correct that you do not need a CDL. Furthermore, even if you were over the 26,001 lbs., 10,001 lb. trailer limit, you would not need a CDL. This is because you are not in commerce. This is a non-commercial activity. However, if you are involved in some type of commercial activity, IE, you sell gunpowder, uniforms, or other suttler type stuff, then the rules do apply.

  17. Eric Arnold on November 4th, 2013 6:59 pm

    Not sure which HazMat rules apply to you, I would have to look that up. My new rule on answering Internet questions for free is, I do it if I know the answer without looking it up. If I have to look it up, then you can call me, or email me, and promise to pay for my time, and I will look it up.

    As far as the DOT number and the logbook, you probably need the DOT number, and the logbook. 8600 lbs. + 2990 lbs. = 11,590, and the limit is 10,001 lbs. Do you cross state lines? If you do, you need the DOT number. Do you go more than 150 miles from your office? If you do, you need the logbook.

  18. ERNIE ALANIS on November 6th, 2013 7:14 pm

    I would like to know if it is required to have a CDL for hotshot serves in a pickup dulley with a 40ft goosenake trailer ; in the state of Texas.

  19. Eric Arnold on November 6th, 2013 8:57 pm


    I don’t know. It goes by the GVWR of both vehicles. The GVWR is a value usually found on the inside of the door jamb, or on the trailer, on a metal plate on the frame of the trailer. If the GVWR of both vehicles is over 26,000 lbs., and the trailer itself is over 10,000 lbs., then you would need a CDL A. Hope that helps.

  20. Debbie Cope on November 17th, 2013 2:27 pm

    We only do business in Fl and never travel outside the state. We only carry materials to use on our cellular tower site jobs. Our truck is GVWR 13,000 so I guess we need a USDOT, right? Do we have to keep a log book and all that stuff or just get the number?

  21. ERNIE ALANIS on November 18th, 2013 2:16 pm

    where could i find out if i need a CDL for a hotshot dually truck and 40ft gooseneck trailer in the state of Texas ?

  22. Eric Arnold on January 10th, 2014 8:42 am

    Sorry for the tardy reply. My short answer is “I don’t know”. If you stay wholly within Florida, you are subject to Florida rules, not the Federal rules. Your 13,000 GVWR truck would be subject to all the rules if it goes into Georgia. However, within Florida, it is subject to the Florida rules, and I don’t know what those are. For example, if you stay wholly within Pennsylvania, and do not haul for-hire, the limit is 17,000, not 10,000. I would check with the Florida Highway Patrol. Sorry I could not help further.

  23. Ed Johnson on February 28th, 2014 1:57 pm

    Wonder if you can help

    I have a class a CDL my company assigned me a company pick up truck to drive. It has the DOT number on the side. Does all the guys that don’t have CDL’s have to follow the hour of service guide lines . All of the pick up trucks have the DOT number on them. If I work 14 hours can drive my pick up home are do I have to get a ride home?

  24. Eric Arnold on April 12th, 2014 3:54 pm

    I am not exactly sure of the question here, but any vehicle with a GVWR of 10,001 lbs. or more in interstate commerce must follow the hours of service rules. This would apply to most 1 ton pickups, and to any 3/4 ton pickups if they are pulling trailers. The drivers of these vehicles would need to follow the HOS rules, including the 14 hour rule.

  25. Mike on April 19th, 2014 9:38 pm

    I just bought at 2014 Dually Silverado and a 40′ Big Tex. I have my DOT & Authority but no CDL. Where do I stand hauling less than 10K gross on the trailer?

  26. Eric Arnold on April 23rd, 2014 10:06 am

    If I understand the question, do you need a CDL with less than 10k on the trailer? What’s the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of the trailer? It’s not what the trailer weighs, it’s not how much is on the trailer, it’s not what the trailer is registered at. It’s the value assigned to the trailer by the manufacturer, and it’s probably on a metal plate on the trailer which says “GVWR” on it. If that is over 10,000 lbs., you’ll need a CDL (provided the entire combination is 26,001 lbs. or over).

  27. Eric on July 14th, 2014 1:36 am

    I live on a rural property. We own goats, sheep horses etc. We sell animals maybe once a year. I have a E-350 van gvw 8700 and several trailers with the greatest gvw being 12000. Do I need a dot number to haul a load of firewood to my dads house which is over state lines(he would not be paying for it)? What if about hauling animals to a livestock auction? The whole “commerce” definition appears very gray to me. Selling a goat for $100 is hardly a business.

  28. Eric Arnold on July 28th, 2014 7:00 am

    Oh yes, very gray. 50 shades of gray is not for lonely middle-aged women, it is talking about the government. Seriously, it sounds like what you are doing is a hobby. Granted there is no definition of hobby in the rules. Nevertheless, I think you would have a strong argument that what very little money does change hands is not designed to further trade, and therefore is not commerce. Certainly the firewood example does not need a DOT #. From a realistic standpoint, I very much doubt the police will ever stop you and question why you do not have a DOT #. The only time it could possibly happen is if there is an accident.

  29. chuck on August 4th, 2014 5:02 pm

    I run strictly within NY state with a 3500 dually and a 40 foot goose neck trailer, what rules and guidelines apply to operating the vehicle including log books, DOT numbers, HUT stickers 1400 hour rules etc. anything that may help. I run one load a week to the city.

  30. Jason Boldin on August 15th, 2014 7:09 am

    We have a one tone truck with dot numbers, some of the guys don’t have cdl’s. Are they required to have a cdl to drive just the truck with no trailer? We are a water utility company.

  31. Eric Arnold on August 26th, 2014 1:40 pm

    Probably not. You go by the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of the truck, which is a value assigned by the manufacturer. It is found on a metal plate inside the door. In order to have a CDL, the vehicle generally has to be over 26,000 lbs. A one ton truck is probably 10,000 – 20,000 lbs., although you should check to be sure.

  32. Eric Arnold on September 15th, 2014 8:52 am

    Sorry, I missed this comment earlier. New York has adopted the Federal safety regulations, with a few exceptions. This means virtually the same rules apply to you, as if you were going out of New York. The rules apply when the vehicle has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 10,001 lbs. or more, which your combination almost certainly has. I’m sorry, but your question is too broad to answer in one comment. I can cover it for you in 60-90 minutes on the phone, though. I will charge you though for that time. I can be reached at (610) 582-4356. As I said somewhere else on the blog: short, concise questions I can answer quickly are answered for free. Open-ended questions such as this…. well, time is money.

  33. Miriam on September 16th, 2014 9:23 am

    My husband drives a 14,500 truck for his job – the job provides him with this truck to do service calls. He drives it home and to work and to residential calls around the city. It’s an Isuzu NPR-HD Diesel. I can’t seem to find anywhere on how to determine the ton classification for this truck. We just want to know if this vehicle is over one and one-half tons? Can someone help out with this.

  34. Eric Arnold on October 1st, 2014 8:22 am

    I guess I don’t understand the question. For pickups, 3/4 ton, and one ton used to represent the payload capacity of the vehicles. Now, the payloads are more than that, and the designation really doesn’t mean much at all. I am not sure how Isuzu classifies their 14,500 lb. NPR-HD Diesel. You might check with Isuzu.

  35. Shane on January 24th, 2015 12:52 pm

    Have a 1 ton ford. If I am not pulling a trailer, but still hauling equipment on a modified bed, will I need a USDOT and have to run logs?

  36. Eric Arnold on January 28th, 2015 5:50 pm

    Shane: I don’t know, what’s the GVWR of the vehicle? Are you taking it across state lines? How far are you going?

  37. Chris Nicoll on February 6th, 2015 2:27 pm

    I deliver pallets in PA with a Dodge 3500 with a 38 ft gooseneck. The rig is combinationed at 32000. I run not for hire magnets on both sides of trailer and I do not run out of state. Do I need dot numbers and company names on doors?

  38. Andrew on February 18th, 2015 5:34 pm

    I am looking into getting into the light trucking business. If I do I will start out in my Toyota Tundra and may upgrade as cash allows. I have a few questions 1) I understand that I will need a DOT number, but what about a MC number? and 2) If I’m pulling a trailer does it have to be registered with US DOT? Finally 3) I’m I correct that I will not have to have any special licenses as long as I am staying under 26,000 pounds?

  39. Eric Arnold on February 26th, 2015 7:03 pm

    If you operate wholly within PA, then you are subject to PA’s rules, not the Federal rules. You probably need to register in some fashion. If you transport for-hire, then it would be the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission. Otherwise, it would be PennDOT. If the GVWR of your vehicle is 26,001 lbs., inclusive of a 10,001 lbs trailer, then you need a CDL, and drug and alcohol testing. You probably need to register with PennDOT. Hope that helps.

  40. Eric Arnold on February 26th, 2015 7:13 pm

    1) Yes.
    2) Your company needs to be registered with DOT.
    3) You will need a USDOT number, and an MC number. Other than that, not sure, need more information.

  41. Rick Duncan on April 22nd, 2015 8:41 pm

    Hi Eric,

    I have a question. I buy and sell circuit breakers with one of my businesses and always ship by Fed Ex freight on by a common carrier. I do own an F250 and a 27′ Wells Cargo enclosed car hauler trailer. It usually sets in my warehouse, because my wife and I only use it take our classic car to shows and events, just to show, not for commerce or competition. It is my understanding that since it’s personal I don’t need a DOT. That’s not actually the question. My wife and I moved from Houston to Missouri, but are just now selling our house in Houston, so this Monday we decided to hook up to the trailer in order to go to Houston and get our furniture. One of my customers in Kansas had ordered some of my circuit breakers and we decided we would just drop them off on the way. We would have normally shipped them and always do, but not this time. While driving through Olathe Kansas, we got pulled over. The Kansas Highway patrolmen asked me for my logbook and I told him that I do not have a logbook, that this is my personal truck and trailer. He said not today it’s not! I told him that we were heading to Houston to pick up our furniture and we had loads of empty boxes and supplies for shipping, plus the breakers that we were delivering. I am very pro-police and was as courteous as I could be, but this guy was very condescending. He told me that since I was delivering those breakers that everything in my truck was commercial. He had us turn around and go back to the weigh station where he ended up writing me 17 violations. That morning I had put a 2.5 gallon plastic gas can and my little Honda power washer in the bed of my truck and he wrote me 3 hazmat tickets for those. I told him that I was taking it to Texas to power wash my deck in preparation to sell my house and the gas can only had a drop of gas in it. He said that did not matter that it was now considered commercial. He even said my golf clubs were commercial and that since I was a professional golfer, he could write me for those because that was making me money. He said I couldn’t drive for 10 hours, so I finally convinced them to let my wife drive us out of there and once we dropped the breakers off which was 30 miles from there we would have all personal belongings and I never planned to drop a breaker off again to a customer. I did tell him that my wife was a lawyer, and she is, so he got a little nicer with the harassment. Her area of law is dealing with senior citizens, so she has no knowledge of DOT statutes, but we are about to learn. He also told me that now I have to register the truck and trailer with DOT and do all of that before we leave Houston this Friday. I tried to explain that this was a one time thing and that from here on out we will never be hauling anything for our business, but he said now that he has us in the system that we are commercial and although our truck and trailer is registered in Missouri in our personal names, it does not matter. If we get pulled over in that truck and trailer ever again that DOT will have record of it and that they can seize our truck and trailer if we are not DOT. My main question is: Do we now have to register our personal truck and trailer with DOT, although we will never be hauling anything commercial ever again? I understand if I was in violation this trip and have to pay a fine, but I honestly never thought that just delivering a couple things from my business to another was a big deal and would cause me to have to register with DOT for the future, when I’ll never do that again. I did call DOT and they said that it was at my discretion as to whether I needed DOT in the future. Can you give me some educated advice? Thanks much, Rick.

  42. Eric Arnold on April 28th, 2015 6:44 pm

    Rick: I generally answer questions for free on the website, with a few disclaimers. I do it whenever I have time, which is about once a month, and I do it if it doesn’t take too much time. Your question is pretty involved. If you still want advice, feel free to call me at (610) 582-4356, but I will probably charge you. I scanned the long comment…. you were transporting your personal furniture, and the cop said you were in business, and therefore subject to all the safety rules? You can transport your own personal items, and not be subject to the rules. I’m pretty sure that’s specified in 390.3(f)(3). I would definitely fight the ticket, the cop sounds wrong.

  43. Ryan Smith on May 4th, 2015 9:21 am

    Eric, we have several pick up trucks in our company which range from 1/2 ton to 1 ton. If we tow a trailer with tarps for our flatbed fleet(that have been repaired at one of our shops to another shop)over state lines are they subject to all the FMCSA rules? I believe the GCVWR would be over 10,001. These trucks are not for hire and we are not selling these tarps.

  44. Eric Arnold on May 4th, 2015 4:28 pm

    Ryan: If the GCVWR is over 10,001 lbs., and you’re crossing state lines, then you are subject to all the rules, except CDL licensing, and drug/alcohol testing. Hope that helps.

  45. Joshua on May 9th, 2015 4:41 pm


    So I’m building my own camper from the ground up, minus the framework. If my camper exceeds 10 lb do I need a CDL?

    Also I have a second question.

    If I bought a tow truck for private use, not business. Do I need a CAL and DOT numbers?

  46. Eric Arnold on May 20th, 2015 10:25 am

    Joshua: You mean 10,000 lbs? At 10 lb., that would be a pretty small camper. No, you do not need a CDL. In fact, you would not need a CDL no matter how big the camper is, unless you are using it for some kind of business purpose. As for the tow truck, if it is not being used for a business purpose, you do not need a DOT number. I don’t know about the CAL number. Probably not. Since you asked two questions, here are my tip jar instructions:

    1) Go to PayPal.
    2) Log into PayPal. You need a PayPal account. See, this is how you can get out of tipping.
    3) Find the Send Money link. It should be on the first page after you log in.
    4) Enter my email:
    5) Enter the amount!
    6) Choose whether you want the money to come out of your PayPal balance or your banking account.
    7) Hit button “Send Money”
    8) Thank you very much!

  47. Manolo Fogg on July 15th, 2015 1:02 pm

    I have a 2011 Nissan Murano and I occasionally haul boats for people more as a hobby then a business to offset cost in my travels. As both my car and the boat I am hauling are well under the 10K Lbs and the fact that many times what I earn on these trips does not cover my cost, am I subject to the “rules” of a DOT Number?


  48. Eric Arnold on July 17th, 2015 12:13 pm

    1. If any money changes hands, DOT will consider what you are doing ‘in commerce’, thereby making you subject to the rules, and a DOT number.
    2. The weight limit which subjects you to the rules is 10,001 lbs. GVWR, which stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. That’s a value assigned by the manufacturer, and is found on a metal plate inside the door. It’s not what the vehicle weighs, and it’s not what it’s registered at. If you’re pulling a trailer, you have to add the GVWR of the trailer to that of the truck, to get the total. If it’s 10,001 lbs. or over, you need a DOT number.

  49. Rob H, on July 25th, 2015 1:55 pm


    I have a mineral specimen collection, I have always exhibited it locally (Arizona) once a year for several weeks. I have been asked to exhibit it in both Houston and Denver. I do not get compensated for this, nor do I claim any expenses on my taxes for this. It is just a passion/pride of mine.

    So to exhibit out of state, I just bought a 24′ box truck to carry my showcases and specimens, I will be towing a travel trailer to stay in to cut expenses. The truck is rated at 26000lbs (non-cdl) Because of the weight rating AZ is making me get commercial plates.

    I am assuming I will have to get a USDOT number for the vehicle, do I have to comply with all the other regulations, ie: logbooks, hours of service, etc since I will be private/not for hire?

  50. Perry on August 1st, 2015 11:39 pm

    Mr. Arnold I start a new job on Monday 8-3-15. I will be driving a 1-ton dually flatbed loaded with hand tools, cutting torches & hammer wrenches I don’t know the exact weight. Will I require a CDL? At my last job I could drive the same type of vehicle that wasn’t loaded. Please help!! I don’t want to argue about rules on my 1st day of new employment.

  51. Shawn lay on August 15th, 2015 11:33 pm

    Well I have a question about a different topic I know they changed the cdl laws a few years back where if you get to DUI in a lifetime you lose your cdl for life I can not see how that is fair to someone that got one 21 years ago and then got his second one on a four wheeler 21 years apart how is that truly justice to me it seems more like double jeopardy please any advice on this or is there away to keep cdl

  52. Eric Arnold on August 17th, 2015 11:59 am

    If your enterprise is strictly a hobby, and you do not get paid, you would not need a USDOT number, or need a medical card, logbook, or maintenance records. The vast majority of the rules only apply to commercial enterprises, and what you have described is not commerce. You may need a CDL, however. Even though the words CDL stand for “commercial driver’s license”, some States have taken it upon themselves to force non-commercial operators to have them, depending on the size of the vehicle. If your box truck, and travel trailer 1) have a total GVWR of 26,001 lbs., and 2) the trailer has a GVWR of 10,001 lbs., Arizona may force you to have a CDL. I don’t know the Arizona law, you should check with the DPS if your vehicle meets that definition.

  53. Eric Arnold on August 17th, 2015 12:01 pm

    Most likely, your job will not require a CDL. CDL’s are needed if the truck has a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more. A 1 ton truck probably has a GVWR of 10-15,000 lbs. at most. If you end up pulling a heavy trailer with the 1 ton, it’s possible you may need a CDL, though.

  54. Eric Arnold on August 17th, 2015 12:16 pm

    Well, first, I would say you need a good DUI lawyer. Better call Saul. If it’s too late for that, and you’ve been convicted, you’re probably screwed. The way I read the Part 383 rules, you would have to serve at least a 10 year suspension of the CDL, after which point the State could, if they want, reinstate your CDL, but only if you can prove to them you’ve gone through some kind of rehab. As to whether or not justice has been served? I would need to know details. God knows the regulations do not always dispense justice, although I cannot say if that’s true or not in your case.

  55. RANDY on August 22nd, 2015 11:09 am

    I have a 3/4 ton pickup and 3.5k lbs trailer that i use to pull a compact track loader weighing 10k lbs all together it weighs just under 26 k lbs is this legal in the state if tx? Does the driver have to have a cdl or the dot #s since its a company vehicle?

  56. manuel on August 25th, 2015 1:29 am

    If I have a 50ft.trailer and a one ton pick up, hauling three cars, 1/2 ton each in Texas only….. do I need to log and go through weight scales? I also have my US Dot no. plus my tx. CC no.

  57. Scott on September 5th, 2015 2:29 pm

    I have one that hopefully you can answer. I have a F150 and a small trailer combined weight rating of around 11000. I myself do not have a business but my wife does. She has asked me to haul her supplies to some shows for her. I will not be paid for this. Now I would think since I am not being compensated for this I would not be commercial but I thought this might be a gray area. My name is not on her business in anyway just as her name is not on the truck or trailer. Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.

  58. Susan Hennessey on September 23rd, 2015 10:41 am

    What does a DOT pickup need besides a fire extinguisher and reflectors?

  59. Liza on September 24th, 2015 2:43 pm

    Hi Eric! Question. Vans require what size fire extinguisher for vans under 10,001 pounds ?

    Liza Louszko

  60. Jon B on September 25th, 2015 2:28 am

    I have had little to no success in finding the answer to the following question/scenario. I am considering purchasing a single axel older (1969)dump truck with GVW of 27500 for personnel use to haul gravel and dirt to build a road (long one) for a house I will be constructing. I assume if not then my driving it back from purchasing it in a border state should not be an issue either. Thank you for your time and consideration of my question.

  61. Jim Vann on October 2nd, 2015 7:26 pm

    How do we lobby to get the 10,001 lb limit raised
    nationally, I heard Michigan did it recently.

    DOT requirements forced on small business for the sake of a single trip or one time trailer haul is a
    bureaucratic abuse and does not serve the public good.

  62. Janet on October 18th, 2015 10:58 am

    We have a one ton vehicle with a flat bed in Louisiana. We want to pick up parts in Texas to bring to our shop and repair our equipment.Do we need a CDL driver and a US DOT I would appreciate a quick answer as my husband and I who work together are arguing back and forth on this issue. I apologize I put an incorrect email on the question before.
    Thanks in advance’Janet

  63. Scott on October 20th, 2015 11:19 am

    I just bought a 2015 dodge ram 3500 hd and a 40 ft. flatbed goose neck trailer. Is that classified as a commercial combined vehicle. Also do I have to stop at scales even though there are signs saying no pickups. I will be using it for my new business. In the state of CA.

  64. Brad on October 22nd, 2015 6:05 am

    We are in Missouri. We have ton trucks and gooseneck trailers. We do not leave the state. We haul our own equipment for our business use. Do we need DOT numbers and do we need to stop at the scales? I ask this because one of our dump trucks got pulled in the scale last night and was given a warning to our ton trucks that they have to weigh and I don’t believe that they need to.

  65. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 11:29 am

    I am not sure. The rules go by the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). It’s not what the vehicles weigh. So, you must find the GVWR of the truck and the trailer. It’s on each vehicle, usually inside the door for the truck, and on the neck of the trailer, or somewhere else on the frame. Add them together. In Texas, I believe the limit is 26,001 lbs. So, if the combined GCVWR is under 26,001 lbs., you would not need a CDL, and the vehicle would be unregulated. However, if you cross state lines, the limit is 10,001 lbs. GCVWR. Check the GVWRs, that’s how you find out your answer.

  66. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 11:31 am

    The rules go by the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). It’s not what the vehicles weigh. So, you must find the GVWR of the truck and the trailer. It’s on each vehicle, usually inside the door for the truck, and on the neck of the trailer, or somewhere else on the frame. Add them together. In Texas, I believe the limit is 26,001 lbs. So, if the combined GCVWR is under 26,001 lbs., you would not need a CDL, and the vehicle would be unregulated. However, if you cross state lines, the limit is 10,001 lbs. GCVWR. Check the GVWRs, that’s how you find out your answer.
    You would almost certainly have to log and go through scales. Just a guess since I don’t know the GVWRs of your vehicles.

  67. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 11:42 am


    I apologize for the late reply. Yes, this is probably a grey area. Even though you are not paid for supporting your wife’s business, DOT would probably allege the transportation is commercial because you are married, and you are supporting the business. You could probably leave your truck and trailer unmarked, and probably no one would ever know what you are doing. Of course, if you had a serious accident, then questions would probably be asked. If you were subject to the rules, and take the truck across state lines, you would be subject to all the rules, except for CDL licensing and drug/alcohol testing.

  68. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 12:21 pm

    Susan: I apologize for the late reply. By DOT pickup, I am assuming you mean a pickup in excess of 10,000 lbs. GVWR. It would need the fire extinguisher, reflectors, a DOT annual inspection, working lights, brakes, etc. It would need to be marked with the USDOT number. That’s off the top of my head….

  69. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 12:25 pm

    Jon, I apologize for the tardy reply. This would not be in commerce, so it should be unregulated. I say “should”, as in today’s world, the government needs to only allege something, and then you must prove otherwise. You probably would need a CDL to drive this vehicle. Some States require a CDL, even though you are not driving a commercial vehicle. I would have your explanation ready in case you get pulled over on the way home in your dump truck.

  70. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 12:27 pm

    Liza: I don’t know. The FMCSA rules apply at 10,001 lbs. GVWR or more. Therefore, I don’t know what is required on vans under that limit. Maybe nothing. Maybe each State requires something. But I don’t know. Sorry.

  71. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 12:33 pm

    Nationally? That’s actually a good question. I’m not sure if you would need an act of Congress, or a simple rulemaking by the FMCSA. Either way, it will never happen, short of electing a true regulatory reformer like Ted Cruz. Hmmmm….. maybe that’s your answer. Agree with you 100%. It should be raised to 26,001 lbs. GVWR.

  72. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 12:56 pm

    Sorry I did not give you a quick answer. If a vehicle has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, then it needs everything, including CDL and USDOT number. That’s probably not your vehicle. If a vehicle has a GVWR of 10,001 to 26,000 lbs., it does not need a CDL, but it needs everything else, including a USDOT number, logbook, medical, driver files, maintenance records, etc.

  73. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 1:00 pm

    I really don’t know. I think the limit in CA is 26,001 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. So, you need to figure out what the GVWR is of your truck and trailer. It’s generally found on a metal plate somewhere on the vehicle. Add that up, and that will tell you if you are subject to the rules. As for the scales, I would ask the California Highway Patrol if they want to stop at the scales.

  74. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 1:19 pm

    I really don’t know. I used to work in Missouri with FMCSA, but that was over 20 years ago. I really don’t remember what the Missouri rules are. Call the CMV division of the Missouri Highway Patrol. They can tell you. Sorry.

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