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Cdl, Us Dot, Insurance, License Plates


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I have spent a lot of time pulling together information regarding the use of antique trucks as a hobby and all the potential license & regulation issues one might need to address.

Here is my summary of findings for others looking to find similar data. There are far more experienced people then me with these topics, so hopefully they can add color where they agree or disagree. My intent is to pull together the "collective" information I have found on-line, on the ATHS boards, within my local chapter, within the US DOT, conversations with insurance companies, my BMV, training companies, and various local government sites. Others can add their everyday practical experience to the mix. By no means, is this meant to be the bible over such issues but hopefully saves some people some time looking for similar information.

Summary:

The first thing to understand about these topics is there are no "clear" answers when it comes to antique trucks. There is no one approach or one solution that everyone agrees "meets the requirements" for every situation and state. Regulations vary by state, and frankly, can vary by the DOT officer you might happen to meet on the highway. So, if you want perfectly clear answers that work every time and everywhere, you probably picked the wrong hobby. Also, if you want to receive lots of opinions that differ, open up a subject along any of these lines. That being said, some things do appear to make the most sense for most situations.

Class A CDL License:

In short, get one. Not only is it a great idea to learn something about these large vehicles prior to driving them regularly, most states and most highway officers will "expect" someone driving such a vehicle to have a proper license if it looks just like a commercial truck regardless of the type of plate you are using. I know the ATHS has posted many letters for various states stating the need for a CDL is waived for antique trucks, but this waiver can be contested by any officer on the highway and you will need to fight that ticket in a court potentially miles and miles away from your home. Especially if you plan to travel across state lines, it is just best to have a Class A CDL. Lastly, getting a CDL will provide you tons of information you can leverage in the hobby. Using a private CDL trainer to prep you for your CDL skills exam appears to be the best approach. The large commercial trucking schools are built to get you placed into a commercial truck driving job, not just to train you for a CDL. You can download many study aides to pass the written portion of the test (so no class / instructor is needed for this first part). To be fully covered, get the general, air brake, and combo endorsements and go for a Class A CDL. If you have a love of trucks, you should love getting the training for your CDL, just consider it part of the hobby investment.

DOT Regulations & State Fuel Stickers (non-weigh station related):

In short, all US DOT & state (department of transportation) regulations (log book, DOT #, pre-trip & post trip regs, trip permits, fuel stickers, etc.) are prefaced on being a truck used in commerce. If you are not involved in any form of commerce with your truck, these regulations do not apply. It is up to the DOT office in the state you are passing through to enforce the DOT regulations, therefore, making the case you are not involved in any form of commerce must be clear to a wide range of potential interested parties. States can get very "aggressive" in determining your activity has some commerce connection. Therefore, pulling race cars to an event where prize money could be involved, truck shows with prize money, selling antique trucks that are on the trailer, showing any form of corporate sponsorship on the truck (promotion), pulling horses you commonly sell, etc., can all be tied to the commerce clause in any given state. Therefore, it is critical if you do not comply with all the DOT regulations you remove any form of commerce connection to your truck and your activity. When asked, you must have your story completely straight with the clear indication "My driving this truck serves ZERO commercial interest. This truck is not involved in any form of commerce and is just being used as part of my personal hobby". "Not for Hire" is a term used often by "For Hire" trucks when making "Not for Hire" legs or by private trucks that still have some underlying commercial purpose but are not hired out to other companies (i.e. promotional trucks). Therefore, be careful with this designation. It is better to make it clear the truck is never used in commerce then it is to make the argument this particular leg of a trip is "not for hire". "Not for Hire" does not mean the truck has no commercial connection. The later is what you need to prove or be prepared to argue if you want to bypass all DOT requirements. I would recommend the following magnetic sign on the door of the truck (or something similar):

Private Antique Truck

No Commerce Involved (Personal Use Only)

CDL Licensed Driver

Weigh Stations:

On the whole, just go through them (i.e. do not try and pass by them). Some will specifically call out "commercial vehicles" which might provide you some reason to pass. However, most just call out just a weight criteria. From everything I have read and discussed, it is best just to go through the station. Virtually all the time, upon seeing your setup, they will waive you through. The irony is, sometimes, they might even yell out you for going through (such is our system of government and the variance between operators in the states). However, on the whole, you are more likely to have a side of the road conversation with a patrol car if you pass by then if you pass through. If they are yelling at you to keep moving, at least they keep you moving.

Type of Plate:

There are really three possible outcomes for your plate decision and all vary by state (potentially greatly) in terms of underlying criteria. You can put on regular truck plates, antique truck plates, and potentially RV plates. Unfortunately, all come with some potential issues. I have more data on Indiana here because that is my focus area. This one, I am afraid, needs local support to get right. However, as a general rule:

Regular truck plates give you the potential broadest use of the vehicle with least restrictions. However, it also makes you a prime target for appearing to be a vehicle used in commerce (see above). They are also the most expensive. In fact, some will argue you can only use a regular commercial plate if you are involved in commerce; therefore, this decision becomes mutually exclusive to deciding not to follow DOT regulations in the eyes of some states. Frankly, it is a mess. The reality is if you put a regular truck plate on your antique truck, you should probably be prepared to follow all the DOT regulations depending on your state. Frankly, the commercial truck plate will probably make your non-commerce argument all the more tenuous (but not impossible). The upside being, within the DOT regulations, you can use your truck for most anything.

Antique truck plates vary greatly by state in terms of restrictions. Some states will refuse to provide them for vehicles over a certain weight. Some provide them, but they come with lots of restrictions in terms of use. This is where you need to understand your state requirements the most. Often, if you can get them, they are the best plate for your truck because it indicates to most third parties you are a non-commerce related truck and gives you more support for not following all the DOT regulations. You just have to decide if you can live with your state specific restrictions (or, more likely, accept the lack of enforcement of most of these restrictions). Indiana, from everything I can find, does not highly limit the use of an antique truck plated vehicle. However, you might need the local support of the ATHS.ORG groups to get it registered because some BMVs will argue a weight limit for the truck. However, most members have gotten past this issue. So, for Indiana, this appears to be the best route.

RV plates are also an option. Once again, every state will have its own criteria for what they consider an "RV". Some allow just about anything and some have a 4 or 5 point requirements check list. You just need to research it and make sure your truck follows the criteria. Some have had great success with RV plates because they rarely come with use restrictions and they have clear exemptions in most state regulations. However, I have heard several stories of local DOT enforcement officers literally "ripping up" your RV registration and calling it a farce because the truck appears commercial (i.e. they contest the registration). Therefore, even getting these plates can cause some states to "question" you because they feel you are "pulling a fast one". So, it comes with its' own unique risks & problems even if you qualify in your state (especially if the truck is only mildly modified to meet the criteria). Again, in the worse case, if you have an officer that decides to fight the registration, you can probably win it back in traffic court, but it might be a long way from home to do it.

Overall, picking the right plate can be a real mess. Learn your state rules, talk to your local chapter of the ATHS or ATCA, and they can guide you to the best answer.

Insurance:

There are two basic approaches to insurance. You can go the "collector" insurance route or regular truck insurance route. Again, different insurance companies will treat your vehicle differently, so the "regular truck" route must be researched with your insurance company.

The two main collector insurance companies that appear to be used are Hagerty and Gulfway. I am sure there are more, but these come up the most when discussing antique truck insurance. The main difference is Hagerty will only allow towing if you get a "special" exception approved by the underwriters and the criteria is very strict (matching antique car, etc.). Some say you cannot get it all through Hagerty (which is not the case), it is just very restrictive and limited. Therefore, most have not gotten towing coverage through Hagerty. Gulfway will cover a trailer & towing insured by them but excludes travel trailers from their tow list (so you can pull a historic truck trailer, but not your RV travel trailer). You might be able to tow an antique travel trailer, but I have not tried that approach with them yet. Frankly, I find both were very restrictive, but also relatively cheap. If you can live with the restrictions, they are a very good option.

Regular truck insurance can be a hornets’ nest with your insurance company, but often leads to the most flexible and useful coverage. It will probably be more expensive. It is very much worth your time to work through your regular insurance company if you want lots of latitude in your use and towing. Be sure to let them know if you plan on having antique plates on the truck because that might affect their insurance options. Frustrating, but some might not take your truck with antique plates, which causes a terrible ripple effect to get the insurance you need (i.e. might need regular truck plates, which brings potential DOT problems, etc.). If this is the case, getting the best towing coverage via a collector insurance company might be the best approach and compromise.

Lastly:

The best combination of title, license, plate, insurance, DOT compliance, etc., is more complex than any hobby should demand, but, unfortunately, it reflects the hobby we have selected. For a specific state, and a specific usage goal, a formula can always be created that provides the best possible compliance and coverage at a reasonable investment of time and money. In the end, you should not underestimate the potential need for "people skills" to work your way through this process and through a potential traffic stop should it occur under the best of circumstances. After all, antique trucks are still a people business

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Very nice write up.

Totally agree with all you said. It's all a very GREY area and it falls into "luck" if you travel much and not get hassled. I used to go farther with my truck, but now keep it pretty close to home and away from scalehouses. Only had one run in with a scalemaster and was quickly and politely excused and on my way again.

Keep it looking good, well maintained and smile alot!

IMG-20180116-202556-655.jpg

Larry

1959 B61 Liv'n Large......................

Charter member of the "MACK PACK"

 

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What a nice write up! It shows that you have done all of your homework. You have contacted several sources to compile your information. I do know for a fact that the offical weight for a antique plate in Indiana is 13,000 lbs and no tractor/trailer combos allowed. I have have fought this and have been told by the state registrar to plate the semis as "Cab's" and to ignore the Weight limit of the plate. This was because I pointed out to her that there is no catagory for what I wanted to do with the truck, She agreed, and she came up with the plan. The BMV was quite helpful, when you find the right people.

Morgan

15 gears...no waiting!
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What a nice write up! It shows that you have done all of your homework. You have contacted several sources to compile your information. I do know for a fact that the offical weight for a antique plate in Indiana is 13,000 lbs and no tractor/trailer combos allowed. I have have fought this and have been told by the state registrar to plate the semis as "Cab's" and to ignore the Weight limit of the plate. This was because I pointed out to her that there is no catagory for what I wanted to do with the truck, She agreed, and she came up with the plan. The BMV was quite helpful, when you find the right people.

Morgan

Thanks Morgan (also for all the help!).

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Thanks Morgan (also for all the help!).

Nice write-up. I would add a section about IFTA as it is a fuel tax/road use tracking quasi-government entity that often becomes an issue at the port of entry. Many states say that IFTA is not required of a historic-registered vehicle while other states insist collector trucks have IFTA or 72 hour fuel tax permits which can be very expensive. Even at the IFTA convention, there is polarized disagreement. Like the scale houses, I find it easier to have IFTA than not have it. I have an account in my personal name through Missouri and it stops all debate. Some argue it concedes commercial operation, but once again, which argument do you want to have on the side of the road?

The other issue is that all of a sudden, out of the blue, I have Hagerty asking me for pictures of my insured truck inside of my storage building. They are now saying they only write retired commercial truck insurance for garage-kept trucks. Is anyone else having an issue?

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I questioned my insurance guy about "garaged" vehicles as my race trailer surely doesn't fit in my garage. My race car stays IN the trailer all summer, next to the garage. He says that's good. Hope I never have to find out.

IMG-20180116-202556-655.jpg

Larry

1959 B61 Liv'n Large......................

Charter member of the "MACK PACK"

 

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I have an account in my personal name through Missouri

How much trouble is it to get and maintain an IFTA account?

rwmindy, thanks for the write up. I did some research a while back and came up with similar information. I did notice that one of the DOT guideline articles said that you could win trophies or even modest cash prizes with a race or show car and still be considered to be a non-commercial operation. They did say that if you have sponsors names advertised on your trailer, that would put you into the commercial category.

I printed up some of the info and carry in the truck with me.

I know it's probably best to stop at scales but I'm just driving on past with my little B model. If I had a larger looking truck I'd probably pull in. :idunno:

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The other issue is that all of a sudden, out of the blue, I have Hagerty asking me for pictures of my insured truck inside of my storage building. They are now saying they only write retired commercial truck insurance for garage-kept trucks. Is anyone else having an issue?

I have my (antique truck) insurance from Met Life through Condon & Skelly, a popular antique insurance broker in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area, from the day I bought the truck. Every year at renewal time, they always ask me several questions on the form:

1. Current odometer reading

2. Any drivers in the household receive any moving violations?

3. Is it garage kept?

They have never asked for pictures.

On question #2, the wife did get hammered by a red light photo on Staten Island, NY 2 years ago. When I filled out that form and indicated yes, it has a place to explain if the answer is yes. So I did like the honest person I am. I also added it was a moot point, as she does not drive the truck, because she does not even KNOW HOW!!!!!

So I get a note from them 2 weeks later stating my rates are increasing. It wasn't by much, but I was pissed due to the principle. So I called them, and explained to the brain cell that answered the phone that the wife does not know how to drive a car with a manual tranny, much less a heavy truck with a non-syncronized trans. Brain cell basically says "too bad." So I ask for brain cell's supervisor, and tell him what the deal is. He says "well, not much I can do." So I cry about longevity as a customer, and then I say "Well, refund my check, I'll go see what JC Taylor can do for me." (JC Taylor is another popular insurer in the Philly area) Supervisor says "You know what, I think we can make the adjustment back to your previous terms." :clap:

TWO STROKES ARE FOR GARDEN TOOLS

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How much trouble is it to get and maintain an IFTA account?

The fuel tax system is fairly straight forward. It really only requires quarterly reporting and the need to track all your miles in the various states and your fuel receipts.

The state by state interpretation of the "limited plate" clause within the exemptions causes some real diversity in expectations for antique trucks going through several states. Many will consider an antique plated truck to clearly fall within the limited or recreational exemption clauses. However, several reference states not accepting antique plates as an exemption. Overall, compliance to the IFTA rules is completely disconnected from the "commerce" requirements within US DOT and can apply to any truck over 26,000 GVW / GVWR / or GCWR regardless of a commerce connection if a state refuses to accept antique plates as a limited / recreation plated vehicle. So, getting a IFTA account within your state if you plan to cross states often can save you headaches and it is not too difficult or complex.

Once again, people will argue every step you take to look commercial sucks you further into being commercial. However, IFTA never mentions a commercial requirement, it only qualifies vehicles by GVW, etc., and then exempts certain types of vehicles by type. Therefore, IFTA and "commerce" are not really connected in the guidelines like US DOT. They are just connected by "intent" (i.e. I believe the IFTA rules were created thinking it would only really affect commercial trucking - however, they never mention commerce as a requirement).

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What ever happened to the guy (Johnson ?) at the ATHS (Wheels of Time magazine) that was going to get us all exempted from the IFTA requirements? He was making a big deal in the magazine of going to the national meetings and getting an exemption voted on. Then I never heard anything more.

I have two truck tractors - one with a PA "Collectible" plate and one with a PA "Classic" plate. The IFTA people in insist that I do the quarterly reporting and payments.

Phildirt

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I was going to ask , being kind of a un-happy member* with ATHS what do the lobby for us antique truckers in dark Washington?

*Having paid 2 months ago and never got anything in the mail and called them 3 times to ask wheres my welcome packet, magazines, and whatever else.

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The IFTA exemption was pursued feverishly by the ATHS. I helped some with their push at the IFTA convention in St. Louis in 2007. The bottom line is while most IFTA jurisdictions were agreeable to the exemption, some of those in agreement felt the exemption was unnecessary due to existing language that they felt made it clear that antique or historic licensed vehicles did not apply. There were some jurisdictions, including I believe all of the Canadian provinces, that felt that antiques should NOT be exempt either out of principle or due to their feelings that the potential for abuse was too high.

Either way, it has been pursued and failed multiple times. Missouri DOT has been working closely the ATHS to sponsor the exemption (has to be sponsored by a member agency).

I have worked with MoDOT over the past few years looking for a way to make this easier to get through. One option was to create an Approtioned Historic Exempt plate through IRP out of your base jurisdiction. The theory would be that the Approtioned Historic Exempt plate would be recognized by all IRP agencies and would once and for all establish a unique class of vehicle registration that allowed pulling trailers for hobby use. The problem is that it would likely require a nominal annual registration fee (well less than $100) and I know too many who would balk at that and rather take their chances. At the invitation and request of MoDOT, We have shown the Rubber Duck truck at several of the IRP and IFTA events over the past few years trying to build some positive PR for the hobby and help demonstrate that these vehicles are out there and very much in a grey area. We have received very positive feedback, including at the annual IRP convention here in St. Louis this past May.

In my opinion, I believe until there is some defined uniform registration like an Apportioned Historic Exempt plate, it will always be a crap shoot when traveling to shows across state lines.

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