View Full Version : Vehicle Laws and Travel

04-27-2013, 05:36 PM
When I travel from state to state or province to province, are my tow vehicle and my trailer subject to the motor vehicle regulations of each state and province?
For instance, if I meet regulations and subsequently licence a trailer in my home province (in my case) which does NOT require a certain feature on the trailer or the tow vehicle, can I legally tow in states or provinces that require the feature?

04-27-2013, 08:46 PM
You need to be more specific. Basically if you're legal in your home state you're legal in other states in the US. There are no guarantees, however. Just ask Ozz how will that theory worked in Goodyear, AZ.

04-27-2013, 10:26 PM
I believe traveling into Canada and they are more serious about enforcing weight compliance. For example, if your trailer causes noticeable rear end sag, then that might attract the attention of a local constable.

The easy answer for the rest of the U.S. is that other states officers generally honor the laws from the home license plate on the vehicle. However, when we refer to Ozz, nothing substitutes the attitude of a law enforcement officer who notices something that might be awry in their interpretation, and like my LEO relataives have told me, if they want to stop you from something they'll find a way.

What happened to Ozz is that an Arizona LEO did not approve of the single plate usage Ozz had on his truck, that he had it on the front of his truck (not on the rear) and stopped him for it. I'll leave the rest of the story to Ozz.

Unless you are an obvious safety concern, there's little to prompt an issue when traveling. Weight ratings aside your rig combination is common enough and unless you were in an accident that might warrant an investigation, I don't believe you will have an issue.

04-28-2013, 03:20 AM
It is a perplexing situation, you are wise in asking. Yes you can get a ticket for something that is legal in your area when you travel. If you get a "Normal" officer, you would probably just get a warning ticket, if you get the officer I got, or a hard-a## policeman, you may get a ticket you have to pay. Mine was $165.00. I was legal in Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, California.. but not Arizona. They never ticket a semi Bob-tailing, or not pulling a trailer: same situation, but the law reads a truck must have a rear plate. (Selective enforcement)
Good luck.

04-28-2013, 03:33 AM
We just watched a television show on extreme RVs last night. This gentleman in Idaho had a Super Super 'C', they said 54 feet long, plus a 30 foot double deck trailer, and then a boat behind the trailer. The show indicated he was over 100 feet long! Not sure where that is legal but he must get away with it in Idaho.

04-28-2013, 06:41 AM
Some states have reciprocity, meaning what's legal in your home state is legal in the state you're traveling. I've seen the list on what's what, and probably have it somewhere, and when I find it again, I'll upload it.

04-28-2013, 07:49 AM
While some of us (including me) have said we've been told or read that one state's law is honored by another state, I now recall there are some which are different.

First, as Ozz experienced, some states require a plate in the rear of the vehicle no matter what your home state allows. For example, New Mexico is a one plate state and allows it in the front (if one tows) but prefers it placed in the rear. The inference to Ozz is when NOT towing, reposition the plate or you'll get a ticket, not a warning. I wish Ozz would have only received a fix-it and not a fine. It's easy enough to take the plate off the front and move it to the back (at least for my vehicles). A fine of $165 is RUDE and UNFRIENDLY and not necessary in my opinion. But I guess Goodyear, AZ doesn't need tourist business if they are gonna act like that.

The second law that comes to mind is length. There are documented lengths for private parties. I make the distinction of private parties because of my days in towing commercial, for some states I was required to report I was towing into their state and reported my length, my load, my entry and exit points to base the fee I was to pay. If I was going to be longer than their specific state's requirement, then I would pay additional or have other requirements (road limits or add an escort vehicle) for that too, but it was not illegal. For private parties, since they don't check in, you must be compliant to whatever the length is required. I suppose if you knew you exceeded their length, you could check in at the weight scales and discuss it with them (including they tell you to turn around and leave).

Another is height. Each state has their own height requirements and these can be enforced on a state by state basis. As long as you are within their requirements then you shouldn't be bothered except for the officer that wants to make sure.

In all states, it seems they allow owners to be outside their laws and for the commercial world, drivers are pretty good at checking in and doing what's necessary for the safety of their rig and load (mostly pay some money). For private parties, we are responsible for our own compliance (and many don't do so well). In California, there are several levels of RVers and I know most persons I know, ignore this. For example, in California, there are minimums on class of driver's license. A Class C provides compliance up to 10,000 lb trailers, over 10,001 and one must add an RV endorsement, over 15,001 load or 26,000 GVWR a class C won't cut it and so on.

Anyway, these are some examples of my experiences, or information obtained through reliable sources. There may be other laws that have slipped my mind, but at least here's some to think about.

I have belonged to several forums but being in the MOC has prompted me to look into, learn and seek these answers. I hope you don't mind me passing what little I know. Knowing these has allowed me to modify my truck properly, tow a variety of trailers legally and safely and get my driver's license to it's proper class and more importantly to stay under what I cannot do. I also don't park in a handicap parking spot and use the disabled person placard if my elderly mom is not with me.

04-28-2013, 08:04 AM
quote:Originally posted by DQDick

You need to be more specific. Basically if you're legal in your home state you're legal in other states in the US. There are no guarantees, however. Just ask Ozz how will that theory worked in Goodyear, AZ.

Ok to be specific, here's an example not based on fact. The state of Washington requires a large "SEAHAWKS" logo be be affixed to every trailer in the state. Oregon requires trailers to have a "NO SALES TAX" sign on every trailer in the state. If I travel from Washington where I'm legal because I do have the Seahawks logo into Oregon where I do not have their required sign on my trailer ... am I legal in the state of Oregon?
What I really want to know is that as I pass from Washington to Oregon or any other state for that matter, am I responsible to ensure that my trailer meets every regulation required by the state or am I good in that I meet all the requirements in the state where I have the trailer registered?
It's the Ozz Arizona Syndrome I know but I'm not sure I saw a statement of fact about the matter. There were lots of opinions for sure but I'm still unsure.

04-28-2013, 09:32 AM
Ok here is actual fact. Most smaller TT's in Kansas are not required to display a license plate. Whenever we were stopped in Missouri, Oklahoma or Nebraska I would show them my registration listing the weight and that no license was issued and I'd go on my way. Since many of us who travel get tired of being stopped Kansas sells a generic plate to put on a trailer so cops in other states will leave us alone. It's not necessary and every cop that stopped me let me go, but I just got tired of the hassle and bought the generic plate. After that I was never stopped again, even thought the plate had no expiration dates on it. Missouri law has a similar weirdness. Missouri only issues one plate to TV's and you are required to place it on the front bumper like a tractor trailer does. A cop stopped Ozz in Goodyear, AZ and refused to buy that so Ozz got a ticket. He could have gone to court and fought it, but needed to be on his way. My guess was that if the same cop got me during my TT days I would have gotten a ticket also. Sometimes it is what it is.

Sierra 117
04-28-2013, 09:51 AM
Generally there is reciprocity with respect to your driving license. if your legal in your home state you are good to go. There is no reciprocity with respect to your rig. If you violate an equipment restriction such as length, width, weight, or number of trailers for instance, you are illegal in that state and could be ticketed.

04-28-2013, 10:04 AM
I know this won't help at all, but it boils down to this;
We can be confident that we have done all that is necessary to be compliant, but when on the side of the road, only the officer with the ticket book in hands' opinion matters. Argument only worsens things at that point. Not to mention that arguing traffic law with a law enforcement officer, for most anyway, is pointless and frustrating.
IMHO do all that you know you have to do to be legal, but above all, drive safely and courteously and you likely won't have any problems unless visiting Goodyear, AZ!

04-28-2013, 10:51 AM
Based on our U.S. Constitution, all states must honor the issuing state's motor vehicle laws as concerns registration requirements.

So, if you must have the Seahawks logo in Washington as a requisite to registering your trailer, you are good to go in Oregon.

However, if the max length in Washington is 65 feet and you travel to Oregon who has a max length of 60 feet, you would be in violation. Another example is double towing, which may be legal in your home state but illegal in another state.

Think of it this way. Your driver's license is honored here, country to country from a treaty. In the U.S., our home state driver's license is honored by law.

Hope I didn't make this too convoluted!

04-28-2013, 11:36 AM
Here are some links for towing laws in different states, including which of those state offer reciprocity:



04-28-2013, 12:43 PM
Thanks to all. I now believe that most of us are probably in violation of something or other as we travel across state lines but in the normal course of events we won't be bothered ... but all guarantees are off!

04-28-2013, 03:47 PM
c'mon Moutard, get with the spirit. We comply with all the states' requirements. It's the states that are messed up with their inconsistent laws. Another example of State governments not knowing which hand is doing what. It's called "revenue by ambiguity". They are in cahoots, don't you know. It works for me.