1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    SSA
    Posts
    61

    Tow truck questions

    Do I need a special license to operate a tow truck? My friend has a tow truck that we were going to use for our auto-shop. We'd pretty much just use it to transport inoperable cars from the shop to his fenced property 1/4 mile away. We wouldn't be advertising any towing services or anything like that, it's just for our private use. Also, lets say that someone does come and ask us to tow their car into town from about a mile out. Could we help them out without getting into trouble? I know about the insurance, but it's too much to be paying for something that we'd only use a few times a month. Do we need it? Could we just get by with a waiver or some written contract relieving us of all responsibility for damages? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Nashvegas,TENNESSEE
    Posts
    881
    I believe alot will have to do with size and vehicle weight rating. Here even if it's a vehicle under 26,000 lbs (average motor vehicle) if you use it for hire you must have an F endorsement on your license.
    Where'd you learn that, Cheech? Drug school?

  3. #3
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Central Florida
    Posts
    3,049
    In Florida if .you don't have your DOT number on the side of your truck and you're using it to tow for a business it's a felony. It all boils down to what state you're in.

  4. #4
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Annapolis, MD
    Posts
    298
    Depends on the state. In MD all tow trucks have tags ending with "TT". I wouldnt try getting around the law on this one. If your equipment isnt properly registered and insured you are opening yourself up to a world of civil litigation and criminal prosecution. You are only going 1/4 mile but ALOT can happen in 440 yards. Waivers and contracts, unless prepared by an attorney, usually arent worth the paper they are printed on. If I were you I would get it properly registered, licensed and insured and branch off into towing as well as repair.

  5. #5
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    SSA
    Posts
    61
    I'm not sure about the truck weight or if it's registered as a tow truck. A good example of how we'd use it is what happened a few days ago. One of my in-laws had a balljoint/tierod fall apart and left his truck unable to drive. I had to go borrow a car-dolly and pull it with my wife's dually to his job about 1/4mile away. We had a pretty hard time getting the truck on there and we ended up getting two forklifts to pick it up and drop it on the dolly. In this case, it would have been nice to just jump in the tow truck and pull it home. I didn't charge them or anything, so would that have been legal to use the tow truck there? If I were to tow, it would only be local as in within a 1/2mile radius[small town], so I definately wouldn't charge anyone for it. Most of them will end up being our customers for other stuff anyway, so there's no need to charge for such a minor task/short trip. By the way, the tow truck is just a small single cab chevy dually, I personally wouldn't have picked it for tow truck duty since it's underpowerd and very small. My wife and I both have class A cdl's.

  6. #6
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Annapolis, MD
    Posts
    298
    Having a tow truck would have been great and if I happened to come across you using it, I wouldnt have bothered you. However there are traffic hounds out there who will waste an hour writing you as many tickets as they can and they would be operating perfectly within the law to do so. Minimally I would at least get it properly registered and insured, that should cover you as far as the po-lice are concerned. To register the truck you have described would cost $185 for one year in MD. The possible fines for driving with out tags and insurance would probably be around $2000 plus a possible 30 day jail term.

  7. #7
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    SSA
    Posts
    61
    The truck is registered, inspected, and insured[as a regular truck], but we don't have that special towing insurance that covers damage to what we're towing. I just wasn't sure if I needed a special insurance/permit or something to cover the cars we'd pull. Like I said, it wouldn't be for hire, it's just something that we have access to instead of using our personal vehicles to pull cars around.

  8. #8
    Voice of Reason
    -918-'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    446
    In Oklahoma, Tow trucks that are used "for hire" must be inspected by the state and obtain a "Wrecker" plate. This includes the proper insurance. If you use the vehicle in the operation of a business (an auto shop), then it is "for hire" whether you tow in stranded vehicles or not. If you are not using the vehicle in the operation of your business, then it is not necessary to register it with the state. You must print "Not for Hire" on it and be completely obvious that you are not towing cars for a business purpose. The state hates it when you lie to them

    If the vehicle is over 26000 GVW, you must have a Commercial Operators License. If it's truly "Not for Hire" then you are good to go either way.

    BTW, hauling cars from a shop (business) to a storage lot would be considered "in the operation of a business".

    Good Luck
    -918-

    Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18

    Clinging to my guns and religion since 1975

  9. #9
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Fowlerville, MI
    Posts
    459
    You need at least a chauferrs license. But according to your other post about the kid in the truck, you may already have the neccessary license to drive most trucks, being a truck driver.

  10. #10
    El Sombrero Grande
    NBW791's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    968
    It looks like you're in Texas, and I have no idea how the laws are in Texas, so I'll just speak out federal motor carrier regulations.

    If the GVWR of the truck is 10,001 lbs or greater and you are in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise, you are subject to the federal regs.

    Your situation is a bit tricky. I would say your scenario the other day about towing a family member's car and not receiving any compensation for it would not fall into the definition being engaged in commerce. However, if you towed the truck to your auto shop, repaired it and charged for it, that just may negate that "not for hire" thing and make you subject to the regulations.

    It's a bit of gray area with that one and I have yet to run into it. I tell ya though, if I see a tow truck with no USDOT number or other proper markings, I can and probably will stop it to see if they are subject to the regulations and in compliance with them.

    If you ARE subject to regs, you would need, at a minimum:

    -A medical card
    -Fire extinguisher mounted to the power unit
    -3 Bi-directional triangles or 6 fusees
    -Annual inspection meeting FMCSR 49 CFR 396.17 for the truck (completed every 12 months - doesn't matter when, just every 12 months. It can be every June 13th if you want it to be).
    -Proper markings (carrier name and USDOT number clearly legible from 50 feet away and in a contrasting color with the vehicle; may be permanently painted or just a magnet you put on)
    -Registration
    -Insurance
    -Opearting authority for your state
    -All necessary lights in operation
    -Tires and brakes up to acceptable standards (tires - not less than 4/32" tread depth on the front tires and not less than 2/32" on other tires)

    That's a start right off the top of my head. I hope that helps.
    Last edited by NBW791; 06-03-2008 at 12:21 PM. Reason: Added something

  11. #11
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    SSA
    Posts
    61
    Ok, I understand. Thank you guys for all the info/advice.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Log in

Click here to log in or register