The U.S. Federal Government regulates Commercial Vehicles and your military vehicle may fall under those regulations. In many cases, you must conform even if you only use the vehicle for parades or military vehicle club meetings or shows.
An M-939A2 5-ton 6x6 cargo truck from the 603rd Air Control Squadron drives onto a mobile heavy equipment scale to determine its weight and center of balance prior to air transport from Aviano Air Base, Pordenone, Italy, 6 August 2001.
Federal Laws of the U.S. and Your Military Vehicle
The U.S. Government has a lot to say about trucks. Since the Feds pay for highways, the states go along with Federal rules. These rules primarily apply to large, over the road trucks but make sure you understand them if you have anything larger than a jeep. Fines can be very expensive if you are caught without proper documentation or in violation of driving regulations so make sure you know what applies to your vehicle and driving pattern.
According to Christopher Ciesla, an experienced military and civilian trucker and "voice of experience", you must pay attention to these regulations in order to avoid becoming a horror story. So before going up the ramp of I-70 in your 5-ton 6x6 with antique plates, read on...
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
You fall under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations when the gross vehicular weight rating (GVWR) exceeds 10,000 lbs. A Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is required when the GVWR exceeds 26,000 lbs OR any one of the following applies to the vehicle:
It is transporting hazardous materials
It is equipped with air brakes
It is capable of carrying 14 or more persons including the driver
It has a cargo tank larger than 500 gallons
Other than the CDL, whenever the GVWR of your vehicle exceeds 10,000 lbs. you must conform to US Department Of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regulations which include the following:
The driver must be prepared to show:
A Class B CDL. If the vehicle or trailer has air brakes, you will
also need an Air Brake Endorsement on the license.
A current USDOT Medical Card. This is good for 2 years after passing
a USDOT physical.
Participation in a random drug/alcohol screening program.
The vehicle must carry:
A logbook if you are more than 100 miles from the address to which
the truck is registered.
A charged 10BC fire extinguisher.
Three reflective triangles.
The USDOT definitions are very vague! Fines in some states for CDL / commercial vehicle / motor carrier violations start at $2000!!! Unfortunately, the USDOT regulations make no provisions for "antiques"; this is not an out even if your state registered your truck as an antique.
To be fully informed, get a copy of the USDOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. It is available from the FMCSA website, or in printed form at any decent sized truckstop and some bookstores or libraries. It covers more detail on these issues plus things like width and height restrictions and many other matters you need to know. In addition, it is highly advisable to get a copy of the current CDL Driver's Manual available for free at your state driver's license office or on the website of your state Department of Motor Vehicles.
NOTE: If you use your heavy GVWR military vehicle for strictly personal purposes, you may be exempt from the Federal CDL requirements. Many of the individual states and local jurisdictions do make an exception for private, non-commercial vehicles, but some have their own additional requirements. To be sure, check with your state or local law enforcement department. Ask for a "commercial vehicle enforcement officer" (or equivalent title) who will be familiar with the details of the law. If you drive your vehicle across state lines, and don't have the CDL, be sure to check each of the states you will travel across. Thanks to mustangcop34 for advice on this section.
Understanding the GVWR of your Military Vehicle
USMC Logistics Vehicle System (LVS) pulling a semitrailer loaded with Marine's individual equipment, 22 January 2002. Vehicle is LVS MK-48 Front Power Unit with MK-16 Trailer, Fifth Wheel, Semitrailer Adapter and M-1000 HET Trailer.
GVWR means the maximum weight possible for the vehicle in question within the capacity assigned to it by it's manufacturer, not it's actual weight.
For instance, Chris' 1994 Kenworth T-600 weighs approximately 16,000 lbs. bob-tailing (tractor without a trailer). But a CDL is required to drive it because it's GVWR is 46,000 lbs. Bob-tailing, it can be driven with a Class B CDL, but if a semi-trailer is attached, then a Class A CDL is required.
Chris also points out the IFTA or the International Fuel Tax Agreement. Just look at the side of any big truck and you;ll see a sticker that says IFTA on it. This is a mileage tax and is required for vehicles with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds. This is a gray area since the tax is intended for commercial vehicles and a military vehicle, especially if it has use restrictions, is not commercial.