California DMV 5th Wheel Trailer Regulations

The convenience of being able to hook up a luxury trailer when ever you want to spend time in the outdoors makes the fifth wheel recreational vehicle extremely popular. The fifth wheel vehicle is composed of a luxury trailer with a separate vehicle towing it. A fifth wheel is defined in the California Vehicle Code 324 as a vehicle designed for recreational purposes to carry passengers or property and this vehicle is towed by another vehicle by means of a kingpin connecting device.

  1. CVC 12804.12 (a)

    • California Vehicle Code (CVC) 12804.9 (E) states that a person towing a fifth wheel can possess a class C license when towing a fifth wheel trailer not exceeding 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. If the fifth wheel exceeds 10,000 pounds then the person requires a class A drivers license. As with a class C, a written test then must be taken on the driver's knowledge of the code.

    CVC 29001

    • CVC 29001 refers to fifth wheel connecting devices or the kingpin hitch. A kingpin connecting device has a female connector center mounted in the truck bed where as the male connection is mounted on the trailer. This is unfortunate for pick-up truck owners because the hitch is mounted in the center of the bed taking up all the valuable storage space of the truck bed. This code further states that the kingpin upper half or male part must be securely affixed to the trailer and the lower part or female end must be secured to the pulling vehicle. This code insures that the hitch device will prevent the device from shifting and moving around. See also CVC 29003 which requires additional bracing and reinforcement of the frame to make the frame structurally adequate for the weight drawn.

    CVC 29002

    • CVC 29002 requires that every fifth wheel needs to have a locking device installed on the hitch mechanism that requires a positive manual release. This locking mechanism must be automatic and cannot be released by accident. This prevents accidental release of the hitch while the trailer is being towed.

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  • Photo Credit lake mead national recreation area 14 image by Jim Parkin from Fotolia.com

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