California Department of Transportation
 

Auto, Boat, & Camper Transporters Exemptions

NOTE: This exemption is for commercial haulers. If you are towing an oversize boat for personal use, you will need to obtain an oversize permit from the Caltrans Permits Office at: www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/permits.


OVERALL LENGTH

Per California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 35401.3, transporters of motor vehicles, boats, and camper units have length exemptions. Following are selective paraphrases of the CVC, and text copied from the Federal Code of Regulations. It is not guaranteed and may be subject to change.

35401.3. (a) A combination of vehicles designed and used to transport motor vehicles, camper units, or boats, which consists of a motortruck and stinger-steered semitrailer, shall be allowed a length of up to:

(a) 70 feet if the kingpin is at least 3 feet behind the rear drive axle of the motortruck.

(b) 75 feet if all of the following conditions are maintained:

(1) The distance from the steering axle to the rear drive axle of the motortruck does not exceed 24 feet.
(2) The kingpin is at least 5 feet behind the rear drive axle of the motortruck.
(3) The distance from the kingpin to the rear axle of the semitrailer does not exceed:

  • 34 feet, or
  • 36 feet if on a triple axle semitrailer.

OVERHANG

35401.3. (a) and (b) These combinations shall not be subject to subdivision (a) of Section 35411 (which requires that the vehicle plus load cannot exceed 75 feet), but the load upon the rear vehicle of either of these combinations shall not extend more than 6 feet 6 inches beyond the allowable length of the vehicle.

LOAD-CARRYING EXTENSIONS

35402. (b) Extensions up to 18 inches in length on each end of a vehicle or combination of vehicles used exclusively to transport vehicles shall not be included in measuring the length of a vehicle or combination of vehicles when the vehicles are loaded. (This exemption not allowed on STAA vehicles per CVC Section 35401.5(b) -- see discussion below.)

SLIDING FIFTH WHEEL UP TO 2'6" AT 35 MPH OFF FREEWAYS

35402. (e) A truck semitrailer combination may use a sliding fifth wheel to extend the length of the combination by not more than 2 feet 6 inches while traveling 35 miles per hour or less on any highway, except a freeway. The sliding fifth wheel when extended shall not be included in measuring the overall length of the combination of vehicles if:

  • the pivot point of the semitrailer connection is more than two feet to the rear of the center of the rearmost axle of the motortruck, or
  • if the distance from the pivot point to the center of the rearmost axle of the semitrailer does not exceed 34 feet.

(This exemption not allowed on STAA vehicles per CVC Section 35401.5(b) -- see discussion below.)


AUTO, BOAT, & CAMPER TRANSPORTERS
ON THE STAA NETWORK

STAA VEHICLES

Per CVC 35401.5.(a), a truck tractor and semitrailer may have unlimited length on the STAA Network (which includes the National Network and Terminal Access routes) if the length of the semitrailer either (1) does not exceed 48 feet, or (2) does not exceed 53 feet and has a KPRA* of 38 feet maximum on a single-axle semitrailer or 40 feet maximum on a two-or-more-axle semitrailer.

*KPRA = kingpin-to-rear-axle distance

AUTO, CAMPER, & BOAT TRANSPORTERS CAN BE STAA VEHICLES

Per CVC 35401.5.(a), for the purposes of this section, a motortruck used in combination with a semitrailer, when that combination of vehicles is engaged solely in the transportation of motor vehicles, camper units, or boats, is considered to be a truck tractor.

AUTO, CAMPER, & BOAT TRANSPORTERS LOSE TWO EXEMPTIONS AS STAA VEHICLES

CVC 35401.5(b) disallows the exemptions of Section 35402 (b) and (e) (see those sections above -- "Load-Carrying Extensions" and "Sliding Fifth Wheel...") on combinations of vehicles operated subject to the exemptions provided by this section (STAA).


FEDERAL DEFINITIONS

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 23 - Highways
Sec. 658.5 Definitions

Automobile transporters. Any vehicle combination designed and used specifically for the transport of assembled highway vehicles, including truck camper units.

Boat transporters. Any vehicle combination designed and used specifically to transport assembled boats and boat hulls. Boats may be partially disassembled to facilitate transporting.

Stinger-steered combination. A truck tractor semitrailer wherein the fifth wheel is located on a drop frame located behind and below the rear-most axle of the power unit.

FEDERAL LENGTH REQUIREMENTS

Code of Federal Regulations, Title 23 - Highways Sec. 658.13 Length

(e) Specialized equipment--

(1) Automobile transporters.

(i) Automobile transporters are considered to be specialized equipment. As provided in Sec. 658.5, automobile transporters may carry vehicles on the power unit behind the cab and on an over-cab rack. No State shall impose an overall length limitation of less than 65 feet on traditional automobile transporters (5th wheel located on tractor frame over rear axle(s)), including "low boys,'' or less than 75 feet on stinger-steered automobile transporters. Paragraph (c) requires the States to allow operation of vehicles with the dimensions that were legal in the State on December 1, 1982.

(ii) All length provisions regarding automobile transporters are exclusive of front and rear overhang. Further, no State shall impose a front overhang limitation of less than three (3) feet nor a rearmost overhang limitation of less than four (4) feet.

(iii) Drive-away saddlemount vehicle transporter combinations and driveaway saddlemount with fullmount vehicle transporter combinations are considered to be specialized equipment. No State shall impose an overall length limit of less than 75 feet on such combinations. This provision applies to saddlemount combinations with up to three saddlemounted vehicles. Such combinations may include one fullmount. Saddlemount combinations must also comply with the applicable safety regulations at 49 CFR 393.71.

(2) Boat transporters.

(i) Boat transporters are considered to be specialized equipment. As provided for automobile transporters in Sec. 658.5, boat transporters may carry boats on the power unit so long as the length and width restrictions of the vehicles and load are not exceeded. No State shall impose an overall length limitation of less than 65 feet on traditional boat transporters (fifth wheel located on tractor frame over rear axle(s), including "low boys,'' or less than 75 feet on stinger-steered boat transporters. In addition, no State shall impose an overall length limitation of less than 65 feet on truck-trailer boat transporters. Paragraph (c) of this section requires the States to allow operation of vehicles with the dimensions that were legal in the State on December 1, 1982.

(ii) All length provisions regarding boat transporters are exclusive of front and rear overhang. Further, no State shall impose a front overhang limitation of less than three (3) feet nor a rearmost overhang limitation of less than four (4) feet.


CONTACTS -- PERMIT LOADS

FOR OVERSIZE OR OVERWEIGHT PERMITS, CONTACT PERMITS STAFF ON THIS WEB PAGE: TRANSPORTATION PERMITS BRANCH PHONE LIST.


CONTACTS -- NON-PERMIT LOADS

Caltrans Legal Truck Access Branch
Casey Robb
Manuel Fonseca
General number (916) 654-5741

E-mail: Legal Truck Access Branch.

Return to the Caltrans "Legal Truck Access" page.

Revised 12/17/14.