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Old 07-16-2003, 03:12 PM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Hesperia, Ca
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I got these from the Las Angeles Times Website. It might be nice to comunicate with some of the principles....Bill R.

CALIFORNIA
Can He Maneuver That Big Rig in Court?
An Orange man's whopper RV is so huge it's been classified as a commercial vehicle by the DMV, forcing weigh-station stops. He has filed suit.


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By David Reyes, Times Staff Writer


Angelo "Chuck" Emanuele wanted to pack the wife and kids into an RV and hit the interstate.

One hitch, however. Emanuele's new RV was so big the DMV classified it as a commercial vehicle, not a motor home.







So instead of flying past weigh scales, he has to pull in with the big diesel rigs and wait in line with the cross-country drivers. His license must be Class A. He must carry a medical release, maintain log books and consume no alcohol.

Emanuele can't help but feel that the state of California has taken the recreation out of his purchase. And the ride " all 57 feet of it " didn't come cheap.

He paid about $100,000 two years ago for the Kenworth cab and attached living quarters. Add to that a 40-foot King of the Road recreational trailer worth $80,000, and $5,300 in registration and license fees.

He has gone to Sacramento to testify before a DMV administrative hearing, but his request that his pleasure vehicle be classified as a motor home was denied. Last month, he sued the state agency, seeking to overturn its decision.

A hearing is scheduled today in Orange County Superior Court.



Emanuele says he's unfairly being lumped in with big-rig drivers when all he wanted was a new, albeit bigger, way to get away from it all.

Newer and bigger seem to be the mantra of the thriving $10-billion-a-year recreational-vehicle industry, which offers adventurers everything from spartan $3,600 trailers to cushy million-dollar-plus motor homes that practically blot out the sun as they chug down the highway. Nationwide there are more than 7 million recreational vehicles in operation.

RV industry spokesmen who saw a photograph of a rig similar to Emanuele's said his argument is sound. But its sheer size is bound to raise eyebrows, they added.

"He has an uphill battle here, no doubt about that," said Ron Epstein of the Good Sam Club in Ventura, one of the nation's largest RV owners organizations.

It's unclear how many rigs like Emanuele's are on California roads. The DMV only tracks cars, trucks, boats and motorcycles, a department spokesman said.

Emanuele's saga began nearly two years ago when he flew to New Jersey to pick up his new toy and headed back to California. As he got behind the wheel of the big Kenworth cab and settled in, it was a perfect union of man and machine.

Over the years he had owned several motor homes and had graduated to a fifth wheel, in which a large pickup is used to tow a trailer. But none were like the Kenworth vehicle.

"What's been happening in the RV industry is the trailers are becoming heavier and most of them are pulled by underpowered and overtaxed vehicles," Emanuele explained.

Emanuele, 53, said he wanted enough juice to pull him, his family, and the 40-foot King of the Road trailer over the Colorado Rockies with enough stopping power to brake before hitting Albuquerque.

When Emanuele returned to California, he pulled into a DMV office in Palm Springs and registered the vehicle as a motor home. He showed the officials the 14-foot living quarters on the rig. He showed them the pull-out bed, shower, toilet, sink, refrigerator and microwave.

But when he got home and pulled up to the curb, Orange police cited him for parking a commercial vehicle in a residential area. Using photographs and some of his New York City moxie, Emanuele persuaded a judge to dismiss the ticket.

The DMV has been a tougher sell. After registering the rig as a motor home, he got a letter from the agency asking to take another look at the vehicle. He drove to one office and was told it needed a commercial registration. He left and drove to another DMV office, where it was declared a motor home.

For nearly a year, he exchanged calls from DMV officials until he received another letter, this time from Ken Miyao, DMV deputy director. Miyao apologized for the delays but refused Emanuele's plea to classify his vehicle as a motor home.

"It is a truck tractor because its primary design is to tow trailers. The living quarters are incidental to the primary design of towing a trailer," stated Sandy Bassett, assistant chief of registration policy and automation branch in Sacramento, in a declaration filed in response to Emanuele's lawsuit.

Emanuele's attorney, Peter F. Musielski, said the DMV has conflicting codes regarding motor homes. And Emanuele argues that hundreds of thousands of motor homes are designed on a so-called commercial chassis, including buses that have been converted to motor homes and are allowed to be registered as motor homes.

Regardless of size, the issue boils down to the vehicle's use, said Jay Landers, senior director of government affairs for the Virginia-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Assn.

He said that if the vehicle meets at least four of six criteria adopted by the American Assn. of Motor Vehicle Administrators, a trade group that includes California DMV administrators, it is by definition a motor home.

To qualify, the vehicle must have permanent cooking facilities, heating or air conditioning separate from the driver's cab and a self-contained toilet connected to holding tanks. It must also have a potable water supply with tanks, sleeping facilities and 110-volt power supply. Emanuele's rig meets all six.

Emanuele has already taken his family camping in Big Bear, Palm Springs and points north and south.

He says something happens when he gets behind the wheel of his beast. With one turn of the ignition key, the stress of the daily grind floats off into the rearview mirror.

"It handles so smooth," he said. "And the engine purrs."

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