California Towing Laws
Since Eyers Hitch Center Inc. is located in California, I have detailed the California towing laws from our state's Vehicle Code for my customers.
If you live or drive through a different state, here's a great website resource for checking your particular towing laws:
You need to be aware of and follow the laws in your home state, and the states you plan to travel through when you take any trip with your tow rig. Ignorance of the law has never been an effective excuse when you are handed a ticket for infringement of a road rule.
Here are the basic California laws for towing. Your state may have slightly different laws.
California Vehicle Code Towing Sections
- 21655 You must tow in the designated lane, usually the right hand lane, except for passing. When passing you must use the lane directly on the left of the designated lane.
- 21712 No passengers can ride in a towed trailer, boat, motorcycle etc, except for certain specially equipped fifth wheel trailers and in boats at boat ramps.
- 23129 A camper with people in it must have an unblocked exit door which can always be opened from both the inside and outside, and passenger must be able to communicate with driver.
- 29003 Every hitch, drawbar, coupler or other connection between motor vehicles towing must be securely attached to the vehicle and be strong enough to handle the weight of whatever you are towing.
- 29004 Every towed vehicle must be equipped with strong safety chains.
- 22406 No person shall drive a vehicle towing another vehicle over 55 mph.
- 26508 Towed vehicles with brakes must be equipped with a breakaway brake system designed to activate in the event of hitch failure and hold the vehicle at a stop for at least 15 minutes.
- 26302 Every trailer over 1500 lbs must be equipped with brakes on at least 2 wheels.
- 26453 Trailer brakes shall be maintained in good condition and in good working order and adjusted so all brakes work equally on all wheels.
- 26458 All vehicles towing trailers with brakes must have a brake controller unit installed that will operate the service brakes on the trailer except for the following types of trailers: disabled vehicles, driveaway towaway operations, towed motor vehicles, trailers with surge brakes.
- 26458 The trailer brakes should not be used in lieu of the service brakes except in the case of failure of the service brake system.
- 27600 All trailers must be equipped with fenders, covers or splashguards to minimize splash of water or mud to the rear of vehicle.
- 24600 During darkness, every trailer shall be equipped with taillights, stoplamps (24603) license plate light (24601) and turn signal lamps (24950).
- 24604 Whenever the load or trailer projects more than 4 feet behind the tow vehicle or obstructs the taillights, the projection must be equipped with taillamps. (magnetic lights are OK 24605)
- 21715 No passenger vehicle regardless of weight, or any commercial vehicle less than 4000 lbs shall tow more than one vehicle in combination except for a car on a tow dolly.
- 21715-a. No motor vehicle under 4000 lbs shall tow any vehicle 6000 lbs or more.
- 24608 Trailers over 80 inches in width shall have amber reflectors on each side and front, and red reflectors in the rear.
- 28060 Recreational vehicle and campers with cooking equipment shall be equipped with a fire extinguisher and shall maintain the fire extinguisher in an efficient operating condition.
- 29003-c. The vehicle on a tow dolly must be securely fastened to the dolly by at least two chains.
- 35401 No vehicles in combination may measure more than 65 feet in length, (60í in designated areas) (Motorhomes, in general, may not be longer than 45')
- 35100 No vehicle or trailer may be wider than 8'6"
- 35109 Lights, mirrors etc, may extend beyond permissable width not exceeding 10' on each side of vehicle.
- 35250 No vehicle or load may exceed 14 ft. in height measured from the surface the vehicle stands on.
The installation of all the safety and hitching equipment for towing is strictly controlled by law. Thatís why it is so important that you have a qualified installer help you with the selection and installation of your hitch system.
It is unlawful for any reputable hitch installer to install any hitch on your vehicle that does not qualify for your particular towing situation (of which he is aware).
Knowing the laws of the state you are towing in is important for your towing safety. The unpleasant truth of the matter is that if you are stopped by a police officer or are in an accident, and the officer determines you are towing with the wrong or substandard equipment for your towing needs, you can be held criminally negligent and liable for any injuries and damage that you are involved in. Please take care out there.