Most states have laws that require an auxiliary braking system on towed vehicles. We LOVE our braking system and it's made a noticeable difference. However, we see many RV'ers towing a car, truck, or SUV and DON'T have an auxiliary braking system. Not only are they (technically) breaking the law, they're unsfae to themselves and other drivers.

This article includes the weight limits for towing without auxiliary brakes. Are you legal AND safe?

Braking Weight Limits

2005 State and Provincial Guidelines for Towing Vehicles

See the Chart below to see if your state requires the use of a supplemental braking system.

State Towing Length Braking Requirements For Towing
ALABAMA Total length: Not specified. Connection between vehicles must not exceed 15’ in length. Bill of sale required. Independent braking system required over 3,000 lbs. 1
ALASKA Total length: 75’. Brake hookup required if over 3,000lbs. A breakaway system capable of applying all required brakes in the event of a separation from the towing vehicle is required. Independent braking system required for *GW of 5,000 lbs. or more. 2
ARIZONA Total length: 65’. Independent braking system required when the *GW exceeds 3,000lbs. 2,3
ARKANSAS Total length: 65’. Independent braking system required with a *GW of 3,000lbs or more. Every trailer 3,000lbs or more must have brakes adequate to control movement of and to stop and hold vehicle; and the brakes should automatically apply in the event of an accidental break-away. 2,3
CALIFORNIA Total length: 65’. Independent braking system required with a *GW of 1,500lbs or more. Brakes must be sufficient to stop within a specified distance, according to vehicle weight, at 20mph.
COLORADO Total length: 70’. Independent braking system required with a *GW of 3,000lbs or more. Brakes shall also be designed and connected that in case of accidental breakaway of the towed vehicle, brakes shall automatically apply. Lights must be mounted and displayed on the rear of the towed vehicle. Lights must be actuated by the driver of the towing vehicle. 2,3
CONNECTICUT Total length: 60’. Independent braking system required with a *GW of 3,000lbs or more. Each trailer having *GW of 3,000lbs or more shall be equipped with a braking system operating on all wheels. 2,3
DELAWARE Total length: 65’. Independent system required with a *GW of 4,000lbs or more. Trailers carrying a *GW of load in combination with a vehicle in excess of 4,000lbs. must be equipped with suitable brakes controlled by the operator of the towing vehicle. 10mph limit without brakes. 2,3
DIST COLUMBIA Total length: 85’. Independent braking system required with a *GW of 3,000lbs or more. There shall be a manually controlled device for applying and releasing the brakes that is readily operable by a person in the driving seat. 2
FLORIDA Total length: 65’. Independent braking system and breakaway system required with a *GW of 3,000lbs or more. 2
GEORGIA Total length: 60’. Independent braking system required with a *GW of 3,000lbs.or more Every trailer over 3,000lbs. **GVWR must be equipped with brakes on all wheels. 2
HAWAII Total length: 65’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. 2,3
IDAHO Total length: 75’. When weight is 1,500lbs or more, independent braking system required with breakaway system capable of applying the brakes in the event of a separation from towing vehicle. Must stop at any weigh station. 2
ILLINOIS Total length: 65’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. Such brakes must be so designed and connected that in case of an accidental breakaway of a towed vehicle over 5,000lbs., the brakes are automatically applied. Brake hookup required if vehicle towed is over 3,000lbs.
INDIANA Total length: 60’ for 2 vehicles & 65’ for 3 vehicles. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs. or more. A trailer at least 3,000lbs must have brakes adequate to control the movement, stop and hold the towing vehicle and trailer. These brakes must be designed so that the driver of the towing vehicle can apply the brakes from the towing vehicle itself and adequately stop both the towing vehicle and the trailer. 2,3
IOWA Total length: 70’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. Every trailer of a *GVW of 3,000lbs or more must be equipped with a separate, auxiliary means of applying brakes on the trailer from the cab of the towing vehicle. Registration required. 2,3
KANSAS Total length: 65’ Independent braking system always required. Also, not more than 2 vehicles shall be connected by a tow bar. 2
KENTUCKY Total length: 63’. Independent braking system not required . Kentucky law does not specifically require brakes on many passenger car trailers, regardless of weight. However, vehicles singular or in combination must be able to stop within distance specified by statute. No vehicle may haul more than 2 vehicles connected in such a manner to keep them evenly spaced, and any 1 time. 2,3
LOUISIANA Total length: 70’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. Brake hookup and light connection must be connected to primary towing vehicle lights. 2,3
MAINE Total length: 65’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. Maximum of 1 boat or general/utility trailer may be towed behind a passenger or pleasure vehicle – length combined cannot exceed 65’.
MARYLAND Total length: 55’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more.
MASSACHUSETTS Total length: 65’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 10,000lbs or more. Towing vehicle must be able to stop trailer and towing vehicle within legal limits. 2,3
MICHIGAN Total length: 65.’ (E) Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. 2,3
MINNESOTA Total length: 60’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. Breakaway system required when *GW is 6,000lbs. or more. 4,5
MISSISSIPPI Total length: 53’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 2,000lbs or more. Brakes should be designed so that the driver of the towing vehicle from its cab may apply them. Brakes should be designed and connected so that in case of an accidental breakaway of the towed vehicle, the brakes should be automatically applied. Not more than 1 vehicle shall be towed by a tow bar. 2
MISSOURI Total length: 65’ on interstate highways & 55’ on others. Independent braking system not required . 2
MONTANA Total length: 65’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. All trailers with a *GVW less than 3,000lbs must be equipped with brakes on all wheels if the total weight of the trailer does not exceed 40% of the *GVW of the towing vehicle. 2,3
NEBRASKA Total length: 65’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. Breakaway required over 6,500lbs. 2
NEVADA Total length: 70’. Independent braking system required when *GW exceeds 3,000lbs.; 1,500lbs if manufactured 7/01/75 or newer model. Every towing vehicle used to tow another vehicle equipped with air-controlled brakes, shall be equipped with 2 means of emergency application of the trailer brakes. One means shall apply the brakes automatically in the event of a reduction of the towing vehicle air supply; the other means shall be a manually controlled device for applying and releasing the brakes, readily operable by a person seated in the driver seat. Every vehicle towing other vehicles equipped with vacuum brakes shall have a second control device that can be used to operate the brakes on towed vehicles in emergencies. The second controls shall be independent of brake air, hydraulic and other pressure, and independent of other controls, unless the braking system is so arranged that failure of the pressure upon which the second control depends will cause the brakes to be applied automatically. 6, (C)
NEW HAMPSHIRE Total length: not specified. Independent braking system required when *GW is 1,500lbs or more. No vehicle may tow on any road more than 1 vehicle or trailer. 2,3
NEW JERSEY Total length: 62’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. In any combination of motor vehicles, means shall be provided for applying the trailer brakes in approximate synchronism with the brakes on the towing vehicles and creating the required braking effort on the wheels of the rearmost vehicle at the fastest rate, or means shall be provided for applying the braking effort first on the rearmost vehicle equipped with brakes. Registration of towed vehicles required if required by home state. Brake hookup required. Maximum of 1 boat or general utility trailer may be towed behind passenger or pleasure vehicle – total length of both not to exceed 62’. 2
NEW MEXICO Total length: 65’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. In any combination of motor-drawn vehicles, means shall be provided for applying the rearmost trailer brakes in approximate synchronism with the brakes on the towing vehicle. Special permit required, available at ports of entry for $5. Bill of sale, title or ownership document required. Brake hookup required. 7
NEW YORK Total length: 65’. (A) Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. State Highways: Registration of towed auto not required. Auto towing in prohibited. N.Y.S. thruway: Registration and plates required for towed autos, which must be in operable condition.
NORTH CAROLINA Total length: 60’ Independent braking system is required when *GW is 4,000lbs or more. Every trailer or separate vehicle attached by a drawbar or coupling to a towing vehicle of at least 4,000lbs., and every house trailer weighing at least 1,000lbs., shall be equipped with brakes controlled or operated by the driver of the towing vehicle. 2,3
NORTH DAKOTA Total length: 75’. Independent braking system required when towing. 2,8
OHIO Total length: 65’ Independent braking system required when *GW is 2,000lbs or more. 2,3
OKLAHOMA Total length: 65’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. 2,3
OREGON Total length: 65’. (B) Independent braking system not required , but combination of vehicles must be able to stop within legal limits. Every motor vehicle and combination of motor vehicles, except motorcycles and mopeds, shall at all times be equipped with a parking brake system. Unlawful to operate more than 2 vehicles in combination. Any vehicle being towed must be equipped with safety chains or cables. Specials certificate required if vehicle is being towed for compensation. A trip permit is also required if the towed vehicle is not currently registered and is being towed by other than a licensed tower. 2,9 (B)
PENNSYLVANIA Total length: 60’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. Of every combination of vehicles operated on a highway, the towed vehicle which is equipped with brakes or which has a *GW in excess of 3,000lbs shall be so equipped that, upon breakaway of the towed vehicle, the towed vehicle shall be stopped and held automatically, and the towing vehicle shall be capable of being stopped and held by use of its own service braking system. Whenever 2 vehicles are connected by a ball and socket type hitch or pintle hook without a locking device, they must also be connected by 2 safety chains of equal length, each safety chain having an ultimate strength at least equal to the gross weight of the towed vehicles. The safety chains must be crossed and connected to the towed and towing vehicle and to the tow bar to prevent the tow bar from dropping to the ground in the event the tow bar fails or becomes disconnected. Safety chains (cross chains) required. 10,11
RHODE ISLAND Total length: 60’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 4,000lbs or more. Brakes must be designed so they can be applied from the driver of the towing vehicle’s normal operating position and that they will be automatically applied in the case of an accidental breakaway. 2,3
SOUTH CAROLINA Total length: not specified. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. Every motor vehicle or trailer must be equipped with brakes that have a braking system arranged so that one control device can be used to operate all service brakes. 2
SOUTH DAKOTA Total length: not specified. (D) Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. Brakes, turn signals, and rear lights required. Towed vehicle cannot exceed 53’. 2,3
TENNESSEE Total length: not specified. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. Lights, turn signals, and brakes must be connected. Registration of towed vehicle required plus owner’s identification card, if home state issues one. Brake hookups required. 2,3
TEXAS Total length: 65’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 4,500lbs or more. A motor vehicle, including a passenger car that has an unloaded weight of 2,500lbs. or more may be coupled with a towing device and 1 other vehicle. A driver of a passenger car or light truck may not tow a trailer, semi trailer, house trailer, or another motor vehicle unless safety chains of a type approved by the *DPS are attached in an approved manner from trailer, semi trailer, house trailer, or towed motor vehicle to the towing vehicle. 2
UTAH Total length: 65’. Breakaway braking system required if over 3,000lbs. Every motor vehicle or combination of vehicles shall have a parking brake system adequate to hold the vehicle(s) of any grade on which it is operated. Registration or proof of ownership of towed vehicle required. 2
VERMONT Total length: 65’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. Rigid connection required. 3,12
VIRGINIA Total length: 65’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. A safety chain/cable is required. Taillights and brake lights required. 2,13
WASHINGTON Total length: 60’. (B) Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. No vehicle towing a trailer may be driven in the left-hand lane of a limited access roadway having 3 or more lanes for traffic moving is 1 direction except when preparing for a left-hand turn. No person may occupy any trailer when it is being moved on a highway, except a person occupying a proper position for steering a trailer to be steered from a rear-end position. Special permit required if towed vehicle is not registered. 2, (B)
WEST VIRGINIA Total length: 75’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. A motor vehicle or combination of motor-drawn vehicles must be capable of stopping at the following rates as if on a dry, smooth, level free road: 1) vehicles or combinations of vehicles with brakes must be able to decelerate at a speed of 14’ per second; and 2) vehicles or combinations of vehicles not having brakes on all wheels must be able to decelerate at a speed on 10.7’ per second. Light hookup required. 2
WISCONSIN Total length: 60’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. A motor vehicle may be towed without being equipped with brakes if the *GVW of the towed vehicles not more than 40% of the *GVW of the towing vehicle and the towing vehicle has brakes adequate enough to stop the combination of vehicles. 2,3
WYOMING Total length: 65’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 3,000lbs or more. 14
Canadian Provinces
ALBERTA Total length: 20m/66’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 910kg/2,000lbs or more . No breakaway device required . Registration of towed vehicle required; proof of ownership required; drawbar required. 2,15
BRITISH COLUMBIA Total length: 20m/66’. Independent braking system required when *GW is 1,400kg/3,086lbs or more. When the in-tow vehicle weight more than 1,909kg/4,200lbs., the unit must have a functional safety breakaway brake on the attachment. 2
  Total length: 21.5m/70.5’ Independent braking system required when *GW is 910kg/2,006lbs. Towed vehicle must have a driver or be equipped with an adequate towing device (tow dolly, drawbar, and lift arm) which compels it to remain in the course of the towing vehicle. Distance shall not exceed 5m/16’. Towed vehicle must have functional brakes when not connected to tow bar. 2
NEW BRUNSWICK Total length: 23m/75’. Independent braking system required when *GW exceeds 1.5 tons. 2
NEWFOUNDLAND Total length: 23m/75’ (B) Independent braking system not required . The service brakes on a combination of vehicles must be capable of bringing the motor vehicle and a fully loaded combination of vehicles to a standstill at 30km/h (19mph) under the following conditions: 1) in straight line; 2) within 10m/33’ from the point at which the brakes were applied; and 3) on a dry and level paved surface made of eight asphalt or concrete that is free from loose materials. Special permit required if towed vehicle not registered. 2, (B)
NWT – NUNAVIT Total length: 25m/80’ Independent braking system required when *GW exceeds 1,360kg/2,998lbs. 2
NOVA SCOTIA Total length: 23m/75’. Independent braking system required when *GW exceeds 1,800kg/4,000lbs. All lights must function on rear towed vehicles. Tow dollies require trailer plates unless towed by vehicle plated in jurisdiction exempting dollies from registration.
ONTARIO Total length: 23m/75’. Independent braking system required when *GW exceeds 1,360kg/2,998lbs.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND Total length: 25m/82’. Independent braking system required when *GW exceeds 1,500kg/3,300lbs. The brakes must be designed and connected so that the brakes are automatically applied if 1 of the vehicles being towed breaks away. Registration of towed vehicle not required. Safety chains required. Tow bar required (max. length 3.66m (12’). Light hookup required. Towing behind pickup camper/motor home is permitted.
QUEBEC Total length: 23m/75’. Independent braking system required when *GW exceeds 1,300kg/2,866lbs. The towing vehicle must carry the necessary equipment for operating the braking system of any trailer being towed. Drawbar or other connections required towing not recommended. 16
SASKATCHEWAN Total length: 23m/75’. Independent braking system required when *GW exceeds 1,360kg./2,998lbs.The brake system must automatically activate the brakes in the case of a breakaway from the towing vehicle without affecting the brakes of the towing vehicle. 2
YUKON TERRITORY Total length: 22m/72’. Independent braking system required if *GW exceed 910kg/2,000lbs or ½ licensed weight of towing vehicle. Tow bar and safety chains required. Length must not exceed Highway Regulation Limits. Brake lights and turn signals required.

 

* Terms
DPS = Department of Public Safety
GW = Gross Weight
GVW = Gross Vehicle Weight
GVWR = Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

** Basic Requirements: Lights, safety cables or chains, and a valid license plate: Lights, safety cables or chains, and a valid license plate are required in most States and Provinces

TOWING NOTES KEY

  • Tow dollies/lift arms permitted with license plate.
  • Tow dollies/lift arms permitted.
  • Reciprocity granted.
  • Tow dollies/lift arms permitted, but must comply with trailer requirements.
  • Reciprocity granted for registration purposes only.
  • Tow dollies/lift arms permitted. Lift arms must have rigid connection.
  • Tow dollies/lift arms permitted; drawbar or other connection required.
  • Reciprocity granted with Minnesota and Canada.
  • Reciprocity granted on trip permits to border states.
  • Tow dollies/lift arms permitted provided the combination meets the safety requirements established under Section 4905 of the vehicle code.
  • Reciprocity granted except for size limits.
  • Tow dollies/lift arms permitted, but registration required.
  • Reciprocity granted, except as to tow bar, chain, and cable regulations.
  • Tow dollies/lift arms permitted. Lights required.
  • Reciprocity granted, if motor vehicle insurance is required by the home state.
  • Tow dollies/lift arms permitted if meeting regulations and is registered.

 

**SPECIAL NOTES

  • Total 55’ if trailer exceeds 45’.
  • Check with state/province for exceptions and restrictions.
  • If trailer was manufactured after 7/01/75, independent braking system is required when gross weight is 1,500 lbs or more.
  • Special provisions apply.
  • Special provisions apply to fifty-wheelers.

 

**RV RESTRICTIONS BY STATE

ALABAMA : House trailers more than 40’ long or 8’ wide excluded without state permit.

CALIFORNIA : Max. of one boat or general utility trailer may be towed behind passenger of pleasure vehicles.

COLORADO : No trailers permitted on Broadmoor-Cheyenne Mountain Hwy or Pikes Peak Auto Hwy.

CONNECTICUIT: Recreational vehicles whose limits exceeds 7.5’ wide, 8’ high, 24’ long & 7,500lbs are prohibited on Merritt and Wilbur Pkwys.

ILLINOIS : No trailers on bridge between Fulton, IL & Clinton, IA.

IOWA : Travel trailers, house trailers and mobile homes over 3,000lbs. are required to have brakes, equalizing hitches and sway control.

MARYLAND : No vehicles with bottled gas permitted in Baltimore Harbor Tunnel & Fort McHenry Tunnel.

MINNESOTA : Breakaway brakes are required for trailer weighing 6,000lbs gross & over.

MISSISSIPPI : Trailers longer than 32’ prohibited on Natchez Trace.

MONTANA : See Glacier National Park for RV restrictions on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

NEVADA : More than one boat or general utility trailer may be towed behind passenger or pleasure vehicles; check with state restrictions.

NEW YORK : Use on most parkways prohibited; check with state restrictions.

NORTH CAROLINA : Independent braking system required on house trailers weight more than 1,000lbs. & manufactured after 12/31/74.

UTAH : Breakaway braking system required if over 3,000lbs.

VIRGINIA : No camping vehicles carrying more than 2 non-permanently mounted 45lbs. bottled gas tanks with valves closed: Hampton

Roads Bridge Tunnel, Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel & Norfolk-Portsmouth Tunnel.

WISCONSIN : Riding in fifth-wheel trailers permitted under certain conditions.

 

** information found @ www.aaa.com/aaa/Traveler/trailer.html


Information used in this document came from: AAA 2005 DIGEST OF MOTOR LAWS , 71st Edition, Copyright AAA, 2005 . While reasonable efforts were made to verify the information, Roadmaster, Inc., its employees and agents, do no warrant the accuracy of the information and disclaim all liability or any claims and damages of any nature that may arise from errors or omissions. If you have any questions regarding State/Province or local laws, please consult with the appropriate government agency.

 

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