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Towing an EMPTY tow dolly behind a Fifth Wheel east coast.

mobilevagrant
Explorer
Explorer
I have tried to "google" this and can't find any real info.

I will be pulling a 5th wheel from Florida up the east coast soon but I would like to be able to pull my tow dolly behind the 5th wheel. I realize that most east coast states don't allow double/triple towing(however you label it) but a car dolly is usually considered part of a towed vehicle and not separate.

However I can not find out any real information on how a car dolly is defined when it is by itself with no vehicle on it.

I did see a situation near jacksonville fl where someone was towing 2 dolly(s) linked front to back with no vehicles and was curious as to the legality of this.

Anyway, the 5th wheel is only 21' and total length would be between 55-60 feet, and most states seem to have a limit of 65 feet.

Since I probably couldn't see the dolly behind the camper I would probably put a camera on the back of the trailer.

Does anyone here have any idea if this is allowed or not, or where I can check?(other than each state DMV which would be my next step - but probably won't get a good answer there either. Maybe state police?)
55 REPLIES 55

bukhrn
Explorer III
Explorer III
I can't tell you if it's legal or not for double/triple towing, but having towed one empty for only a few miles behind my pickup, I surely wouldn't want to do on an Interstate or other main highway, if you've ever seen one being towed empty, you probably wouldn't want to either, it bounced and swayed terribly, the tires were Off the ground as much (or more) than they were on it.
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fj12ryder
Explorer III
Explorer III
FWIW, I towed a swivel-wheel trailer behind our fifth wheel through and in Virginia, and never garnered a second look. But that was about 10-12 years ago. As was said, sometimes you just roll the dice and take your chances. What's life without a little gamble, now and then. 🙂
Howard and Peggy

"Don't Panic"

Tyler0215
Explorer
Explorer
It's not illegal till you get caught. Then the dolly will be loaded on a tow truck, and held until you pay tow a storage charges.
Also a low empty dolly behind a large trailer will be practically invisible to brain dead drivers following you. An accident waiting to happen.

Lantley
Nomad
Nomad
I also believe it is illegal in most of the east coast however the chances of actually being stopped are remote.
However if you are stopped are you prepared to leave the dolly at a moments notice? Where would you leave it? How much of a hassle will it create if you are cited? Is the risk worth the reward?
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Onyrlef
Explorer
Explorer
It's highly unlikely there's a State Trooper on the planet who gives a rip how much an RV weighs, whether or not the TV is off while the RV's engine is running, or what the towing configuration happens to be. If empty, my guess would be the chance of being cited would be even more remote. Be aware too, that if you tow the dolly empty, it will tow much better if you lower the tire psi and if it has a steerable axle it should be locked out. My Demco SS directs the tire pressure be about 12 psi when towing empty. It will track better and won't bounce down the road behind you like a basketball.

bucky
Explorer II
Explorer II
I wouldn't try it. The old saying of when seconds count help is only minutes away is reversed in the OP's situation.
They're usually right there when we're doing something wrong. The VA State Troopers are all over I95 and I85.

Can the tow dolly be dismantled and put in the bed of the truck?
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StonedPanther
Explorer III
Explorer III
Despite triple towing being illegal in most if not all of the states on your route, If you keep asking the question enough on these boards eventually you'll get an answer that's acceptable, so why not just roll the dice and do it? None of the folks giving you the advice will be standing on the shoulder of the road while your being jacked up.

4x4ord
Explorer III
Explorer III
You could just tow it. Probably not legal ….. you probably won’t get stopped. If you do get pulled over you might be fined and or have to unhook the dolly.
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mobilevagrant
Explorer
Explorer
KD4UPL wrote:
I would say it's a trailer and therefore not legal up the east coast. I'm in VA and have looked into double towing a lot. The DMV doesn't really know, you need to talk to Commercial Motor Vehicle Officers. I have specifically asked several in VA and they all said absolytely not in VA.


I think the main issue is that it's likely a state trooper or cmv officer would actually do a traffic stop where a county/city/town officer/deputy would not. Most of the regs I have seen about tow dollies seems to be about when actually towing a car and not when unloaded.

Code of Virginia 46.2-1116. "Vehicles having more than one trailer, etc., attached thereto; exceptions.

Except as provided in this section and § 46.2-1117, no motor vehicle shall be driven on a highway while drawing or having attached thereto more than one motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer unless such vehicle is being operated under a special permit from the Commissioner of Highways. "

Code of Virginia 46.2-1119. "Tow dolly and converter gear.

No axle-like device, commonly called a "tow dolly," used to support the front or rear wheels of a passenger vehicle or pick-up or panel truck for towing purposes, and no axle-like device, commonly called "converter gear," on which is mounted a fifth wheel used to convert a semitrailer to a full trailer, shall be considered vehicles. Either such device, when used on the public highways, shall be equipped with a safety chain or chains of a strength to restrain the device and vehicle being towed, should the connection fail. In addition, either device, when moved on the public highway, shall be equipped with rear marker lights or reflectors when towed without a load. When a tow dolly or converter gear is used to tow a vehicle, the towed vehicle must comply with all requirements of law pertaining to towed vehicles."

Clear as mud isn't it? Looks like a "tow dolly" is not actually considered a trailer but IANAL.....

Several sites say that there is no state on the east coast that allows multiple trailers, but have seen others that say that Maryland, NC and SC allow it if under 65 foot long.

KD4UPL
Explorer
Explorer
I would say it's a trailer and therefore not legal up the east coast. I'm in VA and have looked into double towing a lot. The DMV doesn't really know, you need to talk to Commercial Motor Vehicle Officers. I have specifically asked several in VA and they all said absolytely not in VA.

fj12ryder
Explorer III
Explorer III
State police, or the state DMV. AFAIK, a tow dolly is a trailer, especially since it is attached to the tow vehicle by a simple hitch ball. Some states consider anything not attached at the factory as a trailer. Check with the DMV, but don't rely on that because IME, the DMV is woefully misinformed at times. But ya gotta start somewhere. 🙂
Howard and Peggy

"Don't Panic"