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 some of the basic California laws for towing. Your state may have slightly different laws. While every attempt has been made to verify this information, Eyers Hitch Center Inc. cannot guarantee its accuracy, and assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions. Changes may have been made since this data was compiled. Please do your own due diligence and verify the applicable towing laws for yourself.
California Vehicle Code Towing Sections
- 21655b 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 No person shall drive a motor vehicle upon which is mounted a camper containing any passengers unless there is at least one unobstructed exit capable of being opened from both the interior and exterior of such camper.
- 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 Every vehicle or combination of vehicles using compressed air at the wheels for applying the service brakes shall be equipped with an emergency stopping system meeting the requirements of this section and capable of stopping the vehicle or combination of vehicles in the event of failure in the service brake air system.
- 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 The braking system on every motor vehicle used to tow another vehicle shall be so arranged that one control on the towing vehicle shall, when applied, operate all the service brakes on the power unit and combination of vehicles when either or both of the following conditions exist: (1) The towing vehicle is required to be equipped with power brakes. (2) The towed vehicle is required to be equipped with brakes and is equipped with power brakes.
- 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 raised end of any motor vehicle being transported by another motor vehicle using a tow dolly shall be secured to the tow dolly by two separate chains, cables, or equivalent devices adequate to prevent shifting or separation of the towed vehicle and the tow dolly.
- 35401 No vehicles in combination may measure more than 65 feet in length, (60' in designated areas) (Motorhomes, in general, may not be longer than 45')
- 35100 The total outside width of any vehicle or its load shall not exceed 102 inches, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.
- 35109 Lights, mirrors, or devices which are required to be mounted upon a vehicle under this code may extend beyond the permissible width of the vehicle to a distance not exceeding 10 inches on each side of the 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. That's 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.