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West Virginia DMV Regulations for Tow Trailers

by Mary K. Hogan

Tow trailers, also known as utility trailers, are nonpowered and are useful for hauling many things such as motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, tractors or lumber. Tow trailers vary in weight, size and purpose. Since a tow trailer is considered a vehicle in West Virginia, it must be licensed prior to being taken on the road.

Significance

Regulations regarding tow trailers differ from state to state. As a resident of West Virginia, it is important to know the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) regulations governing tow trailers in order to be compliant with the law, and avoid fines and possible jail time.

Registration Regulations

If you purchase your trailer from an individual rather than a West Virginia dealer, you are able to apply for the title and registration either in person at one of the Division's Regional Offices, or through the mail. West Virginia also allows you to apply for the title and registration through privately owned, division-regulated license services. West Virginia dealers are required to collect fees and taxes, and to pay them to the DMV when they sell you your trailer. This regulation applies whether or not you have paid for your trailer in full at the time of purchase.

Application Attachments

If you purchase a new trailer from a dealer, whether in West Virginia or elsewhere, the dealer provides a document called a manufacturer's certificate or statement of origin. The manufacturer's certificate or statement of origin is required in order to title your new trailer. You must have proof of your trailer's purchase price when applying for title and registration. If you purchased your trailer from a West Virginia dealer, she can certify the purchase price on the bottom of Form DMV-1-TR, Title Application. If your dealer has not completed this certification form, you must supply a copy of the dealer invoice. If the vehicle is purchased from an out-of-state dealer, an invoice reflecting the purchase price must accompany the application.

Fees

According to West Virginia DMV, Class T vehicles are trailers (including boat trailers and semi-trailers) weighing less than 2,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight that are designed to be towed by a Class A vehicle. A Class A vehicle means every vehicle which is self-propelled. Registration fees, including a litter fee, for Class T vehicles are pro-rated on a three-year cycle. As of 2010, a three-year registration is $27, a two-year fee is $18 and a one-year registration fee is $9.

Exemptions

Class T trailers are exempt from the requirement to have a statement of insurance at the time of registration. Class T trailers are exempt from the 5 percent sales tax on a vehicles' value at the time of registration if the trailer is already titled in your name in another state.

Time Frame

When you buy a new trailer, the dealer can issue a temporary plate that is valid for 60 days. If you already have a West Virginia license plate that is valid, for a fee of $5.50, a dealer can transfer your license plates. This temporary tag transfer is also legal for 60 days. If you are a new resident to the state of West Virginia and you already own a trailer, you have 30 days to register your trailer.

Penalties

If you tow a trailer without having it properly titled and registered with the West Virginia DMV, you are guilty of a misdemeanor and can be charged a fine of up to $500 for your first offense. A second offense carries a fine up to $500 and up to six months' incarceration in a county or regional jail.

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