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"Truck" or "Commercial" license plates?

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In states that has "Commercial" or "Truck" license plates, I've seen a lot of personal use pick-up trucks are also having "Commercial" license plates.
Why DMV not issue passenger plates to them, to differentiate them from commercial use pickups?
I *guess* this can be done by adding a field on license plate application form:

What will be the main usage?
__ Personal Use
__ Commercial Use
__ IDK

Or, issuing PASS or TRUCK depending on the car model first.
For example, tow trucks, dump trucks, box trucks, vans designed mainly for commercial (like Chevy Express) => COMM/TRUCK only. No exceptions.
Pick-ups => Ask the owner at the window
Sedan, SUV => PASS only. Exceptions include taxicabs, delivery cars, ...

Your question seems to be based on an inaccurate assumption of what the categories are for. The definition of the three terms varies from state to state, but I'm going to use Oklahoma's definitions because they are clear and simple.

- Personal vehicles: A vehicle owned by one or more individuals for personal use. Could be a car, could be a truck, could be a van.
- Commercial vehicles: According to Oklahoma, "A commercial truck or truck tractor is a vehicle used primarily for business or commercial purposes." In practice, these will be vehicles owned by a corporation (C-corp or S-corp) or limited liability company (LLC), because otherwise there's really no way to prove whether a car is "primarily" used for business purposes, unless the owner tracks their business mileage for tax reasons, which is a good idea but not everyone does. Someone who does enough commercial work to have a commercial vehicle will generally not own it themselves, but rather have an LLC to own it, because then any vehicle maintenance costs can be written off on taxes as a business expense, and the LLC, rather than the individual owner, would be liable for any damages that the vehicle causes in an accident. (This is great for the business owner because it means they can't lose their house or personal savings if their business truck runs over a person and they get sued—only the business assets can be taken.)
- Trucks: According to Oklahoma, "A truck is defined as a vehicle that has a permanently attached bed. A truck-tractor has no permanently attached bed and utilizes a detachable trailer." So a "truck" is a pickup truck and a "truck-tractor" is a semi. Trucks can be either commercial or not—my mom's pickup truck that she uses to haul trash to the dump has a personal plate, but if you are House Construction Inc. who uses the same model of pickup to haul lumber to work sites, you will have a commercial plate. (I suppose theoretically you could have a personal-use truck-tractor, but that is implausible because they are so expensive there's really no reason to buy or operate one without a profit motive.)

There is no "IDK" whether you're a commercial vehicle or not. Either you own the vehicle personally (the title says "Scott Nazelrod") or you own a commercial entity that owns the vehicle (the title says "Denexa Games LLC"). Chances are the "personal use" vehicles you think you see are actually owned by an LLC/corporation.

You can have a commercial vehicle that is not a truck. Suppose you were a consultant that drove to various businesses to advise them on ways to improve their business. You could form an LLC and have it own a sedan you drove around from site to site. That would be a commercial vehicle.

So why is there a separate designation for trucks? Because they are larger and cause more wear on the roads. In some states, that means they pay more in taxes and registration fees than a sedan of the same classification to make up for it.

Road Hog:
Oklahoma didn't have "Commercial" on its license plates but required commercial trucks to be labeled clearly as "Commercial," which I always thought was unusual.

In Massachusetts, any truck over a certain weight needed a commercial plate, even if for private passenger use. This went away before the turn of the century.

In Pennsylvania, they use the ABC 1234 format for their license plates and Zxx and Yxx are reserved for trucks and they say “truck” on them even if the truck is for personal use.


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