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Semi-trucks are an integral part of commerce in the United States. However, enthusiasts, eccentrics, or retired long-haul truckers might want to keep a tractor unit as a personal vehicle. So, can you keep a semi truck’s tractor unit as a personal vehicle? 

You can drive a semi truck as your personal transportation, but you might not want to

Depending on the state you live in, you can own and operate a semi truck, or semi-truck, tractor unit for personal reasons. Moreover, the cutoff for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is 26,000 lbs (about 11,793 kg). A tractor unit under that weight doesn’t require a CDL. That, and the truck has to be driven in a non-commercial context. As such, depending on state laws, you can drive a tractor unit as a personal vehicle. 

That might sound like good news for semi-truck fans or retired truckers who still want part of the lifestyle. However, it’s a pretty poor decision as far as a daily driver or personal vehicle goes. For instance, including the wind fairing, a semi-truck tractor unit could be nearly 14 feet tall. Considering many low bridges in the United States are between 13 and 14 feet, a tractor unit could spell disaster with low overhead clearances. 

A bright-green semi truck tractor unit on the highway.
A lime-green tractor unit | vitpho via iStock

Unsurprisingly, a tractor unit with a 600-horsepower engine is thirsty. Real thirsty. If you think your neighbor with the Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack is paying a king’s ransom in fuel costs, you’ll consider them lucky after a trip to the pumps in your tractor unit. You can expect single-digit fuel economy from an unladen big rig.

Of course, it could be a solid counter-theft option. After all, a tractor unit with an Eaton manual transmission could have as many as 18 speeds. The common car-thieving opportunist will likely scratch their head at such a thing. However, the appeal might not be worth the effort. A semi-truck tractor unit is too large, thirsty, and impractical to be a viable daily driver. But hey, to each their own.