What designates a vehicle as commercial?

When you hear the term “commercial vehicle,” what comes to mind? Many people would say a large truck or a large vehicle. However, that is not fully encompassing all commercial vehicles under Louisiana law. The commercial vehicle designation has nothing to do with the size or weight of a vehicle. It is linked entirely to use.

According to the Office of Motor Vehicles, any vehicle used for business is designated as a commercial vehicle. This could be anything from a passenger car to a large cargo hauler. Vehicles that haul people as a business are also commercial vehicles. This includes buses and taxis. As long as the vehicle is being used for business purposes and is traveling on public roadways, it must be registered as a commercial vehicle. Registration as a commercial vehicle requires a special commercial plate.  

There is one exception to the rule of business use classifying a vehicle as a commercial vehicle. That exception is any vehicle used by a religious organization. This could be church vans used for church business or buses used to transport church members. It also includes church-affiliated school vehicles. A Catholic school bus, for example, is exempt.

It is easy to confuse larger vehicles as being commercial while smaller vehicles are not, but as you can see, that is not really how it works. Any vehicle can be designated as commercial depending on why it is being used. This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be taken as legal advice.