OLR Research Report

September 27, 2005




By: Janet L. Kaminski, Associate Legislative Attorney

You asked why the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires a pick-up truck to be registered as a combination passenger and commercial vehicle, even when the owner does not use the truck for commercial purposes. You also asked why pick-up trucks with combination registrations can travel on Connecticut parkways but not New York's.


Connecticut law sets out which vehicles are eligible for what type of registration from DMV. Registration classification is determined mainly by vehicle body style. A combination passenger and commercial registration is issued to a truck-style vehicle that has the potential for commercial use.

The owner of a pick-up truck may register the truck as a passenger motor vehicle if it (1) is not used for commercial purposes and (2) has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 8,500 pounds or less. The owner must obtain a combination registration for a pick-up truck that (1) has a GVWR between 8,500 and 10,000 pounds or (2) is used for both passenger and commercial purposes.

In New York, vehicle owners obtain either a passenger or a commercial registration, depending on the vehicle characteristics. There is no combination registration option in New York.

Connecticut law does not prohibit vehicles with a combination registration from operating on state parkways. In New York, the agency that controls a parkway determines which vehicles can be operated on it. New York parkway authorities do not permit vehicles with a commercial registration to use the parkways. Therefore, unless a vehicle has a passenger registration on it, it may not be driven on the New York parkways.

New York permits certain light-duty pick-up trucks to obtain a passenger registration, so that they may be driven on the parkways. To qualify, a light-duty pick-up truck must (1) be used only for non-commercial purposes, (2) have an unladen weight of 5,500 pounds or less, and (3) not have any business advertisements on it.


Statutory Definitions

Under Connecticut law, “passenger registration” means the type of registration (including license plate) issued to a passenger motor vehicle unless a more specific type of registration is authorized and issued for the class of vehicle (CGS 14-1(65)). A “passenger motor vehicle” is a vehicle used for the private transportation of persons and their personal belongings, designed to carry occupants in comfort and safety, with a capacity of carrying no more than 10 passengers, including the driver (CGS 14-1(64)).

A “combination registration,” a more specific type of registration than a passenger registration, is issued to a vehicle used for both private passenger and commercial purposes if the vehicle's GVWR does not exceed 10,000 pounds (CGS 14-1(10)). Effective October 1, 2005, the weight rating limitation increases to 12,500 pounds (PA 05-218, 15).

A “pick-up truck” is a motor vehicle with an enclosed forward passenger compartment and an open rearward compartment used for the transportation of property and having a GVWR of less than 10,000 pounds (CGS 14-1(67)).

Pick-Up Truck Used Only for Passengers

Effective June 3, 2004, the DMV commissioner may issue a passenger registration to any pick-up truck that (1) is not used for commercial purposes and (2) has a GVWR of 8,500 pounds or less (CGS 14-49(e)(5);

PA 04-199, 8). Thus, if a pick-up truck has a GVWR between 8,500 and 10,000 pounds, it cannot receive a passenger registration, even if it is not used for commercial purposes.


New York parkway authorities only allow motor vehicles with passenger registrations to travel on state parkways. Under New York law, vehicles are issued either a passenger or commercial registration. There is no combination registration. Therefore, a vehicle registered in Connecticut can only travel New York parkways if it has a passenger registration.

Connecticut legislators recognized that this could be an issue, particularly for owners of small pick-up trucks not used for commercial purposes. As a result, they passed PA 04-199, which permits certain pick-up trucks to be registered as passenger vehicles, as discussed above.

New York's DMV similarly allows certain pick-ups to be registered as passenger vehicles and, therefore, driven on roads restricted to non-commercial traffic. Pick-up trucks with an unladen weight of 5,500 pounds or less that are not used for commercial purposes and do not display business advertisements qualify for a passenger registration in New York. The unladen weight is stamped on a metal plate on the vehicle door and also appears on the title certificate, according to the New York DMV.