Braking Requirements

Every state has its own braking requirements for trailers and may even vary on the type of trailer. If you are traveling from state to state on a regular basis, you need to comply with their laws and regulations.

Some states (North Dakota & Wisconsin) require all trailers to be braked regardless of their size and load, while the rest have variances between 1000 lbs right up to 10,000 lbs.

The maximum weight rating is based on the gross trailer weight (GTW), which is the total weight of the trailer including everything that is in or on the trailer. GTW is the same as GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) when referring to a trailer.

Ideally all trailers should be braked although it may not be overly practical in some circumstances, but it is recommended that trailers over 3000 lbs have brakes fitted.

Where brakes are fitted, they need to function correctly and regular maintenance is required to ensure their reliability. Brakes give the trailer and its load stability when braking and reduces the chance of a serious accident if you need to stop suddenly.

Most states require breakaway brakes to be fitted if brakes are fitted to the trailer. Breakaway brake systems are emergency brakes which will apply the trailer brakes if the trailer separates from the towing vehicle.

For more information on Breakaway brake systems - Click Here.

Before building your trailer, check your state laws regarding brakes and breakaway systems as well as any state you anticipate towing the trailer through.


Maps sourced from AAA Digest


  Max Weight Breakaway      Max Weight Breakaway 
State  without Brakes Brakes   State without Brakes Brakes
Alabama 3000 Y   Alberta 2000 Y
Alaska 5000 Y   British Columbia 3000 Y (see Note D)
Arizona 3000 Y   Manitoba 3000 Y
Arkansas 3000 Y   New Brunswick 3300 NA
California 1500 Y(See Note D)    Newfoundland/Labrador 9900 NA
Colorado 3000 Y   Nova Scotia 4000 Y (See Note E)
Connecticut 3000 Y   Ontario 3000 NA
Delaware 4000 N/A    Prince Edward Is. 3300 NA
Florida 3000 Y   Quebec 2860 Y (See Note E)
Georgia 2500 Y   Saskatchewan 3000 Y
Hawaii 3000 Y(See Note E)         
Idaho 1500 Y        
Illinois 3000 Y(See Note F)    Notes         
Indiana 3000 Y   A Must be able to stop within 40' from 20mph    
Iowa 3000 Y(See Note E)    B If trailer is 7' high x 7' wide      
Kansas See Note A N/A    C Or if trailer weight (GTW) is more than 40% of    
Kentucky 3000 N/A    tow vehicles weight     
Louisiana 3000 Y   D Brake must hold for 15 minutes      
Maine 3000 N/A    E For Trailers over 3000# GTW      
Maryland 3000 Y   F For Trailers over 5000# GTW - includes safety inspection    
Massachusetts 10000 N/A    G For Trailers over 6000# GTW      
Michigan 3000 N/A         
Minnesota 3000 Y(See Note G)         
Mississippi 2000 Y        
Missouri 3000 Y        
Montana 3000 Y(See Note E)         
N. Carolina 1000 N/A         
N. Dakota All  N/A         
Nebraska 3000 Y        
Nevada 1500 Y        
New Hamp. 1500 N/A         
New Jersey 3000 Y        
New Mexico 3000 Y        
New York 3000 N/A         
Ohio 2000 Y        
Oklahoma 3000 Y        
Oregon 3000 N/A         
Pennsylvania 3000 Y        
Rhode Island 4000 Y        
S. Carolina 3000 Y        
S. Dakota 3000 Y(See Note E)         
Tennessee 3,000 Y        
Texas 4,500 Y(See Note E)         
Utah 2000 Y(See Note E)         
Vermont 3,000 (See Note B) Y        
Virginia 3000 Y        
W. Virginia 3,000 (See Note C) Y        
Washington 3000 Y        
Wisconsin All  N/A