Farm Horizons, October 2014

Department of Public Safety announces relaxed laws for farm vehicles

By Tara Mathews

Following changes to a federal transportation bill, Minnesota statutes relating to the operation of covered farm vehicles have changed, according to Minnesota State Patrol Commercial Vehicle Inspector Steve Krueger.

Covered farm vehicles, as defined by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS), are a single-unit or articulated commercial motor vehicle that:

• displays a farm license plate or other designation;

• is operated by a farmer, family member of the farmer, or employee of the farmer;

• transports agricultural commodities, livestock, machinery, or supplies to or from a farm;

• is not used in “for-hire” operations;

• does not transport hazardous materials in a quantity requiring the vehicle display placards;

• has a gross vehicle weight of 26,000 pounds or less, and is operated within the US; and

• has a gross vehicle weight greater than 26,000 pounds, and is operated wholly within its state of registry, or, when crossing lines, is within 150 miles of the farm.

Regulation changes

Covered farm vehicles and their drivers are exempt from requirements for a commercial driver’s license (CDL), medical qualifications (medical cards), hours of service, daily log books, annual inspections, and daily vehicle inspections.

Covered farm vehicles are only subject to inspection by law enforcement personnel if probable cause to believe the vehicle is unsafe or participating in illegal activity exists.

“If it looks like stuff is falling off of the vehicle, they will get stopped and will get inspected,” Krueger said.

Vehicles used for farm-related activity that do not have a farm license plate may print and complete a Commercial Farm Vehicle Self-designation Form, which can be found on the DPS website, under the “commercial vehicles” tab.

“The self-designation form must be filled out in advance,” Krueger noted. “Farm vehicles can still be stopped for inspection, but if the proper paperwork is filled out, it will make the stop a lot quicker and easier.”

Covered farm vehicles are still subject to being stopped, but will be allowed to proceed if there is no probable cause to conduct a complete vehicle search, and if the operator can supply the correct paperwork, according to Krueger.

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