Farm Travel: What You Need to Know to Stay Legal

Farm Travel: What You Need to Know to Stay Legal

Farmers are the backbone of America. You wake up early, labor all day, and go to bed tired. No two days are the same—mending fences, moving cattle, or building barns—and the fresh air and sunshine can’t be beat. But when it’s time to hit the road, do you have a good handle on farm travel rules? The legalities can be confusing, so let’s outline some of the basics you need to know before you set out.

Do you need a Commercial Driver’s License?

As a farmer with an LLC, you’re not required to have a CDL, although it may come in handy (don’t worry, we’ll explain that later). As a farmer, you and your employees are exempt from CDL requirements and Department of Transportation (DOT) medical cards, as long as you stick to these guidelines:

  • You haul your own agriculture products, meaning you never haul for-hire.
  • Travel is within 150 miles of your farm.
  • You have farm plates for appropriate vehicles like trucks, semi-trailers, and tractors.

If you’re pulled over by the police while driving, don’t panic. Make sure you have a valid driver’s license, your seatbelt on, no radar detector, and nothing in the windshield to obstruct your view. You also need your safety equipment with you at all times, like reflective triangles on display and a fire extinguisher. Just like other vehicles, farm equipment must also meet basic maintenance and safety standards such as working lights and brakes.

So what if you are pulled over? First, be respectful. This may sound obvious, but a little courtesy can go a long way. Explain to the officer you are a farmer, not-for-hire driver and state where you are hauling to and from. If asked, let the officer know you’re exempt from CDL requirements and the DOT medical card.

Other Traffic Rules and Tips

Interstate highways have more regulations than other roads. For example, Indiana has a 10% weight exception on all roads except interstate highways.

  • You don’t need a DOT number if you only haul in Indiana. However, if you cross state lines, you must acquire and properly display the DOT number.
  • Farm fuel or dyed diesel can only be used in off-road, production-use-only machinery.
  • An LLC can register farm plates.

While special documentation for farm vehicles isn’t required, it can be helpful under certain circumstances. In the event of an accident, CDLs, medical cards, and DOT numbers can help demonstrate you are taking proper precautions with your hiring and/or maintenance. Also, obtaining DOT medical cards and staying up-to-date with annual inspection forms can help protect you in the event of a lawsuit.

Don’t let Indiana farm travel regulations keep you from getting the job done. At BB&C, we understand agribusiness and your legal needs—from travel to estate planning to contracts to tax guidance and beyond.

If you need expert counsel from lawyers who “get” farmers, reach out to Cecelia Neihouser Harper at 765-637-9175.

The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.

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