GFB News Magazine
Ag Road Regs: MAP-21 provides CDL farm exemptions
by Jennifer Whittaker
GFB Publications Editor
Posted on November 21, 2023 8:28 PM
There are exemptions for farmers to some federal and state road regulations that many aren’t aware of, says Captain Kristopher Bowen, now retired from the Georgia Department of Public Safety (DPS).
In compliance with the federal Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) signed into law in 2012, farmers can drive farm vehicles without a commercial driver’s license (CDL) under several scenarios. Bowen discussed the topic at the 2023 Georgia Farm Bureau Commodity Conference in August.
Before MAP-21 became federal law, farmers and their helpers were only exempt from having a CDL while operating a farm vehicle over 26,000 lbs. within 150 air miles of the farm. Now, farmers may drive covered farm vehicles (CFV) between 26,001-80,000 lbs. anywhere in Georgia and across state lines into a neighboring state if the vehicle is within 150 air miles of the farm.
What’s a covered farm vehicle under MAP-21?
1. Is operated by a farm owner, a farm employee, or family member of the farmer;
2. Is transporting agricultural commodities, livestock, machinery or supplies to and from a farm or ranch;
3. Is NOT operated for-hire (hauling for others for compensation);
4. Is NOT transporting hazardous materials in quantities requiring the display of hazardous material warning placards.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an air mile is equivalent to 6,076 feet making 100 air miles equivalent to 115.08 statute miles. Bowen says one can use Google Maps or other computer programs to determine how far 150 air miles is from his or her farm.
Bowen said someone driving a farm vehicle within 150 air miles of the farm or ag operation to which it belongs doesn’t have to: 1) meet the minimum age requirement of 21 years a CDL requires (but must be at least 16); 2) doesn’t have to be proficient in English; and 3) doesn’t have to have a medical certificate stating that they are physically qualified to drive.
If the driver is operating a combination farm vehicle (cab with an attached hopper or trailer), Bowen said the driver must be at least 18 years old and hold a valid medical certificate stating they are physically able to drive the farm vehicle. If an 18-year-old is driving a registered covered farm vehicle they aren’t required to have the medical certificate.
Drivers of non-CDL class farm vehicles can be 16 years of age as long as they hold a valid operator’s license. Georgia law requires that drivers must be at least 18 years old to hold an intrastate CDL, Class E, or Class F license
How to obtain covered farm vehicle status
Bowen says there are two ways to obtain a covered farm vehicle status for qualifying vehicles: 1) When you buy the tag for your farm vehicle, purchase a Georgia specialized farm tag; or 2) Visit the Georgia Department of Public Safety’s Motor Carrier Compliance Division website and complete the Covered Farm Vehicle Designation Form (DPS TR0025) for your farm vehicle.
This form must be completed online at http://gamccd.net/FarmVehicle/FarmVehicle.aspx. You must have the vehicle identification number (VIN) to complete the DPS TR0025 form. There is no cost to complete the form. The completed form must be printed and kept in the cab of the covered farm vehicle at all times to be available to show law enforcement if requested.
Scan this QR code to complete the Covered Farm Vehicle form (DPS TR0025) online.
Class E & F requirements
Although someone driving a certified covered farm vehicle is exempt from needing a CDL, Bowen said the driver must still have either a Class E or Class F Noncommercial License to prove they are capable of safely driving the equipment.
A Class E license is required for a combination vehicle with a combined Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, provided the GVWR of the towed unit is more than 10,000 lbs.
A Class F license is required for a single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or more. The vehicle may tow a trailer with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less.
Per the Georgia Department of Driver Services, to obtain a Class E or Class F license one must pass a written exam that consists of two parts: road rules and road signs.
Hours of service
Bowen said any transportation of agricultural commodities including for-hire transportation is exempt from hours-of-service regulations, if the commodities are being transported within 150 air miles from the source of the materials. Any carriers that meet the definition of a covered farm vehicle are exempt from hours of service completely, Bowen said.
Farm and agricultural transportation are subject to rules of the road, speed limits and traffic laws, Bowen said. Farm drivers must also maintain a safe vehicle, with properly operating lights, brakes, tires and load security. For more information about MAP-21 exemptions and requirements visit https://gfb.ag/map21.