• Kenneth Powell

Do Farmers Need a CDL in Missouri?

To operate certain commercial vehicles (CMV) — including heavy trucks, trailers, and some machinery — people always need a commercial driver’s license (CDL). However, in some states, farmers are exempt from many of these rules, regardless of the type of vehicle they are driving.

Missouri is one such state, and it offers farmers a wide range of vehicle exemptions they can take advantage of.

What Is a CDL?

What Is a CDL?

In Missouri, a commercial driver’s license is a permit necessary for driving all vehicles whose gross vehicle weight rating exceeds 10,001 pounds (intrastate driving) or 26,001 pounds (interstate driving). Such vehicles include most heavy trucks, trailers, as well as those used to transport hazardous materials. (Read more about how to get a truck license in Missouri.)

Since drivers take these vehicles all over their states and even across state lines, they require unique licenses (CDLs). But, not all heavy vehicle operators need to obtain a CDL to drive legally. In fact, there are many exemptions available to farmers when it comes to CMVs.

CDL Exemption Requirements for Farmers

To be eligible for CDL exemptions, vehicles have to meet specific requirements. For one, they have to be trucks or other types of articulated/combination vehicles. In addition, the vehicle has to have a farm registration and an F tab affixed to the license plate.

Moreover, the vehicle has to be operated by its owner, the owner’s family members, or someone that the owner employs. In other words, drivers must operate the vehicle for personal uses only and not for transporting commercial goods or passengers.

Finally, there are certain rules for what the vehicles transport as well. Namely, farmers should use them to carry livestock, machinery, and other agricultural commodities to and from their farms. They cannot use the vehicle to transport any amount of hazardous materials.

The 150 Air-Mile Rule

Since farm vehicles aren't used for commercial purposes, their owners seldom need to take them too far from the property, which is a fact legislators took into account when coming up with CDL regulations.

Thus, farmers can only drive their vehicle without a CDL if they don’t take it more than 150 air miles from their farm. This distance is usually enough to allow farmers to purchase and transport all the goods they need for their work.

If a farmer wishes to travel further than 150 miles from their grounds, they have to obtain a CDL and comply with all other CMV rules. That applies even if they just need to take a single trip and would not need the license later on.

Farm Vehicle State Lines Regulations

Depending on the weight of their farm vehicles, farmers must abide by certain driving regulations. For example, they can drive any CMV on roads within Missouri lines, regardless of its weight, size, and whether it is a single or combined vehicle. Most importantly, they do not require a CDL to operate it, as long as they stay within a 150-mile radius of their farm.

However, the rules are different if they want to cross state lines. In that case, they can only go into another state without a CDL if the vehicle is not heavier than 26,001 pounds.

If the vehicle exceeds that weight, farmers can only go into other states without a CDL if the distance they cover is no more than 150 miles. Otherwise, they must obtain a CDL and have it on them each time they go outside of Missouri.

Other CDL Exemptions for Farmers

Considering that farmers do not need a CDL to drive their CMVs, they are also exempt from other licensing rules. For example, as long as they are within 150 miles of their farms, operators are not subject to drug and alcohol testing requirements.

Furthermore, drivers do not have to get a medical evaluation that all other CDL applicants have to complete. In fact, the only driving qualifications farmers must abide by is to never text while operating their vehicle.

Finally, farmers also don’t have to provide proof that their vehicle meets the rules provided in the legal section about Vehicle Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance. Still, it is important to remember that performing regular inspections and repairs is imperative for road safety. Thus, although farmers do not have to schedule inspections, they should always ensure their vehicle is safe. That way, they will protect themselves and other traffic participants.

For other questions about farmers and CDLs, consult a St Louis semi-truck accident lawyer.

As for those who are trying to obtain a CDL for operating a different vehicle, find out what disqualifies you from getting a CDL in Missouri.