The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

September 24, 2007

Farmers question commercial vehicle laws

MUDDY CREEK MOUNTAIN — Greenbrier County farmers upset over a rash of tickets given out by state Department of Transportation officers questioned a Public Service Commission official Monday night over laws concerning vehicle weight, commercial driver’s licenses and medical cards.

PSC officials said the majority of the federal regulations in question have been in effect since 1963, but could not explain why DOT officers have recently been issuing warning tickets for possible weight and certification infractions.

Gary Truex, a supervisor with the Greenbrier Valley Conservation District, said several farmers with one-ton trucks carrying hay and cattle had recently been pulled over by DOT officers, including himself, and given warning tickets for not having a CDL license and other permits.

Truex was driving a Ford F-450 flatbed with a gross vehicle weight of 15,000 pounds and a goose-neck trailer behind it. The officer cited him for not being medically certified, failure to display a DOT number, no fire extinguisher and not having emergency road triangles.

“When I asked around about this we got some different answers, so I called Charleston to send an official here to speak about the regulations,” Truex said.

Other farmers, some carrying cattle, have been pulled over for not having a CDL license while operating a one-ton truck with a trailer, which many believed to be legal, he said.

Reggie Bunner, a supervisor for the PSC motor carriers division since 1992, said, for example, that if the combination of a one-ton truck and a trailer exceeds 10,001 pounds, under certain circumstances, the driver will need to have a CDL and a medical card, be drug tested, and have federal DOT numbers on the side of the truck.

“It depends if you are doing something for commerce,” Truex said. “If you’re in a one-ton truck with a single rear wheel, you’re OK, but if you hook up a little lawn mower trailer and then use it for commerce, then you are required by law to have a CDL.”

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