The Riverside County Board of Supervisors today went on record in support of state legislation that would make it legal for a farmer to operate a heavy-duty truck without having to obtain a commercial driver's license.
In a 5-0 vote, the board backed Assemblyman Luis Alejo's AB 1516, which would allow farmers and their employees to operate flatbed tow trucks weighing 14,000 pounds and dual-axle trucks weighing up to 28,500 pounds within 150 miles of their agricultural operation.
Current law mandates that farm workers must have class A or class B
commercial driving certification before they can take to public roadways in
vehicles that size.
"Some farmers note that pickups have gotten heavier in recent years,''
according to a legislative analysis of the bill. "As a result, a farmer may
replace an older pickup, which weighs less than 11,500 pounds and, therefore,
is not subject to specialized driver license requirements, with a new,
comparable pickup that, due manufacturer decisions, weighs more than 11,500
pounds and, therefore, subjects the farmer to specialized driver license
Alejo's bill would loosen up licensing requirements.
"The specific exemption only applies to those vehicles used in
agricultural operations,'' Steve Pastor with the Riverside County Farm Bureau
told the Board of Supervisors. "This would help with the safe transportation
of healthy crops to market.''
Supervisor John Benoit introduced the county resolution supporting the bill, which he called ``a rational good policy for our agriculturalcommunity.''
He pointed out that the county is home to 1,700 farming operations
responsible for $1 billion in annual production.
According to the supervisor, AB 1516 has stalled in the general
Assembly, but he expected the measure to be re-introduced during the next