Legalese — Farm Vehicles on the Roads

When you think of the term “farm vehicle,” what do you think of?  Tractors, maybe, or combines.  But not your garden variety ATV or four-wheeler.  Yet the Georgia Code has a different idea about what’s what.

Let’s go to the definitions.  O.C.G.A. 40-6-305 (Title 40 is the code section dealing with motor vehicles and traffic laws) defines a farmer as “the owner of a commercial agricultural or silvicultural operation of an employee thereof.  Such term shall also include any spouse, child, sibling, parent, grandparent, or grandchild of the owner of such operation.”  In other words, you have to grow stuff for money, not just for personal use, and even if your spouse or kids or parents are investment bankers or something else completely unrelated to farming, they count under this definition as well.

A “farm use vehicle” under the same code section is defined as “an all-terrain vehicle or personal transportation vehicle.”  That seems to cover ATVs and four- or three-wheelers to me.

So long as your are at least 16 years old AND a farmer, you can use a ‘farm use vehicle’ on a public road so long as you comply with the requirements of O.C.G.A 40-8-4 and have a proper emblem to show it; you are actively using it to transport ‘agricultural products, livestock, farm machinery, or farm supplies to or from a farm’ or if you are going from your house to the farm or between farm properties.

When you are using a farm use vehicle you have to obey traffic laws.

Local municipalities have the specific authority in O.C.G.A. 40-6-307 to prohibit ‘farm use vehicles’ on public roads and highways “if it is determined that such operation endangers the safety of the traveling public.”   The City of Atlanta, for example, has passed an ordinance which provides for fine anywhere from $250 to $1,000 and up to six months in jail for multiple violations.

While O.C.G.A. 40-6-305 recognizes the practical necessity of using ATVs and similar vehicles on public roads in order to make farming possible, it still isn’t the safest thing to do.  Most people I see on ATVs on public roads are simply joy riding and not going to their farms or transporting agricultural equipment or supplies.

As with most things, whatever the law says you can do, you should do what you can to be safe.  And that includes keeping off road vehicles off the roads.

Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice.  It is being offered for informational purposes only.

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