American Horse Council Meets With FMCSA About Driver Requirements

Credits: Lillian Shupe

The American Horse Council met with Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Deputy Administrator and leadership team in mid-February in response to a letter sent to Secretary Chao on Jan. 28, 2018. AHC staff went to DOT headquarters to raise the industry’s concerns and solicit clarification on how the existing regulations should be interpreted, and how those interpretations are affecting the horse industry.

The AHC expressed the industry’s interest in an increased level of stakeholder outreach, the lack of uniform interpretations nationwide, the applicability of various exemptions already in place, and the appropriate avenues for future legislative and regulatory efforts. AHC shared specific situations where rodeo, racing, competition and recreational sectors have interacted with law enforcement concerning commercial regulations.

The DOT informed the AHC that a new website specifically tailored to the agricultural industry will be unveiled, with a dedicated contact for agricultural questions, and they will begin to develop a F.A.Q. to more clearly address the questions which they receive.

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The DOT members present did clarify that horse trailer drivers not engaged in business are not subject to Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) regulations, specifically where additional licensing is concerned. Regardless of weight, it was the interpretation of those present that going to an event that may issue prizes does not necessarily constitute commercial activity. As long as participation in the competition itself is not a component of the business with which that driver or the vehicle are regularly engaged, and expenses for said trip are not deducted for tax purposes, a CDL is not required to operate the CMV in question. Those interpretations, as are all CMV regulations, are specific to federal regulations, and state regulations may be less forgiving.

The AHC is excited about the opportunity to develop this relationship with DOT-FMCSA. The equine community should look forward to utilizing these lines of communication in the future to assure industry wide compliance and protection of individuals driving both commercially and recreationally. The AHC encourages the industry to reach out to state law enforcement to determine how best to comply with the state regulations. As additional information on this subject becomes available, the AHC will share that with our members as quickly as possible.

Visit for AHC materials on this subject.

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