New law comes into effect for Wyoming heavy vehicles on July 1
By Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President
At the urging of a number of agricultural groups the legislature amended the statutes dealing with driver’s license classifications. Senate File (SF) 29 changed the requirement for people who currently hold a non-commercial Wyoming Class A or B license and replaces it with a “Z” endorsement on a Class C license.
SF 29 also raised the minimum gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) requirement for drivers who were previously covered under the Wyoming Class A and B non-commercial from 26,001 pounds to 39,001 pounds. However, the statutes still prohibits someone under 18 from driving a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating over 26,001 pounds. The higher weight limit will allow for drivers of pickup and horse trailers that were over the 26,001-pound GVWR to now drive those combinations with their Class C license as long as the GVWR is not over 39,000 pounds.
“The new statute brings us closer to alignment with our neighboring states and reduces some of the confusion and burden that our old dual driver’s license classification system had created,” stated Representative Albert Sommers.
“Ag producers will benefit from the efforts of Representative Albert Sommers. He started this bill, and I was glad to be able to ensure that producers on farms are covered,” said Representative David Northrup.
According to Representative Northrup, safety is still important, so drivers need to consider bald tires and other safety issues.
People who currently have a Wyoming Class A or B non-commercial license will be able to continue with their license until it needs to be renewed, and then they will be required to obtain a “Z” endorsement to a Class C license. The law does not change the Class A or B requirements for people who hold a Wyoming Commercial Class A or B license nor, of course, a federal Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
People who need to obtain a “Z” endorsement may do so by taking a Wyoming Department of Transportation (WyDOT) written and a skills test, or they can take the written test and, in lieu of the skills test, they can submit an affidavit of competency signed by a person licensed to operate a vehicle of that weight.
“This is a process similar to the old chauffeur’s license that was used many years ago for truckers,” said Brett Moline, public and governmental affairs director for the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation. “We are hopeful that this process will allow for many of our agricultural members to get qualified drivers during harvest season without the need to complete the same type of a test that is required for an over-the-road type of an operator who must navigate more populated areas of the U.S.”
“We are encouraging those who hold the new ‘Z’ endorsement to determine if this endorsement is valid in a surrounding state, where according to federal law, they could legally operate the vehicle, if that particular state has taken appropriate action,” said Keith Kennedy, executive director of the Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission. “Federal law allows farmers and ranchers to transport their own goods within 150 statute miles of their vehicle registration address, even across state lines, if that adjacent state so allows.”
“Vehicle operators must possess a CDL, with a hazardous material endorsement, if they are transporting a reportable quantity of a hazardous material, such as fuel, or certain pesticides,” Kennedy continued.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation is currently developing a written and skills test necessary to accommodate this change in the statutes, which go into effect on July 1.
This article first appeared in the June 2015 edition of “Wyoming Agriculture,” the official publication of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation. It was reprinted with permission from the organization.