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Author Topic: Min accident/commercial?  (Read 4251 times)
robertglines1
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« on: November 11, 2010, 05:58:11 AM »

A while back one of our members had a fender bender in Min. Was written up for several violations .and was charged as a commercial vehicle !  What was the outcome? The Question has come up on another board..A singing group has Cd's they sell of their performances. Are they commercial?     Bob
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« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2010, 06:10:21 AM »

My understanding, based on years of listening to discussion about this sort of thing on various boards, is that if they carry themselves or any product they sell, in the bus to any venue where they do anything that results in income (sing and get paid, sell even one CD), then the bus is being used in a commercial venture and is commercial.

In my world - car racing - we are very careful to remain amateur.  Most events we attend do not even give out trophies - a trophy has value and can be deemed "income".  People don't put the name of their business on their trailer unless they are already on a commercial basis - having the name of the group or enterprise on the side can be deemed advertising a commercial venture.

Brian
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Sean
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« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2010, 06:41:22 AM »

...A singing group has Cd's they sell of their performances. Are they commercial?     Bob


If the coach is used to transport the group to or from a paid gig, then the bus is commercial under federal law and in most states and requires commercial plates, apportioned road and fuel tax (if applicable), a CDL class-B driver with air brake and passenger endorsements, and in most states commercial liability insurance.  It is also subject to inspection, must stop at all inspection and weight stations, and must have a proper hours-of-service log and the driver(s) must conform to hours-of-service limitations.

BTW, in many states and under federal law this is also true if the coach is used to carry, for example, sales samples, tools, or any other items that are used in business or trade (as opposed to items strictly for personal use).  Even signs or the name of a business or professional music group on the coach can cause it to be adjudicated as commercial.

Note that cash money does not have to change hands for a coach to be determined to be commercial and fall under all the requirements for commercial vehicles and drivers.  For example, a coach owned and operated by a church to transport church members on outings, even with no money involved, is a commercial vehicle de facto.  There have been several high-profile accidents in the last few years where churches who did not realize this were found to be in violation.

Many states have exemptions written into their laws that allow passenger cars and sometimes even light trucks to be used for certain commercial purposes without them becoming commercial vehicles.  However such exemptions almost never extend to heavy vehicles such as coach conversions and even off-the-shelf RVs.  And it is certainly the case that there is no such exemption under federal law, which becomes operative as soon as the vehicle crosses a state line.

FWIW.

-Sean
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belfert
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« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2010, 07:40:05 AM »

My friend wants to put the name of our rocketry group on the side of a trailer pulled by my bus.  I've told him NO in no uncertain terms, but he'll probably do it anyhow.  He doesn't understand the implications if someone tags my bus as commercial because of the name on the trailer.  It would be my problem, not his, if the bus was determined to be commercial by law enforcement.

Our group makes no money, doesn't compete for money or trophies, and is definitely not commercial.  That still doesn't mean that some officer doesn't see the lettering on the trailer and insists we are a commercial venture.

It may come down to me telling my friend that we are simply aren't goig to any event in my bus if it is towing a trailer that is lettered.  He doesn't understand that if stopped and tagged as commercial we might end up parked until I got a DOT number, perhaps an IFTA number too, and found a driver with a CDL.  I don't know if my one friend still has his CDL since he is retired from trucking.
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RickB
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« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2010, 08:30:44 AM »

Hey all,

All my stuff was basically thrown out because it is obvious to anyone that actually steps foot in our bus that it is an RV and not a commercial carrier in it's design.

Brian, you can put as many stickers on your trailer as you want as long as you don't have a rocket supply business and are not competing at these events you go to for money. Advertising a hobby is in no way pelevating you to commercial status.

If you sell Cd's, receive a free will offering, have the potential to win prize money or you sell products, are on your way to sell products or attend trade shows or conventions where you intend to do anything to raise money and you are over your state's weight allowance (usually 10,000 lbs) you are commercial. There is really no grey area or latitude and if they can prove you were trying to mislead or lie to them they will probably get you for tax evasion as well.

RB
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« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2010, 08:44:34 AM »

I think Brian's point (and it's a valid one) is that stickers on his trailer might give the authorities reason to be suspicious about his status, which in itself might cause aggravation and delay, regardless of the actual legal position or ultimate outcome.

Brian's story reminds me of how I once upset a good friend of mine by telling her that it wouldn't be possible to use my bus as transport for 20 or so people on a group outing she was organising for us. Not unnaturally she had 'assumed' that transport wasn't a problem given that one of us owned a bus, so it completely ruined her plans when I had to explain that it wasn't really a bus, and that it was quite a serious offense to drive that many passengers on a car licence

Jeremy
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« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2010, 09:37:19 AM »

I suspect any altercation with law enforcement would probably end up like Rick's case.  In the mean time I could be looking at a case of my vehicle being held 1000 miles from home until I either resolve the issue or I comply with all commercial standards including a CDL licensed driver.  It wouldn't be real fun getting nine guys plus gear home.  We all know how fast courts are at resolving issues.

I once held a class B CDL permit, but I never went forward with the rest of the training as my employer dropped the CDL requirement.  The vehicles were being operated entirely on private property and the vehicles had no registration or license plates.  I don't know if my bus would even qualify as a commercial vehicle if I did want to take the CDL road test.  (I have zero plans to get a CDL.)
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2010, 10:39:32 AM »

This is just my opinion and it may sound funny coming from the guy that just went through a long diffcult ordeal but I don't think it would take much longer than a minute to explain that you are a hoobyist model rocketeer and it wouldn't take more than a quick look at your events website to prove that there is no prize money. I think you would be on your way in under two minutes and that is given the slight chance they would even ask to begin with. Most conversations probably go:

Converted RV huh? Yep.     Proof of insurance? yep          Have a nice day

It's your trailer so if you don't want to do it thats your call but I would be careful about starting to avoid legal activities because you're afraid they may be misinterpreted.

That means the few bad cops out there win by making law abiding citizens start to think and act afraid of their ability to abuse their power. I don't like the sound of that for some reason.

I told the DMV guy I would beat him in court and I did... I didn't let his ignorance and arrogance wreck my day, my week or my belief that most folks are good and it gave me a good reason to pray for somebody. I mean how miserable do you have to be to get a kick out of trying to make people feel small? It is just a matter of time until he reaps what he sows.

I feel bad that my original post made so many folks mad and so many folks afraid of fully enjoying their buses without thinking about big brother. Funny thing abouy big brother, most of the time he's never really there trying to spy on us or take our freedom but we do the job for him ourselves by becoming preoccupied with the what ifs in life.

Don't use your bus for commercial purposes and you don't have anything to hide is the way I look at it.

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« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2010, 10:50:36 AM »

Well said Rick........
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« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2010, 04:12:57 AM »

Glad to hear about the update and final outcome also. When i was younger and living down south we used to give a wide berth to several towns in Mississippi and never ran I-10 west through Louisianna because of getting pulled over.
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JackConrad
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« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2010, 05:53:25 AM »

   JMO, but I think you could letter your trailer as long as it is not used commercially or you are not getting paid to have a company name on it.  What about all the car dealers that put there name on every car they sell?  I see small trailers hauling race bikes (both pedal and motor powered) that are covered with brand stickers. I have never seen one pulled over.
   I know a family band that was stopped in there Eagle in PA. They had the band name and logo on the back of the bus. When questioned, the owner admitted they were a band, but all family members. They officer asked them if they were paid to perform and if they were transporting any saleable merchandise.  The officer let them go but warned them not to come back to PA without a driver that possessed a CDL.
    I have the logo stickers from several kayak related companies on our car windows and I guess that is advertising for them, but they are not paying me and I am not going to worry about getting pulled over.
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« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2010, 06:35:46 AM »

Jack, I think it has to do with the weight. From what I have read here it comes into play at over a 10,000 pound vehicle.
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« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2010, 03:23:57 PM »

How much did it wind up costing you to get it thrown out?..Cable
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« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2010, 04:43:36 PM »

$65
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« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2010, 04:46:35 PM »

I think there are places to take a stand and places not to.  What is the benefit of putting the lettering on the trailer?  As far as I can see, nothing.  What is the risk?  Can be substantial.  In a risk/benefit analysis, risk wins this one hands down.  If you want to fight for justice, there are better places to put your energy.  However, it does sound like the rules can be somewhat arbitrary.  Does driving your car to work make it a commercial vehicle?  Obviously not.  Now, if your car was down so you drove your bus conversion to work that day, does it become a commercial vehicle?  Sounds kind of silly.
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