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Author Topic: Min accident/commercial?  (Read 4275 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.

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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.

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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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« 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

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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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« 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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« 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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« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2010, 06:55:53 PM »


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.

Don't use your bus for commercial purposes and you don't have anything to hide is the way I look at it.
Before i bought my bus, i had an RV with company name, phone, pic of sat dish on the side and back.  We did RV shows, pulled a plain black trailer with merchandise for about 3 years.  Luckily, no questions, no problems, no tickets, no accidents.  I'm not disagreeing with anyone on this post.  i was ignorant and doing almost the same as most RV show vendors.

i agree with Rick - too many times we give up our rights too easily for the wrong reasons. go ahead and letter the trailer.  But Don't do what i did.  you may not be as lucky.
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« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2010, 09:30:27 PM »

I been watching this thread turn into a debate about trailer lettering and trying to stay out of it.
But......ya'll know me and I have a hard time staying out of anything especially trouble!

This summer we had a wheel bearing failure on the drive axle of one of the buses. It was toast! Ruined the end of the axle tube and lots of other parts too.
Well some one recommended I try a company called Axle Drs. http://axledoctors.com/ and I did.
The guy that came up and cut off the end of our axle and welded on a "new end" had a 4X4 Chevy P/U and a small single axle enclosed trailer.
Well when he was done we were talking and I was commenting on how I liked his compact trailer set up. He said "yeah it's nice and the size really helps keep me out of the watchful eyes of DOT too". I asked "oh really you mean they'd bother you?"
He told me yes and then told me that when he first got it he had it all lettered up with Axle Dr and the ph # on it. He was on the way to a job and went past some bored DOT boys and they chased him down and checked him over pretty good. He ended up getting a ticket because his DOT medical card (proof of recent physical) was expired. (he was an ex-trucker when he bought his franchise)
Anyway as they were wrapping up one of the DOT officers told him "ya know if it were me I'd strip that lettering off that trailer, without it we'd never known you were for hire!"
He asked "you mean that is the only reason you chased me down and pulled me over?"
They told him "Sure is, with out lettering fer all we knew you were hauling a dirt bike or something in there. But with yer company name on it, it's obvious that is a commercial trailer!"

Well I know Brian and his crew ain't commercial and don't even get a prize or anything. But just knowing the lettering would draw possible unwanted attention. Why tempt them?

If it were me I'd leave it plain jane or maybe paint it to match the bus (but wait till the bus is all one color, kind of difficult to match that color scheme right now! Wink )
Just my honest opinion. Which if you add $3 too it'll buy a cup of coffee!
Grin  BK  Grin
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« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2010, 10:25:13 PM »

Well, it seems to me that every RV entering Las Vegas should be considered a commercial vehicle.  After all, they could make money.  Just a warning, if while traveling in your bus you come across a hundred dollar bill on the ground, don't pick it up.  If you do, your bus becomes a commercial vehicle.  It's a dangerous world out there.
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« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2010, 07:12:33 AM »

Alright I have had a 180 degree turn around on all of this "commercial vs non-commercial" discussion. The basis of this is whether or not if we're doing something illegal we are gonna get caught or if we're not doing anything illegal how can we keep from being inconvenienced right??

My wife and I stumbled onto a new version of "Ice road truckers" where they are driving in India on these terrible mountain passes and I have come to the conclusion that we have it so godd in this country compared to most of the world as far as cops and corruption, road surface quality, engineering of those roads and bridges and yes even the need for and the enforcement of rules and regulations that I can't in good conscience complain anymore.

Rick
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« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2010, 07:26:16 AM »

That program is an eye opener isn't it!  I have driven on logging roads that were like that to some degree, but never have encountered that many drivers that seem to have no regard for their life or well being, or yours.....  A few, once in a great while, but not like that!
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« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2010, 07:36:55 AM »

The basis of this is whether or not if we're doing something illegal we are gonna get caught or if we're not doing anything illegal how can we keep from being inconvenienced right??

Rick

Absolutely. And - incidentally - I also completely agree with your earlier point about not changing your (legal) behaviour through fear of unwarrented intervention from the authorities - but at the same time it's entirely rational not to give rise the authorities undue reason to suspect you might not be behaving legally. I won't comment on the issue of corruption or fear of Big Brothers, because I suspect that discussion is coming from somewhere else entirely!

Jeremy
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« Reply #21 on: November 17, 2010, 09:50:46 AM »

As I said I tried to stay out of it, and now I wish I had. Sorry for putting my 2 cents in! (one of these days I'll learn to keep my big mouth shut!)
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« Reply #22 on: November 17, 2010, 10:29:49 AM »

I think the best point to be made here is if any officer begins to ask questions about your bus, the only answer is "It is an RV for personal use".  All other questions should be answered with  "I don't know".  I am not about to give an officer any information to use against me when I know I am clearly right about the comercial vehicle law. 
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« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2010, 11:17:54 AM »

What are your views when the State Patrol ask to board your bus?   I usually tell them it's okay.  I dont have anything to hide.  You come down the stairs to open the door.
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« Reply #24 on: November 17, 2010, 11:29:51 AM »

I've three interactions with the state police in my bus.  In no case did they ever enter the bus.  I think only in one case did they ask for my driver's license.

1. The police had a DUI check at a highway onramp.  They simply asked through the window if I had any passengers, checked my driver's license, and then let me go.  All they cared was if I had been drinking.

2. I was stopped on the shoulder on an interstate.  My air operated door wouldn't stay shut.  An officer stopped to check and went on his way after there was no emergency.  No ID check and he didn't enter the vehicle.

3. We had stopped on shoulder due to losing axle on trailer.  I called 911 because the axle was reported to be in the left lane.  Before the officer arrived someone stopped and said they pushed it off the road.  The officer never asked for any ID, registration, or anything.  He simply verified nothing was on the road and left.

My only interaction with the police in a regular vehicle was my brand new F350 died on the side of the interstate.  The State Patrol stopped and gave me a ride home because it was 9 below zero.  No tickets ever.
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« Reply #25 on: November 17, 2010, 11:35:41 AM »

I don't think anyone is suggesting the the roads be lawless; rather that the laws should be enforced sensibly.  For example, if you are on a trip with several friends who are chipping in for fuel, it would seem by some of the information posted here that you would be considered a commercial vehicle.  Still sounds foolish to me.  However, as I said before, I would not use signs or whatever to invite trouble.  When stopped it would be best to just say, "Life is like a box of chocolates."

Zero,

On principle, I think one should very politely apply his legal rights.   I'm sure that the officer has nothing to hide either, but he would not let you check out his house.  He has no more right to enter yours.  I think it is the intention that bothers me.  There is no reason that an officer would want to enter the vehicle other than in the hope of causing you harm.  Further, if I tell him that there is nothing there of interest to him, he is implying I am a liar by asking to investigate it himself.  I understand it is his job to do so (retired law enforcement) but I still don't like someone calling me a liar and seeking to harm me.  Just one of my idiosyncrasies, I guess.
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« Reply #26 on: November 17, 2010, 11:56:34 AM »

Lin,

Having been there and done that and since I knew I was not using my bus for commercial purposes (that's the big rub here, because some folks are probably closer to the line of commercial than they like to admit) I actually asked both the state trooper and the DOT guy TO enter my bus and they declined. My reasoning was, they will see that I am not guilty and move one

I believe their reasoning was: If I go in there I may see that this guy is not operating illegally and that will make me:

1. look stupid to everyone involved
2. Discontinue my investigation because it will be obvious this guy's not guilty

All that to say... I think it should be on the top of everyone's list who had has run-ins like I did with the law to watch a couple episodes of "Ice road truckers". The things we take for granted and the little things we get inconvenienced by are just so infinitely small compared to whats going on in most of the rest of the world.

I must sound like a spoiled little whiner to visitors from place like Africa and India and China or Russia. They know what corruption and government manipulation is on a scale I can't comprehend

RB



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« Reply #27 on: November 17, 2010, 12:21:32 PM »

I've been watching the IRT: Deadliest Roads series since it started.  I'm surprised there are not more accidents the way they drive.  Alex quit the first day because he had two accidents that were not his fault before he even got out of the big city.  I can't believe the one car pulled out and hit Alex's truck.

This is a TV show and they probably dramatize a lot, but the roads would still be crazy without any dramatization.
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« Reply #28 on: November 17, 2010, 02:22:14 PM »

In the late 80's, I spent about six months in Lagos, Nigeria.

I remember when I came home and driving on U.S. 19 north of St Pete, a notorious slow and congested road and marveling at how nice it was, all the cars going in the same direction at the same time.
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« Reply #29 on: November 17, 2010, 02:35:28 PM »

This is Imposible?
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« Reply #30 on: November 17, 2010, 02:48:16 PM »

Kind of relies on mutual intimidation, doesn't it?  works surprisingly well, if you don't put points on minor injuries.

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« Reply #31 on: November 17, 2010, 05:38:07 PM »

Uncle Sam and his nephew Michigan are looking to stop ANYTHING that could be used as commercial.  If you have a pickup truck with a flatbed trailer and a push lawnmower on it, you'd better be DOT compliant!  I won't put a thing on my conversion.  My acapella group has had enough to deal with since our cube truck has a GVWR of 10,500.  To sing, not push gear up a ramp, and use a lift gate instead, I had to become a truck driver!  Great friends of mine were returning from their summer home in Florida.  They were pulling a 30ft car hauler behind a Ford f350.  No lettering.  They crossed the Michigan/Indiana border and were almost immediately pulled over by DOT.  The officer stated that they were pulling over vehicles that LOOKED like they could be being used for commercial use without the proper identification.  Guilty until proven innocent! 

Sorry for the rant, but this one really torques me off!

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