Transporting Dealer Trades
(Originally written 7/29/2002 - updated 10/10/2011)


    The SDADA Office continues to receive calls regarding the legal requirements of transporting dealer trade vehicles.  Since there continues to be enforcement action taken against dealership vehicles operating in this manner, the SDADA staff consulted the South Dakota Highway Patrol’s Carrier Enforcement Division when writing this article.
    The rules are different when you have vehicles exclusively within the borders of this state (Intrastate) versus hauling vehicles across one or more state lines (Interstate).  For ease of understanding, the following information was split to show those differences and similarities.
   
INTRASTATE
  • License Plates: South Dakota law provides only one exemption that pertains to the movement dealer trade, auction or inventory replacement vehicles.  That section of the law states:
    32-9-3. Exceptions from definitions of motor carrier and commercial vehicle.
    For the purposes of this chapter, the following do not come within the definition of "motor carriers" or "commercial vehicles" if used in intrastate operations:
    (14) A motor vehicle owned by a licensed motor vehicle dealer and used to transport inventory replacement vehicles to the dealer's principal place of business. For the purpose of this subdivision, motor vehicle does not include any motor vehicle which carries inventory replacement vehicles entirely upon its own structure.
    In other words, anytime the vehicle(s) are being hauled (“wholly upon its structure”) commercial license plates are required on the towing vehicle.  If a tow dolly is used, the commercial license exemption applies because there are two wheels on the ground.  However, we all know that tow dolly operations are not an option due to safety concerns.  Commercial plates are sold by the ton and must include the total gross vehicle combination weight.  There are several ways to display commercial plates:
  1. Single trip permits that cost $15.00 and are available from any highway patrol officer.
  2. 30-day permits that vary in cost on a per ton basis and are available from any county treasurer or any highway patrol officer.
  3. Metal commercial license plates that vary in cost on a per ton basis and are available from any county treasurer.
  4. Metal “88” license plates bearing a tonnage decal that covers the weight of the towing vehicle plus the weight of the trailer plus the weight of the load being hauled.
  • Commercial Driver License (CDL): A CDL is required whenever the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) or Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) exceeds 26,000 pounds.  (However, GCWR is only considered when the trailer exceeds a GVWR of 10,000 pounds.)  To determine if your driver needs a CDL, it is simple math of adding weight ratings of the unit(s) used.
  • Length: South Dakota limits semi trailers (those equipped with a 5th wheel/kingpin hitch) to a length of 53 feet with no overall length limitation.  However, trailers equipped with a bumper or gooseneck ball hitch do not have a single unit length limitation but the trailer and towing unit together cannot exceed a length of 80 feet.
  • Stopping at Scales: South Dakota law requires any vehicle or combination of vehicles that exceed an actual gross weight of 8,000 pounds to stop at all open enforcement scales.
  • Flares: All vehicles exceeding a width at any point of eighty inches operated on the public highways of this state whether operated for commercial purposes or otherwise, shall be equipped at all times with at least three portable flares, or red electric lights, or red reflectors, or emergency reflective triangles, in workable condition which, when lighted and placed, are plainly visible for a distance of five hundred feet.
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR): The items described in this area are federal rules, most of which the state of South Dakota has adopted.
  1. Log Book: The driver of any vehicle or combination of vehicles exceeding 10,000 pounds (actual or GCWR) that travel more than 100 radial miles from the dealer’s store must complete a log book.  However, if the driver returns home within 12 hours of beginning the trip and meets other specified record keeping requirements, a log book is not required.
  2. Marking Requirements (D.O.T. Numbers): Not required if operating within South Dakota.
  3. D.O.T. Driver Physical: Not required if operating within South Dakota.
  4. Annual Vehicle Inspection: All vehicles used singly or in combination if the vehicle or combination of vehicles exceeds 26,000 pounds (actual GVW or GCWR) and is equipped with four or more axles must have an annual inspection and display proof of such inspection on the vehicle(s).  The pertinent forms are available at the SDADA office.
  5. Except for the specific exemptions mentioned above, all vehicles or combinations exceeding 26,000 pounds and equipped with four or more axles are subject to the federal motor carrier safety regulations.

INTERSTATE
  • License Plates: When you leave this state, other jurisdictions require some type of metal license plate (“88” or county plate).  If the GVW of the vehicle(s) exceeds 26,000 pounds, you will need to purchase a trip permit for any and all other jurisdictions.
  • Fuel Permit: All two axle vehicles (power unit) exceeding 26,000 pounds (actual or registered) weight, all combination vehicles exceeding 26,000 pounds, or all three axle vehicles (power unit) which use diesel or propane as engine fuel must purchase a temporary fuel permit or be registered with the Interstate Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) upon entering any state.  This includes returning to South Dakota.
  • Commercial Driver License (CDL): A CDL is required whenever the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) or Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) exceeds 26,000 pounds.  (However, GCWR is only considered when the trailer exceeds a GVWR of 10,000 pounds.)  To determine if your driver needs a CDL, it is simple math of adding weight ratings of the unit(s) used.
  • Length: The rules vary from state to state, we suggest you call ahead to check.
  • Stopping at Scales: The rules vary from state to state, we suggest you call ahead to check.
  • FMCSR: The items described in this area are federal rules that should be enforced uniformly in all other states.
  1. Log Book: The driver of any vehicle or combination of vehicles exceeding 10,000 pounds (actual or GCWR) that travel more than 100 radial miles from home must complete a log book.  However, if the driver returns home within 12 hours of beginning the trip and meets other specified record keeping requirements, a log book is not required.
  2. Marking Requirements (D.O.T. Numbers): All vehicles used singly or in combination if the vehicle or combination of vehicles exceeds 10,000 pounds (actual GVW or GCWR) must meet the marking requirements by displaying a D.O.T. number.  This number can be obtained by calling the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) at 605-224-8202 or applying on-line at www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
  3. D.O.T. Driver Physical: The driver of any vehicle or combination of vehicles that exceeds 10,000 pounds (actual GVW or GCWR) must have a D.O.T. physical.  This physical can be completed by most local doctors.  The pertinent forms are available at the SDADA office.
  4. Annual Vehicle Inspection: All vehicles used singly or in combination if the vehicle or combination of vehicles exceeds 10,000 pounds (actual GVW or GCWR) must have an annual inspection and display proof of such inspection on the vehicle(s).  The pertinent forms are available at the SDADA office.
  5. All vehicles exceeding 10,000 pounds are subject to the federal motor carrier safety regulations when traveling interstate.
  6. All vehicles exceeding a width at any point of eighty inches operated on the public highways of this state whether operated for commercial purposes or otherwise, shall be equipped at all times with at least three portable flares, or red electric lights, or red reflectors, or emergency reflective triangles, in workable condition which, when lighted and placed, are plainly visible for a distance of five hundred feet.
  7. Each truck, truck tractor, and bus must be equipped with either a fire extinguisher having an Underwriters' Laboratories rating of 5 B:C or more; or two fire extinguishers, each of which has an Underwriters' Laboratories rating of 4 B:C or more.

After reading this document, you can tell that this is a very complex issue.  This document is also available on the SDADA website at www.sdautodealer.com.  As always, if you have questions, please call the SDADA Office and visit with Myron.

(This article is intended for guidance only.  As such, the information contained is not intended to replace legal advice given by licensed legal counsel.)

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