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Under 21 driver exemption renewed for U.S. Custom Harvesters

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has renewed an exemption request for U.S. Custom Harvesters, allowing CDL holders under the age of 21 to be exempt from any “K” restrictions.  

The final decision to renew the group’s exemption was announced and published June 2024, after a provisional renewal of the exemption back in October of 2023. The current exemption will extend through October 3rd, 2025. 

“FMCSA’s regulations currently provide an exception to the minimum age requirements for drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) engaged in custom harvesting operations in interstate commerce. However, under the Agency’s CDL regulations, States may impose an intrastate-only (or “K”) restriction for these drivers.” This exemption eliminates those restrictions. 

U.S. Custom Harvesters Inc. (USCHI) was first granted this exemption back in October 2018, which lasted for five years through October 3rd, 2023. Although USCHI requested another five year exemption in this most recent case, the FMCSA chose instead to renew the exemption for only two years “as a safety precaution.” The FMCSA states that “likely through miscommunications and misunderstandings among the Agency, USCHI, and its membership, certain crashes involving the drivers operating under the exemption were not reported to the Agency during the first five-year exemption,” violating the terms of the exemption. 

Under the new rules of the current exemption, USCHI must notify the FMCSA of any crashes involving a driver covered under the exemption within five days of the incident. 

“FMCSA is not aware of any evidence showing that allowing the exemption from the intrastate-only ‘K’ restriction has resulted in any degradation in safety,” the document states. 

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