A measure sponsored by Assemblymen Nelson Albano and Matthew Milam to carve out an exemption in New Jersey’s teen driving laws to allow for the operation of farm equipment was approved by the full Assembly on Monday by a vote of 74-0.
“This bill helps maintain New Jersey’s tradition of family-owned farms by recognizing the particular needs of those institutions,” said Albano (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “It would create a narrowly-tailored exception to drivers’ license requirements for young drivers to help further that goal.”
“This measure will provide more teenagers with the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in the agricultural sector,” said Milam (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “Not only is this beneficial for teenagers, but it’s also beneficial to the long-term health of agriculture in this state.”
Since 1942, the State of New Jersey has issued agricultural driver’s licenses and permits to allow 16-year olds to lawfully operate farm equipment and trucks registered as farm vehicles, when engaged directly and exclusively in agricultural activities. However, the state’s graduated driver license program, which was established in 2001, significantly changed the driving privileges of permit holders and new licensees. These changes, particularly the requirement that 16 year old permit holders must be in the company and under the supervision of a licensed driver over the age of 21, undermine the purpose and value of an agricultural driver’s license.
The bill (A-3469) approved today would exempt agricultural driver’s licensees from that restriction, provided that an individual successfully completes an approved minimum six-hour behind-the-wheel driver training course. Less than 200 agricultural driver’s licenses are issued to 16 years olds each year.
The bill would take effect on the third month after enactment. It heads to the Senate for consideration now.