Virginia’s DMV gives out “farm use” license plates to individuals who want to use a vehicle for farm-related work. This can be a useful alternative to more expensive forms of registration, especially for farmers with multiple vehicles. However, as with all special types of vehicle registration, there are certain requirements you need to follow.
In this article, we’ll go over the different ways people commonly misuse farm use license plates.
What are the Rules for Using an Unregistered Farm Use Tag?
One of the most common areas of confusion is the difference between registered and unregistered farm use vehicles. Essentially, you don’t have to register your vehicle for farm use as long as you follow certain rules, as detailed below.
To legally use an unregistered farm use tag, you must adhere to the following guidelines:
- The vehicle cannot be a car (or other passenger vehicle not commonly associated with farm-use).
- The vehicle can only transport materials or agricultural products to and from the farm it’s registered with.
- There is an exception for farmers working in a co-op.
- You can only use the vehicle to go to the market, get supplies or equipment, or go to other points for sale or processing. In addition, taking the vehicle to a repair shop is also perfectly fine.
- Virginia code § 46.2-666 states that a farm use vehicle can’t travel more than 75 miles to and from the nearest plant or market they are going to.
It’s important to note that the term “farm” doesn’t refer to just land. You must use your land to produce agricultural products. Another important exception is that you can use your vehicle to clear farm-generated trash, brush, or timber. Transporting these materials anywhere for proper disposal is allowed under the law.
The main advantage of using an unregistered farm use tag is that you don’t need to pay any registration fees on the vehicle, or even title it. For this reason, as long as you follow these stringent guidelines this is a great option for farmers trying to save some money.
Registered Farm Use Tags (F-Tags)
There are two main differences between registered (F-tag) and unregistered farm use vehicles:
- You need to properly insure a F-tag vehicle, or pay the $500 uninsured motorist fee.
- For F-tag vehicles, “non-farm use is [allowed for]…personal use of the owner and his immediate family to attend church or school, to secure medical treatment or supplies, or to secure other household or family necessities.”
Essentially, an F-tag is a kind of middle-ground between a fully registered car and an unregistered farm use vehicle. You still need to obtain official license plates, insurance, and decals for your vehicle. However, you’ll pay significantly lower costs for registration in the long run. Further, there are less restrictions on how you can use the vehicle.
As one other added bonus, if you volunteer with a fire department or emergency medical service (EMS), you can use your F-tag vehicle to respond to calls, go to meetings, or to report for duty.
What’s the Penalty for Misusing a Farm Use Tag?
There are some pretty harsh penalties for misusing or falsifying farm use tags. According to Virginia code § 46.2-613, misusing a unregistered farm use tag will result in a fine of up to $250. Any subsequent offense is a mandatory $250 fine. This is the case for any activities outside the exemptions specifically outlined in the Virginia code § 46.2-665, 46.2-666, and 46.2-670.
On a related note, you should be entirely truthful on any and all applications for, and usage of, F-tags. The DMV specifically cites Virginia Code § 46.2-605, which states that any altering or forgery of a title relating to F-tags is considered a Class 6 felony. This is punishable by 1-5 years in jail, or, alternatively, up to 12 months in jail and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.
If you find yourself in any of these situations, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help guide you through the specifics of the legal process, and possibly even help you avoid many of the larger fines.
When Does your F-tag Vehicle Need Regular Tags?
Figuring out when to transition your farm vehicle to a normally registered vehicle is another common area where people mess up. If you start using your farm vehicle for regular use, you need to amend your registration with the DMV within 30 days. Failing to do so is a serious crime.
The state of Virginia allows farmers to use “farm use” tags on their work vehicles. Farmers can choose to either register these tags or leave them unregistered, and each type has different restrictions and benefits. Generally, however, the biggest benefit of farm use tags is cost, as using them saves a lot of money in the long run.
For this reason, people sometimes abuse this privilege, so the penalties are rather severe. Even people who accidentally use these tags incorrectly can face harsh penalties including fines and possibly jail time. Before you decide to use farm use unregistered farm use tags or F-tags, you should go over the general guidelines on the DMV’s website. If you’ve already been charged with illegally using these tags, you should speak with an attorney immediately.