August 24, 2021 | By Jaquilyn Waddell Boie, Summer Law Clerk
As of July 1, future farmers across Iowa are hitting the road for farm-related errands and activities. In February of 2021, the Iowa legislature added privileges to the Minor School License (MSL) for students who live on or are employed by a farm. On March 8 of 2021, Governor Reynolds signed the legislation into law, allowing students who have obtained an MSL to drive unaccompanied within fifty miles of the farm they live on or are employed by between 5 am and 10 pm for farm-related work.
Prior to July 1, students between the ages of fourteen and eighteen who successfully completed a driver’s education course could obtain an MSL. This special license allowed students to drive to and from school and school-related activities between the hours of 5 am and 10 pm. The driving was restricted to a fifty-mile radius within the student’s school for school or school-related activities only. This left a somewhat challenging inconsistency for minors living on or employed by farms: while they could drive over thirty miles for a sports function, they could not drive ten, five, or even two miles to feed livestock or assist with farming operations.
The new law resolves this challenge for Iowa’s up and coming farmers. However, several restrictions remain in place. As noted above, driving for farm-related work with an MSL is limited to a fifty-mile radius of the farm the minor lives on or is employed by, and can only take place between 5 am and 10 pm. Additionally, the minor must drive the most direct and accessible route. Minors driving for farm-related work cannot drive vehicles with more than two axels or tow another vehicle. In addition, while the driving may be done to assist a parent, guardian, or employer, the farm-related work cannot involve acting as a chauffeur.
As Iowa’s future farmers take to the road, farming operations throughout the state benefit from greater flexibility among minor-aged family members and employees to conduct essential farm work. The Iowa legislature has thereby sent a strong message that we as a state value education, sportsmanship, and a strong work ethic. Our students are empowered to drive for betterment, for ball, and for bales.
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