Farmer Margie Arrested! Driving Incognito Farm Truck

Late this morning, I was tooling along Killian Drive in our farm truck, enjoying the pretty scenery and gorgeous weather, accompanied by BHF intern Liberty. We were headed to Fairchild Tropical Garden to pick up the leftovers from our wildly successful Edible Garden Day weekend.

 Along came Pinecrest Police officer Blineau, who took one look at the truck and pulled us over. Officer B proceeded to inform me that I was committing an arrestable misdemeanor offense, by

 ‘not displaying the required commercial markings in violation of Miami Dade County Ordinance which requires that all commercial vehicles have identification signs on both sides of the vehicle with the name, address, telephone number and occupational license of the owner in letters and numbers larger than 3″ in height’.

Very confused, since we are not a business (like a handyman or plumber) with an occupational license, I explained that we are a farm, and told him where we were headed and what we were doing. He said we were on the road, transporting product, and therefore in violation.

He then took my ID and registration, requested I show him the back of the truck (empty except for a pallet jack), and asked me things like my social security number, how much I weighed, and whether my teeth were ‘normal’ (I kid you not!). Thinking he was writing me a ticket, I asked him what that had to do with anything. He informed me that he was filling out the arrest form, and I would be arrested on the spot, written up, and released, provided I promised to appear in court.

Liberty and I waited in the truck for over an hour, while he filled out the paperwork and, I guess, looked up my (non-existent) extensive criminal and traffic records. Then he waited for the sergeant to arrive to sign the paperwork. Finally, he asked me to get out of the truck,  fingerprinted me (after reminding me yet again that this was an arrestable offense) and asked me to sign (wait, no!  actually, he told me I had no choice but to sign, or he would cart me off to jail). Then he gave me my copy of the “Complaint/Arrest Affidavit”, and advised me to get the signs put on the truck before I received the summons for the court date, since that “might help me out”. I told Officer B he would have been of more help had he simply informed me and issued me a warning, whereupon he repeated (for about the fifth time), that he could bring me in to jail, but instead he was just arresting me right there and releasing me on the spot. I thanked him for destroying my day. He thought nothing of it – after all, arresting citizens is a routine part of his job.

Congratulations, Pinecrest PD! Officer B should be rewarded for keeping the Village safe from dangerous criminals like myself! Gee, I might be running an illegal nanny delivery service to those upscale Pinecrest homes – or maybe I’m carrying contraband construction materials to the very same homes. No, wait! maybe…those organic heirloom tomato starts are really drug plants in disguise…

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17 Responses to “Farmer Margie Arrested! Driving Incognito Farm Truck”


  1. 1 Ines 25 October 10 at 11:07 pm

    I guess Pinecrest police aren’t aware of farm vehicle exemptions!

    ARTICLE XIII
    COMMERCIAL VEHICLE IDENTIFICATION
    8A-276. Requirements. –

    Farm Vehicle Exemption.
    (1) A vehicle, owned or operated by a farmer, or lessee, or his or her designee, on a farm, grove, or nursery actively engaged in the production of agricultural or horticultural pursuits. Such vehicle is only operated incidentally on the roads, to go to or from the owner’s or operator’s headquarters or farm, grove or nursery and return.
    (2) A vehicle, used principally for the transport of plows, harrows, fertilizer, distributors, spray machines, or other farm, grove or nursery equipment ancillary to a bona-fide agricultural use. Such vehicle only uses the roads incidentally to go to or from the owner’s or operator’s headquarters or firm, grove or nursery and return.
    (3) A vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (“GVWR”) of 10,000 lbs. or less which is owned and operated by a farmer or lessee in the support of an active farm, grove or nursery operation.

    http://www.loafla.org/files/7_MetroOrdinances_FL_Lawbook_2005_1_.pdf

  2. 2 Frodnesor 25 October 10 at 11:12 pm

    That’s awful. Please email me if you need assistance dealing with this, I might be able to find someone who can help.

  3. 3 Paula 26 October 10 at 8:01 am

    Wow, Margie. Sorry that happened to you.

  4. 4 Donna Heisterman 26 October 10 at 10:15 am

    This is in reply to Ines….Nice work!

    This is for Margie….I would make a copy of this Article and make sure the judge gets a copy of it when you appear for your court date. How absolutely insulting that must of been for you!

  5. 5 Farmer Margie 26 October 10 at 10:30 am

    Thanks, everyone. Yes, it was rather humiliating. I was, to say the least, flabbergasted!

    The ordinance was originally passed to stop unscrupulous and unlicensed contractors from easily preying on unsuspecting customers (like they couldn’t do it from a car, SUV or van, which are exempt, huh)? My little box truck is 14′, and is rated a bit over the 10000AGW limit. This trip to Fairchild was not exactly a regular thing-more like twice a year, so I think it would easily qualify under the exemption for farm trucks that have limited over the road activity.

    But, don’t argue with a policeman when he’s determined to do his sworn civic duty and enforce the letter of the law to its fullest possible extent!

  6. 6 Marian 27 October 10 at 12:13 pm

    That was awful! I’m very sorry it happened. But on the other hand — about that sign — you could call your delivery truck Outlaw Organics, with a tag line of “Veggies so fresh they’re criminal.” 🙂

  7. 7 Alex 29 October 10 at 9:14 pm

    hubby says this sounds like harrasement. We would be happy to go picket in front of the police station with signs explaining the farm vehicle exemption. Or maybe we should write a letter writing campaign. Does anyone wants to draft so it is ‘proper’ and we will all send it?

    Sorry you had to go through this.

    Keep in mind also that the police officers are under lots of pressure these days to collect funds and under lots of stress (not that is an excuse for not knowing the law).

  8. 8 Daryl 29 October 10 at 10:10 pm

    Welcome to the wonderful world of police stupidly and harassment. You really should get a lawyer because this arrest could have repercussion on other aspects of your life from your ability to get insurance, to running a business. You need to have this wrongful and dishonest charge dropped and completely removed from the record. I would not take it likely at all.

    The level of policing in many communities has gone down considerably due to the increasing demand for offices. As such many departments, especially smaller ones, have dangerously lowered there standards to fill vacancies. This officer may fill this description. Threatening you to get you to do what he wanted to is intimidation and is wrong. If you want to do it you have what looks like a good case for a suit against the department.

    Also it would have been a good idea to take the whole matter up with the sergeant when he came. If you didn’t talk to him then he just ok what the offices said and didn’t get the whole story.

    In any case I would not go much further without a lawyer. I’m sure our community would be willing to stand behind you and help anyway we can.

  9. 9 La Diva Cucina 31 October 10 at 8:25 am

    Wha? My favorite farmer in the world is treated like a criminal? I hate that this happened to you. I also hate when people with authority show no sign of common sense or smarts. Good luck in dealing with this unfortunate event and I do hope you get your record clear, with the Internet and public records, these things have a way of rearing their ugly heads again and again.

    I look forward to seeing you at the Markets next week! xoxoxox

  10. 10 John DeFaro 31 October 10 at 11:44 am

    Let it Go! 🙂
    After of course following up properly and addressing a clear record. P.S. I dig (no pun) ‘Outlaw Organics’

  11. 11 Silvia @ The Beach 1 November 10 at 11:22 am

    What????

    This does not surprise me from a Pinecrest Cop… They are possibly the most dishonest and corrupted police force I have come across… From hiding behind the bushes at a strategic point where the speed limit changes from 35-25 MPH, to the show of psychological force like what you encountered.
    DO NOT drop it!!! Civil servants like Officer “B”, who get paid by our Tax dollars, should be brought out to the light…
    You can send the article captioned above by Ines to the Judge prior to your hearing… You can actually go to the Clerk’s office and file it yourself if you want to get a stamp or mail it “Priority Mail” from the USPS for about $4.80 and get a signature verification… I would go further and send it to the Police Captain at Pinecrest… They may be so embarrassed that they may not show up to court and the case gets dismissed…
    I would advise you do get a lawyer, not “Ticket-Busters” but a real one… I am sure there is someone out there in our CSA community that would probably represent you for free!!!
    As far as a sign… This is what we do for our business… Let me know what you need and we can do the letters for you or some produce to put on the sides!!!

    Love & Light,

    Silvia

    • 12 Farmer Margie 3 November 10 at 8:00 pm

      Thanks Silvia! I’ll definitely be contacting you when we’re ready to do the full ‘Redland Raised, Fresh From Florida’ campaign incentive offer. We’ll probably include something on the truck as well as signage, perhaps for farmers market items. Marian and I are working on it now. But for the short term, I’m doing a quickie labeling of the cab with a simple lettering from my local printer – getting it stuck on tomorrow.

      As for sending info to the Judge… this case has to go to criminal court. Its’ not a traffic violation! I haven’t receive the summons yet, so I don’t know if I’ll have an option to do anything except appear in court or plead guilty (I won’t!) and do community service or some such. I want this dismissed AND my record expunged. I’ve had an offer to locate a probono attorney who can fight for me. I sure hope one materializes!!

  12. 13 Trina 3 November 10 at 9:33 am

    Sorry to hear this. This is definitely a bad PR move for Pinecrest police. Since I work in that area, I know there are many fans of your farm who would be very disappointed to know that you were treated in this way.

  13. 14 Luly 16 November 10 at 10:14 am

    That shows how stupid the world could be, when every thing is seen as black and white. Wow how stupid can some people be.

  14. 15 JayTee82 15 February 11 at 9:58 pm

    I too have been a recent victim of this statute and am wondering of I could get your attorney’s info. I have a 1 ton white van with a roof rack that was holding my wheelchair ramp that the officer claims was a ladder.

  15. 16 donstephens 9 October 11 at 1:07 pm

    I guess there are worse places to live in besides California
    Hi my name is Don and we had something similar with hauling 4 bee hives
    from one farm to our house

    I believe the Lake Arrowhead CHP must learning from the Pinecrest PD
    for we have had similar problems


  1. 1 Charge dismissed! « Bee Heaven Farm's Blog Trackback on 31 December 10 at 5:33 pm

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