Got fined by the county for spraying pesticides without a license.

Every year, the laws stating what you can and can’t spray on a customer’s lawn gets longer and more restrictive. Yet every year, there are still new lawn care business owners who get themselves started and think they don’t need any licensing because they are spraying chemicals on a small scale. Well here is a big wake up call for anyone considering spraying anything without the proper license. One member of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum shared with us his experience of getting ticketed and going to court. The experience was an eye opener and he was lucky to not be punished worse than he was.

One lawn care business owner wrote “well today I was fined by the county for not having my applicator’s license. I have a $1,736.74 fine hanging over my head right now. Just because I have three customers that I do weed control services for, I wouldn’t think I would need to get a applicator’s license for only three houses! It’s not like I advertised for weed control.

I have my business license for the city and county. I also have my proof of insurance. But I guess looking back on this I should have gotten my applicators license. I guess a business license and pesticide license are two different things.

Originally what happened was the police were called when I was servicing a customer. The neighbor next door called them. They showed up and waited for a county official to come out. The neighbor complained that I was making too much noise at 8:45 AM and he was going to give me a noise ordinance fine and asked for my licensing and I gave him a copy of my business license and he saw I had a pesticide spray in my truck and he said do you have an applicator’s license and I told him no so he dropped the noise ordinance ticket and gave me the one for using pesticide without an applicator’s license.

I was back pack spraying. I don’t know much about all the pesticide stuff I was only doing it for three customers it wasn’t a big part of my business. I was in the wrong. I looked up the county laws and found I do need a applicators license if I am applying it to other people’s homes. So I guess I have to ‘bite the bullet’ on this one.

After everything settles I am going to get my applicator’s license. Then I can expand that part of my business. I figure I will need additional insurance to spray pesticide on top of the business insurance I already have. It’s a learning experience for me. I will give my agent a call tomorrow to see how much it is. I currently pay $763.00 a year. That might include pesticides but I don’t think it does so I need to look into it further.

I have no idea how any of this court stuff works. I go to court on Monday the 12th. I’m going to see if I can do community service in trade or pay a fine and do community service. I have no idea yet but I will tell everyone after court I go at 10:30 AM what happens.

There is no way I can get my applicators license by then. I can ask the judge if I show him proof within the next month or so will he drop the fine or something?? I plan on going to talk to the judge and hear his insight and what not. If I think I need a lawyer I will get one. But if he drops the fine I will just pay it. I was in the wrong either way. But we will see what happens.

Today I went to court and found out it is a VERY serious crime. I plead guilty and asked for community service. The fine was dropped to $627.29 and I received 23.5 hours of community service for a non-profit organization of my choice must be completed in 90 days from today. The three house that I service with the pest control I will be calling them and telling them I can no longer service them (in the pest control field). It’s a fair out come I guess. The fine I will pay over time (three months) so around $210.00 a month. My advice from all this is not to apply pesticides if you don’t have a applicators license!

I still plan on getting my applicators license. I have already started my community service. I have done 9 hours at a rescue shelter for animals and I plan on working with habitat for humanity. I was very thankful to the judge. He understood where I was coming from but he got his point across.”

A second lawn care business owner said “it’s a serious offense here as well. We are now a ‘chemical free city’ yet some of the national companies are still here spraying. Last Friday and Saturday had some heavy rain, which is an ideal time to spray organic fertilizers. I had emails pouring in asking if we could deal with chinch bug organically, which we can.

I was out spraying a place for chinch bug, on a 40,000 sq/ft property when one of these national fertilizer chain companies pulled in to the lot next door. It wasn’t 10 min when local law enforcement arrived. I suspect someone called as they (homeowners) all get their water from wells. We were both checked. They take a sample from your sprayer back to their vehicle for on site testing. I passed as always, but the guy next door was not so fortunate. He got a $1,500 fine, the cops seized his vehicle, and had it towed. He will get it back after the court date which is generally pretty quick.

It doesn’t matter what chemicals or pesticides the stores sell up until the end of the year, the homeowner can generally get away with spraying most anything however if a company applies a chemical and the cops come along, you are in deep crap and they do not fool around.

As for having vehicles seized, the laws doesn’t stop there. I can’t spray organic mixtures within 20 feet of any lake or stream without an environmental permit. If I do and they come by, all equipment at the site is seized. It’s pretty serious and could put a company out of business. Fines can be as high as $100,000 depending on the location and what was being done.”

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