Bottom Line
Road Law
Regs here, regs there - how can truckers comply?

By Jeff McConnell &
James Mennella


Although the trucking industry is federally regulated, each state has the autonomy to regulate and legislate what it feels is appropriate within its borders as long as it is not an undue burden on interstate commerce. With the overall volume of regulations, there is one subsection – inspection, repair and maintenance – where it’s easy to be caught off-guard by compliance issues and standards you never knew existed.

Here are some questions we have received about inspection stickers and regulatory compliance.

Q: What is the inspection rule and how do I comply?

A: The rule requires commercial vehicles operated in interstate commerce to be inspected at least once a year. The inspection is based on federal inspection standards as set out in Section 396.17 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).

Many states have inspection programs that satisfy the inspection requirement because they are determined by the Federal Highway Administration to be comparable to, or as effective as, the FMCSR standards. If a state does not have such a program, the motor carrier is responsible for ensuring compliance with the inspection requirement and will likely have a qualified inspector on staff to self inspect. Section 396.19 of the FMCSR sets forth the requirements for inspector qualifications if you have the desire to learn more. 

Q: I recently leased on to a carrier that said I needed a “Federal Inspection” sticker and that my Texas-issued inspection sticker was not sufficient to run all 48 states. Is this true?

A: No. The state of Texas has an inspection program that has been determined to be as effective as the federal periodic inspection program under

Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations in Section 396.23(b)(1). Further, Section 210 of the Motor Carrier Safety Act (49 U.S.C. 31142) establishes that state inspections meeting federally approved criteria must be recognized by every other state.

Q: I didn’t renew my Texas inspection sticker, but have a valid inspection sticker from another state. I recently went through Texas and was given a ticket for my expired Texas sticker. What’s the deal?

A: According to the Texas Administrative Code, Texas registered Commercial Motor Vehicles are required to have an inspection conducted by the Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Inspection Program. The only exception to this rule is if the Texas registered commercial vehicle inspection sticker is issued in a state that has also been certified as meeting Section 396.23(b)(1). If your sticker is from one of these states, then it should be acceptable to Texas, according to the Texas Administrative Code.

Q: What states are currently certified by the FMCSA as meeting the requirements of Section 396.23(b)(1)?

A: States currently meeting the requirements are: Alabama, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The other states don’t have programs, or their programs have not been determined by the FMCSA to be comparable.

For Canadian drivers, the FMCSA accepts the Canadian inspection programs of the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan and the Yukon Territory. LL