State Watch
California broker rules highlight new laws for 2011
p>By Keith Goble
state legislative editor


As the calendar flips to the New Year, there are notable new laws that address issues related to trucking. Other new rules taking effect are intended to enhance safety on roadways.

In California, a law that takes effect Jan. 1 requires a broker of construction trucking services to post a bond to ensure payment to a dump truck operator whose services were brokered.

Brokers must secure a surety bond of at least $15,000 to ensure payment. Failure to secure a bond would be a misdemeanor and result in as much as a $5,000 fine.

In addition, a rebuttable presumption would be created in favor of the dump truck operator if there is a civil action filed due to lack of payment. A rebuttable presumption is an assumption of fact unless the broker, in this instance, comes forward in court to contest it and prove otherwise.

The California Dump Truck Owners Association, which was influential in getting the new law through the statehouse, welcomes the protection from unscrupulous brokers who have a history in the state of absconding with people’s money.

Lee Brown, CDTOA executive director, said that while there is a lot more that needs to be done to rein in brokers in the state, the new law is a good start.

“We recognize it’s a small step. This will help create an atmosphere that is fair for everyone and creates a level playing field,” Brown said.

A New Hampshire law taking effect the first of the year is intended to improve compliance with federal regulations – and prevent the loss of some federal funding.

Drivers found violating an out-of-service order would face a license suspension for between six months and one year. Until now, state law authorized 90-day suspensions.

Hauling hazardous materials in a truck while OOS would result in a loss of driving privileges for six months to two years – up from a maximum of six months. Repeat offenders would face lengthier suspensions.

The privacy of drivers using the FasTrak payment system for California’s toll roads and bridges should be a little bit more protected. As of Jan. 1, transportation agencies, such as Caltrans, are prohibited from selling or sharing personal data. It also requires agencies to purge the data when it is no longer needed. The requirements also apply to other toll collection systems.

An independent inspector general for the Illinois Toll Highway Authority will be on the job as of Jan. 1. The watchdog won’t be answerable to anyone who might be investigated. The new inspector will investigate fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement and misconduct. Subpoena powers and access to agency records are included.

Other states are implementing laws of interest at the onset of 2011. Here is a sampling:

Oversight of red-light cameras is the topic of another Illinois law. Independent verification of camera violations will be needed before citations are issued.

Another change is forbidding violators from being charged an additional fee for choosing to exercise their right to an administrative hearing to contest the ticket. Also, drivers won’t be ticketed solely for coming to a stop after the painted stop line, unless a pedestrian is nearby.

Effective Jan. 2, drivers in Delaware will no longer be able to text while behind the wheel without running the risk of a $50 ticket. Similarly, the grace periods in Kansas and Kentucky for texting violators to get off with a warning come to an end on Jan. 1. Offenders will face $60 and $25 fines, respectively.

A new law in Washington state bolsters the state’s “move over” rule that covers certain emergency, roadside assistance, or police vehicles. As of Jan. 1, speeding within 200 feet of parked emergency vehicles with lights flashing could result in fines that are double the regular amount. Offenders would also face loss of driving privileges. LL