The new federal Highway Bill, which President Bush is expected to sign into law next week, contains a lot of new legislation that truckers need to be aware of.
One important area tackled in the bill is out-of-service violations. While the bill doesn't change any existing rules, OOIDA's director of regulatory affairs Rick Craig said it would stiffen the penalties for violating OOS orders.
For example, Craig said the new law will double the disqualification periods for violating an OOS order. For a first offense, there is now a mandatory minimum disqualification period of 180 days. And the fines have increased as well, from a minimum of $1,000 to a minimum of $2,500 for a first offense.
For a second offense, the disqualification period has been increased to a minimum of two years and a minimum fine of $5,000.
Craig said the penalties for motor carriers who knowingly allow or require a driver to violate an OOS order have increased as well. Under the new laws, a motor carrier can face a maximum fine of up to $25,000, but that's not all.
"They've also added the possibility of a one-year prison term," Craig said.
Craig said it is important for truckers to remember that - even if a motor carrier told or forced them to violate the OOS order - the truckers are still the ones held responsible by the inspectors.
"If the cop catches you, you're in trouble," he said.
Congress approved the Highway Bill, which calls for $286.5 billion in federal funding for highway and safety projects through 2009, on July 30. President Bush is expected to sign it into law before Aug. 14, when the last temporary extension of the previous bill expires.
Land Line will provide detailed coverage of other areas of the Highway Bill in coming days on this Web site and on "Land Line Now," which airs daily at 6 p.m. CDT on XM Satellite Radio's Channel 171.
- By Terry Scruton, senior writer