New Jersey bill would bring state law in line with federal truck rules

| 12/8/2009

A legislative effort on the move in New Jersey would beef up the state’s out-of-service penalties. It also would preserve some of the state’s federal highway funding.

The Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee advanced a bill to the full Assembly that would make various changes to state law concerning commercial driver’s licenses to comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Fines for violating out-of-service orders would be more straightforward. Instead of first offenders facing a fine ranging from $1,100 to $2,750, they would be responsible for paying $2,500 fines. Anyone who gets caught twice or more would be on the hook for $5,000 and face the possibility of up to 90 days behind bars.

Motor carriers would also face greater punishment. Employers convicted of knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting or authorizing a driver in OOS status to get behind the wheel would face up to $25,000 fines. Currently, the maximum fine is $11,000.

Other provisions in the bill would institute lifetime bans of CDL driving privileges for certain offenses.

New Jersey would be given authority to revoke truck driving privileges for anyone found guilty on at least two occasions for certain offenses that occur in non-commercial vehicles. Among the offenses listed are moving violations resulting in fatalities and use of a vehicle in a drug crime.

These offenses already can result in loss of truck driving privileges if they occur while driving a commercial vehicle.

If approved on the House floor, the bill – A4282 – would move to the Senate for further consideration. However, time is running out for it to advance to the governor’s desk. The regular session is scheduled to wrap up Jan. 11.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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