California drivers can be denied registration for idling citations

| 1/11/2008

Truckers who are base plated in California face another idling-related obstacle – the ability to renew or register their truck.

According to a California state government memo obtained by Land Line, the California Department of Motor Vehicles may refuse registration, renewal or transfer of registration for commercial vehicles if the truck’s owner was cited for violating the state’s five-minute idling limit.

The state can reject registration if the vehicle’s owner or operator has been cited “until the violation has been cleared, as determined by the State Air Resources Board,” the Dec. 26 memo stated.

California began enforcing Jan. 1 a new idling limit that no longer exempts sleeper-berth time, though it does exempt idling of trucks carrying temperature-dependent loads, performing safety or maintenance checks and “to prevent a health emergency.”

Karen Caesar, a spokeswoman for the California Air Resources Board, confirmed that local police have the authority to write citations for the idling restriction.

“If you have outstanding citations (tickets) for violating any of our mobile emissions regulations, not just our anti-idling reg, it can block your registration or your registration renewal,” Caesar told Land Line.

California made a mistake by circumventing due process, a key tenet of the U.S. constitution, said Rick Craig, OOIDA’s director of regulatory affairs. The process is not common among U.S. states, he said.

“I think this is illegal,” Craig said. “There is such a thing as due process in this country. A citation is proof of nothing.”

A representative of California DOT confirmed to Land Line that the state does not allow registration if citations haven’t been settled either by paying a fine or by a court dismissing the charges.

That could really hurt truckers whose vehicle registration may be up between the time they were issued a ticket and the several weeks it may take to either pay the fine or contest it, Craig said.

“And if you decide to take it in the shorts and pay it, how long does it take the court to clear it?” Craig said. “That’s bullshit that they can deny you registration.”

According to California’s chief environmental agency, the state has withheld the right to reject registration for citations for some time.

“I think that’s been the case for a while,” Caesar said on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

CARB isn’t sure whether truckers could be denied registration if they were contesting a citation. Caesar was working to find an agency answer to the question on Tuesday.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer