Rumor about CARB idling citations includes kernel of truthiness

| 11/19/2008

A rumor of the road regarding California’s expensive idling citations and fines have spurred a response from the California Air Resources Board.

Several OOIDA members, Land Line readers and Land Line Now listeners have reported hearing a rumor that California will transfer responsibility for an idling citation to motor carriers if the carrier hasn’t provided an APU or other idling alternative to employee drivers.

Karen Caesar, a CARB spokesman, forwarded Land Line Magazine a statement saying the rumor contains a portion of truth.

“It is true that if a driver does not pay the penalty, the registered owner of the vehicle may be held responsible,” the CARB statement read. “Responsibility, however, is to be decided between the owner and the driver – not by the Air Resources Board. Owners are also held responsible if the driver cannot be identified at the time the citation is issued. … Owners have recourse by either docking the driver’s pay or taking him to small claims court. Conversely, if the driver feels the owner should be responsible, he can also pay the fine and take the owner to small claims court.”

Of course, the sorting out of CARB’s administrative fines can become complicated.

“If the vehicle’s owner refuses to provide an alternative to idling the vehicle’s main engine, and the idling is done for a mandatory rest period, the owner could be held responsible,” Caeser’s statement read. “The severity of the conditions at the time the idling citation was issued should be considered, but again responsibility is to be determined by the driver and owner. If the idling is not related to a mandatory rest period (such as waiting to unload) then the driver is responsible.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer