Regulation redux? Louisiana turns back the clock on 20-year old fines

| 1/12/2009

Scott Ward’s jaw dropped when he saw his mail that day.

Ward, a long-hauler and Land Line reader from Cataula, GA, said he received a letter from the Louisiana Attorney General Office’s Collections team in late September saying he had unpaid citations from the Louisiana State Police Motor Carrier Safety Section.

The state told Ward the unpaid citations were from inspections performed in September 2001 and March 2002, though Ward told Land Line he believed the 2001 and 2002 inspections included only warnings, and not citations. A separate citation issued in 2006 was paid that same year.

The state of Louisiana is collecting on old traffic violations, including many safety violations stemming from commercial vehicle inspections in the Bayou State that date as far back as 1988.

“In September 2007, the Motor Carrier Safety Section of the Office of State Police placed with the Louisiana Department of Justice – collections section, outstanding fines for many types of violations which may include but are not limited to safety violations,” said Ginger Eppes, section chief for the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, who responded to some Land Line questions by email. “Some of these fines may go as far back as 1988.”

Eppes declined to answer additional questions, suggesting they be forwarded to state police.

Lt. Eric Burson, of the Louisiana State Police Motor Carrier Safety Section told Land Line his agency had turned its outstanding citations over to the attorney general’s office.

The unpaid citations are only from safety inspections for federal commercial vehicle standards, Burson said. Any driver with an unpaid inspection citation is likely to be notified by mail, he said.

Louisiana is not, Burson emphasized, retroactively pursuing fines for warnings.

“Anybody that has questions about it can call and speak to one of our secretaries, and they could have walked them through everything,” Burson said. “We don’t want to put truck drivers out of service based on unpaid tickets.”

Burson said anyone with questions about whether they owe unpaid citations for safety violations can call 225-925-3800.

Ward, for his part, told Land Line he has put in a request for information with Louisiana to clear up whether any warning was issued.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer