Indiana OKs higher fines for OOS violations

| 3/11/2010

Indiana appears poised to adopt a rule that would beef up the state’s out-of-service violations. OOIDA anticipates that more states will address their truck rules in an effort to protect themselves from possible legal challenges.

The Indiana Senate signed off on House changes to a bill that would modify state law concerning commercial driver’s licenses to comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The bill – SB74 – swept through both chambers by unanimous consent. It now moves to Gov. Mitch Daniels’ desk.

Fines for drivers found violating out-of-service orders would significantly increase. Instead of first offenders facing a $1,000 fine, they would be responsible for paying $2,500 fines.

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 fines between $2,750 and $25,000. Currently, the fine is $2,500.

Indiana is not alone in its pursuit of harsher penalties for violating OOS orders. New Hampshire, South Dakota and West Virginia are among the states to take steps to bolster their rules. And in recent months, New Jersey and Wisconsin have enacted changes into law.

Indiana state Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, told lawmakers during the House floor discussion on SB74 that a state audit of the commercial driver’s licensing division revealed the need to change the state’s rules. She said that changes need to be made in order to avoid losing some federal highway money.

Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA’s director of regulatory affairs, said another factor that could be encouraging states to make sure their rules line up with federal standards are legal challenges brought by OOIDA against the state of Minnesota. The Association is challenging how six years’ worth of citations were issued involving motor carrier safety regulations.

“These states don’t want to be confronted with the issue that Minnesota has found itself having to address in OOIDA’s litigation against their State Patrol,” Rajkovacz said.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Indiana in 2010, click here.

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