Certain truck rules in South Dakota have been toughened under legislation signed into law by Gov. Mike Rounds. Similar efforts are advancing in statehouses around the country.
The changes to South Dakota law concern making sure commercial driver’s licensing rules comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Among the changes is beefing up out-of-service violations. Fines for first offenders will be more straightforward. Instead of violators facing a fine ranging from $1,100 to $2,750, they would be responsible for paying $2,500 fines. Anyone caught more than once would be responsible for paying at least $5,000.
Motor carriers will 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. The maximum fine has been $11,000.
Another provision lengthens the duration of a driver’s suspension for violating an OOS order. Getting behind the wheel of a truck subject to an OOS order would result in the driver’s license being suspended for six months. Previously, state law authorized 90-day suspensions.
Repeat offenses within 10 years would result in loss of driving privileges for two years – up from one year.
Other states pursuing harsher penalties for violating OOS penalties include Indiana, New Hampshire and West Virginia. Elsewhere, New Jersey and Wisconsin have recently enacted changes into law.
A spokeswoman for the South Dakota Department of Public Safety said the state doesn’t have a problem with trucking operations being in violation of OOS orders. Cindy Gerber, the agency’s driver licensing director, recently told lawmakers during a hearing on the bill that during 2009 there were only three disqualifications for people convicted of driving while out of service.
Although violations are infrequent, she said there is significant incentive for the state to act now to be in compliance with federal rules.
“The penalty for being out of compliance is the loss of federal highway funds, MCSAP funds, and the loss of the ability to issue CDLs,” she told lawmakers.
Non-compliance threatened to cost the state $17.5 million a year in lost funding.
In addition to the incentive to secure federal funding, OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Joe Rajkovacz said another factor that could be spurring states to take action is the 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.
To view other legislative activities of interest for South Dakota in 2010, click here.
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