West Virginia adopts stricter truck rules

| 4/14/2010

A new law in West Virginia toughens some of its truck regulations – and it’s not alone in making changes to these rules.

Gov. Joe Manchin signed into law a bill that makes changes to the West Virginia law concerning commercial driver’s licenses. The changes are intended to comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The effective date is June 11.

Among the changes are measures to beef up out-of-service violations. Fines for drivers found violating OOS orders will increase from $1,100 to $2,500. Subsequent offenses would result in $5,000 fines.

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 fines between $2,750 and $25,000. The existing maximum fine is $10,000.

Another provision in the new law modifies the length 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. Until now, 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. Subsequent offenses within 10 years would continue to result in suspensions of three years.

West Virginia is not the only state to enact harsher penalties for violating OOS penalties in recent months. Indiana, New Jersey, South Dakota and Wisconsin have recently enacted changes into law. A similar effort continues at the New Hampshire statehouse.

Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA’s director of regulatory affairs, said these states have every incentive to make sure their rules mirror federal standards. Not only do they see it as a safety issue, but he said states have to protect their pocketbooks.

“If they’re not compliant, these states run a risk of having federal funds withheld,” Rajkovacz said.

But the incentive to act doesn’t end there. Rajkovacz said another factor that could be spurring states to take action is the legal challenges brought by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association against the state of Minnesota. OOIDA is challenging how six years’ worth of citations were issued involving motor carrier safety regulations.

Also included in the West Virginia law is a provision clarifying that hazardous materials endorsements cannot be issued for terms longer than five years – the same as federal law.

In addition, commercial drivers are required to hand over any previously issued CDL before obtaining a renewed or duplicate license with updated information.

To view other legislative activities of interest for West Virginia, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.