California OKs stricter OOS rules

| 9/3/2010

Anyone who violates out-of-service orders in California will pay a steeper price.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law Monday, Aug. 30, to bring California’s commercial driver’s licensing rules in compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Among the changes in AB2144 are beefed-up out-of-service violations. Fines for first offenders will soon be more straightforward. Instead of violators facing a fine ranging from $1,100 to $2,750, they will be responsible for paying at least $2,500 fines. Anyone caught more than once must pay $5,000.

Motor carriers also face greater punishment. Employers convicted of knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting or authorizing a driver in OOS status to get behind the wheel face up to $25,000 fines. The maximum fine has been $11,000.

The length of a driver’s suspension for violating an OOS order will also be ratcheted up. Getting behind the wheel of a truck subject to an OOS order will result in the driver’s license being suspended for six months. State law has authorized 90-day suspensions.

Repeat offenses within 10 years would result in loss of driving privileges for two years – up from six months. Subsequent offenses within 10 years would double from one year to two years.

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

A legislative bill analysis backs up that point. If California had neglected to make the changes by an anticipated 2012 audit, the state may have been found out of compliance and could have faced escalating sanctions, including loss of state highway funds and grant money.

The initial penalty for non-compliance is a 5 percent loss of federal highway aid, complete loss of all federal grants, and a $5,000-a-day fine.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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