By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
A bill halfway through the Michigan statehouse is intended to make anyone who violates out-of-service orders pay a steep price.
The Senate voted 24-14 to advance a bill to the House that would bring Michigan’s commercial driver’s licensing rules in compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Among the changes sought in the bill are beefing up out-of-service violations. Fines for first offenders would 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 $5,000.
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 up to $25,000 fines. Currently, the maximum fine is $11,000.
Also included in the bill is a lengthier suspension for drivers caught 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. State law now authorizes 90-day suspensions.
Repeat offenses within 10 years would result in loss of driving privileges for two years – up from one year.
OOIDA leadership says that states have every incentive to make sure their rules mirror federal standards. They see it as a safety issue, but Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA’s director of regulatory affairs, said states are also seeking to protect their pocketbooks from federal sanctions.
Non-compliance could result in a 5 percent loss of federal highway aid, complete loss of all federal grants, and a $5,000-a-day fine.
A separate provision in the bill would require a Michigan resident holding a CDL group endorsement issued by another state to apply for a license transfer within 30 days after establishing domicile in Michigan.
Another provision calls for the suspension of a vehicle group designation for 60 days if a person driving truck is convicted of or found responsible for two serious traffic violations within three years.
All group designations would be suspended for 120 days if a truck driver is convicted of or found responsible for three serious traffic violations within three years.
In addition, Michigan law already prohibits texting while driving any vehicle. Beginning Oct. 28, 2013, the rule would specifically prohibit the distracting activity while driving truck.
The bill – SB495 – is awaiting consideration in the House Transportation Committee. If approved there, it would move to the House floor before advancing to the governor’s desk.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Michigan, click here.
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