FMCSA makes laundry list of changes to federal regs

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | Tuesday, October 01, 2013

When the current highway funding legislation was signed into law, the bill was packed with regulatory changes that will affect trucking. On Oct. 1, 17 of those changes were made official.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a final rule in the Federal Register that enacts changes to a wide variety of regulations. The changes range from changes in penalty amounts for violations of various regs to out-of-service provisions to enforcement on foreign drivers.

All of the changes are effective as of Oct. 1. The agency set a deadline of Dec. 2 for petitions for review of any or all of the changes.

Below is a breakdown of the 17 changes, grouped by the areas most directly affected by the individual changes.

Motor carrier related

  • Safety fitness of new operations. Previously new motor carriers underwent a safety review after 18 months of operation. MAP-21 changed that to a review after 12 months. Bus operations will be reviewed after 120 days of operation.
  • Increased penalties for operating without registration. Penalties have been increased to $1,000 for record-keeping violations and $10,000 for registration violations, up from $500 and $2,000 respectively.
  • Revocation of registration and other penalties for failure to respond to subpoena. Motor carriers that ignore subpoenas or an agency order to appear or testify can now be fined between $1,000 and $10,000, up from $100 to $500.
  • Fleetwide out-of-service order for operating without required authority. Previously if a motor carrier operated without proper authority or outside the scope of its authority the offending truck would be put out of service. Now the entire motor carrier can be put OOS.
  • Employer responsibilities. Employers were prohibited from allowing employees to drive with suspended, canceled or revoked CDLs previously and could be enforced on if they knew about the license. MAP-21 mandated a change that employers are now prohibited from letting a driver operate a truck if the employer knows or should reasonably know the CDL is not valid.
  • Penalties for violation of operation out-of-service orders. Motor carriers now face a $25,000 penalty for operating CMVs in violation of an unfit or imminent hazard OOS order.
  • Increased penalties for evasion of regulations. Willful violations of the federal regulations now have a $2,000 to $5,000 penalty for first offense and $2,500 to $7,000 for subsequent violations. Those amounts are increased from $200 to $500 and $250 to $2,000 respectively.
  • Civil penalties. Violations of hazmat regs that result in “death, serious illness or severe injury to any person or substantial destruction of property” now carry a penalty up to $175,000, up from $100,000. Violations of transportation of hazardous materials regs carry a fine up to $75,000, an increase from $50,000.


Foreign drivers and motor carriers

  • State reporting of foreign commercial driver convictions. States will now have to report convictions of foreign drivers to FMCSA of CDL holders as well as unlicensed drivers operating either commercial motor vehicles or non-CMVs.
  • Authority to disqualify foreign commercial drivers. MAP-21 mandated that the criteria to disqualify drivers now apply to foreign drivers as well.
  • Revocation of foreign motor carrier operating authority for failure to pay civil penalties. The regs on FMCSA’s authority to suspend, amend and revoke operating authority now apply to foreign motor carriers as well.


Enforcement community

  • Inspection demand and display of credentials. Employees of MCSAP-funded states are now included on the list of those authorized to inspect certain equipment and records.
  • Violations relating to CMV safety regulation and operators. The final rule removes “ability to pay” from the list of items to be considered by FMCSA when assessing a penalty on a motor carrier.
  • Emergency disqualification for imminent hazard. The definition of imminent hazard is changed to: “imminent hazard” means any condition of vehicle, employee, or commercial motor vehicle operations that substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death if not discontinued immediately.
  • Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program. MAP-21 mandated that local governments can now be identified as MCSAP partners.


Brokers

  • Financial security of brokers and freight forwarders. The final rule officially sets minimum broker bond amount at $75,000.


Miscellaneous

  • Waivers, exemptions and pilot programs. The home state of a person granted an exemption must inform roadside enforcement of the exemption. Pilot programs no longer have to be published in the Federal Register.
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