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By Jeff McConnell & James Mennella
Attorneys at law


Truck drivers know that, just like drug trafficking, human trafficking is a booming business.

In this article we take a look at a few questions as they relate to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and Section 392.60 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).

Q: I recently picked up a hitchhiker at a truck stop. When I got to the next inspection station, the officer wrote me a citation for having an unauthorized passenger. What’s the deal?

A: Under Section 392.60 of the FMCSR, unless you have written authorization, you are not allowed to transport or allow any person to be transported in or on a commercial vehicle.

The authorization must state the name of the person to be transported, the points where the transportation is to begin and end, and the date upon which such authority expires.

If you operate under your own authority, it shouldn’t be too hard for you to give yourself this permission if you wanted to have a family member travel with you. However, if you are leased to a carrier or a company driver, you will need to get this authorization from the carrier in order to comply with Section 392.60.

Q: I was approached by a man at a truck stop who asked me if I could take his daughter to a nearby city where his wife would pick her up. The situation didn’t seem right, so I declined to do it. Is there anything else I should have done?

A: You did the correct thing by not transporting an unauthorized person in your CMV. If the incident didn’t seem quite right, then it may have been beneficial to make a call to the local authorities so it could be investigated.

Other resources are the National Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 and the Web site

Q: I recently was traveling near the border when another trucker told me that there were two suspected illegals clinging to the top of my trailer. I called the police, and the men were detained without incident. Could I have been charged with smuggling or trafficking if law enforcement had seen them first?

A: Anything is possible, but your scenario is a little different from most smuggling or trafficking events. Generally, smugglers and traffickers are trying to avoid detection of the illegal or illicit cargo and transportation is usually done in enclosed or tightly packed trailers/containers, etc. Because the unauthorized passengers found their way onto your vehicle and were visible to other drivers, it is doubtful that you would face charges.

However, if the men or women in question had gained access to the inside of your trailer, then the odds of being charged with harboring, conspiracy, and transporting illegal immigrants would be significantly higher.

If you operate in or around border towns or make frequent border crossings, then you would be wise to make a thorough pre-trip inspection. Be sure that the seal on the trailer has not been tampered with and that you don’t have any unauthorized or unwanted passengers/cargo anywhere on the vehicle. LL

Send any questions or comments regarding transportation law to: Jeff McConnell and James Mennella, Road Law, 3441 W. Memorial, Suite 4, Oklahoma City, OK 73134, call 405-242-2030, fax 405-242-2040, or e-mail