The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has increased fines for a number of its regulations, sometimes doubling the fine over previous levels. In addition, they have expanded their power to issue out-of-service orders for carriers operating without proper registration.
These fines take advantage of the power granted from the MAP-21 highway funding law, which was designed by the Department of Transportation last year. Some critics question the intentions of the FMCSA and regard the fine increases and out-of-service orders as a power grab. The FMCSA claims that it’s simply bringing its regulations into line with the MAP-21 regulations as they were written.
Beyond just an increase in fines, the FMCSA is now able to place an entire carrier out of service for operating without proper registration, rather than only taking the unregistered vehicle out of service, as they did previously.
This new enforcement capability can have a major impact on new entrant carriers since safety audits must be completed within 12 months of a property carrier beginning operations, and within 120 days of a passenger carrier beginning operations. Previously, the regulations had allowed 18 months for all carriers and noncompliance only resulted in the loss of the specific vehicle, not the whole fleet.
The FMCSA is also revising its regulations regarding financial security to increase the amount required to be maintained by property brokers to $75,000, and to make the requirement applicable to freight forwarders as well.
Increased fines include:
Violation of reporting, recordkeeping and registration requirements: Increased from $500 to $1,000 for violating reporting and recordkeeping requirements. For non-passenger carrier registration vehicles the fines went from $500 to $10,000.
Violations relating to the transportation of hazardous material without proper registration: Was $20,000 and is now $40,000.
Failing to appear in court (subpoena or to testify): $1,000 and $10,000 (from current levels of $100 to $5,000)
Operating after being declared out-of-service: $25,000 maximum per day.
Violations of regulations relating to transportation of hazardous materials: Up to $75,000 in fines or, if involving death, serious illness, severe injury, or substantial destruction of property, up to $175,000.
Evading regulations; knowing and willful violations: Now $2,000-$5,000 for first time offense, $2,500-$7,000 for subsequent
[Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration]