News stories and the FMCSA alike report that a Canadian driver has been shut down and prohibited from operating in the U.S. by the FMCSA. This suspension comes after several reported and deliberate violation of safety regulation issued by the federal agency in charge of regulating truck and bus safety throughout the country.
The step of suspending someone from operating in the U.S. is a drastic one that the FMCSA can only take after making certain findings of fact and law. While regulations do authorize the agency to suspend a company or driver from operating on U.S. roads, those regulations authorizing it are very specific.
In this case, it is reported that the driver at issue ignored several stop work orders issued at different times over a span of four days. Included in the reported violations were disregarding out-of-service orders, secretly taking his truck from a storage facility, and violating service of hours rules. Now the man faces both state law violations involving the criminal code and federal civil fine assessments.
FMCSA Authority and Civil Fine Assessments
Congress has authorized the FMCSA to issue civil fines when a driver or trucking company violates certain federal regulations. Those regulations include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, Hazardous Materials Regulations, and other safety based statutes and laws. But this power to issue fines is not unlimited, and is itself regulated by specific factors Congress demands be addressed.
Before the FMCSA can issue a civil fine for violations, they must first issue a report and illustrate what the fine is for and what factors were used. This is done by implementing the Uniform Fine Assessment, a calculation tool that is used to measure the seriousness of the accused violations. Within that matrix, there are a number of limits on fines that can be issued, for example:
- hours of service violations can reach a maximum of $11,000 for each violation;
- violating record keeping requirements can be fined up to $550 for each violation, up to a total of $5,500;
- knowingly falsifying or altering mandated reports can subject the doer to a maximum penalty of $5,500.
With each of these potential penalties are factors that must be considered by the FMCSA before issuing the fine. Some of those factors are the culpability level of the person accused, number of times violated in the past, and measures taken by the company or person to prevent future violations.
As you can see, a normal day on the job combined with regulations violations can become expensive quickly. Of course prevention of these interactions is key, but how to that remains a mystery to some. One important factor is understanding the regulations and having a competent legal partner guiding your company is essential.
For all of your company’s legal needs, from litigation to regulations compliance contact us. At Anderson and Yamada, P.C., our team is dedicated to providing your company with the most comprehensive and expert guidance possible. We look forward to helping you in whatever you trucking company’s legal needs are.