DOT Fines and Violations Updates

Someone reminded me a couple days ago, the DOT made some adjustments in their fine amounts earlier in 2016. Some of the changes were not terribly dramatic, some of them were pretty interesting. It doesn’t even show up on the DOT Website as a news release. But sometimes I think it is useful to review what some of the DOT’s potential fines are, as people have never heard them. I’ll touch on a few; and if anyone is interested in the chart, I can send it via email.

Failure to submit to a request for information: It was $1,000 and now it’s $1,028 – the key to remember here is, it’s that much PER DAY.
There’s a different penalty that sounds pretty much the same; you’d have to read the regulation carefully to see what the distinction is: Failure to respond to request to testify or provide records: it was $10,000 per day, and it went to $10,282 – again, they can charge you this much per day.
I read about a guy who was charged with the 1st count for 37 days or something, so his find was $37,000 to start. Did he actually say “I”m not going to cooperate with the agency”? Nope. He forgot to change his phone number. Moved a couple miles, wanted to change his phone number, the phone company was jacking him around, and he said ‘to heck with it, we use cell phones for everything anyway’, and the FMCSA tried to call him on a dead line. So, how do you avoid the 1st one? keep your MCS-150 up to date.

Requiring or permitting operation of a vehicle that has been placed out of service: There are nine different versions of this one; fines were $3,100; (now $1,782); $21,000; (now $17,816); $3,100; (now $1,782); $21,000; (now $17,816); $850; (now $891); $25,000; (now $25,705); $16,000; (now $22,587); $16,000 (now $14,502); and $11,000 (now $22,587).

Some of these go up, a few go down; the point of the update in June 2016 was not necessarily to INCREASE fines; it was to correct an administrative regulation that was around for more than a decade that rounded things off to the nearest thousand dollars. Apparently the regulation was in conflict with an underlying law.

But when you see the amounts, you should realize everything is PER DAY or PER DOCUMENT. For instance, if you fail to submit to a CR, it could be $1,000 per day or $10,000 per day, but if you pay attention and know what is going on, you are NOT going to refuse to comply.
If you allow someone to operate a vehicle that has been declared OOS, it might be as little as $891 per day or as much as $25,705 per day.

One of the most common mistakes people make is to allow drivers to falsify their logs (Let’s be honest, some motor carriers encourage or compel the practice). If you get caught, the fine might be as much as $11,000 per page; more commonly $500.

Here is the point I always try to help people understand in my business; Most of the rules in the FMCSR are things an honest person can do without meaning to, and the DOT is pretty lenient as long as you don’t make the same mistake twice in 6 years. BUT, there are a few things the agency is really strict about – some Hazmat rules carry a fine of $171,000 per incident. The key is to know what the agency’s “Hot-buttons” are and avoid making those mistakes. These are what the DOT calls Critical and Acute violations – I spend a lot of time teaching about those rules.
The agency is talking about scrapping the list of Critical and Acute rules, but they are going to implement another list that is almost identical, so if you read something about the critical and acute list being removed from the regs, look for comments about the ‘table 2 and table 3’ rules.

The DOT says you are supposed to know what the rules are, too, so if you haven’t already done so, look at our schedule and come to a seminar near you soon.
If you have been but it was more than 3 or 4 years ago, a refresher is probably a pretty good idea. I hope to see you there.

Have a safe day.

-Mike England

President, DOT Compliance Help, Inc.


About DOT Compliance Help Inc
Phone: 847-836-6063 web: e-mail DOT Compliance Help, Inc. is a full-service consulting firm specializing in the interpretation and execution of the regulations and guidelines set forth by the US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. •Mission Statement• To assist our clients in establishing proper safety management controls in order to minimize accidents, injuries, and fatalities. The ultimate goals are safer roadways for the public and increased profits for our clients. Our core consulting competencies include FMCSA Assessments (mock audits), DOT compliance training (on-site and via webinar) and custom safety plans and policies. We also hold DOT compliance workshops and conferences all across the country. Utilizing a proprietary curriculum developed by our President, Mike England, our classes cover everything you need to know about the FMCSRs, how to survive your next DOT Compliance Review, and how Comprehensive safety Analysis (CSA 2010) will affect you.

One Response to DOT Fines and Violations Updates

  1. It’s good to learn more about DOT’s fines and rules. My dad is thinking of becoming a trucker, so transportation will definitely become a huge part of his job. I like how the fines weren’t increased, but were just adjusted to be more accurate. That’s good to know.

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