J. J. Keller® Compliance Network Logo
Start Experiencing Compliance Network for Free!
Update to Professional Trial!

Be Part of the Ultimate Safety & Compliance Community

Trending news, knowledge-building content, and more – all personalized to you!

Already have an account?
FREE TRIAL UPGRADE!
Thank you for investing in EnvironmentalHazmat related content. Click 'UPGRADE' to continue.
CANCEL
YOU'RE ALL SET!
Enjoy your limited-time access to the Compliance Network Professional Trial!
A confirmation welcome email has been sent to your email address from ComplianceNetwork@t.jjkellercompliancenetwork.com. Please check your spam/junk folder if you can't find it in your inbox.
YOU'RE ALL SET!
Thank you for your interest in EnvironmentalHazmat related content.
WHOOPS!
You've reached your limit of free access, if you'd like more info, please contact us at 800-327-6868.
Penalties and fines
  • Violations of the FMCSRs and HMRs can result in civil penalties and fines from the FMCSA.
  • The penalty amount is based on several factors such as the nature and gravity of the violation.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is authorized to levy fines and penalties against motor carriers, drivers, and other entities who violate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs), or FMCSA commercial regulations. These are known as “civil” penalties and are regulated under Part 386 and its appendices.

A civil penalty is a monetary fine imposed by a government agency as compensation for violations. A civil penalty is not the same as a criminal punishment because it cannot carry jail time or other legal penalties.

Fines and penalties issued to drivers after roadside inspections do not fall under FMCSA jurisdiction. Such fines are levied based on state law and there is no uniform fine schedule across states.

How are civil penalties determined?

The regulations in Part 386 generally list the maximum civil penalties that may be levied for various violations, although in some cases they also contain a minimum amount as well. These amounts are established by Congress in the statutes that grant enforcement powers to the FMCSA.

The actual civil penalties that get assessed against a motor carrier, driver, or other entity may depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • The nature of the violations,
  • The gravity of the violations*,
  • The violator’s degree of culpability,
  • The violator’s history of prior offenses,
  • The effect on the violator’s ability to continue to do business, and
  • Other factors “as justice and public safety may require.”

*In the case of drivers who exceed the driving-time limit by more than three hours (called an “egregious” violation), the gravity will be deemed high enough to deserve maximum penalties.

In addition to these, certain civil penalties concerning household goods are also based on the degree of harm caused to a shipper and whether the shipper was adequately compensated before the civil penalty was assessed.

Note that “ability to pay” is not taken into account except in the case of violations of insurance requirements under Part 387.

What if a fine goes unpaid?

A commercial motor vehicle owner or operator who fails to pay a civil penalty in full within 90 days after the deadline specified in a final order from the FMCSA is prohibited from operating in interstate commerce starting on the 91st day. Similarly, a broker, freight forwarder, for-hire motor carrier, foreign motor carrier, or foreign motor private carrier that fails to meet that 90-day deadline will have its registration suspended. (386.83 and 386.84)

The following tables summarize the civil penalty amounts found in Part 386.

Civil penalties for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs)/ Hazardous Material Regulations (HMRs) violations
ViolationDescriptionCivil Penalty
RecordkeepingFailing to prepare or maintain a required record or preparing or maintaining a required record that is incomplete, inaccurate, or false.$1,496 for each day of violation, up to $14,960
Knowing falsification of recordsKnowingly falsifying, destroying, mutilating, or changing a required report or record; knowingly making a false or incomplete record about an operation or business fact or transaction; or knowingly making, preparing, or preserving a record in violation of a Department of Transportation regulation or order. $14,960
Non-recordkeepingViolating a non-recordkeeping requirement of Parts 382, 385, or 390-399$18,170 per violation
Non-recordkeeping violations by driversA driver violating a non-recordkeeping requirement of Parts 382, 385, or 390–399$4,543
Driving during alcohol out-of-service (OOS) orderA driver placed OOS for 24 hours for violating the alcohol prohibitions in 392.5(a) or (b) who drives during that time$3,740, up to $7,481
Commercial driver’s license (CDL) and Clearinghouse violationsAny person violating the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse rules in Part 382, Subpart G, or the CDL rules in Part 383, Subparts B, C, E, F, G, or H$7,481
Violations of OOS orders by CDL holdersA CDL holder convicted of violating an OOS order$3,740, up to $7,481
An employer of a CDL holder knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting, or authorizing the employee to operate a CMV while the CDL holder is subject to an OOS order$7,481, up to $37,400
Railroad-crossing violationsAn employer of a CDL holder knowingly allowing, requiring, permitting, or authorizing the employee to operate a CMV in violation of a federal, state, or local law or regulation pertaining to railroad-highway grade crossings$19,389
Financial responsibilityFailing to maintain the levels of financial responsibility required under Part 387$19,933 per day
Violation of Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs) by motor carriers, drivers, shippers, or other persons who transport hazardous materials or cause them to be transported on highways by commercial vehicle Violating rules related to the transport or shipment of hazardous materials$96,624 per violation per day
Knowingly violating rules related to hazardous materials training$582, up to $96,624, per violation
Knowingly violating rules related to the manufacture, fabrication, marking, maintenance, reconditioning, repair, or testing of a packaging or container that is represented, marked, certified, or sold as being qualified for use in the transport or shipment of hazardous materials$96,624 per violation
Violating applicable FMCSRs while transporting hazardous materials$96,624
Any of the above four HMR violations resulting in death, serious illness, severe injury to any person, or substantial destruction of property$225,455 additional per offense
Motor carrier operating with an Unsatisfactory safety ratingOperating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce after receiving a final unsatisfactory safety rating$32,208 per day
Operating a CMV designed or used to transport hazardous materials for which placarding is required, after receiving a final unsatisfactory safety rating$96,624 per offense per day, or $225,455 if the violation results in death, serious illness, severe injury, or substantial destruction of property
Copying of records and access to equipment, lands, and buildings Failing to allow the FMCSA or other authorized personnel to inspect and copy any record or inspect and examine equipment, lands, buildings, and other property$1,496 per offense per day, up to $14,960
Evasion of compliance Attempting to evade compliance with regulationsAt least $2,577 but not more than $6,441 for the first violation and at least $3,219 but not more than $9,652 for a subsequent violation
Recordkeeping under commercial regulationsFailing to prepare or retain a report or answer a question within 30 days, filing a false report, destroying, or changing a report, making a false or incomplete entry about a business-related fact, or preparing or preserving a record in violation of 49 U.S.C. 131-149 or related regulationsMinimum $1,496 per violation, up to $9,652 per violation

Civil penalties for notice/order violations
ViolationDescriptionCivil Penalty
Notices to abateFailing to stop violating the regulations in the time prescribed in the noticeReinstatement of any deferred assessment or payment of a penalty (or portion thereof)
SubpoenasFailing to respond to an FMCSA subpoena to appear and testify or produce recordsMinimum of $1,288, up to $12,882 per violation
Final ordersFailing to comply with an FMCSA final orderThe full penalty that was originally assessed
Out-of-service/suspension ordersDriving a CMV while subject to an OOS order (driver)$2,232 per violation
Requiring or allowing a driver to drive a CMV while subject to an OOS order (motor carrier)$22,324 per violation
Operating an out-of-service CMV or intermodal equipment before required repairs are made (driver) $2,232 per violation
Requiring or allowing a driver to drive an out-of-service CMV or intermodal equipment before required repairs are made (motor carrier) $22,324 per violation
Failing to return written certification of correction required by the OOS order $1,116 per violation
Knowingly falsifying written certification of correction as required by the OOS order $2,232 per violation, up to $22,324
Operating in violation of an order to cease all or part of the employer’s CMV or intermodal equipment operations $32,208 per day
Conducting operations during a period of suspension for failure to pay penalties, or while registration is revoked or suspended $18,170 to $28,304 per day
Operating as a “reincarnated” carrier to avoid compliance under 386.73$28,304 per day

Civil penalties for registration/authority violations
ViolationDescription Civil Penalty
RegistrationOperating as a carrier for the transportation of property without complying with registration requirements. Minimum $12,882 per violation
Operating as a broker without complying with registration or financial security requirements. $12,882 per violation
Operating as a carrier of passengers without complying with registration requirements Minimum $21,208 per violation
Violating 49 U.S.C. 131-149, a related regulation, or a condition of registration $971 per violation, unless another penalty is provided in 49 U.S.C. 149
Hazardous wastesOperating as a carrier or broker for the transportation of hazardous wastes in violation of registration requirements Minimum $25,767 per violation, up to $51,533 per violation
Foreign carrier registration/authorityOperating as a foreign carrier or foreign private carrier of property without complying with registration requirements Minimum $12,882 per violation
Operating as a foreign carrier or foreign private carrier without authority and beyond the commercial zones $17,717 for an intentional violation, $44,294 for a pattern of intentional violations

Civil penalties for household goods violations
Violation DescriptionCivil Penalty
Shipper protectionAs a motor carrier or freight forwarder of household goods (or receiver or trustee), failing to comply with any regulation relating to the protection of individual shippers Minimum $1,937 per violation
Weight falsificationFalsifying (or authorizing the falsification of) documents used in the transportation of household goods by carrier or freight forwarder to evidence the weight of a shipmentMinimum $3,879 for the first violation, $9,695 for each subsequent violation
Service chargesCharging for services which are not performed or are not reasonably necessary in the safe and adequate movement of the shipmentMinimum $3,879 for the first violation, $9,695 for each subsequent violation
Failing to deliverViolating a contract for shipment of household goods in interstate commerce by knowingly or willfully failing to deliver the goods to the destination when charges have been estimated by the carrier and the shipper has tendered a payment$19,389 per violation per day, and/or suspension of registration for up to 36 months
Estimating costs As a broker for transportation of household goods, making an estimate of the transportation cost before entering into an agreement with a motor carrier to provide the transportation $14,960 per violation
RegistrationProviding transportation of household goods, or providing broker services for such transportation, without being properly registered$37,400 per violation

Civil penalties for rate violations
DescriptionCivil Penalty
Knowingly accepting or receiving from a carrier a rebate or offset against the rate specified in a tariff for the transportation of property delivered to the carrierThree times the amount accepted as a rebate or offset and three times the value of other consideration accepted or received as a rebate or offset for the six-year period before the action is begun
Offering, soliciting, or receiving transportation of property at a different rate than the required tariff rate$193,890 per violation
Offering, soliciting, or receiving a rebate or concession related to motor carrier transportation under 49 U.S.C. 135, or assisting or permitting another person to get that transportation at less than the required tariff rate $387 for the first violation, $484 for each subsequent violation
As a freight forwarder, assisting or willingly permitting a person to get service at less than the required rate $971 for the first violation, up to $3,879 for each subsequent violation
Getting or attempting to get service from a freight forwarder at less than the required rate $971 for the first violation, up to $3,879 for each subsequent violation

Civil penalties for loading/unloading violations
DescriptionCivil Penalty
Knowingly violating or authorizing, consenting to, or permitting a violation of 49 U.S.C. 14103 relating to loading and unloading motor vehicles$19,389 per violation

Civil penalties for other commercial violations
DescriptionCivil Penalty
Disclosing information in violation of 49 U.S.C. 14908 without the permission of the shipper or consignee$3,879
Violating 49 U.S.C. 131-149, a related regulation, or a condition of registration $971 per violation, unless another penalty is provided in 49 U.S.C. 149
A director, officer, receiver, trustee, lessee, agent, or employee of a carrier that is a corporation violating 49 U.S.C. 131-149Penalties of 49 U.S.C. 149 that apply to a corporation