49 U.S.C. § 31144 - Safety fitness of owners and operators

Cite as:49 U.S.C. § 31144
Currency:Current through P.L. 116-135 (03/26/2020)
 
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(a) IN GENERAL.-The Secretary shall-

(1) determine whether an owner or operator is fit to operate safely commercial motor vehicles, utilizing among other things the accident record of an owner or operator operating in interstate commerce and the accident record and safety inspection record of such owner or operator-

(A) in operations that affect interstate commerce within the United States; and

(B) in operations in Canada and Mexico if the owner or operator also conducts operations within the United States;

(2) periodically update such safety fitness determinations;

(3) make such final safety fitness determinations readily available to the public; and

(4) prescribe by regulation penalties for violations of this section consistent with section 521.

(b) PROCEDURE.-The Secretary shall maintain by regulation a procedure for determining the safety fitness of an owner or operator. The procedure shall include, at a minimum, the following elements:

(1) Specific initial and continuing requirements with which an owner or operator must comply to demonstrate safety fitness.

(2) A methodology the Secretary will use to determine whether an owner or operator is fit.

(3) Specific time frames within which the Secretary will determine whether an owner or operator is fit.

(c) PROHIBITED TRANSPORTATION.-

(1) IN GENERAL.-Except as provided in section 521(b)(5)(A) and this subsection, an owner or operator who the Secretary determines is not fit may not operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce beginning on the 61st day after the date of such fitness determination and until the Secretary determines such owner or operator is fit.

(2) OWNERS OR OPERATORS TRANSPORTING PASSENGERS.-With regard to owners or operators of commercial motor vehicles designed or used to transport passengers, an owner or operator who the Secretary determines is not fit may not operate in interstate commerce beginning on the 46th day after the date of such fitness determination and until the Secretary determines such owner or operator is fit.

(3) OWNERS OR OPERATORS TRANSPORTING HAZARDOUS MATERIAL.-With regard to owners or operators of commercial motor vehicles designed or used to transport hazardous material for which placarding of a motor vehicle is required under regulations prescribed under chapter 51, an owner or operator who the Secretary determines is not fit may not operate in interstate commerce beginning on the 46th day after the date of such fitness determination and until the Secretary determines such owner or operator is fit. A violation of this paragraph by an owner or operator transporting hazardous material shall be considered a violation of chapter 51, and shall be subject to the penalties in sections 5123 and 5124.

(4) SECRETARY'S DISCRETION.-Except for owners or operators described in paragraphs (2) and (3), the Secretary may allow an owner or operator who is not fit to continue operating for an additional 60 days after the 61st day after the date of the Secretary's fitness determination, if the Secretary determines that such owner or operator is making a good faith effort to become fit.

(5) TRANSPORTATION AFFECTING INTERSTATE COMMERCE.-Owners or operators of commercial motor vehicles prohibited from operating in interstate commerce pursuant to paragraphs (1) through (3) of this section may not operate any commercial motor vehicle that affects interstate commerce until the Secretary determines that such owner or operator is fit.

(d) DETERMINATION OF UNFITNESS BY STATE.-If a State that receives motor carrier safety assistance program funds under section 31102 determines, by applying the standards prescribed by the Secretary under subsection (b), that an owner or operator of a commercial motor vehicle that has its principal place of business in that State and operates in intrastate commerce is unfit under such standards and prohibits the owner or operator from operating such vehicle in the State, the Secretary shall prohibit the owner or operator from operating such vehicle in interstate commerce until the State determines that the owner or operator is fit.

(e) REVIEW OF FITNESS DETERMINATIONS.-

(1) IN GENERAL.-Not later than 45 days after an unfit owner or operator requests a review, the Secretary shall review such owner's or operator's compliance with those requirements with which the owner or operator failed to comply and resulted in the Secretary determining that the owner or operator was not fit.

(2) OWNERS OR OPERATORS TRANSPORTING PASSENGERS.-Not later than 30 days after an unfit owner or operator of commercial motor vehicles designed or used to transport passengers requests a review, the Secretary shall review such owner's or operator's compliance with those requirements with which the owner or operator failed to comply and resulted in the Secretary determining that the owner or operator was not fit.

(3) OWNERS OR OPERATORS TRANSPORTING HAZARDOUS MATERIAL.-Not later than 30 days after an unfit owner or operator of commercial motor vehicles designed or used to transport hazardous material for which placarding of a motor vehicle is required under regulations prescribed under chapter 51, the Secretary shall review such owner's or operator's compliance with those requirements with which the owner or operator failed to comply and resulted in the Secretary determining that the owner or operator was not fit.

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