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The DOT Has Just Increased Fines & Penalties

The DOT has adjusted penalties and fines relative to violations of the FMCSR

Based on requirements stated in the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015, the DOT has recently adjusted fines and penalties accordingly, based solely on inflation. Relatively speaking, the fines did not increase substantially, however, any amount of fine comes right from your profit margin.

For a company to obtain success, there is a lot of hard work involved, and in some cases many years of hard work, just Burning Cashto make a small profit margin. Of course, some companies make more profit than others, and yet, some industries are able to make even higher profit margins than other industries. With so many variables involved in the trucking business, it is not easy to make even a 6% profit margin while a manufacturer, for example, who has a fleet of trucks may be able to achieve a much higher margin. Regardless of the amount of profits, it seems ridiculous to give it away in fines due to being in violation with safety regulations. We all work too hard for that.

In my 28 years experience in fleet safety and DOT compliance, assisting over 5,000 motor carriers in various industries, I have seen many companies achieve a 4-to-1 return on investment (ROI) once they have also achieved nearly 100% compliance with the federal safety regulations (FMCSR). Additionally, there were a handful of other clients who let me talk them onto enhancing their safety policies to supersede the DOT regulations, and in doing so were able to see a 10-to-1 ROI.

While I, nor any other safety consultant can guarantee these types of profit increases, safety done right should save your company money. The following list of items are recommendations to begin the potential increase in profits through increasing safety efforts within the transportation operation of your business. These items are some of the bare minimum expectations of the DOT:

  • Learn the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations: FMCSR, Part 390.3(e)(1) - "Every employer shall be knowledgeable of and comply with all regulations......
  • Ensure your drivers understand the regulations: FMCSR, Part 390.3(e)(2) - "Every driver and employee involved in motor carrier operations shall be  instructed regarding and shall comply with all regulations......
  • Implement a system to ensure vehicles meet requirements: FMCSR, Part 396.3(a) - "Every motor carrier and intermodal equipment provider must "Systematically" inspect, repair, and maintain all motor vehicles......
  • Ensure that drivers are qualified: FMCSR, Part 391.11(b) - Refer to the list of 8 criteria
  • Monitor expiration dates of documents required to be in the "Driver Qualification" file; such as license, medical exam, annual review, MVR, HazMat training, etc.
  • Monitor expiration dates (or mileage) regarding vehicle PM, annual inspections, etc.
  • Implement a system to ensure your company updates or renews all required registrations; such as MCS-150, MCS-90, UCR, HazMat, Safety Permit, etc.
  • Make sure your company has properly documented all required activities, driver qualification, training, inspections, maintenance, etc, and that the record retention requirements are met.
  • And much more

The table below indicates particular violations and the associated fines. This table is only a glimpse of the many different violations and fines potentially assessed to the millions of motor carriers currently in operation.

DOT Fines
Record-keeping: Maximum penalty per day $1,239
Record-keeping: Maximum total penalty $12,383
Knowing falsification of records $12,383
Non-Record-keeping violation by motor carrier $15,040
Non-Record-keeping violations by driver $3,760
Alcohol prohibition violations $3,096
Commercial driver's license violations $5,591
Penalty pertaining to OOS violation $3,096
Knowingly allowing or authorizing employee violations (min) $5,591
Knowingly allowing or authorizing employee violations (max) $30,956
Financial responsibility $16,499
Railroad crossing violations $16,048
Hazardous Materials (max) $79,976
Hazardous Materials (death, serious injury, property destruction) $186,610
Operating after declared unfit - Unsatisfactory (generally) $26,659
Operating after declared unfit - Unsatisfactory (Hazmat) $79,976
Violations of commercial regulations $10,663
Loading and unloading violations $16,048




To avoid paying such fines or potentially being shut down for being "Unfit" or having been assigned an "Unsatisfactory" Safety Rating, contact Vogel Safety Inc, a transportation safety consulting firm, for assistance in meeting compliance with the FMCSA/DOT Safety Regulations. You can be one of the thousands of motor carriers who have benefited from our expert services and advice.

It's the right thing to do...It's the profitable thing to do. Let us help to potentially decrease fines, reduce accidents, reduce injuries, and increase your ROI.