Federal Update
New CDL standards toughen up out-of-service violation penalties

By Jami Jones
senior editor

Every trucker knows that violating an out-of-service order can be bad news - and the news can be even worse now, thanks to the new commercial driver's license standards.

Because of the commercial driver's license standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration - that were supposed to be implemented by all states by the end of September 2005 - many violations now have pretty tough penalties.

Any driver hauling non-hazardous materials convicted of violating an out-of-service order is to be disqualified at least 90 days but not more than a year for the first offense, according to the federal standards.

Now, truckers hauling hazmat loads convicted of violating an out-of-service order are to be disqualified at least 180 days but not more than two years according to the feds.

As with all the disqualifications in the federal standard, those disqualification time periods essentially act as guidelines for the states. State officials have the option of adopting the disqualifications, as they are in the federal standard, or adopting even tougher ones.

Pennsylvania is a good example of a state that's taken the strong-arm approach at disqualifications for out-of-service violations.

Pennsylvania adopted an out-of-service violation disqualification of one year for truckers hauling non-hazardous materials - taking the top end of the federal guideline for disqualification.

But, Pennsylvania officials decided to toughen up the disqualification for truckers hauling hazmat - it's three years for any trucker hauling hazmat who is convicted of violating an out-of-service order.

And truckers who have a Pennsylvania CDL need to know that Pennsylvania will treat the OOS violation just as if it happened in the state. So, truckers will face the one- and three-year disqualifications if they violate an out-of-service order in any state.

All states were required to have some form or fashion of the commercial driver's license standards enacted as of Sept. 30, 2005. The standards outline disqualifications for major and serious offenses. While the OOS violations are not categorized as major or serious, they are included with the recommended times of disqualifications included.