The transportation of hazardous material also known as Hazmat brings with it the possibility of many misdemeanor violations. Drivers need to be extremely cautious about routes, maps, placards, endorsements, hours of service (HOS), securing cargo and carrying shipping instructions so that they do not get violations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a branch of the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the transportation of HazMat under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA).
HazMat Violations and Ticketing
HazMat transport comes with a list of violations that are misdemeanors. At the FMCSA level, there are 360 violations considered misdemeanor crimes and some states impose others. First, you must have an endorsement to your commercial driver’s license (CDL) to transport HazMat. Driving without an endorsement for HazMat is a misdemeanor that could lead to jail time, a $4,175.00 fine, plus three Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) points.
Once again, there is a long laundry list of disqualifiers to prevent you from getting an endorsement, such as previous misdemeanors and felonies, child abuse, terrorist acts, etc. The driver must pass a background check, mental and physical exams, and drug and alcohol test, followed by a multiple-choice test. Drivers must give 16 correct answers out of 20 to pass the test.
After the drivers pass these tests, they must always prevent misdemeanor violations and tickets while transporting dangerous cargo by matching the markings and labels on the package to that on the paper. HazMat cannot be kept in the pouch of the driver, nor the assistant driver’s pouch either. All HazMat must be out of reach of the driver once their seatbelt is fastened.
Carriers must maintain shipping instructions for a minimum of five months to two years. The shipper should also warn others of the HazMat placing placards (correctly) on the truck. Use DOT 15, Hazardous Materials Markings, Labeling and Placarding Guide. Incorrectly marking a truck is a violation.
Transporting HazMat is risky, and proper attention needs to be paid during the process. During transport, if the HazMat starts leaking, the driver must call the National Response Center immediately. The driver must evacuate the area immediately to get help controlling the leaking HazMat.
The lives of other drivers and their families are put in danger by shippers who do not pack the HazMat correctly. Thus, extra care and vigilance must be shown by drivers in case of any mishap to minimize environmental damage and loss of life.
In CA, it is a misdemeanor to transport HazMat without a CHP approved map of the route and authorized stopping areas; driving more than the 11 hours allowed under FMCSA HOS rules or not taking a break before the 8th hour of driving. Also, taking a break in an unauthorized location is a violation. Failure to comply with any FMCSA HOS rules could result in a fine of $2,125.00 and possibly jail time.
Discuss any violation with a traffic ticket attorney before answering questions or making a statement to law enforcement or officers of the court. These are not infractions; these are misdemeanor crimes, and you have the full protection of the Constitution, including “the right to remain silent.”
Traffic Attorneys for Misdemeanors in Bakersfield or Kern County, CA
Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, before saying anything. We cannot stress this enough. Many drivers think, “I have nothing to hide. I’ll just answer their questions.” Consult with an attorney first. From our office in Bakersfield, we represent many HazMat drivers who have been accused of a misdemeanor violation and are scheduled to appear in the Superior Court of Kern County.
In most cases, we can make the appearance for you unless we believe you should appear. Give us a call to discuss your case; the initial call is free, and there is never an obligation. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
The 2018 CA Commercial Driver Handbook .pdf
The FMCSA Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Program website
DOT 15, Hazardous Materials Markings, Labeling and Placarding Guide.