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The Top 7 Misdemeanor HazMat Violations

undefinedMisdemeanor HazMat violations are career enders. Anyone of the nearly 350 can send you to the county jail and/or bankruptcy court for the small indie owner/driver. As an owner-operator, you could be liable for civil penalties by the FMCSA if convicted of a misdemeanor hazmat violation.

Plus, many sections of the CA traffic code puts the burden on the owner and the driver. Therefore, the owner-operator could be liable in both cases.

A conviction on a misdemeanor HazMat violation will not only cost you tens of thousands of dollars in civil penalties and fines, particularly if they cause injury, air or water pollution, or death, but you could very well go to jail.

#7 — Misdemeanor HazMat Violation — Missing or Incorrect Endorsement

CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 31602 (a), Transportation of Explosives, prescribes that it is a misdemeanor to allow a driver to transport explosives without a CDL or the correct endorsement. A conviction could result in a fine of $4,175 and three NOTS points.

#6 — Missing or Outdated Inspection Record

CVC Section 31609, Transportation of Explosives says, “The driver of the vehicle shall display the record upon demand of any member of the CHP…” or any peace officer whose primary duty is to enforce the traffic code. A conviction for an outdated or missing inspection record could lead to a misdemeanor record and a fine of $4,175.

#5 — Stop or Break in an Unauthorized Area

CVC Section 31602 (c), Transportation of Explosives, warns that it is a misdemeanor to stop or for the owner to allow a stop in an unauthorized area while hauling explosives. The CHP is the authority for approving and issuing route maps with marked stops. Violations of this section that result in a conviction could result in a fine of $4,175 and three NOTS points.

#4 — Missing Shipping Instructions with Explosives

CVC Section 31612, Transportation of Explosives, makes it a misdemeanor for the driver to accept explosives without “a bill of lading or other shipping paper supplied by the shipper.”  Those instructions must state the type of explosive and a statement from the shipper saying the contents were labeled, packaged, and marked according to DOT standards. The shipper must also provide the driver with the correct placards for the vehicle.

#3 — HOS Violation

CVC Section 34506, Safety Regulations, makes it a misdemeanor crime to violate the FMCSA HOS rules. The fine could be as much as $2,125, and the DMV will assess 1.5 NOTS points if convicted of the DOT HOS rules.

#2 — Outdated or Missing Route Map

CVC Section 31611, Transportation of Explosives, requires each truck to carry authorized maps outlining “…safe stopping places prescribed by the regulations of the Department of the California Highway Patrol for vehicles transporting explosives.” Once again, it is on the owner of the vehicle to acquire and issue the authorized maps. Therefore, the independent or owner-operator could be in grave financial peril with a misdemeanor conviction of violating this section of the vehicle code. A conviction could result in a CA fine of $4,175 and three NOTS points, plus the FMCSA CSA scores and civil penalties.

#1 — Misdemeanor HazMat Violation — Speeding

In this case, there will be no drum roll, please. Although it shouldn’t surprise anyone, speeding is the number one violation. Speeding tickets are the most frequently-issued traffic ticket in every state and across the nation.

However, very few states besides California have a misdemeanor speeding fine that applies only to CMVs. That’s correct; CVC 22406.1, Speed Laws apply only to commercial vehicles that exceed the 55 mph statewide speed limit.

Paragraph (a) states, “A person who operates a commercial motor vehicle…upon a highway at a speed exceeding a posted speed limit established under this code by 15 miles per hour or more, is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

It is also a “serious offense” according to DOT compliance and FMCSA rules, which adds ten-point maximum CSA scores for drivers. A second serious offense in the same BASICs category will lead to a 60-day disqualification. A third would mean 120 days.

However, you would think that HazMat drivers would be more conscientious, more careful. And, typically, experienced HazMat drivers are diligent and meticulous. We are all human, and humans get in a hurry or get distracted because the shippers kept them waiting for four hours, and then traffic was backed up on I-5 or 99. Stuff happens to everyone.

Traffic Attorneys Who Handle Misdemeanor HazMat Violations in Kern County

It is safe to say you should use your “right to remain silent” when issued a summons for a traffic violation, such as a misdemeanor HazMat violation in Kern County. Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

We represent drivers involved in traffic violations, roadside inspection stops, and DMV NOTS hearings. Give us a call so that we can discuss the specifics of your case before you make a statement to the CHP or an officer of the court.

Email: attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com.

References:

The 2019 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf