A little inflation of around 2% is a good thing; such inflation encourages people to actually use their money rather than hide it under a mattress. Inflation rates above 9 percent, however, are a little more worrisome. The DOT’s recent final rule is a strong example of why.
The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 requires federal agencies (such as the Department of Transportation) to update fine numbers annually. Its stated purpose is to allow fines to continue to be punitive and deter people from breaking regulations, regardless of whatever the economy may bring.
To find the amount to increase it by, the DOT compared the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for October 2021 with the CPI-U for October 2020. With the 2021 CPI-C being about 6.2% higher, fines increased 6.2%. This can be seen on the listings, fines across the board increasing by approximately that amount.
Violations range in scope from additional tariff violations ($359) to violating Hazardous Materials Regulations and Safety Permitting Regulations that lead to death, serious injury, or damage to property ($209,249). Here are other ones you may wish to know:
- Intentional falsification of records ($13,885)
- Operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle known to be Out-of-Service ($2,072)
- Driving without a valid and active CDL ($6,269)
- Driving while above the legal alcohol limit ($3,471 to $9,943)
- Driving beyond hours-of-service regulations ($3.741 to $9,943)
- Failure to respond to Agency subpoena to appear and testify or produce records ($1,195 to $11,956)
Unfortunately, with the numbers being calculated between the two Octobers every year, the most recent rounds of inflation we have seen have not hit the violation fines, and will most likely not for another year. If the rate of inflation continues to increase as it has for the months to come, these numbers will only become scarier and scarier.
With that said, the amount for each fine means nothing if a driver or fleet does not violate them. Remember to drive safely: if not for yourself and others, for your pocketbook!
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