If you’re in the motor carrier business in Ohio, you’re in a highly-regulated industry in which legal headaches are common.
At Yemc Law Offices, we help commercial (CDL) drivers and trucking and transportation companies with their legal needs.
Trucking Regulatory Matters
Commercial transportation companies in Ohio are considered public utilities and are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), as well as by the US government.
The PUCO registers transportation companies operating in Ohio and tries to ensure that they obey both federal and state safety regulations.
The Ohio Motor Carrier Safety Guidebook deals with issues like:
- Motor Carrier Registration
- Motor Carrier Safety and Enforcement
- Fuel Taxes
- Oversize/Overweight Vehicles and Loads
- Turnpike Regulations, Tolls, Fees, and Permits
- Insurance Requirements
- Commercial Driver’s Licenses
Every year, about 450 compliance reviews are conducted by the PUCO. These reviews involve:
- Evaluating a Trucking Company’s Compliance with Regulations
- Informing Trucking Companies About Transportation Regulations
- Comparing a Trucking Company’s Safety Experience with the Experience of Similar Companies
A compliance review will involve reviewing:
- Driver Qualification Files (Proof of CDL Status)
- Records of Driver Duty Status
- Vehicle Maintenance Records
- Hazardous Materials Employee Training Files
The PUCO sends the results of these reviews to the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), which issues safety ratings and warnings to trucking companies.
PUCO employees and the Ohio Highway Patrol also conduct random roadside inspections of commercial trucks at weigh stations, rest stops, and other locations.
The PUCO has its own court system with the power to assess monetary penalties against trucking companies that violate the laws.
When a company receives a “notice of intent to assess civil forfeiture” it has 30 days in which to make payment or request a conference. Thus, it’s important not to delay! Most of these conferences are held by telephone, but sometimes they’re in person.
Penalties for violations are based on a trucking company’s history of violations. Penalties may be increased due to a past history of violations, or decreased for a trucking company with a good safety history.
Sometimes, the PUCO will put penalties partially on hold to encourage future safety improvements.
If a matter isn’t resolved in a conference, it can go to a full administrative hearing, and potentially to court.
We help transportation companies with all levels of regulatory matters, including:
- Administrative Hearings
- Court Cases
You can see the record of one of our PUCO cases here.
Hazardous Materials (Hazmat)
All vehicles that carry hazardous materials and require a placard are subject to both Ohio and federal safety regulations.
The federal regulations are found in Parts 100-185 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Penalties for violations of hazardous materials laws take into consideration:
- The nature and circumstances of the violation
- The size and seriousness of the violation
- The degree to which a trucking company is tesponsible
- The trucking company’s prior violations
- The trucking company’s ability to pay
- The effect of the penalty on the trucking company’s ability to continue in business
- Any other matters “As Justice May Require”
As you can see, there are a lot of issues here, and these are not open-and-shut cases.
We help trucking companies with issues related to hazardous materials regulations, compliance, and penalties.
Trucking Company Formation, Agreements, Disputes, and Litigation
We help trucking companies with business matters, disputes, and litigation.
For example, we can help with:
- Starting a trucking company in Ohio
- Owner-operator agreements
- Contract disputes
- Freight handling disputes
- Cargo claims
- Disputes about freight charges
Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL)
As discussed below, we help truckers and trucking companies with DUI/OVI issues that affect a driver’s ability to hold a CDL.
Driving Under the Influence of alcohol (DUI) or Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI) mean the same thing: operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of (or impaired by) drugs or alcohol.
Another term sometimes used in Ohio is OMVI (operating a motor vehicle impaired). However, it’s a crime in Ohio even to operate some non-motorized vehicles while under the influence – even bicycles and horse-drawn wagons!
For most people 21 and older, having a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) over .08 indicates impairment.
“High tier” BAC counts — .17 for blood and breath, .238 for urine – can lead to enhanced penalties.
Holders of Commercial Driver’s Licenses are held to higher standards than other drivers – in part because large trucks can do so much more damage on the roads if the driver is impaired. For example, the legal blood alcohol limit for commercial drivers is half of what it is for drivers of passenger vehicles.
If you’re a commercial driver who’s been charged with DUI/OVI, or if you’re a trucking company and your employee or contractor has been charged, we may be able to help.
To learn more, please click here.
Yemc Law Offices – A Trusted Resource for Transportation Companies
For over 20 years Yemc Law Offices have helped transportation companies with their legal needs. Whatever your company’s trucking-related legal issue, we can help you understand it and advise you on the best way to resolve it.
Contact Us Today
We understand the needs of transportation and trucking companies. Contact us today and we’ll give you a free case evaluation.