DOT Increases Fines for Regulatory Violations

CSM Blog (2)

On December 28, 2023, the U.S. Department of Transportation increased fines for regulatory violations by just over 1%, 1.03241 to be exact. According to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, agencies must revise their civil monetary penalties every year to account for inflation. In other words, this adjustment of fines is not only required but will continue to increase year after year.

To calculate the new fines, the penalty amount is multiplied by the percent change between the October 2022 CPI-U and the October 2023 Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), per the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.

Here’s how these changes have affected various agencies and how you can mitigate such fines.

Which Agencies Have Been Affected?

According to the Federal Register, the 2024 DOT penalty increase has affected the following agencies:

  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
  • Maritime Administration (MARAD)
  • Office of the Secretary (OST)
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
  • Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (GLS)

Out of the above agencies, the GLS received the lowest number of 2024 civil penalty adjustments while the FMCSA received the highest.

Examples of Violations and Their Respective Adjustments

The full list of the 2024 civil penalty adjustments can be found in the Federal Register above and includes citation codes, descriptions, and values for both existing and new penalties.

Penalty values vary greatly depending on the agency and the citation code. For example, for the NHTSA, citations are as low as $17 and as high as $135,828,178, though most citations are in the five digits for all agencies.

The 1.03241 adjustment rate is, of course, far more evident in violations that are both high in cost and severity. Two FMCSA examples are listed below:

DescriptionCitationExisting PenaltyNew penalty (existing penalty × 1.03241)
AAppendix B (e)(2) Violations of Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs) and Safety Permitting Regulations (training)—minimum penalty49 U.S.C. 5123(a)(3)582601
BAppendix B (g)(10) Tariff violations49 U.S.C. 13702, 14903193,890200,174

In row A, the difference between the two penalties is just $19. But for row B, it’s $6,284. 

Examples of additional violations and penalties are listed below:

AgencyDescriptionCitationExisting PenaltyNew penalty (existing penalty × 1.03241)
MARADMaximum civil penalty for violations in applying for or renewing a vessel’s fishery endorsement46 U.S.C. 12151181,713187,602
FAATampering with a smoke alarm device49 U.S.C. 46301(b)5,1715,339
FRAMinimum rail safety penalty49 U.S.C. ch. 2131,0521,086
FMCSAAppendix B (g)(2) Violations of the CRs (brokers)49 U.S.C. 14916(c)12,88213,300
NHTSAMaximum penalty per violation for filing false or misleading reports49 U.S.C. 30165(a)(4)6,4416,650
OSTCivil penalties forindividuals or smallbusinesses for violations of49 U.S.C. 41712 orconsumer protection rulesand orders issued pursuantto that provision49 U.S.C.46301(a)(5)(D)4,0284,159

How to Avoid DOT Fines

If it were easy to avoid DOT violations and fines, then everybody would be saving money. But sometimes, it’s hard to keep driver files organized, stay prepared for random (and often remote) DOT audits, and manage your fleet with outdated systems. 

With Compliance Safety Manager’s cloud-based software, you’ll always stay on top of your vehicle assets, DQ files, and drug screenings with ease. Whether you need real-time notifications to remind you of renewals and deadlines or you need a safe place to store certifications and driver photos, Compliance Safety Manager will make you and your fleet ready to pass any DOT audit.

Additional features of the CSM software include:

  • DOT Paperwork Checklist
  • PSPs
  • MVRs
  • DOT Medical Cards
  • Supervisor Review of Violations
  • Driver’s Annual List of Violations
  • Vehicle Asset Tracking
    • Repairs
    • Inspections 
    • Renewals
    • Warranties

Save time and money with CSM today. Schedule a Demo.