FMCSA Policy on the Suspension of Operating Authority for Hostage Load Violations


This post summarizes the FMCSA’s new policy concerning enforcement of its household goods (HHG) motor carrier and broker regulations.

Beginning October 18, 2012, and pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 14915, any person, including a motor carrier or broker, that holds a HHG shipment hostage is subject to a $10,000 civil penalty for each violation. Each day the goods are held hostage may constitute a separate violation. In addition with the publication of this policy statement FMCSA may suspend a broker or motor carrier’s registration for a period of not less than 12 months or more than 36 months. The suspension of a carrier’s or broker’s registration extends to and includes any carrier or broker having the same ownership or operational control as the suspended carrier or broker.

FMCSA may suspend a carrier’s or broker’s registration upon a determination by FMCSA that the carrier or broker knowingly and willfully failed, in violation of a contract, to deliver or unload at the destination of a shipment of HHG for which charges have been estimated and for which payment has been tendered. Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 13707(b)(3)(A), payment is tendered when a shipper pays: (1) 100 percent of the charges contained in a binding estimate provided by the carrier; (2) not more than 110 percent of the charges contained in a nonbinding estimate provided by the carrier; (3) or in the case of a partial delivery of the shipment, the prorated percentage of the charges.

In determining whether to initiate a registration suspension for hostage load violations FMCSA generally considers a motor carrier’s six-year compliance history. The six-year period is consistent with FMCSA’s penalty assessment policies regarding “history of prior offenses” and “pattern of violations.”

To read the official release, click here.

To view other household goods blog posts, click here.

The Law Office of David Piotrowski can assist moving companies with obtaining their operating authoritycreating a tariff, and creating a custom Bill of Lading and other required household goods moving documents.

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