Trucking Accident Law Update: When does a trucking company become an Interstate Carrier?

trucking company become an interstate carrier

It is often said that there’s only a thin line that distinguishes an intrastate trucking company and an interstate trucking company. But there’s indeed a big margin that separates the two. Intrastate trucking concerns the carriage of goods from one point to another within a state.

Interstate trucking, on the other hand, refers to the carriage of goods across state borders. Interstate trucking also includes commercial motor vehicles across ‘outside’ state lines (that is, shipments from the U.S to Mexico or Canada).

While the distinctive factor above is primary, there are other areas that distinguish an interstate motor carrier. Our Arizona personal injury lawyers with experience in trucking accident claims are ready to give you the attention your case needs.

Why the difference between interstate and intrastate trucking is important

Interstate and intrastate trucking are essentially two different areas. The laws or regulatory bodies that govern the driver, vehicle, and company are not the same. As an interstate driver or company, you’re required to register with the Secretary of Transportation. The business of an intrastate trucking company is limited to a state, and no registration with the Secretary of Transportation is needed.

Knowing the difference between intrastate and interstate trucking also helps if a trucking accident occurs. An insurance company may refuse to pay ‘legitimate’ claims if it is realized that the vehicle wasn’t appropriately covered under the right insurance. This is no doubt a nightmare for victims of trucking accidents.
As an interstate trucking company, you’re subject to the rules and regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA). Intrastate trucking companies are guided by the various state laws and state regulatory agencies.

Do you need a USDOT number for interstate trucking?

The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) Number is a unique identifying number assigned to registered commercial vehicles. The number is used to collect information on the safety of a vehicle, information acquired during audits, compliance reviews, crash investigations, and inspections.

If you’re an interstate trucking company transporting passengers or hauling cargo, you must register with the FMCSA and have a USDOT Number. It should be noted that in addition to a USDOT Number, interstate commercial vehicles transporting specified types and quantities of hazardous materials also require a safety permit.

According to the FMCSA, you are required to obtain a USDOT number if you have a vehicle that:

Is used to transport the types and quantities of hazardous materials requiring a safety permit in intrastate commerce (see 49 CFR 385.403). or

Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; or

Is designed or used to transport more than eight passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or

Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation;

AND is involved in Interstate commerce:

  • Trade, traffic, or transportation in the United States—
  • Between a place in a State and a place outside of such State (including a location outside of the United States);
  • Between two areas in a State through another State or a place outside of the United States; or
  • Between two places in a State as part of a trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the State or the United States.

The requirements of the FMCSA for trucking companies

  • Every vehicle used for interstate trucking must be marked with the carrier’s name and the USDOT number. But this is not where the requirements end.
  • After getting the USDOT number, the FMCSA also laid down some other requirements for interstate trucking companies and motor carriers. The process for getting the “operating authority” is accessible through the Unified Registration System (URS) system and by getting the MCSA-1 form online.
  • The MCSA-1 form contains a safety certification and oath section that has to be undertaken by the owner of the motor carrier or its designated agent. For convenience, a copy of the application for a motor carrier may also be obtained through the FMCSA.
  • The registration under the Uniform Carrier Registration System (UCRS) will require you to designate a “base state.” This base state is your primary place of business. It is through the base state that you make an application and pay a standard fee to the UCRS. The fee to be paid varies, and it is usually determined by the number of vehicles to be registered.
  • For interstate trucking companies, this fee covers all states. As such, a trucking company or motor carrier will not be required to obtain intrastate authority or make any insurance filings.
  • All motor carriers must also designate a registered agent for service of process in every state that the carrier operates. If a registered agent is to be canceled, another one must be immediately designated. This substitution has to be formalized by registering such an agent with the FMCSA.

Federal permit for carriers of hazardous materials

To improve truck and bus safety on the highways, the FMCSA initiated the Hazardous Materials Safety Permit Program on January 1, 2005. The safety permit program is made applicable to both interstate and intrastate carriers transporting certain types and amounts of hazardous materials.

According to the program, both interstate and intrastate carriers of hazardous materials must subject themselves to a compliance review. In addition, they also have to file a motor carrier identification report.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR)

Interstate commerce is no doubt regulated by the federal government. Federal regulations made by the FMCSA apply only to interstate carriers. Notwithstanding this, a large number of states have adopted the federal rules regulating motor carriers. In those states, there are essentially no safety regulation distinctions between interstate or intrastate carriers.

Here are some notable examples of the regulations specified in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations:

  • The FMCSR Hours of Service limit the maximum driving time to 11 hours following ten consecutive hours off duty.
  • Whereas most states exempt farm vehicles with a registered or actual gross weight of under 48,000 lbs. from regulation, the FMCSR does not.
  • Minimum liability insurance requirements under the FMCSR range from $750,000 to $5,000,000, depending upon the type of commercial vehicle. This is unlike most states where the insurance requirements are usually between $300,000 and $5,000,000.
  • As a motor carrier or trucking company operator, it is your duty to know and comply with the laws of the highway, especially the ones proscribed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).

The Ferguson Law Group is here to help

The various regulations are, of course, put in place to prevent road accidents and safeguard life. Unfortunately, these truck accidents still occur. If you or your loved one gets involved in one of these truck accidents in Arizona, you need to get yourself quality legal representation as soon as you can.

With several years of experience and skill in personal injury practice and especially trucking accident cases, our Arizona attorneys will take on your case and pour in all the resources they have into it.

Your case will get the critical attention it deserves, and you’ll get compensated to the full extent you deserve.

Schedule a FREE consultation here or call us right now on 602-780-1226.

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