USING CREDIBLE SERVICE PROVIDERS IS KEY
Using a reputable outfit to obtain permits for your trucking business is crucial. Recently, we had a young man in his early 80s come in with a problem. Back in late 2015, he decided to buy a truck and trailer to move his personal property, planning ahead for his retirement, to a farm he just bought back in Kansas. The first mistake he made was using a local truck repair shop which has a side business of doing truck permits, IFTA, etc. He paid them good money for his authority and IFTA stickers, but they never gave him any copies of anything, including no IFTA decals.
Needless to say, he left without the IFTA decals and got stopped while crossing a scale by the FMCSA – and that started the proverbial “snowball” rolling down the hill. Because he had no IFTA decal, which was the probable cause for stopping him, coupled with the fact that he was a “New Entrant” in the business of trucking, he was given a safety audit. Because he had no proof that he was in a drug testing program and for hours-of-service violations, he failed. Then, he was put out-of-service for failure to correct the issues, and his revocation was set for January 2016.
Well, here it is, October 2017, almost two years later, and what a mess this has been for him to try and clean up. But, this situation reminded me that this problem had come up once before, back in 2009. Back then, I had one of our consultants look into this problem, on behalf of our members, and the following is his response, which is listed on our website (www.ntassoc.com) under “News and Articles” (look for Trucking Biz & Regs).
The NorthAmerican Transportation Association (NTA) has received a number of questions/complaints about trucking permit service companies doing work for their trucking clients/members. Some of the trucking permit services use the permit services’ address rather than the address of their trucking client. The permit services companies charge their clients for preparing materials for submission to the US Department of Transportation (US DOT) and/or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). By using their address, rather than the address of the trucker client, they receive all communications directed to the trucker first. Any communication received that they respond to, they can charge the client for preparing it. NTA asked me to look into this practice, to see if a permit service using the permit service’s address instead of the trucker client’s address, was an acceptable way of doing business. Here is what the FMCSA had to say about it.
The MCS-150 (Motor Carrier Survey) and OP-1 (Application for Operating Authority) Forms have two separate address items – the carrier’s principal business address and a mailing address. In guidance issued in July of 2009, FMCSA stated: “A motor carrier may not designate as its principal place of business any location where the carrier is not engaged in business operations related to the transportation of persons or property. For example, post office box centers or commercial courier service establishments that receive and hold mail or packages for third-party pickup may not be designated as a ‘principal place of business’ (other than by the courier service provider itself). A motor carrier may not designate the office of a consultant, service agent, or attorney as their principal place of business if the motor carrier is not engaged in operations related to the transportation of persons or property at that location (74 FR 37654, July 29, 2009).”
This would preclude the carrier from designating the permit services address as its mailing address. This response clearly establishes that any address used must be an address the trucker uses for their business. If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to call me (Terry E. Morgan) at 800-765-8789.
UPDATE ON LICENSE PLATE READERS IN CA
California police agencies may no longer hide the extent of information they have collected from motorists with automated license plate readers (ALPR). The devices are widely used by law enforcement throughout the state, but there has been little public discussion or oversight regarding the privacy impact. In 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit to force the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to hand over a representative sample of the records it has been collecting. At trial, after noting the potential abuse of the plate scanning system, a state judge found such records could not be provided under the public records act because the photographs of the license plates of every passing motorist were investigative in nature, and the Court of Appeal agreed.
The high court justices, on the other hand, unanimously slammed the lower court judges for forgetting their “constitutional obligation” to favor the public’s right to access such records. “It is hard to imagine that the legislature intended for the records of investigations exemption to reach the large volume of data that plate scanners and other similar technologies now enable agencies to collect indiscriminately,” Justice Ming W. Chin wrote for the court. “Not only are the concerns underlying the exemption only weakly implicated by the disclosure of the ALPR data, but broadly exempting the data would inflict a far greater blow to the public interest in disclosure than does exempting records concerning more traditional investigations.”
The justices also noted that cameras could be used to scan every vehicle in the state, but if police created a “hot list” looking for a single stolen car, they could claim that one “investigation” would protect the entire operation from public scrutiny. “Perhaps the most critical point, however, is one that the Court of Appeal did not mention: our constitution requires that California Public Records Act exemptions be narrowly construed,” Justice Chin wrote. “Accordingly, we hold that real parties’ process of ALPR scanning does not produce records of investigations, because the scans are not conducted as part of a targeted inquiry into any particular crime or crimes.”
The high court, however, was not comfortable with releasing unredacted records that would pinpoint the locations of vehicles with their license plate numbers. The high court sent the case back to determine whether anonymized data could fulfill the ACLU and EFF information request, without unduly affecting the motorists’ privacy. Stay tuned! Got questions? Call NTA at (800) 805-0040. Until next month, “Drive Safe – Drive Smart!”