§ 31139. Minimum financial responsibility for transporting property
(a)Definitions.—In this section—
(1) “farm vehicle” means a vehicle—
(A) designed or adapted and used only for agriculture;
(B) operated by a motor private carrier (as defined in section 10102 of this title); and
(C) operated only incidentally on highways.
(2) “interstate commerce” includes transportation between a place in a State and a place outside the United States, to the extent the transportation is in the United States.
(3) “State” means a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
(b)General Requirement and Minimum Amount.—
(1) The Secretary of Transportation shall prescribe regulations to require minimum levels of financial responsibility sufficient to satisfy liability amounts established by the Secretary covering public liability, property damage, and environmental restoration for the transportation of property by motor carrier or motor private carrier (as such terms are defined in section 13102 of this title) in the United States between a place in a State and—
(A) a place in another State;
(B) another place in the same State through a place outside of that State; or
(C) a place outside the United States.
(2) The level of financial responsibility established under paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be at least $750,000.
(c)Filing of Evidence of Financial Responsibility.—The Secretary may require a motor private carrier (as defined in section 13102) to file with the Secretary the evidence of financial responsibility specified in subsection (b) in an amount not less than the greater of the minimum amount required by this section or the amount required for such motor private carrier to transport property under the laws of the State or States in which the motor private carrier is operating; except that the amount of the financial responsibility must be sufficient to pay not more than the amount of the financial responsibility for each final judgment against the motor private carrier for bodily injury to, or death of, an individual resulting from negligent operation, maintenance, or use of the motor vehicle, or for loss or damage to property, or both.
(d)Requirements for Hazardous Matter and Oil.—
(1) The Secretary of Transportation shall prescribe regulations to require minimum levels of financial responsibility sufficient to satisfy liability amounts established by the Secretary covering public liability, property damage, and environmental restoration for the transportation by motor vehicle in interstate or intrastate commerce of—
(A) hazardous material (as defined by the Secretary);
(B) oil or hazardous substances (as defined by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency); or
(C) hazardous wastes (as defined by the Administrator).
(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph, the level of financial responsibility established under paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be at least $5,000,000 for the transportation—
(i) of hazardous substances (as defined by the Administrator) in cargo tanks, portable tanks, or hopper-type vehicles, with capacities of more than 3,500 water gallons;
(ii) in bulk of class A explosives, poison gas, liquefied gas, or compressed gas; or
(iii) of large quantities of radioactive material.
(B) The Secretary of Transportation by regulation may reduce the minimum level in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph (to an amount not less than $1,000,000) for transportation described in subparagraph (A) in any of the territories of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands if—
(i) the chief executive officer of the territory requests the reduction;
(ii) the reduction will prevent a serious disruption in transportation service and will not adversely affect public safety; and
(iii) insurance of $5,000,000 is not readily available.
(3) The level of financial responsibility established under paragraph (1) of this subsection for the transportation of a material, oil, substance, or waste not subject to paragraph (2) of this subsection shall be at least $1,000,000. However, if the Secretary of Transportation finds it will not adversely affect public safety, the Secretary by regulation may reduce the amount for—
(A) a class of vehicles transporting such a material, oil, substance, or waste in intrastate commerce (except in bulk); and
(B) a farm vehicle transporting such a material or substance in interstate commerce (except in bulk).
(e)Foreign Motor Carriers and Private Carriers.—Regulations prescribed under this section may allow foreign motor carriers and foreign motor private carriers (as those terms are defined in section 10530 of this title) providing transportation of property under a certificate of registration issued under section 10530 to meet the minimum levels of financial responsibility under this section only when those carriers are providing transportation for property in the United States.
(f)Evidence of Financial Responsibility.—
(1) Subject to paragraph (2) of this subsection, financial responsibility may be established by evidence of one or a combination of the following if acceptable to the Secretary of Transportation:
(B) a guarantee.
(C) a surety bond issued by a bonding company authorized to do business in the United States.
(D) qualification as a self-insurer.
(2) A person domiciled in a country contiguous to the United States and providing transportation to which a minimum level of financial responsibility under this section applies shall have evidence of financial responsibility in the motor vehicle when the person is providing the transportation. If evidence of financial responsibility is not in the vehicle, the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of the Treasury shall deny entry of the vehicle into the United States.
(3) A motor carrier may obtain the required amount of financial responsibility from more than one source provided the cumulative amount is equal to the minimum requirements of this section.
(1) If, after notice and an opportunity for a hearing, the Secretary of Transportation finds that a person (except an employee acting without knowledge) has knowingly violated this section or a regulation prescribed under this section, the person is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each violation. A separate violation occurs for each day the violation continues.
(2) The Secretary of Transportation shall impose the penalty by written notice. In determining the amount of the penalty, the Secretary shall consider—
(A) the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of the violation;
(B) with respect to the violator, the degree of culpability, any history of prior violations, the ability to pay, and any effect on the ability to continue doing business; and
(C) other matters that justice requires.
(3) The Secretary of Transportation may compromise the penalty before referring the matter to the Attorney General for collection.
(4) The Attorney General shall bring a civil action in an appropriate district court of the United States to collect a penalty referred to the Attorney General for collection under this subsection.
(5) The amount of the penalty may be deducted from amounts the Government owes the person. An amount collected under this section shall be deposited in the Highway Trust Fund (other than the Mass Transit Account).
(h)Nonapplication.—This section does not apply to a motor vehicle having a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 10,000 pounds if the vehicle is not used to transport in interstate or foreign commerce—
(1) class A or B explosives;
(2) poison gas; or
(3) a large quantity of radioactive material.
(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(e), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1006; Pub. L. 104–88, title I, § 104(e), Dec. 29, 1995, 109 Stat. 919; Pub. L. 109–59, title IV, §§ 4120(b), 4121, Aug. 10, 2005, 119 Stat. 1733, 1734; Pub. L. 110–244, title III, §§ 301(f), 305(b), June 6, 2008, 122 Stat. 1616, 1620.)