United States Code
USC most recently checked for updates: Oct 22, 2020
Inspection and investigation
To carry out this part, the Secretary of Transportation may take actions the Secretary considers necessary, including—
conduct investigations, make reports, issue subpenas, require the production of documents, take depositions, and prescribe recordkeeping and reporting requirements; and
delegate to a public entity or qualified person the inspection, examination, and testing of railroad equipment, facilities, rolling stock, operations, and persons.
In carrying out this part, an officer, employee, or agent of the Secretary, at reasonable times and in a reasonable way, may enter and inspect railroad equipment, facilities, rolling stock, operations, and relevant records. When requested, the officer, employee, or agent shall display proper credentials. During an inspection, the officer, employee, or agent is an employee of the United States Government under chapter 171 of title 28.
To carry out the Secretary’s responsibilities under this part and under chapter 51, the Secretary may authorize officers, employees, or agents of the Secretary to conduct, with or without making their presence known, the following activities in circumstances the Secretary finds to be reasonable:
Intercepting a radio communication, with or without the consent of the sender or other receivers of the communication, but only where such communication is broadcast or transmitted over a radio frequency which is—
authorized for use by one or more railroad carriers by the Federal Communications Commission; and
primarily used by such railroad carriers for communications in connection with railroad operations.
Communicating the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of the communication, subject to the restrictions in paragraph (3).
Receiving or assisting in receiving the communication (or any information therein contained).
Disclosing the contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of the communication (or any part thereof of such communication) or using the communication (or any information contained therein), subject to the restrictions in paragraph (3), after having received the communication or acquired knowledge of the contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of the communication (or any part thereof).
Recording the communication by any means, including writing and tape recording.
The Secretary, and officers, employees, and agents of the Department of Transportation authorized by the Secretary, may engage in the activities authorized by paragraph (1) for the purpose of accident and incident prevention and investigation.
Information obtained through activities authorized by paragraphs (1) and (2) shall not be admitted into evidence in any administrative or judicial proceeding except—
in a prosecution of a felony under Federal or State criminal law; or
to impeach evidence offered by a party other than the Federal Government regarding the existence, electronic characteristics, content, substance, purport, effect, meaning, or timing of, or identity of parties to, a communication intercepted pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (2) in proceedings pursuant to section 5122, 5123, 20702(b), 20111, 20112, 20113, or 20114 of this title.
If information obtained through activities set forth in paragraphs (1) and (2) is admitted into evidence for impeachment purposes in accordance with subparagraph (A), the court, administrative law judge, or other officer before whom the proceeding is conducted may make such protective orders regarding the confidentiality or use of the information as may be appropriate in the circumstances to protect privacy and administer justice.
No evidence shall be excluded in an administrative or judicial proceeding solely because the government would not have learned of the existence of or obtained such evidence but for the interception of information that is not admissible in such proceeding under subparagraph (A).
Information obtained through activities set forth in paragraphs (1) and (2) shall not be subject to publication or disclosure, or search or review in connection therewith, under section 552 of title 5.
Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect the authority of the United States to intercept a communication, and collect, retain, analyze, use, and disseminate the information obtained thereby, under a provision of law other than this subsection.
cite as: 49 USC 20107