FMCSA suspends some federal regulations for Hurricane Irma relief

Regional Emergency Declaration issued ahead of storm

Posted September 8, 2017

In anticipation of Hurricane Irma affecting numerous states, a Regional Emergency Declaration was issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation based on the direction of Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The Regional Emergency Declaration applies to:

  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is suspending certain federal safety regulations temporarily for motor carriers and drivers engaged in specific aspects of the emergency relief, including direct assistance for the immediate restoration of essential services (e.g., electrical, sewer, water, and telecommunications) or essential supplies (e.g., food, water, medical supplies, and fuel).

Drivers – who are responding to provide “direct assistance” to an “emergency” meeting the definitions in 49 CFR 390.5 and declared by FMCSA or a governor – are exempt from applicable regulations in all states on their route to the emergency. This is true even for those states not involved in the emergency or stated in the declaration of emergency.

However, drivers and motor carriers are not exempt from all federal motor carrier regulations. When criteria for the federal exemption are met, it only applies to 49 CFR Parts 390-399.

Requirements relating to the following remain in effect:

  • Commercial Driver’s Licensing (CDL)
  • DOT drug and alcohol testing
  • Transportation of hazardous materials
  • Size and weight
  • State/federal registration and tax requirements

Note that a Governor’s Declaration may add some of those exemptions. You must read state declarations for details.

Even if an Emergency Declaration is still in effect, the emergency must be on-going and you must be providing direct emergency assistance in order to be exempt from safety regulations.

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