Effective August 1, FMCSA will adjust its civil penalties for truck drivers and carriers to account for inflation. In doing so, the agency operates under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. FMCSA is required to implement a catch-up adjustment through an interim final rule.
Congress stated in the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 that increasing penalties over time will “maintain the deterrent effect of the civil monetary penalties and promote compliance with the law.” With this reasoning, FMCSA considers the penalty adjustments to promote safety; however, Congress has recognized that increasing penalties cannot be reliably quantified into safety benefits.
While the statutory language speaks to only increases in penalty amounts, FMCSA will assess the new penalty both in cases where the penalty increases and where it decreases. This aligns with the intent of the statute, which is to ensure penalty amounts properly reflect inflation.