Fines Issued to California Businesses that Hire or Dispatch Trucks and Heavy Equipment

The California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) is stepping up enforcement of the emission limits for heavy duty trucks by auditing companies that hire or dispatch those vehicles.  Several California businesses have recently been audited by CARB and issued notices of violation for not verifying that the trucks that were hired or dispatched complied with emission requirements. These violations may result in payments of up to $10,000 per year for each non-compliant carrier.

In 2009, CARB adopted the Truck and Bus Regulation, which is found in section 2025 of Title 13 of the California Code of Regulations. The regulation generally applies to vehicles that operate on diesel or alternative diesel fuel, are registered or designed to be driven on public highways and have a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 14,000 pounds. The Truck and Bus Regulation requires carriers, starting on January 1, 2012 for most large trucks, to meet emission requirements by upgrading their fleet to newer engine models or by retrofitting a portion of their trucks each year with diesel particulate filters. Carriers that chose to retrofit their trucks must report their progress to CARB and obtain an annual certification, which can be obtained online at  Carriers that chose to comply by upgrading their fleet with newer trucks or engine models can, but are not required to, obtain an annual CARB certification.

The Truck and Bus Regulation also requires any California business that operates or directs the operation of any vehicle subject to the regulation to verify that each hired or dispatched vehicle is in compliance with the regulation and to keep specified records. A business can verify that the trucks it hires or dispatches comply by obtaining a copy of the CARB certification or a list of the carrier’s trucks and for each truck, the engine model year, vehicle identification number and license plate number to verify compliance. For businesses that use brokers to hire and dispatch trucks, CARB’s current position is that it is the broker’s obligation to verify compliance with the Truck and Bus Regulation. The requirement does not apply to receivers or other parties that do not hire, and do not direct the operation of, any vehicle subject to the Truck and Bus Regulation.

CARB has recently audited businesses that hire or dispatch trucks subject to the Truck and Bus Regulation to determine if those businesses verified compliance of the hired or dispatched trucks and kept appropriate records. Audited businesses that were unable to show written verification of compliance prior to hiring the vehicles were issued notices of violation. CARB is in the process of settling the violations and is demanding penalties ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 for each year that the business used a carrier without verifying compliance with the Truck and Bus Regulation. For businesses that use multiple carriers, this can result in dozens of potential violations each year.