In a letter to Acting Deputy Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Rose McMurray, ATA expressed concerns with a recent agency policy statement regarding its personnel’s adherence to the requirements of the Field Operations Training Manual (FOTM). In a May 26 Notice, FMCSA declared that it did not deem failure by one of its agents to follow FOTM procedures as providing “a defense to penalties or violations assessed against drivers or motor carriers.” 74 Fed. Reg. 24897.
ATA pointed out to FMCSA that such a position is “at odds with settled administrative law principles, which clearly require an agency to follow its own regulations and procedures.” ATA further explained that when a “deviation from an agency’s own regulations and procedures intrudes upon the rights and settled expectations of a member of the regulated industry, any enforcement action that proceeds from the deviant behavior of the agency enforcement staff can be challenged as arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedures Act.”
ATA concluded that FMCSA cannot “confer on itself a blanket immunity from settled legal principles” and warned the agency that “ATA stands ready to assist its members in ensuring that motor carrier safety standards are enforced fairly and in accordance with the rule of law.”