Instate driving may trigger FMCSA

In trucking crashes, the difference between whether a load is being driven “interstate” or “intrastate” is critical.

From as far back as the Texas Supreme Court’s holding in Texas & No.R.R. v. Sabine Tram Co., 227 U.S. 111, 123 (1923) and continuing through Central Freight v. l.E,E., 899 F.2d 413, 419 (5th Cir. 1990), the crucial factor is the shipper’s fixed and persistent intent at the time of shipment.

If the cargo is being shipped from California to Florida, it is well settled in the trucking industry that the movement of goods and the intent of the shipper determines whether the goods are shipped in interstate commerce. Matter of American Truck and Trailer Repair, Docket RI-92-001, 58 Fed. Reg. 16916 at 16921, March 31 1993 (Order, August 6,1992).

In United States v. Yellow Cab Co., 332 U.S. 218, 228-229 (1974), the United States Supreme Court held “when persons or goods move from a point of origin in one state to a point of destination in another, the fact that part of the journey consists of transportation by an independent agency solely within the boundaries of one state does not make that portion of the trip any less interstate in character. That portion must be viewed in its relation to the entire journey rather than in isolation. So viewed, it is an integral step in the interstate movement”.

The term “interstate commerce” within the meaning of the FMCSRs and underlying statutes is not synonymous with transport across state lines, and can include operations conducted wholly within a single state. Whether transportation between two points in one state is considered to be part of an interstate movement is determined by the essential character of the commerce, manifested by the shipper’s fixed and persisting intent at the time of the shipment, and is ascertained from all the facts and circumstances surrounding the transportation. In the Matter of Solomon Trucker, Jr., Docket No. FHWA-1997-2417 (Final Order, June 2,1998) citing to Baltimore & o.s. WR. Co. V. Settle, 260 U.S. 166 (1922) and Texas v. U.S., 866 F.2d 1546 (5 th Cir.), reh’g denied, 874 F.2d 812 (1989).

When the intent of the transportation being performed is interstate in nature, even when the route is within the boundaries of a single state, the driver and commercial motor vehicle are subject to the FMCSR. In the Matter of Gunther’s Leasing Transport, Inc., Docket No. FHWA-1997-2400.

As long as the cargo transported originates and terminates in different states, an interstate portion of the transportation must still be viewed as interstate. See Id. citing to In the Matter of National Transportation Service, Inc., Docket No. 92-FL-028-FR (Final Order, October 21,1994).

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