OTA asks for US fine information

The Ontario (Canada) Trucking Association (OTA) is asking its members for information about recent US fines for violating prior-notice border-crossing requirements. Canadian carriers have begun to be hit with $5,000 (first offence) and $10,000 (subsequent offences) fines.

A form to report the information is posted on the OTA Web site at ontruck.org. Deadline is January 31.

The association said the membership information submitted will be kept confidential.

OTA and the Canadian Trucking Alliance have launched political action to try and address the issue, but further information is required to highlight the scope of the problem and provide a detailed snapshot of fines being assessed against carriers, OTA said.

The associations are concerned that carriers are being fined automatically regardless of fault. They initially expected that US Customs would fine only those who were actually responsible for the violation, including customs brokers and shippers, but it is not clear that is the current practice, OTA said.

Moreover, US Customs had indicated that in the preliminary phase of enforcement, attention would be focused on egregious violations, "in other words carriers that have a history of non-compliance and/or have made no attempt to comply," OTA said. "It is not clear that this policy is being followed either. Carriers may be getting fined even when they are not responsible for the violation and have done everything reasonable to be in compliance."

OTA said fined carriers' only current recourse is to enter into a penalty mitigation process with the fines officer at each port, and having to prove that the customs broker, for example, was responsible for the non-compliance.

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