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Federal Agency Interpretation Gives DOT&PF Ability to Revise Commercial Motor Vehicle Laws for Fishers

JUNEAU, Alaska - During a recent discussion with a federal agency, an agreement cleared the way for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) to revise certain commercial motor vehicle laws affecting commercial fishers operating vehicles under 26,000 pounds while hauling boats or equipment on public roads. Federal law requires states to ensure their state commercial motor vehicle laws are compatible with federal laws and to enforce these laws on persons engaged in "interstate" commerce, which could include the fishers.

DOT&PF and the State Attorney General's office discussed the matter with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). FMCSA agreed that the launching and hauling of boats and equipment in many instances is purely an "intrastate" operation of motor vehicles. This agreement gives DOT&PF the ability to not enforce certain federal commercial motor vehicle laws and to exempt, by regulation, fishers and vehicles under 26,000 pounds from several state commercial motor vehicle laws.

"We take every precaution to keep the traveling public safe from dangerous, unsafe trucks and unqualified commercial vehicle drivers, protecting our state highway infrastructure and ensuring a level playing field for the commercial motor vehicle industry with our primary focus being safety," explained Dan Breeden, DOT&PF's Director of the Division of Measurement Standards and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement.

Other changes being proposed to Title 17 of the Alaska Administrative Code regarding commercial vehicles increase the permissible cargo carrying length of a semitrailer or trailer; exempt (in certain circumstances) person holding commercial fishing licenses, sport fishing operator licenses or sport fishing guide licenses from commercial vehicle safety and hours of service regulations as well as amending the definition of intrastate commerce.

The public notice of the proposed changes to the administrative code is available online at: dot.alaska.gov/mscve/main.cfm?go=director.

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