TITLE 31
Motor and Other vehicles

CHAPTER 31-23
Equipment and Accessories Generally

SECTION 31-23-1


§ 31-23-1 Driving of unsafe vehicle – Disobedience of requirements – Inspections of motor carriers – Fines.

(a) It is a civil violation for any person to drive or move, or for the owner, employer or employee to cause or knowingly permit to be driven or moved, on any highway any vehicle or combination of vehicles which is in such an unsafe condition as to endanger any person, or which does not contain those parts or is not at all times equipped with lamps and other equipment in proper condition and adjustment as required in this chapter or chapter 24 of this title, or for any person to do any act forbidden or fail to perform any act required under these chapters.

(b)(1) For the purpose of reducing the number and severity of accidents, all commercial motor vehicles must meet applicable standards set forth in this chapter and chapter 24 of this title and in the federal motor carrier safety regulations (FMCSR) contained in 49 CFR Parts 387 and 390-399, and the Hazardous Materials Regulations in 49 CFR Parts 107 (subparts F and G only), 171-173, 177, 178 and 180, as amended except as may be determined by the administrator to be inapplicable to a state enforcement program, as amended and adopted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as may be amended from time to time. Part 391.11(b)(1) of FMCSR, 49 CFR 391.11(b)(1) shall not apply to intrastate drivers of commercial motor vehicles except for drivers of school buses and vehicles placarded under 49 CFR Part 172, Subpart F. Rules and Regulations shall be promulgated by the director of the department of revenue for the administration and enforcement of motor carrier safety. The rules and regulations shall be promulgated to ensure uniformity in motor carrier safety enforcement activities and to increase the likelihood that safety defects, driver deficiencies, and unsafe carrier practices will be detected and corrected.

(2) Any carrier convicted of violating the rules and regulations established pursuant to this subsection shall be fined as provided in § 31-41.1-4 for each offense.

(c) For the purposes of this section, "carrier" is defined as any company or person who furthers their commercial or private enterprise by use of a vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of ten thousand and one (10,001) or more pounds, or that transports hazardous material.

(d) Authorized examiners, investigators, officers, or regulatory inspectors from the department of revenue with proper identification issued by the director of the department of revenue, the state police, and local law enforcement officials with proper identification certifying they are qualified motor carrier enforcement personnel trained according to subsection (f) of this section, shall have a right of entry and authority to examine all equipment of motor carriers and lessors and enter upon and perform inspections of motor carrier vehicles in operation. They shall have authority to inspect, examine, and copy all accounts, books, records, memoranda, correspondence and other documents of the motor carriers and or lessors and the documents, accounts, books, records, correspondence, and memoranda of any person controlling, controlled by, or under common control of any carrier which relate to the enforcement of this chapter.

(e)(1) Authorized examiners, investigators, officers, or regulatory inspectors from the state police, local law enforcement officials or the department of revenue shall declare "out of service" any motor vehicle which, by reason of its mechanical condition or loading, is so imminently hazardous to operate as to be likely to cause an accident or a breakdown. An "out of service vehicle" sticker shall be used to mark vehicles out of service. The "out of service vehicle" sticker shall be affixed to the driver's window on power units placed out of service and, affixed to the left front corner of trailers or semi-trailers placed out of service.

(2) No person shall remove the "out of service vehicle" sticker from any motor vehicle prior to completion of all repairs required by the "out of service" notice.

(3) Any motor vehicle discovered to be in an unsafe condition while being operated on the highway may be continued in operation only to the nearest place where repairs can be safely effected.

(4) Operation in an unsafe condition will be conducted only if it is less hazardous to the public than to permit the vehicle to remain on the highway.

(5) A motor carrier shall not require or permit a person to operate a motor vehicle declared out of service until all the repairs required by the out of service notice are satisfactorily completed.

(6) Any person convicted of unauthorized removal or causing to be removed an "out of service vehicle" sticker shall be fined as provided in § 31-41.1-4.

(7) Any person convicted of operating or causing to operate an "out of service vehicle" on a public highway shall be fined as provided in § 31-41.1-4.

(f) In order to enforce the provisions of this section, authorized examiners, investigators, officers, or regulatory inspectors must satisfactorily complete a course of instruction as prescribed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in the federal motor carrier safety regulations (FMCSR) safety inspection procedures, and out of service criteria with at least annual in-service training covering the prescribed instruction.

(g) Violations of the provisions of this section shall be recorded in the commercial vehicle inspection report approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in addition to the appropriate Rhode Island state uniform summons.

(h) Any fine imposed as a result of a violation of this section shall not be subject to any additional assessments imposed pursuant to any other laws of the state of Rhode Island.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1950, ch. 2595, art. 34, § 1; G.L. 1956, § 31-23-1; P.L. 1985, ch. 503, § 1; P.L. 1986, ch. 282, § 1; P.L. 1989, ch. 83, § 1; P.L. 1991, ch. 298, § 1; P.L. 1999, ch. 218, art. 6, § 11; P.L. 2002, ch. 58, § 4; P.L. 2005, ch. 77, § 5; P.L. 2005, ch. 82, § 5; P.L. 2008, ch. 98, § 19; P.L. 2008, ch. 100, art. 12, § 10; P.L. 2008, ch. 145, § 19.)