Operation of a Motor Vehicle in Violation of Safety Rules - Transportation Law Section 140.02

This charge, number three in the hit parade of top summons cases is most typically applicable to commercial vehicles, such as cabs or trucks. Wondering what law, exactly, you are being accused of violating?

Good luck trying to find it. I recently put an experienced lawyer to the test of finding the source law for this charge, a lawyer with years of experience and access to a sophisticated legal database. It took an experienced lawyer about an hour to locate the law. Maybe you could do better, but I will save you the trouble and reproduce the law as it exists at the moment of this writing: (here is a link to the official page of the law for the most up to date version) Be warned - this statute is a whopper. It requires real dedication to work your way through it.

Text of the Statute

§ 140. Safety requirements. 1. Every common and contract carrier of passenger by motor vehicle shall furnish and provide with respect thereto such service and facilities as shall be safe and adequate. Any such carrier shall give immediate notice to the commissioner of every accident to which it shall, in the course of its operations, have been a party. 2. a. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, general or special, the commissioner shall have the power to adopt rules and regulations governing the safety of operation of: (i) All motor vehicles transporting passengers to and from schools, for hire, or owned and/or operated by school districts or any public or private school. For the purpose of this subdivision, "school" shall be as defined in subdivision twenty-six of section two of this chapter, except that it shall not include schools and community residences as such terms are defined in section 1.03 of the mental hygiene law. (ii) All motor vehicles operated pursuant to or requiring a certificate or permit for the transportation of passengers or property from the interstate commerce commission or the commissioner. (iii) All buses operated pursuant to or requiring regulatory authority from any city that has adopted an ordinance, local law or charter to regulate or franchise bus line operations pursuant to section eighty of this chapter. (iv) All van services or other common carriers of passengers by motor vehicle covered under article seven of this chapter, which van services or other such common carriers of passengers are operated pursuant to or requiring regulatory authority from any city with a population of over one million that has adopted an ordinance or local law pursuant to subdivision five of section eighty of this chapter. (v) Notwithstanding subparagraph (i) of this paragraph, all motor vehicles transporting passengers under the age of twenty-one from schools and community residences, as such terms are defined in section 1.03 of the mental hygiene law, to school programs approved by the state education department. (vi) All double-decker vehicles designed to comfortably seat and carry eight or more passengers and providing transportation for compensation when that transportation is performed as a sightseeing service conducted pursuant to the jurisdiction or regulatory control of a city with a population of one million or more when such service is performed wholly within such city. b. In addition to those vehicles operated pursuant to or requiring a certificate or a permit for the transportation of property from the interstate commerce commission or the commissioner as set forth in subparagraph (ii) of paragraph a of this subdivision, the commissioner shall have the power to adopt rules and regulations governing the safety of operation of other motor vehicles operated for the commercial transportation of property. c. The department shall have the power to examine vehicles, facilities and records subject to the provisions of this subdivision, at any time and place where they are found, to ascertain whether such rules and regulations are being obeyed. The rules and regulations of the commissioner shall provide for the inspection of all such vehicles at such periods and at such manner as the commissioner may direct, and, when adopted, shall have the full force and effect of law. d. In addition to the provisions of section one hundred forty-five of this article: (i) No motor vehicle operated pursuant to or requiring a certificate or a permit for the transportation of property from the interstate commerce commission or the commissioner and no motor vehicle operated for the commercial transportation of property shall be operated in this state unless it is in compliance with the department's safety rules and regulations. (ii) Any person who operates, or any corporation, company, association, joint stock association, partnership, person or any officer or agent thereof, who shall require or permit any person to operate, a motor vehicle in violation of the department's safety rules and regulations shall be guilty of a traffic infraction and all of the provisions of the vehicle and traffic law, except as otherwise specifically provided herein, shall be applicable thereto. (iii) (a) Except as provided in subparagraph (iv) of this paragraph, any person, corporation, company, association, joint stock association, partnership, person or any officer or agent thereof, found guilty of violating any of the department's safety rules or regulations shall be subject to a fine of not less than one hundred fifty dollars nor more than five hundred dollars for the first offense, and upon being found guilty of a second or subsequent offense committed within eighteen months by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than thirty days or by both such fine and imprisonment. (b) Any person, corporation, company, association, joint stock association, partnership, person or any officer or agent thereof, found guilty of violating any of the department's safety rules or regulations involving an out-of-service defect relating to brake systems, steering components and/or coupling devices shall be subject to a fine of not less than three hundred fifty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars for the first offense, and upon being found guilty of a second or subsequent offense committed within eighteen months by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars nor more than two thousand five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than sixty days or by both such fine and imprisonment; provided, however, that if any such person, corporation, company, association, joint stock association, partnership, person or any officer or agent thereof is operating a farm vehicle registered pursuant to subdivision thirteen of section four hundred one of the vehicle and traffic law in conformance with the terms of such registration, and if the violation as set forth in the summons is corrected not later than one-half hour after sunset on the third full business day after the issuance of the summons and proof of such correction as set forth in item (b) of subparagraph (iv) of this paragraph is submitted to the court, the penalty for a first violation involving brake systems shall be a fine of one hundred fifty dollars, the penalty for a first violation involving steering components and/or coupling devices shall be a fine of one hundred dollars and the penalty for a first violation involving any other out-of-service defect shall be a fine of fifty dollars. A motor vehicle shall be deemed to be out-of-service only until such time as the applicable out-of-service defect is repaired or adjusted. Any person, corporation, company, association, joint stock association, partnership, person or any officer or agent thereof, found guilty of violating any of the department's safety rules or regulations involving an out-of-service defect relating to load securement, shall be subject to a fine of not less than five hundred dollars nor more than one thousand two hundred dollars for the first offense, and upon being found guilty of a second or subsequent offense committed within eighteen months by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars nor more than two thousand five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than sixty days or by both such fine and imprisonment; provided, however, that if any such person, corporation, company, association, joint stock association, partnership, person or any officer or agent thereof is operating a farm vehicle registered pursuant to subdivision thirteen of section four hundred one of the vehicle and traffic law in conformance with the terms of such registration, the penalty for such violation shall be a fine of two hundred fifty dollars. A motor vehicle shall be deemed to be out-of-service only until such time as the applicable out-of-service defect is repaired or adjusted. (iv) (a) Any complaint issued for an equipment violation, except for a violation involving an out-of-service defect relating to load securement, brake systems, steering components and/or coupling devices or except for a violation involving the operation of any motor vehicle after it has been placed out-of-service, shall be dismissed by the court before such summons is returnable if the violation as set forth in the summons is corrected not later than one-half hour after sunset on the first full business day, or if such complaint involves a farm vehicle registered pursuant to subdivision thirteen of section four hundred one of the vehicle and traffic law and operated in conformance with the terms of such registration, not later than one-half hour after sunset on the third full business day after the issuance of the summons and proof of such correction as set forth in item (b) of this subparagraph is submitted to the court. For the purposes of this subparagraph, "business day" shall mean any calendar day except Sunday, or the following business holidays: New Year's Day, Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. (b) Acceptable proof of repair or adjustment shall consist of submission to the court on or before the return date of the summons of (I) a statement of correction from an officially designated state inspection station duly executed by the person performing or making such inspection and bearing the official stamp of the state inspection station, (II) a statement of correction from an automobile repair shop on the letterhead of such repair shop duly executed by the person who made the correction or (III) a signed statement of any police officer or a department inspector that the necessary corrections have been made. The statement required by this subparagraph shall be directed to the court having jurisdiction of the alleged violation, shall be affirmed as true under penalty of perjury, and shall include the name, occupation and position of the person making the statement, the time and date that the repairs or inspection were made and a statement that the defective equipment, cited in the violation, on the vehicle in question, is in proper working order. (v) (a) A driver who is convicted of violating an out-of-service order as provided for in the department's safety rules and regulations shall be guilty of a traffic infraction which shall be punishable by a fine of not less than two thousand five hundred dollars nor more than four thousand dollars upon the first offense, and upon being found guilty of a second or subsequent offense within eighteen months by a fine of not less than five thousand dollars nor more than six thousand dollars. (b) No person, corporation, limited liability company or business entity, joint stock association, partnership, or any officer or agent thereof, shall knowingly allow, require, permit or authorize any person to operate a commercial motor vehicle as defined by section five hundred one-a of the vehicle and traffic law during any period in which such person, such commercial motor vehicle, or such motor carrier operation has been placed out of service as provided for in the department's safety rules and regulations and shall be subject to a fine of not less than two thousand seven hundred fifty dollars and not more than twenty-five thousand dollars for any violation thereof. (c) No person, corporation, limited liability company or business entity, joint stock association, partnership, or any officer or agent thereof, shall knowingly allow, require, permit or authorize any person to operate a commercial motor vehicle as defined in section five hundred one-a of the vehicle and traffic law in violation of section eleven hundred seventy-one or eleven hundred seventy-six of the vehicle and traffic law and, upon conviction thereof, shall be subject to a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars for any violation thereof. (vi) If any person, corporation, company, association, joint stock association, partnership, person or any officer or agent thereof, does not appear in response to an appearance ticket or the court's direction, or pay any fine imposed by the court or a civil penalty imposed pursuant to the provisions of section one hundred forty-five of this article, the commissioner of motor vehicles shall have the power to suspend the registration or privilege of operation of any vehicle operated or alleged to have been operated in violation of the department's safety rules and regulations. 3. No motor vehicle carrying passengers, as described in subdivision two of this section, shall be operated within the state unless it carries prominently displayed thereon the name of the operator and certificate evidencing an inspection in accordance with the rules and regulations of the commissioner within a period of six months last preceding. The commissioner may, by order, rule or regulation, exempt from the requirements of this subdivision, vehicles which are not operated exclusively in transportation services for which inspection is required, provided that written evidence of the names otherwise subject to prominent display and such a certificate of inspection are at all times carried within such vehicles to be made available for examination upon proper demand, while the vehicles are operated in such service. 4. Each motor vehicle engaged in the interstate transportation of passengers operated within the state shall be subject to subdivision three of this section as to the display of the name of the operator thereof, and of such certificate of inspection as to the safety of its appliances, equipment and mechanical operation, as the commissioner may, by rules and regulations require. In respect to such motor vehicle, the commissioner may, in lieu of a certificate of the commissioner, authorize the display of a certificate of inspection issued within a period of six months last preceding, by a regulatory body of another state, or a province of Canada, having safety standards determined by the commissioner not to be substantially lower than those prescribed by the commissioner. The rules and regulations to be adopted under this subdivision shall insofar as practicable be uniform and the provisions of the vehicle and traffic law so far as applicable and not in conflict with the provisions of this subdivision, shall continue to apply to all such motor vehicles. 5. No motor vehicle with a seating capacity of more than eleven passengers manufactured after December thirty-first, nineteen hundred seventy-five, used in the business of transporting school children for hire or used for the transportation of school children, owned and/or operated by school districts or by any public or private school shall be operated within the state, unless each seat, other than the driver's seat, on such vehicle is equipped with a padded back at least twenty-eight inches in height of a type and specification approved by the commissioner. Any person who operates a motor vehicle in violation of the requirement for such seat backs shall be guilty of a violation, punishable by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars. The provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to any bus used for the transportation of pupils, teachers and other persons acting in a supervisory capacity to and from school activities and which bus does not receive or discharge passengers on or along the public highways on regularly scheduled routes and which is being operated pursuant to a permit or certificate of public convenience and necessity issued by the commissioner or by the interstate commerce commission. School buses manufactured or assembled prior to April first, nineteen hundred seventy-seven may not be used to transport pupils, teachers and other persons acting in a supervisory capacity to and from school activities. 6. Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of this chapter or of any other law, general or special, or any rule or regulation, it shall be unlawful, except in cases of emergency, for any person operating any bus in intercity or suburban service where the length of a non-stop trip is more than twenty-five miles to allow passengers to stand in the aisle of any such bus while such bus is in motion. The commissioner may, upon application, waive this provision in unique or special circumstances if it is in the public interest to do so. 7. The powers granted to the commissioner by this section to regulate and prescribe safety requirements for motor vehicle equipment and appliances shall not supersede or otherwise limit, qualify or modify the powers granted to the commissioner of motor vehicles in respect thereto pursuant to the vehicle and traffic law and shall not be exercised, except in furtherance and in addition to any regulations or requirements of the commissioner of motor vehicles made pursuant to law. 8. The jurisdiction of the commissioner over the matters herein conferred on the commissioner shall be exclusive. 9. If, after notice and opportunity to be heard, the commissioner shall find that any person is operating in violation of the provisions of this section, the commissioner may penalize such person pursuant to subdivision three of section one hundred forty-five of this article. The commissioner may also notify the commissioner of motor vehicles that such person is operating in violation of this section and the commissioner of motor vehicles shall thereupon suspend the registration of all motor vehicles owned or operated by such person, with the exception of private passenger automobiles, until such time as the commissioner may give notice that the violation has been satisfactorily adjusted. The commissioner of motor vehicles shall have the authority to deny a registration or renewal application to any other person for the same vehicle and may deny a registration or renewal application for any other motor vehicle registered in the name of the applicant where it has been determined that such registrant's intent has been to evade the purposes of this subdivision and where the commissioner of motor vehicles has reasonable grounds to believe that such registration or renewal will have the effect of defeating the purposes of this subdivision. The procedure on any such suspension shall be the same as in the case of a suspension under the vehicle and traffic law. Operation of any motor vehicle while under suspension as herein provided shall constitute a class A misdemeanor.

Discussion

This offense is a misdemeanor, which means that a person convicted of this would end up with a criminal record, even if the sentence were "just a fine".

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