U.S. Judge Throws Out Local Truck Ordinances

A federal judge in Sacramento, Calif., ruled Oct. 31 that route and other restrictions placed on heavy trucks by California’s cities and counties ran counter to a 1994 law.

According to U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell, Jr., the preemption clause of the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act allows states to regulate trucking only in the area of safety. While that law exempts state safety rules from federal preemption, it does not exempt “regulations and laws issued by local governments.” The preemption language in the act was intended to do away with the crazy quilt of rules and regulations states had imposed upon the industry, including rate and entry rules.

In his ruling the judge said, “It is clear that Congress intended to preempt state law” that was “related to price, route or service of any motor carrier of property.”

The ruling resulted from a lawsuit filed by the California Dump Truck Owners Association and the Southern California Contractors Association. Observers say California’s state government will now have to set rules regarding routes through cities and towns, a task it had delegated to local governments.

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