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Hauling dangerous cargo through tunnels is a crime

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2023 | Traffic Offenses Blog Post, Trucking And Transportation |

Truck drivers haul various goods as part of their critical role in America’s shipping and distribution system. Truckers can bring foodstuffs, clothing, appliances – even the raw materials used to create these consumer goods – efficiently from point A to B.

However, transporting the most dangerous materials requires special preparation and equipment. Truck drivers must also obey laws for transporting and handling certain hazardous objects and substances.

For instance, Virginia has a law prohibiting truck drivers from carrying dangerous materials through tunnels. Violating this rule is a crime that comes with severe penalties.

State law on banning hazardous materials in tunnels

According to state law, truckers are banned from hauling explosive, flammable, or other hazardous cargo through any state tunnel. The same law also prohibits truckers from carrying dangerous cargo through any state highway with a posted sign that explicitly bans transporting hazardous materials.

Violating this law is a Class 1 misdemeanor. On conviction, the person faces a maximum $2,500 fine and up to 12 months of prison time.

What counts as hazardous cargo?

There are nine classifications of hazardous cargo, which can all trigger a violation of the law if a truck driver attempts to bring them through a state tunnel or restricted highway. The classifications are:

  • Class 1: Explosives (i.e., fireworks, dynamite, anything with fuel tanks)
  • Class 2: Gases (i.e., chlorine, CO2, propane)
  • Class 3: Flammable liquids (i.e., fuel, paint, alcohol-based fluids)
  • Class 4: Flammable solids (i.e., match sticks, lithium)
  • Class 5: Oxidizing substances and organic peroxides (i.e., hydrogen peroxide, fertilizers)
  • Class 6: Poisonous, toxic and infectious substances (i.e., arsenic, chloroform, mercury, lead, nicotine)
  • Class 7: Radioactive materials (i.e., tritium, nuclear waste)
  • Class 8: Corrosives (i.e., battery acid, degreasing products)
  • Class 9: Miscellaneous hazardous materials (i.e., asbestos, dry ice, fuel cells, first aid kits)

Truck drivers who haul any of these materials should carefully plot their route to avoid breaking the law.

Carrying dangerous materials at the back of a huge vehicle is already a dangerous enough task. But truckers also have to be mindful of laws prohibiting bringing these materials into areas where an accident spilling the contents can lead to catastrophic damages. Should a driver be accused of breaking the rules – whether due to an honest mistake or a misunderstanding – they should consider their legal options, because a misdemeanor is still a criminal charge.