USCG Announces Changes to Civil Penalty Policies

Monday, January 12, 2004
The Coast Guard has expanded the scope of the Notice of Violation (NOV) program, building upon the success of the existing program in place since 1995. The NOV program is an expedited civil penalty assessment process that allows parties to pay the proposed penalty without further administrative process. The Coast Guard has also recently announced that it will be adjusting its fines and other civil monetary penalties for inflation. The changes to the monetary civil penalties for inflation are mandated by Congress at least once every four years. The changes to the NOV program took effect on January 5. Since its implementation, the NOV program has been used as the civil penalty process for small oil spills and minor pollution prevention regulation violations. The change in the policy will expand the NOV program to include oil spills of 1,000 gallons or less and all other laws and regulations the Coast Guard enforces with civil penalty provisions. However, an NOV may not be issued when the total proposed penalty for a violation exceeds $10,000. As under the NOV program before the expansion, the alleged violator retains the option to either pay the proposed penalty, thereby closing the case, or to decline the NOV. If the NOV is declined, the case is processed as a Class I Administrative Civil Penalty and adjudicated by the Coast Guard Hearing Office. The changes to the civil monetary penalties take effect on January 22. The penalty amounts are adjusted based on mandatory inflation adjustment formulas set by Congress to ensure the penalties’ deterrent value is not weakened. For a copy of the NOV policy change or the new civil penalty rates, contact Amy Brandt at (703) 841-9300 or abrandt@vesselalliance.com.

(Source: AWO Letter, January 9, 2004)

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