Nature of certificates.
Inspection of records.
Contract motor carriers; license; application and hearing.
Operation under certificate, license or permit.
Regulatory powers of department.
Unified carrier registration system.
Contract of liability for damage to person or property.
Exemption from undertaking; proof of financial responsibility; revocation.
Private motor carriers; regulation by department.
Amendment, suspension, or revocation of certificate, license, or permit; hearing.
Suit to recover protested tax.
Certain liability provisions in motor carrier transportation contracts prohibited.
Ch. 194 Cross-reference
See also chs. Trans 177
, and 326
, Wis. adm. code.
In this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:
“Common motor carrier" means any person who holds himself or herself out to the public as willing to undertake for hire to transport passengers or property by motor vehicle upon the public highways. The transportation of passengers in taxicab service or in commuter car pool or van pool vehicles that are designed to carry less than 8 passengers, including the driver, or in a school bus under s. 120.13 (27)
or in a motor vehicle being used to provide transportation network services, as defined in s. 440.40 (7)
, is not transportation by a common motor carrier.
“Contract motor carrier" means any person engaged in the transportation by motor vehicle over a regular or irregular route upon the public highways of property for hire, including the transportation of buildings, as defined in s. 348.27 (12m) (a) 1.
The transportation of property in a motor vehicle being used subject to subch. IV of ch. 440
is not transportation by a contract motor carrier.
“Department" means the department of transportation.
“Division of hearings and appeals" means the division of hearings and appeals in the department of administration.
“For hire" means for compensation, and includes compensation obtained by a motor carrier indirectly, by subtraction from the purchase price or addition to the selling price of property transported, where the purchase or sale thereof is not a bona fide purchase or sale. Any person who pretends to purchase property to be transported by such person or who purchases property immediately prior to and sells it immediately after the transportation thereof shall be deemed to be transporting the property for hire and not a bona fide purchaser or seller thereof. The rental of a motor vehicle to a person for transportation of the person's property which rental directly or indirectly includes the services of a driver shall be deemed to be transportation for hire and not private carriage. This subsection does not apply to motor vehicle operations which are conducted merely as an incident to or in furtherance of any business or industrial activity.
“Gross weight", when applied to a motor vehicle used for the transportation of passengers, shall mean the actual weight of the motor vehicle unloaded plus 150 pounds for each person capable of being seated in the motor vehicle.
The term “gross weight" when applied to a motor vehicle used for the transportation of property shall mean the actual weight of such motor vehicle unloaded plus the licensed carrying capacity of such motor vehicle.
“Interstate commerce" includes foreign commerce.
“Motor vehicle" means any automobile, truck, trailer, semitrailer, tractor, motor bus, or any self-propelled or motor driven vehicle, except a motorcycle, moped, motor bicycle, electric scooter, electric personal assistive mobility device, personal delivery device, or vehicle operated on rails.
“Municipality" means a town, village, or city.
“Person" means and includes any individual, firm, partnership, limited liability company, corporation, company, association, including express and forwarding companies or agencies and railroad companies, or their lessees, trustees or receivers.
“Private motor carrier" means any person who provides transportation of property or passengers by commercial motor vehicle, as defined in 49 CFR 390.5
, and is not a for-hire motor carrier.
“Public highway" means every public street, alley, road, highway or thoroughfare of any kind, except waterways, in this state while open to public travel and use.
“Secretary" means the secretary of transportation.
History: 1971 c. 164
; 1977 c. 29
, 1654 (9) (c)
, (f), (10) (a); 1979 c. 34
; 1981 c. 347
; 1983 a. 189
; 1985 a. 29
; 1993 a. 16
; 1997 a. 254
; 2001 a. 90
; 2005 a. 250
; 2013 a. 364
; 2015 a. 16
; 2015 a. 135
; 2017 a. 13
; 2019 a. 11
A buy-sell arrangement whereby the carrier “buys" property at the shipping point, immediately transports it to a delivery point, and there “sells" it to the real purchaser — with the carrier's profit amounting only to the price of the transportation between the 2 points — raises a rebuttable presumption under sub. (15) [now sub. (4)], that the property is being transported “for hire." Gensler v. Dept. of Revenue, 70 Wis. 2d 1108
, 236 N.W.2d 648
It is the intent of the legislature to remove the economic regulations which limit motor carrier operations in the state. The legislature intends to let the market promote competitive and efficient transportation services, while maintaining the safety regulations necessary to protect the welfare of the traveling and shipping public. It is the intent of the legislature that this chapter be interpreted in a manner which gives the most liberal construction to achieve the aim of a safe, competitive transportation industry.
This section's statement of intent to let the market promote competitive and efficient transportation services is specific to motor carriers and does not apply to regulations regarding taxis. County of Milwaukee v. Williams, 2007 WI 69
, 301 Wis. 2d 134
, 732 N.W.2d 770
No motor carrier may engage in any practice, act or omission which results in discrimination on the basis of race, creed, sex or national origin.
History: 1981 c. 347
Interstate commerce and intrastate commerce. 194.03(1)(1)
This chapter shall apply to motor carriers engaged in interstate commerce upon the public highways of this state, in all particulars and provisions lawful under the constitution of the United States and to motor carriers engaged in intrastate commerce upon the public highways of this state.
Fees and taxes provided in this chapter shall be assessed against operations in interstate commerce and intrastate commerce and collected from the carriers performing such operations, as partial compensation for the use of the highways and policing of the same.
In a case involving a claim by a common motor carrier in interstate commerce for freight charges:
A person may assert as a defense to the claim the existence of a freight charge agreement between the person and the motor carrier which applies to the carriage of the freight at issue and which has not been filed as a tariff with the federal surface transportation board.
A court shall request the federal surface transportation board or other appropriate federal agency to issue an advisory opinion on any issue which the court determines is within the primary jurisdiction of that agency.
Certificates; licenses; permits. 194.04(1)(1)
Authority to operate in intrastate commerce. 194.04(1)(b)
Every applicant for a certificate shall pay a fee of $500 for a common motor carrier of property certificate or $50 for a common motor carrier of passengers certificate.
Every applicant for a license shall pay a fee of $500.
(2) Permits; application, expiration.
Every permit for the operation of a motor vehicle expires on December 31 of each year. Application for permits shall be made annually and shall be accompanied by the annual fee. No permit shall be issued or renewed for any motor vehicle unless the registration required by ch. 341
is paid in this state.
No motor vehicle permit issued under this chapter shall be transferable from one motor vehicle to another except as provided in this subsection. Common motor carrier vehicles, except truck tractors or road tractors, upon which the common motor carrier permit fee has been paid may be used or operated in intrastate commerce by other common motor carriers without the payment of an additional permit fee. Contract motor carrier vehicles upon which the contract motor carrier permit fee has been paid may be used or operated in intrastate commerce by other contract motor carriers without the payment of an additional permit fee and, if operated exclusively in the metropolitan area of any city within a county having a population of 750,000 or more, may be used or operated in the hauling of common motor carrier trailers within the metropolitan area. When used in railroad trailer-on-flat-car service, and when interchanged between contract and common motor carriers, contract or common motor carrier trailers upon which the contract or common motor carrier permit fee has been paid may be used or operated by other contract or common motor carriers without an additional permit. Private motor carrier trailers may be used or operated both by private motor carriers and by common and contract motor carriers upon the payment of the appropriate common or contract motor carrier permit fee.
No additional permit or payment of fees is required by the lessee of a contract motor carrier vehicle licensed in this state if the lessor is a Wisconsin resident and the lessee has a contract carrier license or common carrier certificate of authority issued by the department and insurance on file with the department as prescribed in s. 194.41
When a motor truck, motor bus, tractor or trailer having a permit is sold or otherwise disposed of, and its permit canceled and such vehicle is replaced by another such motor vehicle, a permit of the same class shall be issued by the department for the same year to such replacement vehicle without charge.
Any individual, partnership, limited liability company or corporation whose principal business is leasing, for compensation, motor vehicles may, upon payment of an annual permit fee as provided in sub. (4)
for each leased motor vehicle for which a permit is required, lease the same to common and contract motor carriers. The lessor shall not be considered to obtain the privileges or be subject to the obligations of s. 194.23
nor shall s. 194.23
apply to the lessor.
An authorized common or contract carrier, when leasing a motor vehicle for which a permit is required from a person engaged in the business of leasing under this section, shall not be required to procure a permit as prescribed in s. 194.23
if the motor vehicle leased carries the permit required under this section.
See also ch. Trans 175
, Wis. adm. code.
(4) Annual permit fees.
The annual permit fees required for motor vehicles operated under this chapter solely in intrastate commerce and used for hire shall be as follows:
Motor vehicles operated solely in intrastate commerce by common motor carriers of passengers, $5.
Motor vehicles, except semitrailers, operated solely in intrastate commerce by common motor carriers of property, $5.
Motor vehicles, except semitrailers, operated solely in intrastate commerce by contract carriers, $5.
(5a) Collection of fees.
The department shall collect all fees prescribed by this section.
(6) Disposition of fees collected.
All moneys received under this section shall be paid into the transportation fund.
A vehicle exempted under s. 341.405 from state registration requirements is not exempted under sub. (2) from state permit requirements. State v. Yellow Freight System, Inc. 101 Wis. 2d 142
, 303 N.W.2d 834
Motor carrier permit fees required by sub. (4) (a), (b), and (c) are not in conflict with interstate commerce commission regulations and may be collected. The permit fee required by sub. (4) (d), 1977 stats., is in conflict with such regulations and may not be collected. 63 Atty. Gen. 206.
This chapter shall not apply to motor vehicles owned by the United States, any state, or any political subdivision thereof, except in the case of transportation systems acquired and operated between counties under s. 59.58 (3) (d)
but in such a case the political subdivision is exempt from the annual permit fee under s. 194.04 (4) (a)
The provisions of this chapter shall not authorize the fixing of any rates, charges or regulations respecting the transportation of United States mails.
This chapter shall not apply to transportation of newspapers by motor vehicles having a gross weight of less than 8,000 pounds when any transportation for hire provided by the person who owns or operates the motor vehicle is confined exclusively to the transportation or distribution of newspapers within a radius of 50 miles of the point where the person or motor carrier receives the newspapers from the newspaper publisher or the publisher's drop-off agent or carrier.
This chapter shall not apply to any farm truck or dual purpose farm truck combined with any semitrailer or farm trailer, or any vehicle combined with a horse trailer, if the vehicle combination's gross combination weight rating, registered weight, and actual gross weight do not exceed 26,000 pounds, the vehicle combination does not include a commercial motor vehicle described in s. 340.01 (8) (c)
, and the vehicle combination is operated solely in intrastate commerce.
The business of all common motor carriers of property or of passengers and of contract motor carriers is hereby declared to be affected with a public interest.
Operations subject to law.
No common motor carrier of property or of passengers or contract motor carrier or private motor carrier shall operate any motor vehicle for the transportation of either persons or property on any public highway in this state except in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
Effect of this chapter on powers of department and municipalities.
None of the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed to deprive the department or any municipality of any jurisdiction they now have or which may be conferred upon them over the public highways of the state, nor prevent the department or any municipality from suspending at any time the right of common motor carriers of property or of passengers, contract motor carriers or private motor carriers to operate motor vehicles over any public highway when necessary for the proper preservation or policing of the public highway.
Marking carrier vehicles.
Each motor vehicle operated by a common motor carrier of property or of passengers, a contract motor carrier or a private motor carrier shall be plainly marked in such manner as the department may prescribe, so as to identify such motor vehicle as being operated pursuant to this chapter. This section does not apply to any farm truck or dual purpose farm truck combined with any semitrailer or farm trailer, or any vehicle combined with a horse trailer, if the vehicle combination's gross combination weight rating, registered weight, and actual gross weight do not exceed 26,000 pounds, the vehicle combination does not include a commercial motor vehicle described in s. 340.01 (8) (c)
, and the vehicle combination is operated solely in intrastate commerce.
Service of process on nonresident carriers.
applies to any common, contract or private motor carrier that is a nonresident of this state.
History: 1981 c. 347
Inspection of premises or vehicles.
The department or its duly authorized agents may at any time enter upon any premises within this state occupied by any common motor carrier of property or passengers, any contract motor carrier or any private motor carriers, or any motor vehicle of a common motor carrier, contract motor carrier or a private motor carrier for the purpose of exercising any power provided for in this chapter. Duly authorized agents of the department may stop a motor vehicle under this section upon the public highways for the purpose of exercising any power provided for in this chapter.
Any person adversely affected by a determination of the department under this chapter may petition the division of hearings and appeals for review. The division of hearings and appeals shall set a time for a hearing on the matter, and notice of the hearing shall be given to the petitioner and the department at least 10 days prior to the hearing. The hearing shall be conducted as are hearings for contested cases under ch. 227
In its decision the division of hearings and appeals may confirm or reverse or may modify, with or without conditions, the determination of the department. Where appropriate, the division of hearings and appeals may by order direct the department to implement the decision of the division.
Review of department determinations made under this chapter is a condition precedent to judicial review under ch. 227
. Decisions of the division of hearings and appeals are subject to judicial review under ch. 227