Interstate vs. Intrastate Commerce

April 14, 2023 8:00 am

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It is important to be aware of the differences between interstate and intrastate commerce. The Department of Transportation (DOT) uses the terms to determine which regulations to apply to different transportation activities because the regulations vary between activities. Federal and state courts have dealt with the question of what differentiates interstate from intrastate commerce, especially in commercial highway transportation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) defines “interstate commerce” as: trade, traffic or transportation in the United States that occurs within one state and outside of the state.

Intrastate commerce refers to transportation activities that occur entirely within one state’s border for the transportation of goods. For example, if a company operates a trucking fleet that only operates within the state of Illinois, they would be engaged in intrastate commerce.

Interstate commerce, on the other hand, refers to transportation activities that involve the movement of goods across state lines. For example, if a trucking company in Texas hauls goods to a customer in Oklahoma, they would be engaged in interstate commerce.

The DOT distinguishes the types of commerce because different regulations will apply based on the type of activity. For example, carriers engaged in interstate commerce are subject to federal safety regulations such as those issued by the FMCSA. Carriers engaged in intrastate commerce may be subject to state safety regulatory agencies instead. It is important to understand the distinction between intrastate and interstate commerce in order to ensure compliance with the appropriate regulations. Failing to comply with the applicable regulations can result in fines, legal action and even loss of operating authority.

**The content provided is not intended as legal advice and should not be construed or interpreted as such. If such advice is needed, The Paladin Group recommends that you seek counsel for the specific advice or services needed.**

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