I frequently see cases that make it clear the lawyers do not understand the term "intrastate" and "interstate" as used in the trucking industry. Probably because the terms are used in everyday conversation, the lawyers fail to check on the whether the load in question is actually inter or intrastate. Also many lawyers handling trucking cases are actually car wreck lawyers, and not truck wreck lawyers, a critical difference with huge implications for anyone hiring a trucking lawyer (You can test your lawyer by asking him the difference!)

So do you think you know the difference between intra and interstate as used in the trucking industry? The difference is actually very important and impacts, amongst other things, insurance coverage. So how are these terms used in the trucking industry? 

The following material from some recent decisions make it clear that: 

It is well settled in the trucking industry that the movement of goods and the intent of the shipper determines whether the goods are shipped in interstate commerce. See In the Matter of American Truck and Trailer Repair, Docket RI-92-001, 58 Fed. Reg. 16916 at 16921, March 31 1993 (Order, August 6,1992). In United States v. Yellow Cab Co., 332 U.S. 218, 228-229 (1974) the United States Supreme Court held "when persons or goods move from a point of origin in one state to a point of destination in another, the fact that part of the journey consists of transportation by an independent agency solely within the boundaries of one state does not make that portion of the trip any less interstate in character. That portion must be viewed in its relation to the entire journey rather than in isolation. So viewed, it is an integral step in the interstate movement". The term "interstate commerce" within the meaning of the FMCSRs and underlying statutes is not synonymous with transport across state lines, and can include operations conducted wholly within a single state. Whether transportation between two points in one state is considered to be part of an interstate movement is determined by the essential character of the commerce, manifested by the shipper’s fixed and persisting intent at the time of the shipment, and is ascertained from all the facts and circumstances surrounding the transportation. See In the Matter of Solomon Trucker, Jr., Docket No. FHWA-1997-2417 (Final Order, June 2,1998) citing to Baltimore & o.s. WR. Co. V. Settle, 260 U.S. 166 (1922) and Texas v. u.s., 866 F.2d 1546 (5 th Cir.), reh’g denied, 874 F.2d 812 (1989). When the intent of the transportation being performed is interstate in nature, even when the route is within the boundaries of a single State, the driver and commercial motor vehicle are subject to the FMCSRs. See In the Matter of Gunther’s Leasing Transport, Inc., Docket No. FHWA-1997-2400 (Decision of Chief Administrative Law Judge Mathias, January 17, 1996). So long as the cargo transported originates and terminates in different states, an interstate portion of the transportation must still be viewed as interstate. See Id. citing to In the Matter of National Transportation Service, Inc., Docket No. 92-FL-028-FR (Final Order, October 21,1994).

See also: Texas & No.R.R. v. Sabine Tram Co., 227 U.S. 111, 123 (1923); and Central Freight v. l.e.e., 899 F.2d 413, 419 (5th Cir. 1990)(the crucial factor in determining whether a shipment is interstate in nature is the shipper’s fixed and persistent intent at the time of shipment). See also In the Matter of Gunther’s Leasing Transport, Inc., Docket No. FHWA-1997-2400 (Decision of Administrative Law Judge, January 17, 1996, at 45)