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Criminal Hazmat Penalties (click link at end of page for list)
As mentioned elsewhere, the fines for hazmat penalties can go up to $32,500 per day per violation. These are "civil penalties" are are assessed for "knowing" violations. This means that the person either knew about it or should have known about it. For example a new auto parts business opens up and ships a car battery by truck to a customer but fails to declare it as hazmat. That would be subject to a civil penalty if the just didn't now any better.
Willful Violations are Criminal
On the other hand, if there was an intent to "willfully" violation the hazmat regulations then that can be a criminal matter. For example, a business owner reads this website and learns that the are required by law to train their hazmat employee but makes a willful decision not to do it (for whatever reason). That is intentionally violating the law and could be subject to criminal penalties.
Usually criminal penalties are pursued by DOT enforcement agents after discovery of a leak, spill or other accident and the violation appears to be "willful". In the list of criminal enforcement actions is one felony case where a man was convicted of shipping a used motorcycle by air without declaring it as hazmat.
Examples of Recent Criminal Cases from the DOT Inspector General
Keep in mind that while a couple of the fines are less than a typical fine in a civil case, this also involves a felony conviction for an individual rather than just a monetary penalty for a company.