(a) After notice and an opportunity for a hearing, a person found by the Secretary of Transportation to have violated a provision of law that the Secretary carries out through the Maritime Administrator or the Commandant of the Coast Guard or a regulation prescribed under that law by the Secretary for which a civil penalty is provided, is liable to the United States Government for the civil penalty provided. The amount of the civil penalty shall be assessed by the Secretary by written notice. In determining the amount of the penalty, the Secretary shall consider the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of the prohibited acts committed and, with respect to the violator, the degree of culpability, any history of prior offenses, ability to pay, and other matters that justice requires.
(b) The Secretary may compromise, modify, or remit, with or without consideration, a civil penalty until the assessment is referred to the Attorney General.
(c) If a person fails to pay an assessment of a civil penalty after it has become final, the Secretary may refer the matter to the Attorney General for collection in an appropriate district court of the United States.
(d) The Secretary may refund or remit a civil penalty collected under this section if—
(1) application has been made for refund or remission of the penalty within one year from the date of payment; and
(2) the Secretary finds that the penalty was unlawfully, improperly, or excessively imposed.
(Added Pub. L. 101–225, title III, §305(1), Dec. 12, 1989, 103 Stat. 1924.)
For transfer of authorities, functions, personnel, and assets of the Coast Guard, including the authorities and functions of the Secretary of Transportation relating thereto, to the Department of Homeland Security, and for treatment of related references, see sections 468(b), 551(d), 552(d), and 557 of Title 6, Domestic Security, and the Department of Homeland Security Reorganization Plan of November 25, 2002, as modified, set out as a note under section 542 of Title 6.