49 U.S.C.
United States Code, 2019 Edition
Sec. 502 - General authority
From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov

§502. General authority

(a) The Secretary of Transportation shall carry out this chapter.

(b) The Secretary may—

(1) inquire into and report on the management of the business of rail carriers and motor carriers;

(2) inquire into and report on the management of the business of a person controlling, controlled by, or under common control with those carriers to the extent that the business of the person is related to the management of the business of that carrier; and

(3) obtain from those carriers and persons information the Secretary determines to be necessary.

(c) In carrying out this chapter as it applies to motor carriers, motor carriers of migrant workers, and motor private carriers, the Secretary may—

(1) confer and hold joint hearings with State authorities;

(2) cooperate with and use the services, records, and facilities of State authorities; and

(3) make cooperative agreements with a State to enforce the safety laws and regulations of a State and the United States related to highway transportation.

(d) The Secretary may subpena witnesses and records related to a proceeding or investigation under this chapter from a place in the United States to the designated place of the proceeding or investigation. If a witness disobeys a subpena, the Secretary, or a party to a proceeding or investigation before the Secretary, may petition the district court for the judicial district in which the proceeding or investigation is conducted to enforce the subpena. The court may punish a refusal to obey an order of the court to comply with a subpena as a contempt of court.

(e)(1) In a proceeding or investigation, the Secretary may take testimony of a witness by deposition and may order the witness to produce records. A party to a proceeding or investigation pending before the Secretary may take the testimony of a witness by deposition and may require the witness to produce records at any time after a proceeding or investigation is at issue on petition and answer. If a witness fails to be deposed or to produce records under this subsection, the Secretary may subpena the witness to take a deposition, produce the records, or both.

(2) A deposition may be taken before a judge of a court of the United States, a United States magistrate judge, a clerk of a district court, or a chancellor, justice, or judge of a supreme or superior court, mayor or chief magistrate of a city, judge of a county court, or court of common pleas of any State, or a notary public who is not counsel or attorney of a party or interested in the proceeding or investigation.

(3) Before taking a deposition, reasonable notice must be given in writing by the party or the attorney of that party proposing to take a deposition to the opposing party or the attorney of record of that party, whoever is nearest. The notice shall state the name of the witness and the time and place of taking the deposition.

(4) The testimony of a person deposed under this subsection shall be taken under oath. The person taking the deposition shall prepare, or cause to be prepared, a transcript of the testimony taken. The transcript shall be subscribed by the deponent.

(5) The testimony of a witness who is in a foreign country may be taken by deposition before an officer or person designated by the Secretary or agreed on by the parties by written stipulation filed with the Secretary. The deposition shall be filed with the Secretary promptly.

(f) Each witness summoned before the Secretary or whose deposition is taken under this section and the individual taking the deposition are entitled to the same fees and mileage paid for those services in the courts of the United States.

(Pub. L. 97–449, §1(b), Jan. 12, 1983, 96 Stat. 2431; Pub. L. 103–272, §4(j)(12), July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1368.)

Historical and Revision Notes
Pub. L. 97–449


Source (U.S. Code)Source (Statutes at Large)
502 49:1655(f)(2). Oct. 15, 1966, Pub. L. 89–670, §6(f)(2), 80 Stat. 940.
502(c)–(f) 49:304(a)(3) (last sentence) (related to "Sec. 305"). Feb. 4, 1887, ch. 104, 24 Stat. 379, §204(a)(3) (last sentence) (related to "Sec. 205"); added Aug. 9, 1935, ch. 498, 49 Stat. 546.
  49:304(a)(3a) (last sentence) (related to "Sec. 305"). Feb. 4, 1887, ch. 104, 24 Stat. 379, §204(a)(3a) (last sentence) (related to "Sec. 205"); added Aug. 3, 1956, ch. 905, §2, 70 Stat. 958.

The section is included because 49:1655(f)(2) gave the same administrative powers exercised by the Interstate Commerce Commission under certain sections of title 49 to the Secretary of Transportation to carry out duties transferred to the Secretary by 49:1655(e). See the revision notes for section 501 of the revised title for an explanation of the transfer under 49:1655(f)(2). The powers of the Commission have been codified in subtitle IV of the revised title. The comparable provisions of title 49 that are represented by the section may be found as follows:

Section 50249 U.S. CodeRevised Section
(a), (b) 12(1)(a) (1st sentence, 2d sentence, and last sentence words before 1st semicolon). 10321
  304(a) (matter before (1)), (6), (7) (less words after semicolon). 10321
(c) 305(f). 11502
(d) 12(1)(a) (last sentence words after last semicolon), (2), (3). 10321
  305(d) (related to Commission subpena power). 10321
(e)(1)–(3) 12(4). 10321
  305(d) (related to depositions taken by Commission). 10321
(e)(4) and (5) 12(5), (6). 10321
  305(d) (related to depositions taken by Commission). 10321
(f) 12(7). 10321
  18(1) (last sentence). 10321
  305(d) (related to depositions taken by Commission). 10321

See the revision notes for the revised sections for an explanation of changes made in the text. Changes not accounted for in those revision notes are as follows:

The text of 49:305(a)–(c), (e), and (g)–(j) is not included for motor carriers of migrant workers and motor private carriers because those provisions, while included in the enumeration in 49:304(a)(3) and (3a), are not included in the specific enumeration of 49:1655(f)(2)(B)(ii).

In subsection (b), the text of 49:12(1)(a) (2d sentence words after semicolon) is omitted as unnecessary because the Secretary of Transportation already has authority under chapter 3 of the revised title to make recommendations to Congress.

In subsections (c)–(f), the text of 49:304(a)(3) (last sentence 1st–7th words) and (3a) (last sentence 1st–5th words) is omitted as executed.

In subsection (c), the words "economic and" are omitted as not being transferred to the Secretary. The text of 49:305(f) (last sentence) is omitted as not applicable to this chapter.

In subsection (d), the reference to joint boards in 49:305(d) is omitted as not applicable to this chapter because 49:305(a) (establishing joint boards) is not included in the specific enumeration of 49:1655(f)(2)(B)(ii).

Pub. L. 103–272

Section 4(j)(12) amends 49:502(e)(2) and 10321(d)(3) to reflect the change in the name of United States magistrates to United States magistrate judges made by section 321 of the Judicial Improvements Act of 1990 (Public Law 101–650, 104 Stat. 5117).


1994—Subsec. (e)(2). Pub. L. 103–272 inserted "judge" after "United States magistrate".