TSA Letter of Investigation

Did you receive a TSA Letter of Investigation from the Assistant Federal Security Director-Inspections regarding a violation of 49 C.F.R. Section 1540.109? TSA’s form letter used in these cases often states:

“As part of TSA’s investigation into the circumstances of this alleged violation, we are providing this opportunity for you to submit, in writing, any information regarding this matter. This information should be submitted within 20 calendar days from the date of this letter, and should be sent via mail or email to a specific Transportation Security Inspector (TSI) named in the letter.

Any information you provide will be duly considered in our investigation. If you do not respond within the specified time, or within an extension of time granted by the TSI, an investigative report will be completed without the benefit of your input.”

As last count, TSA’s sanctions policy allows the imposition of the following civil monetary penalties:

  • up to $37,377 per violation for aircraft operators;
  • up to $12,794 per violation for surface transportation modes and other non-aviation violations; and
  • up to $14,950 per violation for all other persons, including but not limited to individuals, airport operators, indirect air carriers, and small business concerns.

If the TSA’s investigation finds probable cause to believe the allegations are true, it will issue a Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty. After you receive the notice, you have a right to request a formal hearing. Requesting a formal hearing is the only way to contest the allegations. Additionally, TSA might refer the matter for criminal investigation and enforcement when it appears a criminal law was violated.

If you received a TSA Letter of Investigation, schedule a consultation to discuss the case with an experienced attorney. We charge $400 for the initial consultation. If you want to set up the initial consultation, email us a copy of the letter and a summary of what occurred to info@sammislawfirm.com.

During the consultation, we can discuss how you should respond during the investigation and what happens if they issue a Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty. If you decide you need additional services, we typically charge a flat fee of $4,000 to represent you during the TSA investigation through an administrative hearing or final resolution through a settlement agreement.

If you retain us to represent you, we will act quickly to preserve any airport surveillance video of the incident. Otherwise, depending on the airport’s retention policy for such video, it might be destroyed 30 days after the incident.

Attorney for TSA Investigations

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients under an investigation by TSA or after a notice of proposed civil penalty is issued. We can assist you in the following ways:

  1. Obtain Surveillance Video from the Airport:
    • TSA might not preserve all of the videos of the incident, particularly if the video does not support their allegations.
    • Most airports have a short retention policy for surveillance video, typically 30 days.
    • An attorney can help you obtain a court order to preserve the video within the first 30 days after the incident.
  2. Gather and Submit Evidence:
    • We will help you gather other relevant evidence and draft a compelling written response to the TSA’s allegations.
  3. Communicate with TSA:
    • An attorney at Sammis Law Firm will handle all communications with the TSA on your behalf, ensuring that your rights are protected throughout the investigation.
  4. Negotiate Penalties:
    • If penalties are being proposed, we can negotiate with the TSA to seek a reduction or dismissal of the fines.
  5. Present Defenses:
    • We will prepare a robust defense strategy tailored to your case’s unique facts if the investigation progresses.

To schedule an initial consultation with an attorney, email info@sammislawfirm.com or call us to set up the initial consultation.

Call 813-250-0500.

TSA Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty Option Sheet

TSA Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty Option Sheet gives the following options: 

  1. pay the proposed civil penalty;
  2. submit evidence for consideration;
  3. request a reduction of penalty;
  4. request an informal conference with a TSA attorney;
  5. request a formal hearing.

Requesting a formal hearing is the only way to contest the allegations. At the formal hearing, you can present witnesses and other evidence. TSA has the burden of proof.

The judge will decide all issues of fact and law, including whether a civil penalty should be assessed and the amount.

If you are dissatisfied with the judge’s decision, you may appeal to the TSA Decision Maker.

If dissatisfied with the TSA Decision Maker’s decision, you may seek review in an appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals. 

Common Types of TSA Violations

The most commonly prosecuted TSA violations include:

  • Carrying a firearm, ammunition, incendiaries, or explosives in checked or carry-on luggage;
  • Entering a sterile area without submitting to screening;
  • Tampering or interfering with any security system, measure, or procedure;
  • Entering or being present within a secured area, AOA, SIDA, or sterile area without complying with the systems, measures, or procedures being applied to control access to, or presence or movement in, such areas;
  • Improper use of airport access medium;
  • Fraud and intentional falsification; and
  • Failure to protect Sensitive Security Information (SSI) – 49 CFR Part 1520.

Interfering with a TSA Screener | 49 C.F.R. Section 1540.109

This regulation, 49 C.F.R. Section 1540.109, prohibits anyone from interfering with, assaulting, threatening, or intimidating screening personnel while performing their duties. The regulation provides:

§ 1540.109 Prohibition Against Interference with Screening Personnel

“No person may interfere with, assault, threaten, or intimidate screening personnel in the performance of their screening duties under this subchapter.”

TSA sends the Letter of Investigation when it opens an inquiry into alleged violations of Transportation Security Regulations (TSR), including Title 49 U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR) Section 1540.109. Violating this regulation can result in civil penalties of up to $14,950 per violation.

TSA’s SANCTION GUIDANCE TABLE for interference with screening sets the minimum and maximum civil penalty as follows:

  • Assault with injury $11,300-$14,950;
  • Assault without injury $5,830-$11,300; or
  • Non-physical interference $2,250-$5,830.

Additional Resources

TSA Enforcement Sanction Guidance Policy – Find the civil penalty sanction guidance used by TSA to determine the appropriate sanctions. The sanction can increase with repeated violations or the finding of other aggravating factors and decrease with the finding of mitigating factors.

Take Action Now

Time is of the essence when dealing with a TSA Letter of Investigation. Failing to respond within the specified timeframe can increase the chances that the TSA will attempt to impose a civil penalty.

Contact our office today for a consultation. Let us help you navigate this complex process and protect your rights.

Call 813-250-0500.