I-17 101 traffic interchange

ADOT Fuel Tax Evasion Unit honored for red-dyed diesel enforcement

ADOT Fuel Tax Evasion Unit honored for red-dyed diesel enforcement

November 8, 2023

Officers work throughout the state to combat illegal use of tax-exempt diesel

PHOENIX – A team of Arizona Department of Transportation law enforcement officers has won a national honor for its efforts to make sure only eligible vehicles use tax-exempt diesel reserved for use off of state highways.

The Federation of Tax Administrators Motor Fuel Tax Section recently presented its National Chair’s Award to ADOT’s Fuel Tax Evasion Unit, part of the agency’s Enforcement and Compliance Division. The national group noted that other states often tap these ADOT officers’ expertise and ask to come to Arizona to train with them. 

State law allows for a certain type of diesel to be exempt from motor fuel taxes if used by vehicles designed for use off of highways, such as farming, mining and construction equipment. The fuel they use is referred to as red-dyed diesel because of the red dye added by the supplier. Red-dyed diesel pumps are clearly marked as “off road use only.”

The Fuel Tax Evasion Unit’s success benefits Arizonans because taxes generated from gasoline and diesel fuel sales provide most of the revenue ADOT receives to plan, build, operate and maintain the state highway system. It costs all of us when a personal or commercial vehicle makes illegal use of red-dyed diesel.

The four-member Fuel Tax Evasion Unit, which is funded by a federal grant, works throughout the state to deter commercial vehicles from illegally fueling with red-dyed diesel. Officers use equipment that can detect and quantify the amount of red-dyed diesel in a fuel tank. They also check locations that dispense red-dyed diesel to ensure that pumps are correctly labeled with fuel tax rate decals. 

A first-time offender can face a fine of $1,000 or $10 per gallon of the capacity of the fuel tank, whichever is greater, along with possible criminal charges and civil penalties. Those fines will be multiplied if a person has multiple violations.

You can help as well. Please report suspected violations of Arizona’s fuel tax laws to ADOT’s Fuel Tax Evasion Tip Line by calling 877.293.8357 (877.AZFuels) or making an online report at azdot.gov/RedDiesel