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Hours of Service Violations in the ELD Mandate Era

Updated: Jun 27

The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate was officially put into place on April 1, 2018. It was at this point that commercial motor vehicle drivers would be placed out of service if their vehicle was not equipped with an ELD. The ELD Mandate was put into place in order to simplify the tracking of a driver’s Hours of Service (HOS) and simplify the enforcement of the HOS rules.

An ELD keeping track of hours of service

Since the ELD Mandate, some things have changed in terms of hours of service. Certain violations are no longer seen as often and other violations are now easier to get caught for. With a lot happening since the implementation of the ELD Mandate, let’s take a look at how hours of service violations have changed in the ELD Mandate Era.

What hours of service violations are still in effect?

Here is a list of the HOS violations that are very much still in effect with the ELD Mandate:

Going over the 14-hour limit

Truck drivers have 14 hours after coming off duty to complete their driving for the day.

Going over the 11-hour driving limit

Within the 14-hour limit, truck drivers are only allowed to drive for 11 hours within that time frame.

Not taking a 30-minute break

Also within the 14-hour limit, a driver must take a 30-minute break before 8 hours of driving time has passed since the end of their last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes.

Going under the 10 hours off duty

Once a driver goes off duty, they must stay off duty for at least 10 consecutive hours in order to reset their 14 hour clock. There is flexibility with this rule by using the 8/2 or 7/3 sleeper-berth split. Learn more about the rules by clicking on the links.

Going over the 60/70 limit

Truck drivers can only be on duty for 60 hours in a 7 day period or 70 hours in an 8 day period. After, you must take 34 consecutive hours off duty if you want to refresh your driving cycle completely.

Prior to the ELD Mandate, all of these HOS rules had to be tracked on paper logs. This made it hard for drivers to accurately keep track of all of them. Drivers also had the ability to falsify their on-duty and off-duty time which made it hard to enforce. ELDs make it really easy to accurately track all of these HOS rules and violations.

What hours of service violations are no longer as common?

Even though the ELD Mandate didn’t get rid of any HOS violations, these specific violations were a lot more common when hours were kept on paper logs.

Form & Manner Violations

When there were paper logs, form & manner violations were one of the most common violations. Now that there are ELDs, there is less information that a driver has to put in manually. This means there is a smaller possibility of a driver getting caught for a form and manner violation because almost everything is being tracked and inputted automatically.

Falsification of Records

Because hours of service data is being tracked by an electronic device, it is very hard to falsify your records. It used to be possible for a driver to log whatever hours they wanted when that information was being kept on paper logs. Now, all of this information is being tracked automatically as you drive which makes it hard to falsify.

Missing Logs Violations

Missing logs violations used to be common because there was a lot of paper that needed to be kept track of. ELDs have significantly reduced the chance of losing a paper log. All of the HOS logs are now just kept organized within the ELD which means if you don’t lose or destroy the ELD, you shouldn’t lose those logs.

What are the penalties for violating the hours of service rules?

Violating HOS rules can lead to a variety of penalties for both the driver and the carrier. If a driver is caught over their HOS, they may be placed out of service until the driver has spent enough time off duty in order to be back in compliance. Depending on the severity, the driver could also be assessed fines by both state and local law enforcement officials.

Driver’s and carrier’s CSA scores can also take a hit if they aren’t complying with the HOS rules. We go into a lot more detail on CSA scores here. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may also force civil penalties onto the driver or the carrier. These penalties can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the severity.

If a carrier is caught with a pattern of violations, its safety rating can be downgraded. Patterns of violations that are caused by a carrier knowingly and willingly allowing HOS violations can lead to federal criminal penalties which may result in fines or complete shutdown of a carrier.

How do you get caught violating hours of service rules?

There are a few ways to get caught violating the hours of service rules:

  • If you drive for a carrier they will keep track of your hours and are able to see if you are in violation.

  • If the police see that you are violating HOS you will be placed out of service until you are in compliance and could end up with a ticket.

  • The DOT can catch you violating HOS rules at a weigh station or if your company happens to get audited. The DOT may allow some violations to go without penalties as long as you are not way over the limit.

The last and worst possible way to get caught violating HOS would be if you were to get in an accident while operating over the HOS limit. If you are operating over an hours limit, you will be held civilly and criminally liable if an accident were to occur. The consequences can include fines, license suspensions, and possibly even jail time. Even if the accident isn’t your fault, a prosecutor will be able to say that you shouldn’t have been on the road during that time and the prosecutor will be correct. The HOS rules were put into place as a safety measure so getting in an accident while violating the rules means you have caused exactly what the HOS rules were set out to avoid.

Hours of Service Exemptions

There are exemptions to the hours of service rules that you need to keep aware of. These are just a few of the more common exemptions that you may be eligible for permanently or on a one-off basis.

If driving conditions are affected by weather or an emergency, drivers are permitted to exceed the 11 hour maximum driving time by two hours. However, they may not go past a 16 hour-limit.

Another common exemption is the 30-minute break exemption. Short-haul drivers who qualify for the 150 air-mile radius provision can be exempt from taking the 30-minute break.

A driver may be able to extend their 14 hour shift to a 16 shift, as long as the 11 driving hours are not exceeded if that driver started and stopped their workday at the same location for at least the five previous workdays. This rule may be invoked once per 34-hour reset and the driver must be relieved from work after the 16th hour.

Lastly, a driver’s HOS rules may be temporarily lifted if they are helping with direct emergency assistance. A governmental Declaration of Emergency has to be issued and the driver has to be providing support to state and local efforts to save lives, property, or protect public health or safety. Even with these rules suspended, a driver is still expected to act in good judgment and not operate their vehicle if they are under conditions that could lead to a clear hazard to others on the highways.

Stay Compliant to Avoid Hours of Service Violations

The ELD mandate has made it easier to keep track of the HOS rules. However, it has also made it easier to get caught being in violation of them. Even if you don’t like the rules, stay compliant in order to avoid unnecessary penalties and fines. It’s tough being told what to do and how long to drive, especially when you have been driving for many years. However, these rules were put into place for your safety and the safety of others in mind. So be safe, stay compliant, and you will be able to avoid those hours of service violations.

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Sep 11, 2021

HOS rules are now more in tune with real world situations.

One item the USDOT must address is traffic jams.

As of now, only "unforeseen" or "unexpected" traffic conditions.

I've been informed by OOIDA compliance dept, confirmed by the local FMCSA field rep , that while driving in an area "known" for heavy traffic, such as a large metro area, a driver shall not invoke the safe haven rule or other 11 hour exemption because according to FMCSA rules heavy rush hour traffic is not considered "unexpected". I asked if for example if there is a traffic crash that does not result in closure of a roadway but causes an extended slow traffic condition.

The response is "not an exception".

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