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Truck Driver Hours Of Service Laws In California

Truck Driver Laws

Truck accidents can be devastating, leading to severe injuries and significant property damage. As a truck accident victim in California, it’s crucial to be aware of the laws and regulations governing the hours of service (HOS) for truck drivers in the state. Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates PC sheds light on California’s HOS laws and how they may impact the potential legal remedies of truck accident victims. If you have been involved in a truck accident and have suffered truck accident injuries, it is recommended that you talk to a truck accident attorney immediately.

Interstate Vs. Intrastate Commerce

Before delving into the specifics of California’s HOS laws, it’s essential to grasp the distinction between interstate and intrastate commerce in the context of trucking. Interstate commerce refers to trade, traffic, or transportation between a place within California and a place outside of California, between two places in California through another state or place outside the United States, or between two places within California as part of trade originating or terminating outside of California or the U.S. For example, transporting intermodal shipping containers to and from a port falls under interstate commerce. On the other hand, any carrier engaged in trade, traffic, or transportation not falling within the definition of interstate commerce operates in intrastate commerce.

Hours-Of-Service Requirements

The HOS rules for truck drivers depend on whether they are operating in interstate or intrastate commerce:

Interstate Hours-Of-Service Requirements

A driver is subject to interstate HOS rules when dispatched to transport interstate freight or when their intended route involves crossing state lines or national boundaries, regardless of whether the vehicle is loaded or empty.

Intrastate Hours-Of-Service Requirements

Drivers never engaged in interstate commerce must comply with intrastate HOS rules. Additionally, drivers who were previously engaged in interstate commerce may operate under intrastate HOS rules immediately upon transporting a load consisting solely of intrastate freight. However, intrastate drivers, except when driving a tank vehicle transporting more than 500 gallons of flammable liquid, may use interstate HOS driving and on-duty limits if they are more restrictive.

Hours-Of-Service Changes In 2020

Effective September 2020, several changes were made to the HOS rules for interstate drivers:

Short-Haul Exception

The maximum driving distance for the short-haul exception for commercial driver license (CDL) drivers was extended from 100 to 150 air miles. Additionally, the maximum duty period was increased from 12 to 14 hours, with the driver only allowed to drive for 11 of those 14 hours. For non-CDL and CDL drivers, the short-haul exception remains unchanged, with a maximum driving distance of 100 air miles and a maximum duty period of 12 hours, and the driver may drive the entire 12 hours.

Adverse Driving Conditions

The definition of adverse driving conditions was clarified to include conditions not known or reasonably known to the driver before beginning duty or before driving after a qualifying sleeper berth period. Drivers may extend their duty period by up to 2 hours to account for adverse driving conditions, with only driving time being extended under intrastate HOS rules.

30-Minute Rest Break

The 30-minute rest break is now required after 8 hours of driving instead of after 8 hours on duty.

Split Sleeper Berth Provision

The split sleeper berth provision for property-carrying vehicles allows drivers to combine two periods to equal at least 10 hours off-duty, with one period being at least 7 hours in the sleeper berth combined with another period of at least 2 hours off-duty, sleeper berth, or a combination of both. Neither of the qualifying rest periods is counted against the 14-hour driving window.

Electronic Logging Device (Eld) Requirements

ELDs are electronic devices that record a truck driver’s driving time and ensure compliance with HOS regulations. In California, unless exempted, ELDs have been required since December 2019.

Exemptions From ELD Requirements

Certain exemptions exist for ELD requirements, including:

  • Vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.
  • Drivers not required to complete a record of duty status more than 8 days in a 30-day period (intrastate trips are excluded from this calculation).
  • Driveaway-towaway operations where the motor vehicle is the commodity being transported, the vehicle is empty or unladen, and at least one set of wheels of the towed vehicle must be on the roadway.

Common Issues Encountered Roadside

Some common issues faced by truck drivers roadside include not knowing how to transfer ELD data to the FMCSA “Web Service,” not possessing blank logbook pages in case of ELD malfunctions, and not having instructions on how to operate the ELD.

Exemptions And Special Cases

The FMCSA may grant exemptions to HOS and ELD requirements for certain operations. For example, railroad employees responding to unplanned events within 300 miles of their normal work reporting location may exceed some HOS limits while responding to the event. A list of exemptions can be found on the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance website.

Truck Accident Attorneys

Don’t face the aftermath of a truck accident in California alone. Reach out to the experienced and dedicated team of truck accident lawyers at Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates PC today. Our skilled attorneys are ready to fight for your rights and secure the compensation you deserve. Whether it’s navigating complex insurance claims or building a strong lawsuit, we have the skills to handle every aspect of your case. Time is of the essence, so don’t wait. Contact a personal injury lawyer now at (888) 848-5084 or online to schedule a free consultation and take the first step toward justice and healing. Your future matters, and we’re here to protect it.

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