Ask The Law – May 2022

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Questions about the Hours-of-Service Rules, Ag Exemptions, and More Answered by Law Enforcement Officials

Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.  These interpretations were made on April 16, 2022.

Brought to you as a public service by Ol’ Blue, USA and 10-4 Magazine.  Please submit questions to: question@askthelaw.org

Q: Can I use Personal Conveyance (PC) from the place I am delivering to if I get there the day before and they are out of parking spots?

A: Provided by Trooper Brent Hoover, Indiana State Police: You can use PC to get to a safe haven if they do not have a place for you to park. 

Q: Am I allowed to put fuel in my truck and then drop and hook a trailer while I am on my 30-minute break?

A: Provided by Retired Texas Trooper Monty Dial: The answer is no.  Look at the definition of on-duty time found in Part 395.2.  On-duty time means all time from the time a driver begins to work or is required to be in readiness to work until the time the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work.  On-duty time shall include: (1) All time at a plant, terminal, facility or other property of a motor carrier or shipper, or on any public property waiting to be dispatched, unless the driver has been relieved from duty by the carrier; (2) All time inspecting, servicing or conditioning any commercial motor vehicle at any time; (3) All driving time as defined in the term driving time; (4) All time in or on a commercial motor vehicle, other than: (i) Time spent resting in or on a parked vehicle, except as otherwise provided in 397.5 of this subchapter; (ii) Time spent resting in a sleeper berth; or (iii) Up to 3 hours riding in the passenger seat of a property-carrying vehicle moving on the highway immediately before or after a period of at least 7 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth; (5) All time loading or unloading a commercial motor vehicle, supervising or assisting in the loading or unloading, attending a commercial motor vehicle being loaded or unloaded, remaining in readiness to operate a commercial motor vehicle or in giving or receiving receipts for shipments loaded or unloaded; (6) All time repairing, obtaining assistance or remaining in attendance upon a disabled commercial motor vehicle; (7) All time spent providing a breath sample or urine specimen, including travel time to and from the collection site, to comply with the random, reasonable suspicion, post-crash or follow-up testing required by Part 382 of this subchapter when directed by a motor carrier; (8) Performing any other work in the capacity, employ or service of a motor carrier; and (9) Performing any compensated work for a person who is not a motor carrier.

Q: I work for a small carrier – under 10 trucks – out of Walnut, IL.  We have an Agriculture Exemption we use all the time.  I know I can use the 150 air-mile exemption to load fresh mushrooms on a farm, but what other refrigerated products can the 150 air-mile exemption be used for?  I was told there is an 8-page list on the FMCSA portal describing the products, but I am confused how frozen food or fresh meat loads count.  My boss says to use the air-mile exemption so it counts towards my 10-hour break.  I don’t see how, with the ag exemption, it is legal for my boss to run me up to 18-hours a day and for it to count towards my rest break.  I was recently inspected by the DOT in Iowa.  The officer asked about all my PC usage, and I told him it is Agriculture Exemption products.  He said it is too big of a gray area and cut me loose.  Is running this way legal?

A: Provided by Trooper Brent Hoover, Indiana State Police: You are correct, loads from farms are allowed.  But once the produce is processed and picked up from another location, you no longer get the Agriculture Exemption.  When you take your break, you are required to get enough rest on your time off.  The Agriculture Exemption, while still considered off-duty, is not a substitute for a full rest break.

Q: What determines whether a company should use the 60-hour or 70-hour rule?  I work for a soda manufacturer.  Although our drivers work 5 days a week, our trucks are on the road 7 days a week.  We utilize the 60-hour rule.  The company wants to switch to the 70-hour rule, but the union is fighting it.  What is your advice about this?

A: Provided by Retired Texas Trooper Monty Dial: The answer can be found in Part 395.3(b).  If a carrier does not have vehicles on the road 7 days a week, it uses the 60 hours in 7 days rule.  If the carrier has vehicles on the road every day of the week, it uses the 70 hours in 8 days rule.

Q: Does sod (grass) fall under the Agriculture Exemption?  Can this ag exemption only be used by a truck that is owned and operated by the farm from which the sod was grown or can an independent owner operator hauling the sod still use this exemption?

A: Provided by Retired Texas Trooper Monty Dial: The Agriculture Exemption – found in Part 395.1(k) – applies to all who are hauling ag commodities.  You are allowed to travel within a 150 air-mile radius and be exempt from the Hours-of-Service Regulations.  If you go beyond that, then you are required to log or use an ELD.  You are exempt from using an ELD if you do not log more than 8 days in any 30 consecutive days.

Q: Coming off home time, I start at my company’s terminal.  I am on my way to pick up an empty trailer and I am on-duty not driving.  Shouldn’t I be paid for the miles to go pick up that trailer?  I think my company is getting away with breaking the rules.  Is that true?

A: Provided by Retired Texas Trooper Monty Dial: How you are paid is between you and the company.  If you are enroute from the terminal to pick up an empty trailer, you should be logging as driving, not on-duty not driving.  That may be why you are not being properly compensated for those miles – because you are not logging them properly.  In Part 395.2 Definitions, driving time means all time spent at the driving controls of a commercial motor vehicle in operation.  I would suggest you log the time spent driving to pick up a trailer as driving.

~ The “Ask The Law” program is an ongoing educational effort between Ol’ Blue, USA and commercial law enforcement agencies.  Ol’ Blue, USA is a non-profit organization dedicated to highway safety education and to improving relations between the motoring public, law enforcement and commercial drivers.  Ask the Law is a registered trademark of Ol’ Blue, USA.  This column is copyrighted by Ol’ Blue, USA.  Warning: The information contained within this column is provided for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.  The content contains general information and is not intended to and should not be relied upon or construed as a legal opinion or legal advice regarding any specific issue.  Be aware that the material in the column may not reflect current legal developments or information, as laws and regulations are subject to change at any time without notice.  Always check with the most recent statutes, rules, and regulations to see if changes have been made.

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