DOT Hours of Service Rules - FAQs
What are the basic hours-of-service rules for commercial truck drivers?
After 10 hours off duty, the driver of a property-carrying vehicle may drive for up to 11 hours within a 14-hour window of time, must take a 30-minute break before driving after 8 consecutive hours, and must stop driving after accumulating 60 or 70 on-duty hours in 7 or 8 days.
What are the basic hours-of-service rules for commercial bus drivers?
After 8 hours off duty, the driver of a passenger-carrying vehicle may drive for up to 10 hours within the first 15 on-duty hours of the day, and must stop driving after accumulating 60 or 70 on-duty hours in 7 or 8 days.
May the driver of a property-carrying vehicle be on duty for more than 14 hours?
Yes. A driver can continue to work beyond the end of the 14th hour of the day, but may not drive a commercial motor vehicle unless eligible to use a special exception. The additional on-duty time will reduce on-duty time available under the 60/70-hour time limit.
Do mechanics and other "occasional" drivers fall under the hours-of-service rules?
Yes, every driver of a commercial motor vehicle must comply with the hours-of-service rules. A driver is anyone who gets behind the wheel of a "commercial motor vehicle" as defined in 49 CFR §390.5 (or as defined in state regulations governing intrastate commerce). Drivers do not necessarily need a record of duty status (log) if they can claim the 100- or 150-air-mile exceptions in 49 CFR §395.1(e).
What are "property-carrying" and "passenger-carrying" vehicles?
Under the federal hours-of-service regulations, any commercial motor vehicle (CMV) as defined in 49 CFR §390.5 that is not a "passenger-carrying" vehicle will be considered a "property-carrying" vehicle. If a driver is operating a CMV "designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation," or "designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation," then the driver would be considered to be "passenger-carrying" under the hours of service regulations - regardless of whether there were actually any passengers on the vehicle. This would include, for example, new buses being driven from manufacturer to dealer. If passengers (more than 8 or 15 depending on the circumstances) were being carried in the back of a straight truck, that truck would be "passenger-carrying" at that time.
If we cross a state line, can we still use the 100- or 150-air-mile radius exception?
Yes. Since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations apply to interstate commerce, crossing a state line does not affect the use of the 100- or 150-air-mile radius exception. Keep in mind that if you are operating in intrastate commerce and following the state-specific hours-of-service regulations, crossing the state line places you under federal regulations.
How should "waiting" time be logged?
"Waiting" time at a terminal, plant, or port may be recorded as off duty, sleeper berth, or on duty/not driving, depending on the circumstances. For "waiting" time to be off duty, the following conditions must be met:
- The driver must be relieved of all duty and responsibility for the care and custody of the vehicle, its accessories, and any cargo or passengers it may be carrying.
- During the stop, and for the duration of the stop, the driver must be at liberty to pursue activities of his/her own choosing and to leave the premises where the vehicle is situated.
If circumstances allow a driver to use a valid sleeper berth without being disturbed for a specific period of waiting time, that time in the sleeper berth may be recorded as "sleeper berth" time. In most other circumstances, such as when the driver is required to remain with the vehicle to move it when necessary, the waiting time should be recorded as "on duty/not driving."
If a driver takes a second job with a non-motor carrier, do those hours affect compliance with the hours-of-service rules?
Yes. Under 49 CFR §395.8(a), drivers must record their duty status for each 24-hour period, including all on-duty time. The definition of "on-duty time" in §395.2 includes "performing any compensated work for a person who is not a motor carrier." Therefore, all compensated work, whether for a motor carrier or not, must be included on the log as on-duty time and counted against the driver's available hours.
What are the penalties for violating the hours-of-service rules?
Drivers or carriers who violate the hours-of-service rules face serious penalties:
- Drivers may be placed out of service (shut down) at roadside until the driver has accumulated enough off-duty time to be back in compliance;
- State and local enforcement officials may assess fines;
- The driver's and carrier's scores under the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) enforcement program can take a hit, which could result in a variety of enforcement actions;
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may levy civil penalties on the driver or carrier, ranging from several hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars per violation, depending on the severity;
- The carrier's safety rating can be downgraded for a pattern of violations; and
- Federal criminal penalties can be brought against carriers who knowingly and willfully allow or require hours-of-service violations.
Do fuel stops and tire checks need to be shown on the log? If so, how?
Any change in duty status must be logged on the driver’s record of duty status, including fuels stops, tire checks, and en-route inspections. Short stops of less than 15 minutes can be "flagged" by drawing a line from the appropriate on-duty line to the Remarks section with the location and amount of time indicated. Federal hours-of-service regulations say that drivers have to indicate the location of each change in duty status, but there is no requirement to note what they were doing at that location. Many carriers require (through company policy) that their drivers note load checks ("LC") and/or tire checks ("TC") on their logs, as well a fuel stops.
Are drivers able to split their sleeper-berth time?
Yes, drivers may split their required off-duty time by using a sleeper-berth. Specifically, drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles may accumulate the equivalent of 10 consecutive hours off duty by taking two periods of rest, provided that:
- One of the periods is at least 8 consecutive hours in a sleeper berth;
- The remaining 2 hours (taken either before or after the 8-hour period) is spent either off duty, in a sleeper berth, or any combination of the two;
- Driving time in the period immediately before and after each rest period, when added together, does not exceed 11 hours; and
- Compliance with the 14-hour rule is calculated from the end of the first of the two qualifying rest periods.
Drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles may split their required 8-hour rest period into two separate periods, provided that:
- The two rest periods are spent entirely in a sleeper berth;
- Neither period is less than 2 hours;
- Driving time in the period immediately before and after each rest period, when added together, does not exceed 10 hours; and
- The on-duty time in the period immediately before and after each rest period, when added together, does not include any driving after the 15th hour.
How much driving can be done in one day?
The federal hours-of-service rules do not specifically limit the distance that can be driven in one day, but they do limit the number of hours that can be spent driving, as follows:
- Drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are limited to 11 hours of driving after having 10 consecutive hours off duty. However, this is not a "daily" limit. Under this provision, a driver could hypothetically drive for 11 hours, take 10 hours off, and drive for another 3 hours before the end of the 24-hour day.
- Drivers of passenger-carrying CMVs are limited to 10 hours of driving after having 8 consecutive hours off duty. In one 24-hour period, these drivers could hypothetically drive for 10 hours, take 8 hours off, and drive for another 6 hours.
Drivers using the 100- or 150-air-mile exceptions in 49 CFR §395.1(e) are not limited to driving 100 or 150 miles, respectively. Rather, these exceptions limit the area in which driving may be done, but not the amount of driving that can be done within that area.
Finally, speed limits affect the distance that can be driven, and evidence that a driver has driven excessive distances can lead to a speeding violation. DOT hours of service guidelines state that, on average, drivers should be able to travel about 10 miles per hour below the speed limit over a 10-hour period. For example, if the speed limit is 65 mph, drivers should be able to travel about 550 miles in a 10-hour period, so a trip of 600 miles or more may open the driver to charges of speeding or log falsification.
How does "personal use" of a commercial motor vehicle need to be recorded?
If a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver uses a CMV for personal conveyance, the time may be recorded as "off duty" if certain conditions are met. In particular, the driver must be relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work. Drivers may use personal conveyance to commute to and from work, for example, or to travel to local restaurants, shops, etc., if authorized by the motor carrier. A driver placed out of service for violating the hours-of-service regulations may not drive a CMV to any location to obtain rest.
Does a truck driver need a 30-minute break every 8 hours of driving?
The 8 hours are consecutive hours, so they include driving and all other time (including any breaks that are less than 30 minutes). The hours-of-service rules say you have to stop driving CMVs once you reach 8 consecutive hours past the end of your last break of at least 30 consecutive minutes.
If a driver won’t be driving after the 8th hour, does he or she need a break?
No, not under the federal HOS rules. The rules only restrict drivers from driving a property-carrying CMV after 8 hours without a break. If a driver will be working but not driving a CMV after 8 hours, then no break is required.
How do you log the 30-minute break?
To be counted as a valid break (for compliance with the 8-hour/30-minute rule), it must be logged "off duty" or "sleeper berth." In general, to be “off duty” the driver must be free of all obligations and responsibilities and free to leave the premises.
Do drivers who are exempt from logging need the 30-minute break?
No. Drivers who qualify for the “100 air-mile radius” or “non-CDL 150 air-mile radius” provisions in section 395.1(e) are NOT required to take the minimum 30-minute break.
Do oilfield drivers need the 30-minute break?
Yes. Drivers using either of the oilfield exceptions in Sec. 395.1(d) are required to comply with the 30-minute rest-break requirement. Drivers eligible for the “waiting time” exception (392.1(d)(2)) can use off-duty waiting time as their break. Drivers eligible for the 24-hour restart provision in Sec. 395.1(d)(1) who also qualify for the 100- or 150-air-mile exception in Sec. 395.1(e) are not subject to the break requirement.
Do hazmat drivers need to take the mandatory break?
Yes, unless they qualify for the 100-air-mile exception in Sec. 395.1(e)(1) or a special exemption. Drivers hauling hazardous materials are subject to the requirement for a mandatory 30-minute break, and it must be spent “off duty” unless transporting Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosives. Drivers transporting these explosives must remain “on duty” at all times while “attending” the load (see Sec. 397.5), so they are allowed to show their mandatory breaks as “on duty” as long as they enter a remark on the log to designate a 30-minute period as their break. No other work (other than attending to the load) can be performed during the break.
Other hazmat drivers who are required to attend their loads while operating on public highways under Sec. 397.5 must be allowed to go “off duty” for their breaks unless eligible for a special exemption.
Does the 30-minute break apply to drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles?
No. The 30-minute break requirement only applies to property-carrying CMV drivers.
Is the 34-hour restart provision optional?
Yes, the restart provision is optional. For example, a driver who works 8 hours per day, 7 days per week, would never need to use the restart provision because he/she would never reach the 60- or 70-hour limit. Drivers may continue to keep a running total or “recap” of their hours over the past 7 or 8 days and “do the math” each day to determine when they may need time off before driving again. In some cases, getting a restart will be the quickest way to get back on the road.
Does the 34-hour restart break have to be taken at the driver’s home?
No. The break can be taken in any location but it must be logged based on the time standard in effect at the driver’s home terminal.
How can truck drivers get a “restart” on their 60/70-hour limit?
Drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles have the option to reset their accumulated on-duty time back to zero by getting a rest break of at least 34 consecutive hours. The break must be spent “off duty” and/or in a sleeper berth. Drivers may get a restart at any time, as often as they wish.
Can bus drivers “restart” their accumulated on-duty time under the 60/70-hour rule?
No. Under the hours of service regulations, drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles do not have the option for a restart.
Are drivers from Canada or Mexico affected by the U.S. Hours of Service rules?
Yes, if they operate in the United States. Drivers from Canada and Mexico who drive in the U.S. need to be in full compliance with the U.S. hours-of-service rules upon crossing the border, just like any U.S. driver. This includes needing an electronic logging device when required.