Log Book Law vs. The Truck Driver

I wonder how many variations of the federal Hours of Service (HOS) law I will here about this year. Does anyone know what the current version of the HOS law is? Would you know how to defend yourself in a court of law if given an “Out of Service” violation? These and many other questions are baiting my breath as the issue of the HOS rules rages on in our court system. Is the HOS law still in court?

This month, I have listened to several drivers talk about their rendition of the HOS rules as pertaining to their particular circumstance. I’ve heard at least four different drivers and two DOT officers offer their opinion on their interpretation of the HOS law. The DOT officers were from Oregon and had differing opinions on what the correct procedure was in pertaining to a split sleeper berth. I appear in court later this month to try to get clarification from a DOT judge. I am still looking for a DOT attorney to represent me in Oregon.

When it comes to a split sleeper berth, I’ve heard that DOT officers from California to Washington have varying opinions on the correct amount of time one spends in the sleeper berth. I was talking to a driver who was stopped at a scale in California and DOT told him to take an 8 or 10 hour break, drivers choosing! An officer in Oregon had the same opinion, but he said that drivers had to stick to one or the other. There also seems to be confusion about whether or not the 14 hour rule is still in effect. I know that in Oregon, they are very strict about a driver going over his or her 14 hour limit. Oregon is also one of the only states that I know in the Northwest that requires a driver to flag ALL open scales. Even when “pre-passed”, a commercial driver must flag that passing of the scale. If the scale is closed, a driver who gets the green light when passing a closed scale must flag the crossing. Next time you pass the Farewell Bend POE or the POE south of Portland, notice how many trucks are placed out of service. Yes, Oregon WILL place you OOS for not flagging Oregon scales. Remember, they can go back several weeks to check.

I wish OOIDA or other truck driver organizations would organize and fight the HOS rules to get a precise ruling in regards to the law. It’s been way too long for drivers to wonder if they are breaking the law when crossing a scale. I don’t think of scales as a legitimate way of DOT making sure drivers are legal and following the rules anymore. Scales seem to be a “trap” anymore, generating revenue to keep pet projects going in their particular county. I have been running legal for over 10 years, I keep a tight log book, and keep my truck and equipment in top operating order. Instead of DOT doing trucking a favor, they have made it almost impossible for a truck to pass a scale without violating some rule or regulation.

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