Ask The Law – May 2021

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Questions about ELDs and the Short Haul Exemption, Landing Gear Height & More Answered by Law Enforcement Officials

Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.  These interpretations were made on April 18, 2021.

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Q1: I would like some clarity on the 8 days in the 30 days rule exemption and on the 100 air-mile radius rule.  I’m a one truck owner operator with my own authority, working part time for the past 3 years.  Been an owner operator for 20 years.  I sometimes do local runs – once or twice per week less than 100 air miles – and sometimes do runs that are more than 100 air miles – maybe 2 times per week, but never more than 8 days in a 30-day period.  Am I required to have an ELD?  Also, how do I log the less than 100 air mile days?  Am I required to log pickups for the over 100 air mile day runs, which I may not deliver until the next day, or several days after I load, and does that count as a day?  Also, am I required to log fuel stops?  What documents should I have in my truck to satisfy the ELD requirements?  Thank you.  James in Texas

A1: Provided by Retired Texas Trooper Monty Dial: You can find the requirements for the Short Haul Driver Provision in Part 395.1(e): You must start and stop from the same location every day.  You are required to keep a time record that shows starting time, ending time and total hours worked.  You cannot be on the clock more than 12 hours.  If at any time you cannot comply with these items, you are required to complete a paper log.  An ELD is not required if you do not complete paper logs more than 8 times in any 30 consecutive days.  That’s not a month, but a 30-day running calendar.  If you exceed the number of paper logs (more than 8) you must install an ELD.  You can still take advantage of the Short Haul Provision when you are operating within the air mile radius and use an ELD when you go outside the air mile radius.  There are some interpretations that you can find in Part 395.8 that says you only have to complete a logbook, or in this case an ELD, on the days you run outside the radius.

Q2: I was recently running through Oregon and went through a scale.  The truck was a Ryder rental, and the company is based in Pennsylvania.  The DOT gentleman said my company needs to change it.  My company said there is nothing they can do because they don’t own the truck.  What do we need to do to comply?  Thank you.  Deane in California

A2: Provided by Retired Texas Trooper Monty Dial: Not exactly sure what your question is.  Leasing companies are not required to register with the FMCSA as a motor carrier.  Therefore, they are not required to display a US DOT number.  If there is a US DOT number on the truck, cover it up.  If your company has leased the truck for 30 days or less, you do not need to put the company’s US DOT number on the truck.  You are required to have paperwork for your company.  If the truck is leased for more than 30 days, the company will be required to put their name and US DOT number on the truck.  You can find more about this in Part 390.21.

Q3: I haul feed to co-ops and farms in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.  When I get back and pickup corn or soybeans, my understanding is that I can switch my ELD to Ag Exemption, then deliver within the 150 air-mile radius to ADM/CHS/Ethanol plants, which I do.  Can I reload with feed to go back to my yard, which is also under the 150 air-mile radius, then start my next day to deliver that feed back on the ELD to Wisconsin and other places, then come back and repeat?  Thomas in Wisconsin

A3: Provided by Retired Texas Trooper Monty Dial: When transporting an agricultural commodity, you turn off the ELD once you get within 150 air-mile radius of the source (the location where you intend to load) and keep it turned off until you reach the 150 air-mile radius limit.  Then, you stop and turn on the ELD.  Make sure you put Ag Exemption in the comment section.  If you never leave the 150 air-mile radius from the last delivery to your next load, you do not have to turn on the ELD.

Q4: Are there any laws regarding landing gear height?  I know it might be a weird question, but I have some concerns.  Robert in Utah

A4: Provided by Retired Texas Trooper Monty Dial: I know of nothing in the DOT Regulations that even discusses trailer landing gear.  However, there could be a state law.  Check with your home state.

Q5: A client of mine owns a disposal container and a roofing business.  He has DOT numbers set up for both companies.  He uses the same drivers for both companies.  His question to me is this – can he have all his drivers in one consortium under one company?  I told him no, as this could create some serious issues in the event of an accident/incident.  I wanted to reach out to get your opinion on this matter.  Tim in Arizona

A5: Provided by Retired Texas Trooper Monty Dial: This would be my suggestion.  Advise him to form a third company, a driver only company, and put all the drivers in that company.  Then, set up an alcohol and drug testing program for that company and move all the driver’s DQ Files to that company.  Then, he could lease the drivers to whichever company he wanted the drivers to drive for.  Here’s an example that I used to tell motor carriers when I was conducting Compliance Reviews that involved multiple companies owned by the same owner who shared drivers: You have motor carrier A and motor carrier B, and drivers work for both companies.  Form company C, which will be nothing more than a leasing company for the drivers, which will include an alcohol and drug testing program and maintain all the DQ Files.  When driver 1 works for company A, company A compensates company C, and company C pays the driver.  When driver 2 works for company B, the same thing applies.  If a Compliance Review is ever done, since company C is a non-motor carrier, it would not be subject to civil penalties.  Companies A and B would be the motor carriers and would be subject to civil penalties.  I would advise your client to contact an attorney when setting up company C to make sure it’s done legally.  There are also some tax benefits of putting drivers in company C.

~ 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 any changes have been made.

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