As a follow to my prior write-up on the changes of the Hours-of-Service Rule published in December, 2011, there has been a decision that a few of the Rules will have a compliance date of July 1, 2013.   The July 1, 2013 compliance date applies to:

  1. Limitations on minimum 34-hour restarts.   There was no prior Rule on this and the new Rule advises that there must be two periods between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. home terminal time and this 34-hour restart may only be used once per week;
  2. Rest Breaks. In the prior version there was no such Rule and now a commercial vehicle operator may drive only 8-hours or less from the driver’s last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes.  

It is also noteworthy that “on-duty time”, which previously included any time in the commercial vehicle except the sleeper-berth, does not include time resting in a parked vehicle (this Rule also applies to passenger-carrying vehicles and its drivers).    In a property carrying commercial vehicle, this on-duty time does not include up to 2-hours in the passenger seat immediately before or after 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper-berth. 

Finally, as for penalties for violation of the hours of service Rules, previously the standard was “egregious” for any hours of service violations. This was never specifically interpreted or defined.   Under the new Rules effective February 27, 2012 this was quantified as driving, or even allowing a driver to operate a vehicle, 3 or more hours over the time limit. This will subject the operator and company to maximum civil penalties.     

This also applies to passenger carrying commercial drivers. It is also important to remember that the new Hours of Service Regulations with a July 1, 2013 compliance deadline  indicate that drivers using the sleeper-berth provision must take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper-berth plus a distinct and separate 2 consecutive hours either in the sleeper-berth, off-duty or any combination thereof.                 

Jeff Krawitz is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Yardley, PA office, specializing in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Krawitz.