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DOT Regulations on Driving Hours

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The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are responsible for developing and enforcing federal regulations concerning drivers with a commercial driver's license. This responsibility includes the time a driver can spend behind the wheel of their truck. This time is recorded in the driver's DOT log book, which the driver must have at all times. Each log book makes a carbon copy, which the driver must turn into his company, and he must be ready to produce the original to any DOT officer upon request.

Driving Hours: Property-Carrying

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The driver of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), hauling non-passenger cargo, is allowed to drive 11 hours maximum, following a period of 10 hours off duty. Also, the driver cannot drive past the 14th consecutive hour after returning to on-duty status, following the required 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time. An additional restriction is a driver cannot exceed 60 hours of on-duty time in a seven-day period, or 70 hours of on-duty time in eight days

Driving Hours: Passenger-Carrying

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The driver of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), hauling passengers, such as tour buses, is allowed to drive 10 hours maximum, following a period of eight straight hours of off-duty time. Also, the driver cannot drive past the 15th continuous hour after returning to on-duty status, following the required eight successive hours of off-duty time. Passenger-carrying CMV drivers are also restricted to a driver not exceeding 60 hours of on-duty time in a seven-day period, or 70 hours of on-duty time in eight days.

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On Duty: Non-Driving Hours

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The time periods a driver is not behind the wheel of their truck, but are still considered on-duty are times of minor maintenance, refueling, eating, loading and unloading, and personal hygiene. These activities are not counted as driving hours, but are taken into account for the 14-hour regulation.

Off-Duty Periods

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A driver must be off duty, away from any activity dealing with his vehicle or load, for a period of 34 hours before another 60- or 70-hour, seven- or eight-day cycle can begin again. No part of the 34-hour downtime rest period can coincide with any driving or driving-related activity.

Penalties For Violating Hours Of Service (HOS)

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A CDL driver who is caught in violation of HOS can be forced to shut down on the side of the highway until the appropriate off-duty time has been satisfied. FMCSA is authorized to cite drivers' with tickets and their company with fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 each time the driver is in violation of the downtime regulations. The amount of the fine is dependent on the severity of the violation. Federal criminal charges can be filed against the transportation motor company if it is proven they “knowingly and willingly violated HOS regulations.”

About the Author

Robert Morgan began writing in 1969, providing and editing intelligence briefs while in the military. He has written manuals for Southern Illinois University and spent 22 years with Michelin Tire Research and Development Corp., writing technical and procedural manuals and developing the PPAP Quality Manual. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration in economics, with graduate studies in marketing, from Augusta College.

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