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ELD Impacts on Breaks

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) mandates a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of driving or since the last 30-minute break, as your ELD will likely remind you. The eight hours include driving and other breaks of less than 30 minutes for any reason during the eight-hour period. The actual rule (395.1(2) states, “driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-berth period of at least 30 minutes.” Of course, this rule does not pertain to short-haul drivers, which we will discuss later.

Most Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) approved Electronic Logging Device (ELD) will remind a driver of the 30-minute mandatory break as the eighth hour of driving approaches and lock in a violation if the break is not taken before the eighth hour has elapsed. Likewise, the 30-minute break does not extend the 14-hour maximum driving time by 30 minutes; it is part of the 14 hours. Kind of like Cinderella at the ball, only there’s no glass slipper, just an hours-of-service (HOS) violation.

However, the 30-minute break must be 30 consecutive minutes; it cannot be broken down to 15 minutes in the first four hours and another 15 minutes before the eighth hour. It can be in the sleeper, off-duty, or the driver could do non-driving duties such as loading, unloading, checking the load, etc. But, you must be logged “off-duty” or “sleeper berth.” Explosive drivers must remain “on-duty” but must take the 30-minute break.

The 30-minute break is not optional like many other FMCSR rules. A driver could take eight hours in the sleeper and a minimum two consecutive hours off-duty at a shower house, hotel, or restaurant  to bring the total to ten hours off-duty, and to allow an additional 11-hour driving period. This should not affect the ELD unless you forget to log-off.    

The FMCSR permits a driver to surpass 70 hours of driving time within a seven-day period only if they take a 34-consecutive hour rest, which must include two time-periods at night between 1 and 5 am. Scientific studies have shown this is when your body needs sleep the most, although it has also been proven that you can change your body clock just like night shift workers. 

These rules generally apply to truckers hauling property or products and not passengers or livestock, nor do these pertain to those drivers exempt by the 100/150 air-mile radius rules. Many ELD/AOBRD driving apps give you the option to toggle off the 30-minute break reminder if you are not required to take it.

The break for bus drivers transporting passengers  can be split into two breaks over a four and 1/2 hours’ time frame. The first must be a minimum of 15 minutes and the second a minimum of 30 minutes. That same bus driver with passengers can only drive for nine hours in a day and can only extend that driving time to ten hours, twice in a week. That week’s driving time cannot surpass 56 hours. 

Trip Planning, ELD, & Traffic Jams

Twenty-seven minutes into the trip and the ELD says you need to take a break. You know it’s not right, but what can you do? Other than reconstructing the duty logs for the previous 24 hours and the last seven days, you could just take the break. But, how will that affect your schedule? They say plan your trips to avoid having to stop in the middle of nowhere for a break, but then you’re unexpectedly stuck in traffic for two hours, and once again you’re forced to pull over 100 miles from your planned stop. 

Those stops “in the middle of nowhere” can be hazardous too; there is nothing to do during your break but sit and get sleepy. You can only check the load so many times during a 30-minute break, even then   it seems like hours. Now you know how explosive drivers feel on every solo trip. When they take a break, they can’t leave their load and must remain on duty. 

Whatever the real situation is, when the ELD says you must take a 30-minute break or your 14 hours are up for the day, you must stop for the required length of time before driving again. It doesn't matter where you are. To avoid an HOS violation, or reconstruction of the logs, which would require a more extended stop, you must stop. This, unfortunately, has led some drivers to make unsafe forced stops.   

There have been reports of drivers having to stop in unsafe areas, or taking a break in an unauthorized location, such as a runaway truck ramp. This is definitely not a good idea. Parking on a runaway truck ramp could lead to a more significant violation or a fatal collision. And, be sure to check the ELD before you resume driving, the time on your watch may not match the ELD. Planning and checking the ELD can help you avoid an HOS violation, but if you do get one, you must consult a traffic ticket attorney.  

Los Angeles County Traffic Ticket Attorneys 

Getting a conviction for an HOS violation can put you out-of-service and lead to Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) points and an FMCSA investigation. CA Vehicle Code 34506.3, Safety Regulations provides for a $695 fine and 1.5 Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) points for failure to comply with FMCSR. It could even be a misdemeanor crime if you were hauling explosives or HazMat. Planning and reminders help to avoid getting a ticket, but once you have a violation, you need reliable legal advice and dependable representation in traffic court.

Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, as many CDL holders do when they need advice. Your initial consultation is free, and you are not obligated to continue unless we reach an agreement. Se habla Español 661.349.9755.

Send an email,, and attach a scanned copy of the ticket and a brief explanation. Paul or Mark will reply with your options.  

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The 2018 CA Commercial Driver Handbook .pdf

The 2018 California Superior Court Bail Schedule for Infractions and Misdemeanors.pdf

The FMCSA Enforcement Policy – Court Decision on the 30-Minute Rest Break Provision.pdf

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