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The Teamsters appealed to the 9th Circuit Court to reverse the FMCSA decision to do away with the CA rest break rule as it applies to truckers and hours of service (HOS) rules, saying it is a “corporate giveaway.”

The CA Meal and Rest Break (MRB) Rule

For those unaware, the CA MRB rule requires employers to allow all workers to take a 30-minute, unpaid lunch break after five hours of work. However, if the employee will complete their work day after six hours, a mutual waiving of the break is allowed.

To satisfy their legal obligation, an employer must grant the 30-minute under these conditions:

  • The employee is relieved of all duty,
  • the employer in no way controls the employee’s activity,
  • permits a reasonable, uninterrupted break, and
  • cannot create policy or otherwise intimidate workers who take the break.

The employer must provide a second 30-minute break for employees who will work ten hours or more before the tenth work hour. The employee could waive a second break period when each of these conditions gets met by the employer:

  • The worker’s day cannot extend past 12 hours,
  • the employee and employer agree, and
  • the employee did not waive their first 30-minute break.

On December 21, 2018, the FMCSA ruled the CA MRB does not apply to over-the-road (OTR) or interstate transportation drivers because it conflicts with Federal HOS rules and places an unnecessary burden on commerce.

The FMCSA HOS Versus CA MRB Rules

The first mandated break under the CA MRB rule mandating a break after five hours is quite close to the FMCSA HOS 30-minute mandatory break rule in that the FMCSR requires a break before the eighth hour on duty. In its ruling, Ray Martinez, an FMCSA administrator said the CA MRB rules, “…not only pose a safety risk, but also lead to a loss in productivity and ultimately hurt American consumers.”

The agency claims, and rightly so, limited parking along America’s highways pushes drivers into parking in unsafe areas. However, the FMCSA already mandates a 30-minute break within the first eight hours of duty, so they must be referring to the second break because most drivers would only have to take one or the other.

The FMCSA HOS rules limit drivers to 11 hours of driving and no more than 14 hour work days. Therefore, most OTR truckers would require a second 30-minute break if the clock did not reset after the first break because they would exceed CA MRB rule of 10-hour workdays requiring a second break, which the FMCSA does not provide. Which is quite a paradox when the first break is safe, but the second after driving for ten hours is unsafe.

The Teamsters Problem with the FMCSA Pre-emption

Some drivers already insist they do not receive even the mandated break after five hours, let alone a second. Many trucking firms and fleet managers want truckers to keep pushing that cargo down the road, and take a break in place when stuck in traffic or when mandated by the FMCSA before the eighth hour only to prevent an HOS rule violation.

The American Trucking Association (ATA), a group lobby that usually takes on issues for trucking firms, first raised the matter to the FMCSA to look at CA MRB, how it affected trucking, and “contradicted” or conflicted with Federal HOS rules. The lobby insisted truckers were confused about which mandate to follow.

The Teamsters argue the decision was not safety driven but that many trucking firms get brought into class action lawsuits for not paying drivers for breaks, and in some cases, not even minimum wage. There are valid arguments on both sides of this issue, but drivers in the meantime are stuck in the middle.

HOS Rule Violations Around Woodland, CA

Be careful when driving into Northern Cali on I-5 in Yolo County. Although the freeway opens up a little because of reduced traffic, the CHP is waiting. When you get a ticket out there on I-5 around Woodland, whether for an HOS rule violation, speeding, unsafe lane change, following too closely, overweight, or others, you need a CDL friendly and knowledgeable attorney to assist in resolving your traffic ticket. Yolo County often requires a driver to pay bail when they want to contest a traffic ticket.

Talk to a CDL Friendly Traffic Attorney Who Regularly Practices in Woodland, CA

Many drivers assume that they will have a difficult time persuading the court their log is correct when they get ticketed for HOS rule violations. The truth is, it is the State’s job to prove your guilt, not vice versa. Don’t make their job easy for them by admitting guilt and paying the fine. Get legal assistance and challenge the ticket. Call Bigger & Harman (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

Although our office is in Bakersfield, we travel much of California to assist CDL holders with traffic tickets, roadside inspection violations, and DMV Hearing.

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2018 CA Commercial Driver Handbook .pdf article, Teamsters Sue to Reverse FMCSA’s California Rest-Break Exemption article,The Long Ride Up Capitol Hill for Trucking's Preemption Rider

CA Chamber of Commerce article, Meal & Rest Break​s In California

Yahoo News article, FMCSA Strikes Down California Meal and Rest Break Rules
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