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undefinedThe DOT FMCSA implemented the mandatory 30-minute break after the eighth hour of driving to break up the rigors and stress of driving. Their intent was to make it safer for all drivers.

However, the HOS rules were recently changed to allow drivers to use their 30-minute driving pause as either on-duty, non-driving or off-duty. This gives the driver more leeway to check cargo, truck maintenance, or just grab a cup of joe.

Commercial driving rules and regulations aren't just bureaucratic red tape (but don’t get us wrong, sometimes they make no sense(; they are safeguards for the health and safety of drivers and everyone sharing the road. 

The FMCSA Mandatory 30-Minute Break Can Be On-Duty or Off

One of the common misconceptions we often encounter is the nature of the mandatory 30-minute break. The break does not necessarily mean the driver has to be off duty. It can be on-duty non-driving.

“Requires a 30-minute break only when a driver has driven for a period of 8 hours without at least a 30-minute interruption. If required, the break may be satisfied by any non-driving period of 30 minutes, i.e. on-duty, off-duty, or sleeper berth time.”Hours of Service Drivers Final Rule

However, the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Record of Duty Status (RODS) must reflect the duty status change for an uninterrupted 30-minute period. For instance, you stop for fuel and grab a cup of coffee or lunch. Be sure to change your RODS to reflect the stop. It won’t count as your mandatory 30-minute break if you don't.

Likewise, if you’re on break and a law enforcement officer (LEO) makes you move your vehicle, you must make a note in the ELD RODS and start your 30-minute break over so that it covers the entire 30 minutes.

During this time, drivers can engage in non-driving activities such as refueling, meal breaks, or administrative work. The essence of this provision is to ensure that drivers aren't operating their vehicles without a pause. By making the most of this time, drivers can effectively manage their schedules without compromising their obligations or health.

Driving for Too Long Can Make You Weary & Induce Stress

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that consecutive hours of non-stop driving will make you irritable and cranky, which often leads to road rage. The last thing anyone wants is a cranky driver in an 80,000-pound 18-wheeler.

The accumulated fatigue, weariness, and stress can impede judgment, reaction times, and overall driving capability.

We've witnessed cases where minor lapses in concentration have led to significant consequences—these lapses are often due to mental fatigue. Thus, by observing the mandatory 30-minute break, drivers are not just complying with regulations but are also actively investing in their well-being and the safety of others on the road.

When You’ve Been Accused of Violating the DOT FMCSA HOS Rules, You Need Legal Help

Mistakes happen. Sometimes, due to unforeseen circumstances or mere oversight, drivers might find themselves on the wrong side of the DOT FMCSA Hours of Service (HOS) rules. The ramifications can be severe in such situations, including hefty fines, points on your record, CSA severity points that affect your Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) record, or even cause a driver’s disqualification.

We can help. Our experience and knowledge of CA traffic court procedures allow us to meticulously evaluate the situation, identify discrepancies, and chart a legal defense strategy.

We understand the intricacies of the DOT FMCSA regulations, including the nuances of the mandatory 30-minute break and other FMCSA HOS rules. Our commitment is to ensure that every driver gets fair representation and that their rights are upheld.

In conclusion, while the mandatory 30-minute break might seem like a minor nuisance while driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), ignoring the HOS rules can devastate a driver’s career. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you're being accused of violating any HOS rules, remember that we're here to help. Your rights and reputation are the key to your survival. 

When You’ve Been Accused of Violating the FMCSA HOS Rule for Not Taking a Mandatory 30-Minute Break, Contact Bigger & Harman, APC  

Although inspectors at the weigh station or “chicken coop” at Truckee, CA, on the Donner Pass on I-80 don’t always check your ELD logbook thoroughly, any deviation from the DOT FMCSA HOS rules can lead to accusations  of fraud, traffic tickets, and FMCSA HOS rule violations.

Call Bigger & Harman, APC, at (661) 349-9300—use our contact form to send a picture of your ticket/violation or email

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

Download our e-book, Protecting Your Commercial Driver License.


The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.

The FMCSA CFR 49 Part 383.51Driver Disqualifications.

The DOT FMCSA Hours of Service Drivers Final Rule.

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