Questions about Logbooks, Speed Limits, Brake Inspections & More Answered by Law Enforcement Officials (as of September 2014)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.
These interpretations were made on August 12, 2014.
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FORCED TO “CHEAT” ON YOUR LOGBOOK
Q: We haul live turkeys to a kill plant. I have a recurring problem of not having enough hours to make the full trip and arrive at my set delivery time. The only way I’m able to make my appointments is to cheat on my logbook. What options do I have? Thanks – Josh in Minnesota
A: Provided by Jim Brokaw, formerly a Staff Sergeant, Nebraska State Patrol, Carrier Enforcement Division, Lincoln, NE: The only option I can see is to renegotiate your delivery time with the kill plant. The hours of service are law – they aren’t something you can so-call “cheat” on. 49 CFR 395(e) states: “Failure to complete the record of duty activities of this section or 395.15, failure to preserve a record of such duty activities, or the making of false reports in connection with such duty activities shall make the driver and/or carrier liable to prosecution.” And 390.35, titled “Certificates, reports, and records: falsification, reproduction, or alteration” states: “No motor carrier, its agents, officers, representatives, or employees shall make or cause to make… (b) A fraudulent or intentionally false entry on any application, certificate, report, or record required to be used, completed, or retained, to comply with any requirement of this subchapter or Part 325 of Subchapter A…” Intentionally falsifying your logbook is also concealing hours-of-service violations. These activities can carry severe penalties. Should FMCSA audit your records of duty and find violations, they have the power to assess civil penalties that can be as high as $11,000 per violation per day of occurrence of the violation. Please note: penalties and prosecution can be for both the driver and the carrier.
SPEED SIGNS IN CONSTRUCTION ZONES
Q: When road construction signs are covered yet the normal speed limit sign is visible and the construction speed limit sign is also visible, what is the correct speed? Thanks – Randy in California
A: Provided by Sgt. Pete Camm (Ret.), California Highway Patrol, Sacramento, CA: When road construction signs are covered, the “normal” posted speed limit is the appropriate sign. Under Section 22362 CA Vehicle Code (CVC), language in the statute relates it’s a violation of the basic speed law (Section 22350 CVC) to drive faster than the “restricted zone” (construction zone) speed limit when “officers” or workers of either Caltrans or its contractors are working within the right-of-way. This section only applies if appropriate “restricted zone” signs are posted as specified. Reminder: Section 21809 CVC (Move over Law) requires a driver to approach carefully and move over into an available lane when passing a stopped emergency or Caltrans vehicle or tow truck when the vehicle’s specified warning signals are being displayed. If a lane change cannot be made safely, then a driver is required to slow down so as to not violate the basic speed law.
LEVEL ONE AIR BRAKE INSPECTION
Q: During a DOT stop the trooper had me hold down my brake foot pedal while my tractor and trailer supply valves where in the park (OUT) position. Air came out of the relief side on the firewall. The trooper said that is an out-of-service (OOS) violation. When I asked if this test should be performed with the brakes released I was told, “I’ll tell you what to do.” No air leaked when parked and no air leaked with park brakes released and brake pedal down, and I was still put OOS. I have talked with three DOT inspectors and they have never heard of this test. Thanks – Bennie in Texas
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX: I don’t know of any CVSA inspection that requires the brakes to be inspected while the parking brakes are set. In the CVSA’s air brake inspection guidance bulletin it clearly states, “Wheels must be chocked and all brakes must be released.” If the inspection did not follow CVSA’s Proper Inspection Procedures, I would have my carrier do a DataQ Challenge and show that the inspector did not follow proper inspection protocol for inspecting the air brake system with all of the air brakes released.
USE OF PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS
Q: What medications can’t I take and drive a CDL truck? My doctor wants me to use a pain patch (Butrans 10 mcg). Is it safe and legal for me to use this medication while driving a CMV? Thanks – Randy in Pennsylvania
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX: There is currently only one legally-prescribed medication that FMCSA prohibits a CDL operator from using. That medication is Chantix. The use of all other medications are going to be left up to the doctor prescribing them. It is important that your doctor knows you are a truck driver, because there are some medications that come with warning labels on the bottle. If there is a warning label such as, “Not to be used when driving and operating machinery,” it could have an effect on the driver operating a CMV.
~ The Ask The Law™ programs are an ongoing educational effort between Ol’ Blue, USA™ and commercial law enforcement agencies. Ol’ Blue, USA is a non-profit organization dedicated to highway safety education and to improving relations between the motoring public, law enforcement and commercial drivers. “Ask The Law” is a registered trademark of Ol’ Blue, USA. This column is copyrighted© by Ol’ Blue, USA. Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice. These interpretations were made on August 12, 2014.