False Logbook and Other Logbook-Related Violations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes “Hours of Service” rules on many drivers of commercial vehicles. There is a lengthy and confusing statute that discusses who exactly is subject to the hours of service rules, but that is outside the scope of this page. The FMSCA provides a summary of the hours of service rules, and we have a discussion of those rules here. Hours of service rules are unfortunately a frequent cause of traffic citations for commercial drivers. The way an hours of service issue comes to the attention of an officer is the driver’s logbook.

There are a variety of logbook-related violations, including:

No Logbook

This is exactly what it sounds like – A driver who is required to maintain a logbook but does not could be charged with a no logbook violation. See 49 CRF 395.8(a)(1).

No ELD – Electronic Logging Device

A “no ELD” violation is charged under the same statute as a no logbook violation, 49 CFR 395.8(a)(1). In summary, most drivers who are required to record their duty status under 395.8(a) must also use an electronic logging device. There are a few exceptions:

  • Drivers who operate under the short-haul exceptions are not required to use ELDs and may continue using timecards;
  • Drivers who use paper logs for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period.
  • Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, in which the vehicle being driven is part of the shipment being delivered.
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000.

False or Inaccurate Logbook

There are two situations where this can occur. First, a driver could intentionally falsify a logbook entry so that it appears they are in compliance with the hours of service rules.

A false logbook entry could also be the result of an innocent error. As you might imagine, if the error was innocent, and the driver has documentation to support what should have actually been entered, and the accurate info does not violate any hours of service rules, the chances for a favorable outcome are much better than with an intentional false entry.
Making a false logbook entry is a violation of 49 CFR 395.8(e)(1).

No Record of Duty Status

This violation would come up if a driver is required to have a logbook, but does not, or if the driver actually does have a logbook (or and ELD –  electronic logging device), but has not recorded his or her duty status in that logbook. In other words, there is a period of time where there is no data available when there should be.

When there is no data, an investigating officer is unable to determine whether or not the driver is complying with the hours of service rules.

49 CRF 395.8 requires a driver operating a commercial motor vehicle to record the driver’s duty status.

Consequences of a Logbook Violation

Logbook-related violations are criminal violations according to A.R.S. 28-5240, which states:

A. In addition to civil penalties imposed under this chapter, a motor carrier, shipper or manufacturer who operates or causes to be operated a commercial motor vehicle in violation of this chapter or who knowingly violates or knowingly fails to comply with any provision of this chapter or with any rule adopted pursuant to this chapter is guilty of:
1. A class 2 misdemeanor for a first offense.
2. A class 1 misdemeanor for a second offense.
3. A class 6 felony for any subsequent offense.

For a first offense, which would be charged as a class 2 misdemeanor, there is the potential for up to a $750 fine plus surcharges of $585, up to 4 months in jail, and probation. In practice, jail time is unlikely and the fine will likely be far less than the maximum.

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