Trucking Companies: New 30-Minute Break Rule is Struck Down

A portion of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hours-of-service rule, which took effect on July 1, 2013 was recently struck down by the D.C. Circuit Court.

The Court held that the FMCSA acted “arbitrarily and irrationally” in requiring short-haul drivers to take a 30-minute off-duty breaks. Short haul drivers are those who operate within a 150 air-mile radius of the location where the driver reports to and is released from work.

The 2011 Final Rule, which led to the July 1 changes, did not provide a single word of justification for the new requirement for short-haul drivers. After litigation initiated by the American Trucking Association, the FMCSA meekly responded that a general explanation of the necessity of the 30-minute break applies as much to short-haul drivers as to long-haul drivers. This justification was too weak for the Court, especially since it was offered only after litigation had begun.

Despite this change, the Court assumed a highly deferential approach to the FMCSA’s rule-making process and left in place several other provisions of the new HOS rule, like provisions covering the maximum 11-hour daily driving period, the maximum 14-hour daily on-duty period, the mandatory 34-hour rest period, and the new definition of “egregious” violations.

Matt Austin is a Columbus, Ohio employment lawyer who owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm with offices in central and northeast Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can email Matt at or call him at 614.285.5342.