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April 12, 2017 4:00 PM, EDT

OOIDA Petitions US Supreme Court to Reject Electronic Logging Device Rule

Rand McNally

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association on April 12 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reject a federal rule requiring electronic logging devices because the group said the mandate would subject drivers to potential “warrantless, suspicionless” searches and seizures.

OOIDA said the ELD rule violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

RELATED: FMCSA preps truckers on ELD malfunctions

YOUR GUIDE TO THE MANDATE: Downloadable PDF. 

The rule, issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is intended to provide greater compliance of hours-of-service regulations, the agency has said. Its compliance date is Dec. 18.

An earlier request for a review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit was denied by a three-judge panel in a ruling on Oct. 31.

“The ELD Rule mandates that drivers currently using paper logbooks instead use ELDs,” OOIDA said in its petition asking the high court to grant its writ of certiorari. “An ELD integrates with a vehicle’s engine and uses GPS technology to automatically record the date, the time, the vehicle’s geographic location, the number of engine hours, the number of vehicle miles and identifying information about the driver and the vehicle.”

The rule also requires that drivers input other information into their ELDs, including changes in duty status and time spent eating and resting in the CMV’s sleeper berth as well as time spent away from the vehicle, OOIDA said.

The rule fails to protect the confidentiality of personal data collected by ELDs and allows state law enforcement officers operating under federal grants to gather ELD data from drivers, and “those same officers typically have the authority to issue criminal citations during roadside inspections for violations of HOS regulations,” according to OOIDA.

“The ELD Rule is most accurately described not as an administrative search program at all, but as a criminal law enforcement scheme whereby officers may conduct warrantless searches to further criminal investigations,” the driver trade organization said.

However, the appeals court said that the rule limits the scope of the inspections to ELD records and that the data recorded by ELDs are intentionally limited.

“The discretion of inspecting officers is limited in two important ways,” the appeals court decision said. “First, the ELD mandate authorizes officers to inspect only ELD data; it does not provide discretion to search a vehicle more broadly. Second, it requires the agency to take steps to ensure that law enforcement uses ELDs only to enforce compliance with the hours of service rules.”