Florida Hours of Service Rules for Commercial Vehicles

Florida Hours of Service Rules for Commercial VehiclesThe state of Florida enforces specific intrastate Hours of Service (HOS) rules for commercial motor vehicle drivers. These regulations govern the working hours and rest periods for drivers operating commercial vehicles solely within Florida.

Hours of safety rules are in place to increase safety on Florida roads. It’s no surprise that truckers cause accidents because they fall asleep or doze off at the wheel. However, the trucker is often not the only one at fault for these accidents. Trucking companies push truckers to the max to increase profits. In other words, the trucker is often just trying to make the trucking company happy.

At the end of the day, nobody likes past the point of exhaustion. It’s a terrible feeling, and nobody should do it, nor should they be pressured to do it. Unfortunately, though, the trucking companies want to maximize profits, even if it’s risky for their truckers and other drivers on the road, and these companies push drivers over the edge for money all the time. In this article, we will discuss the key aspects of the Hours of Service rules in Florida and elaborate on some important topics.

Intrastate Hours of Service Rules

Florida Statutes Section 316.302 outlines the intrastate HOS rules for commercial motor vehicle drivers operating exclusively within the state:

  • Driving Time: A driver may drive for up to 12 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • On-Duty Limit: A driver may not drive after the 16th hour since coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
  • Weekly Limit: A driver may not drive after accumulating 70/80 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A 34-hour break constitutes the end of the 7- or 8-day period.

Logbook Exemption and Documentation

Drivers who do not exceed a 150 air-mile radius and do not carry placarded hazardous materials are exempt from maintaining a logbook. However, if drivers are not released from duty within 14 hours, their driving time must be documented. There is no required format for documenting driving time, as long as the records are kept for six (6) months.

Rest Requirements and Sleeper Berth Provisions

Drivers can use the sleeper berth provisions in Part 395.1 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to meet the required 10 hours of rest by combining off-duty and sleeper berth time. Split sleeper berth times can also be used to obtain the required 10 hours of rest.

Combining Off-Duty and Sleeper Berth Time

Florida's intrastate hours of service rules allow drivers to combine consecutive off-duty and sleeper berth time to meet the required 10 hours of rest. This provides flexibility for drivers to manage their rest periods according to their needs and preferences.

Split Sleeper Berth Time

Drivers can also use split sleeper berth time to obtain the required 10 hours of rest. This means that drivers can divide their rest time into separate periods, as long as the total rest time adds up to at least 10 hours.

Exceeding 16 Hours On Duty

If a driver exceeds 16 hours on duty without driving more than 12 hours, they are not required to take a 34-hour break. Instead, they only need to obtain 10 hours of rest before returning to driving status.

24-Hour Restart for Drivers Transporting Construction Materials

The new intrastate rules allow for a 24-hour restart of the 7- or 8-day period for drivers transporting construction materials. This exception is provided in Section 316.302, Florida Statutes, which begins with "except as provided in 395.1…", indicating that any allowances in part 395.1 apply to Florida's intrastate rules.

Consequences of Violating Hours of Service Rules and Causing an Accident

When a commercial vehicle driver violates the Hours of Service rules and subsequently causes an accident, there can be severe consequences for both the driver and their employer. The repercussions of non-compliance with these regulations can range from fines and penalties to legal liabilities and potential harm to the driver's career. In this section, we will discuss the possible consequences a commercial vehicle driver may face if they break the Hours of Service rules and cause an accident.

Legal Liabilities and Penalties

A driver who violates the Hours of Service rules and is involved in an accident can face legal liabilities, including potential civil lawsuits and criminal charges. Victims of the accident may file a civil lawsuit against the driver and their employer, seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If the driver's violation of the Hours of Service rules is proven to be a contributing factor to the accident, they and their employer may be held financially responsible.

Additionally, drivers who violate these rules can face penalties from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) or the relevant state authorities. These penalties may include fines, suspension, or revocation of the driver's commercial driver's license (CDL), and even imprisonment in extreme cases.

Impact on Driver's Career

Violating the Hours of Service rules and causing an accident can have serious consequences on a driver's career. A driver's safety record and reputation may be damaged, making it difficult to find future employment in the transportation industry. Moreover, if the driver's CDL is suspended or revoked due to the violation, they will be unable to work as a commercial vehicle driver until the license is reinstated.

Employer Consequences

Employers of drivers who violate the Hours of Service rules and cause an accident may also face repercussions. In addition to potential legal liabilities, employers can be subject to penalties and fines from regulatory agencies. The company's safety rating may be negatively impacted, which could lead to increased insurance premiums and potential loss of clients or contracts.

Furthermore, employers have a responsibility to ensure that their drivers comply with Hours of Service rules. Failure to adequately train, monitor, and enforce these regulations can result in additional penalties and fines.

In conclusion, it is essential for commercial vehicle drivers to adhere to the Hours of Service rules set by the state of Florida and the FMCSA. Violating these regulations and causing an accident can result in severe consequences for both the driver and their employer, including legal liabilities, financial penalties, and damage to their reputations and careers. By following these rules, drivers can help maintain safety on the roads and protect themselves, their employers, and the public from the risks associated with driver fatigue.

Contact Us for a FREE Consultation with One of Our Florida Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in an accident involving a semi-truck, 18-wheeler, tractor trailer, or any other commercial vehicle, you should speak with a skilled, experienced, and aggressive Florida truck accident lawyer as soon as possible because you may be entitled to compensation. Please don’t hesitate to contact us on our website, or you can call our Orlando, Florida personal injury law firm today at (321) 352-7588 to schedule your free consultation by phone. When you schedule a consultation at our law firm, you will get a consultation with a truck accident lawyer, not a customer service representative or intake person.

If you need a South Carolina personal injury lawyer, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (843) 638-6590. We have at least one lawyer licensed in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. So, if you’ve been injured in the Southeast, we may be able to help you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

For more information on truck accidents, you can download our free e-book: 10 BIG Questions You Need Answered After a Truck Accident.