Who is Exempt from the ELD Rule?

While a majority of commercial drivers are required to install electronic logging devices (ELDs) and follow the ELD rule, there are certain exceptions to the rule. These select drivers are not required to use ELDs, although they are still required to adhere to the RODS requirements in 49 CFR 395. They need to either prepare logs on paper with an Automatic Onboard Recording Device (AOBRD) or logging software program.

Drivers Who Use Paper RODS

Commercial drivers who only use paper RODS for 8 days out of ever 30 days at a maximum are generally not required to follow the ELD rule. This is not limited to a month-by-month basis. For instance, if a driver uses paper RODS in 8 days from June 25 to July 25, he or she is exempt.

Drive-Away-To-Away Operations

Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, in which the vehicle driven is also the commodity being delivered, are also exempt. As long as the vehicle isn’t used solely as a means of commercial transport, the ELD rule doesn’t apply.

Drivers Operating Older Vehicles

If a commercial driver is using a vehicle that was manufactured before 2000, these drivers are also not required to use ELDs. Carriers and drivers can determine the year of the vehicle model with the 10th digit in the vehicle identification number (VIN), and follow this table to decode the year based on the number or letter displayed. Even if a vehicle uses mostly older parts manufactured before 2000, the vehicle is not exempt as long as the VIN reflects a year past 2000.

Drivers who don’t meet any of these criteria are typically not exempt from the ELD rule, and will be required to install and use ELDs.

Are Exempt Drivers Still Allowed to Operate Vehicles with ELDs?

Even if a driver is exempt, he or she is permitted to operate commercial vehicles equipped with ELDs while remaining exempt. Carriers can also configure ELDs to show the exception for exempt drivers using the devices, or include annotations that reveal the status.

Carriers Exempt from the 395.8 Requirements

Another exception to the ELD rule is a motor carrier who isn’t required to meet the requirements of the 395.8.

The Use of Grandfathered Automatic Onboard Recording Devices

Another potential exemption is the use of “grandfathered” AOBRDs, which are devices installed for drivers to use before the ELD rule compliance date. These devices can substitute ELDs while still complying with the requirements of 49 CFR 395.15. However, drivers and carriers can no longer use AOBRDs after December 16, 2019, and will be required to switch to ELDs following this date.

What About Rented or Leased CMVs?

Carriers and drivers that operate rented or leased commercial motor vehicles are still required to follow the ELD rule. The only way around this is if the carrier or drivers meet the criteria mentioned above.

If you don’t qualify for an exemption from the ELD rule, you’ll be required to use ELDs by the compliance date of December 18, 2017 unless you’re using a grandfathered AOBRD.


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