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ELD Exemptions: Frequently Asked Questions on the ELD Mandate

ELD Exemptions: Frequently Asked Questions on the ELD Mandate

Who is exempt from the electronic logging device (ELD) rule? Many people have been asking questions about ELD exemptions ever since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the ELD mandate for carriers and drivers. Electronic logging devices, also known as ELDs or e-logs, are devices that automatically record drive time and hours of service (HOS) for drivers.

In this post, we’ll walk through the different types of exceptions. Understanding the difference can save you from making a costly mistake.

Who Does the ELD Rule Impact?

First, let’s take a look at who is impacted. The ELD rule applies to commercial motor vehicles. As defined by the FMCSA regulations §390.5, a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is “any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle—

  1. Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, or gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight, of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) or more, whichever is greater; or
  2. Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or
  3. Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
  4. Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and transported in a quantity requiring placarding under regulations prescribed by the Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter I, subchapter C.”

The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if you operate a tow truck, dump truck, garbage truck, or a cement mixer — if your vehicle meets one of the criteria above, and you are performing work as part of your job, you may be affected by the mandate.

dump truck garbage truck cement mixer heavy truck eld exemptions

Related: What is an ELD?

Who Is Exempt? Overview of ELD Exemptions

Here is the official list of ELD mandate exceptions from the FMCSA’s website:  

  • Drivers using paper RODS no more than 8 days out of every 30 day period.
  • Driveaway-towaway drivers who transport empty vehicles intended for sale, lease, or repair, as long as the vehicle they are driving is part of the shipment.
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.

It’s important to note that if drivers are not required to use ELDs, they are not fully exempt from the regulations. They must still record their duty status manually (on paper) according to 49 CFR 395.

Let’s dive into some further questions:

What is the Short-Haul / 100 Air-Mile Radius Exception?

There are a number of requirements to qualify for the short-haul exception from §395.1(e):

  • Operate within a 100/150 air-mile radius of the normal work-reporting location (100 air-miles if you are a commercial driver’s license (CDL) driver and 150 air-miles for drivers without a CDL).
  • Start and return to the same location.
  • 12 consecutive hours of duty time.

An air mile equals 115.08 statute miles (185.2 kilometres), according to FMCSA regulations. It is based on the international nautical mile which is 6,076 feet (1,852 meters).

These additional rules also apply to short-haul drivers:

  • Drive time cannot exceed 11 hours.
  • Must log a minimum of 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time after shift.

If the driver cannot meet these conditions, they will have to complete a logbook for the day as the vehicle is considered a CMV.

The vehicle and trailer are also subject to vehicle inspection as per §396.11 and §396.13 if they collectively meet the criteria of a CMV. A DVIR (Driver Vehicle Inspection Report) will need to be filled, and stored. The next time the vehicle and/or trailer is used, the previous Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) must be reviewed prior to operation.

You must store the log records, and the inspection report records, and present it both to law enforcement as well as in the time of a carrier audit.

Does the Pre-2000 Exemption Apply to Model Year or Date of Manufacture?

When the ELD mandate was first released, there was discussion in the media about whether an exception for pre-2000 vehicles referred to model year or date of manufacture. On their website, the FMCSA clarifies that the exception applies to the vehicle’s model year, as indicated in the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Is it possible to gain an exemption by using a glider kit (new cab and chassis) with an older engine and vehicle components? No, absolutely not. The FMCSA states that any vehicles with a model year of 2000 or newer fall under the ELD mandate — that’s chassis year, not engine.

Do Small Carriers Need to Comply with the ELD Rule?

Two surveys last year showed that small carriers are more reluctant to make the move to ELDs. A Transplace survey of more than 400 carriers found that only 33% of small fleets (with less than 250 trucks) had fully installed ELDs, while 38% had “no immediate plans to begin implementation.”

In Land Line magazine, Tyson Fisher reports on a TruckStop.com survey of over 1,000 trucking operators (majority of those owning one to five trucks) which found that 84% had not yet purchased or installed an electronic logging device.

Again, carriers and drivers who are required to maintain RODS, and do not fall under any of the above exceptions, are subject to the ELD rule.

Could a Pickup Truck or Small Vehicle Qualify as a Commercial Motor Vehicle?

The answer to this question on ELD exemptions is related to the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR).

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) Vs. Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR):
GVWR is defined as the maximum operating weight of a vehicle as set by the manufacturer including the vehicle itself (chassis, body, engine, engine fluids, fuel and accessories), including the weight of the driver, passengers, and cargo. GCWR is the manufacturer’s specified maximum weight for a vehicle that is towing a trailer (includes the weight of the vehicle, driver, passengers and cargo, plus the attached trailer with load).

Vehicles are often specialized to deliver different types of goods. Semi-trailers can be outfitted with various trailers such as box trailers, flatbeds, car carriers, tanks, and other specialized trailers. Dump trucks and concrete mixers are examples of vehicles specialized for delivery of specific types of goods.

If the GVWR/GCWR of the truck, load, and any trailer (inclusive of load) you are transporting at any point in time exceeds the 10,001 pounds or greater definition of CMV found in §390.5, it will become a CMV. That vehicle would be regulated empty or loaded.

When you find your vehicle, even if it’s a pickup, is now classified as a CMV, the driver of the vehicle must comply with the hours of service regulations. During the time you meet the criteria of a CMV, you need to obey all regulations, which may include stopping at roadside inspection stations or having U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) markings on the side of the truck.

ELD Compliance Brings Benefits to Motor Carriers

The first compliance deadline is quickly approaching. Carriers and drivers currently using paper logs (or logging software) must switch to ELDs by December 18, 2017. The time to research ELD compliance solutions is now. Adopting ELDs offer so many benefits, such as driver safety and fuel usage monitoring, to name two. Not complying with the rule is just not worth the risk.

Related Posts:
E-Logs: New Opportunities for Trucking
e-logs electronic logging devices for trucking

IFTA Reporting and the ELD Mandate

Remote Diagnostics for Commercial Trucks
remote diagnostics commercial trucks


  • Are milk haulers or any agricultural hauler exempt

  • Posted June 15, 2017 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    We have drivers that could need to use the EDL only once or twice a year. Can they do this and revert to short haul forms the rest of the time?

  • Posted May 26, 2017 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    I am wondering how the ELDs work for a small business. I have 4 trucks and wondering if I would have to put the ELDs in them. I have been told that as long as I have under 10 trucks I don’t have to worry about the ELDs that I can still use the paper logs but I have also been told that if I have more than 2 trucks I need to install the ELDs so I was wondering how that worked. I am only a small start up company and trying to make sure that I am in compliance because I have heard so many different things and each site is saying different things.

    • Posted May 30, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      Hi Tiffany,
      The FMCSA regulations indicates everyone must become ELD-compliant with the following three exceptions:
      *Driveaway-towaway operations are not required to use an ELD, provided the vehicle driven is part of the shipment
      *ELD are not required on CMVs older than model year 2000
      *Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days during any 30 day period.
      An important fact to remember is that the regulations have not changed, only the method of recording them. You can find additional information on the FMCSA’s website. Look for Part 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
      Robin Kinsey, HOS/ELD Training Specialist

  • Posted April 20, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    We are a small company. one that does a lot of work out of town. We are not a trucking company but we do haul our own equipment. Now there is very seldom a day where a driver will be in a truck more than 2 days. Now these trucks ( some are actually pickups that with a trailer become a CMV ) are also used at home where we would fall under that 100 mile radius. So how do you use an ELD once in awhile? The pickups may leave town as a CMV but once they get where they are going and drop a trailer they are below the weight. I am very confused as to how this is going to work for a small company such as ourselves that is not a trucking company.

    • Posted April 28, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Hi Terri,
      That’s a great question. ELDs will be required if the driver meets the requirements to log on paper 8 days or more in a rolling 30 day period. Based on what you’ve said, it sounds like you might very occasionally meet the requirements to log, but doesn’t look like it would be greater than 8 days in a rolling 30 day period. You will still need to log a paper log for those days where you meet the requirements, but may not need an ELD. You can find more information on the ELD Mandate and a link to the FMCSA’s website in this post: https://www.geotab.com/blog/quick-guide-fmcsa-eld-mandate/
      Vik Sridhar, Solutions Engineer

  • Posted April 20, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much for this post! I’m so glad that you included information about who the ELD rule will impact. It is so important to keep track of what limitations you may have on the road! Especially if you handle project deliverables that are time sensitive, you don’t want to get held up!

    • Posted April 28, 2017 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your comment Dennis. We agree!

  • Posted March 28, 2017 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    How do ELD’s apply to recovery vehicles (wrecker trucks)?

    • Posted April 5, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      If the vehicle meets the requirements for the definition of a CMV as outlined in the blog post, and the driver operating the vehicle meets the requirements to log 8 days or more in a 30 day period, the ELD rule will be applicable to these vehicles.
      Vik Sridhar, Solutions Engineer

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