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Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Exemptions Guide: Understanding the FMCSA’s ELD Rules & Regulations

Published on July 29, 2022 in Most Popular by Vik Sridhar |  5 minute read

Who is exempt from the ELD mandate? Read the list of ELD exemptions from the FMCSA.

Who is exempt from the ELD mandate? Read the list of ELD exemptions from the FMCSA.


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.


See also: 

Quick guide to the FMCSA's ELD mandate

NMFTA raises the bar on ELD security standards

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

Who is ELD exempt? Overview of ELD exemptions 

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

  • Drivers using paper records of duty status (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 even 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.

Who is exempt from the ELD rule?

You can receive the ELD exemption status based on the age of the vehicle engine or the vehicle identification number (VIN). Pre-2000 VINs are most likely exempted. However, there are cases when vehicles have had an engine replaced from another vehicle.

What are the short-haul and 100 air-mile radius exceptions?

Short-haul drivers are not required to keep RODS or use an ELD. 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 kilometers), 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 be counted as a CMV and need to complete a logbook for the day.


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 driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR) will need to be filled out and stored. The next time the vehicle and/or trailer is used, the previous DVIR must be reviewed prior to operation.


You must store the log records and the inspection report records, and present them both to law enforcement at the time of a DOT audit.

What trucks are ELD exempt?

If a commercial motor vehicle carrier has an engine manufactured on or before 2000 then the vehicle is ELD exempt. An ELD needs an engine control model (ECM) and most engines manufactured prior to 2000 do not have an ECM.

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 engine model year. Quoting from the FMCSA, “If the engine model year is older than 2000, the driver is not subject to the ELD rule.”

Is it possible to gain an exemption by using a glider kit?

A glider kit is a new cab and chassis that can be placed overtop of an older engine and vehicle components. Since the FMCSA rules rely on engine year, a glider kit with a pre-2000 engine is still exempt from the ELD requirements.


Motor carriers must maintain all documentation on motor and engine changes at their principal place of business. Drivers with glider kit vehicles should keep some of this documentation on-hand to provide proof of engine model year in the event of a roadside inspection.

Do small carriers need to comply with the ELD rule?

Yes. The ELD mandate does not have an exemption for small carriers.


The “Small Carrier Electronic Logging Device Exemption Act of 2018” was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives in May of 2018. If passed, the law would permit small carriers (those with 10 vehicles or less) to use paper logs for RODS instead of electronic logging devices. At the time of this writing, the bill has been referred to committee and further action is still pending. 

Could a pickup truck or small vehicle qualify as a commercial motor vehicle?

Yes, depending on the circumstance. Under §390.5, a pickup truck or small vehicle can count as a CMV if two conditions are met:

  1. The vehicle (in combination with attached trailers) has a gross vehicle weight or gross vehicle weight rating that is 10,001 pounds or more
  2. The vehicle is being used for commercial purposes

Both conditions need to be met for a vehicle to count as a CMV. For instance, driving a personally-owned horse to a show or a boat to a dock would not make your vehicle count as a CMV even if the weight goes over 10,001 pounds. If you were planning to race the horse or boat, however, this may count as a commercial use of the vehicle depending on whether there is prize money, sponsorships, etc.


If you are uncertain about whether your vehicle counts as a CMV, you can contact your local FMCSA field office for specific guidance.


Once your vehicle counts as a CMV, you must comply with the hours of service regulations. During the time you meet the criteria of a CMV, you need to obey all regulations. This 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

Geotab’s range of ELD solutions are certified for use in the U.S. and Canada. To learn how to improve safety and Transport and DOT compliance with Geotab, visit our ELD solutions page and book a demo today.


While Geotab recognizes our place as a self-registered ELD manufacturer and provider and we will answer questions regarding those Hours of Service (HOS) ruleset options we provide, neither Geotab nor any of its employees, officers or agents can offer legal advice to any resellers or customers concerning which HOS ruleset(s) or exemption(s) may apply to any particular situation. Please contact your local DOT department or refer to the FMCSA website at for questions Geotab is unable to answer.

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Geotab's blog posts are intended to provide information and encourage discussion on topics of interest to the telematics community at large. Geotab is not providing technical, professional or legal advice through these blog posts. While every effort has been made to ensure the information in this blog post is timely and accurate, errors and omissions may occur, and the information presented here may become out-of-date with the passage of time.

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