On January 24, 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order that denied Public Citizen’s request to invalidate the recently issued hours-of-service (HOS) Interim Final Rule (IFR). The IFR went into effect on December 27, 2007 in the wake of the D.C. Court’s opinion in Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association v. FMCSA, Case No. 06-1035. In the July 24, 2007 decision, the D.C. appeals courts vacated the additional driving hour, as well as a provision that allows an off-duty period of 34 hours to restart on weekly on-duty limits, saying that the FMCSA did not provide adequate rationalization for the rule changes.

FMCSA Administrator John Hill recently granted an extension of 30 days for comments to be filed on the proposed Hours of Service Rules. These comments are now due on March 17, 2008. Should anyone wish to submit comments on the proposed Rules, they can do so by going to http://www.regulations.gov and following the instructions on the Federal electronic docket site or by faxing comments to 1-202-493-2251.

The Interim rules allow commercial motor vehicle drivers up to 11 hours of driving time within a 14-hour, non-extendable window from the start of the workday, following 10 consecutive hours off duty (11-hour limit). This interim rule also allows motor carriers and drivers to restart calculations of the weekly on-duty time limits after the driver has at least 34 consecutive hours off duty (34-hour restart). The Court expressly noted that its denial of Public Citizen’s motion did not preclude a challenge to the IFR in a Separate action. However, with the final HOS rule likely to be issued in the next several months, such an attack on the IFR is highly unlikely.

If you would like a copy of this opinion or if you have any other questions regarding the IFR, please feel free to contact any of our Trucking and Commercial Transportation Group Members. Also, a copy of the IFR can be found at: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/news/news-releases/2007/hos.pdf .

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