DOT Freight and Trucking Hours of Service Limit Regulations

Drivers Are Restricted in How Much They Drive and When

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the number of hours a truck driver may drive per day as well as the total number of hours he or she may work per day and per week. These rules are put in place for both the safety of the drivers and others on the road. The regulations limit how much time can be driven to ensure drivers are rested. These rules can be very complicated and confusing. Breaking the rules down by category may help you understand them better:

General Hours of Service Guidelines

Driver and supervisor reviewing paperwork
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  • Drivers may drive up to 11 hours but are limited to 14 hours in a duty period
  • Drivers must take a mandatory 30 minutes break by their eighth hour of coming on duty
  • The 14-hour duty period may not be extended with off-duty time for breaks, meal and fuel stops, etc.
  • Drivers can restart the 7-day period once per every 168-hour work week, by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off with two consecutive periods of 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
  • *The work week starts after the last legal reset. For example, if you begin at 1:00 a.m. on Monday, then your 168 work week continues until 1:00 a.m. on the following Monday. If you start at 12:00 a.m. the following Monday, you will have to run on the 60/7 rule as you will not have received a legal reset.
  • Each duty period must begin with at least 10 hours off-duty
  • Drivers may work no more than 60 hours on-duty in seven consecutive days

16-Hour Exception

  • The 16-hour exception is designed to be used for 1-day work schedules, where the driver begins and ends at the same terminal
  • Drive time may not exceed 11 hours
  • The driver may not use both the 16-hour exception and the Adverse Driving Conditions exception together
  • If you layover on any day the 16-hour exception is no longer available to use, including on the day you layover
  • Once you have used the 16-hour exception, you may not use it again until you have had a 34-hour reset
  • You may not drive past the 16th hour coming on-duty

Adverse Driving Conditions Exception

  • If a driver cannot safely complete the run within the maximum driving time of 11-hours, that driver may drive up to an additional two hours to reach a place offering safety for the driver and cargo. However, the driver may not drive after the 14th hour since coming on duty.
  • If weather conditions will not safely allow you to pull over at a hotel or rest stop and stop for 10 hours off-duty, then you may extend your drive time up to two hours
  • This exception does not mean that you can work longer because of bad weather. If you can safely stop and layover within your 11 hour drive time you must do so, provided you cannot make it back to your home terminal within 14 hours, or under the 16-hour exception, if available.

34-Hour Restart

  • Any period of 34-consecutive hours off-duty will restart the 60/70 hour calculation
  • The restart must include two periods of 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Drivers may only use the 34-hour restart once per 168 hour week.

Penalties for Violating Hours of Service Rules

  • Drivers may be placed shut down at roadside until the driver has accumulated enough off-duty time to be back in compliance
  • State and local law enforcement officials may assess fines
  • FMCSA may levy civil penalties on a driver or carrier, ranging from $1,000 to $11,0000 per violation depending on severity
  • The carrier's safety rating can be downgraded for a pattern of violations
  • Federal criminal penalties can be brought against carriers who knowingly and willfully allow or require HOS violations; or against drivers who knowingly and willfully violate the HOS regulations