Are you thinking of falsifying your DOT Log Book? If YES, then here are penalties attached to falsifying a DOT log book in 2021. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT or USDOT) is tasked with ensuring that the United States maintain a transportation system that is safe, efficient, and accessible.

To support that objective, the department enforces regulations that apply to commercial motor vehicles, drivers, and organizations. An individual or company that fails to adhere to these rules can incur a DOT violation.

Filling out logbooks is not a task commercial truck drivers enjoy doing, but it is the law. They are mandated to do so by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which has enacted rules and regulations governing various aspects of a commercial truck driver’s life. One of these rules governs the amount of time a driver can operate a commercial motor vehicle without rest.

These regulations limit the number of hours a truck driver can operate a vehicle in order to prevent motor vehicle accidents caused by driver fatigue. Drivers are mandated to record their duty status on logbooks to make sure they do not exceed the maximum number of allowable driving hours, and to be sure they receive sufficient rest before they begin driving again.

Other requirements which are in place for commercial truck drivers include; rules for acquiring a commercial driver’s license, maintenance of large trucks, and testing of commercial drivers for drug and alcohol abuse.

The rules and regulations are in place to help protect the traveling public. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations allow for civil remedies for the enforcement of the rules and regulations.

Coupled with FMCSA’s inspection program, the office of Inspector General Special Agents investigates allegations that companies and individuals have violated criminal statutes relative to the Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Commercial truck drivers and companies are all expected to comply with FMCSA’s new Hours of Service rules.

Have it in mind that when drivers falsify their trucking log books to extend their hours and driving time, not only are they costing their company hundreds of dollars but they could also be a part of a conspiracy enacted by their employer to ignore the service rules endorsed by the DOT to make more profit.

The current hours of legal service are outlined on the DOT website and currently state that commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers have regulations such as an 11 hour driving limit after 10 consecutive hours off duty.

In addition, these drivers may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Consequently, the off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period.

In a 7/8 day consecutive period, a CMV driver may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty. A commercial truck driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.

Why Drivers Falsify Their Daily Logs in the United States

Indeed there are so many reasons why drivers or their respective company falsify their daily logs:

  1. Financial Gains

Once the financial gains are higher than the penalties for falsification, the money will be a major motivator.

  • Note that drivers are usually paid by the mile. Therefore, the more miles per day, the more money the 18 wheeler driver makes.
  • While the driver may not be paid for loading or unloading time, these hours count towards the driver’s on-duty and work shift limits that can affect the amount of money that a driver can earn.
  • Vehicle and insurance premiums must be paid. A semi truck that isn’t moving isn’t making any money.
  • Rewards for falsifying a log can reach as high as $500 per week. Some employers will give unofficial or off-the-books approval for higher productivity or for good service.
  1. Carrier/Employer

Also, have it in mind that the carrier’s dispatcher sometimes makes unreasonable demands on the driver. When the driver picks up a load, the dispatcher may ask if the driver can deliver the load within a certain period of time.

The dispatcher should ask the driver if he has driving hours available to make the delivery legally in that time frame however, but that inquiry rarely occurs.

  1. Health Reasons

Every individual driver has their own biological clock with its own rest requirements. Even though some drivers may feel well-rested and start driving before the driver has had sufficient off-time duty as explained by the DOT, chronically fatigued drivers make poor decisions about the extent of their fatigue and downplay the risk.

  1. Family Obligations

Owing to the fact that drivers are steadily on the road, family situations make it obligatory for the driver to spend more time at home when they are needed. Most times, drivers make up regulation limits by adjusting their logs to make up for a lost time—when in real time—they are at home until the last possible minute.

When the holidays are around the corner, drivers try to extend their “on duty” time so that they can make it home for the holidays.

  1. Shipping Company

Also, have it in mind that a shipping company or shipper maximizes profits by getting the product from the loading dock to the customer in the shortest amount of time. There is always added stress from the shipper that is passed on to the carrier and then to the driver.

By not planning far enough in advance for calculated delivery times, the shipper can also add pressure when the product is expected to make it to the market right away.

Fines and Penalties for Going against DOT Regulations

Failure to complete the record of daily duty activities of section § 395.8 or § 395.15, or making false reports in connections with such duty activities shall make the driver and/or the carrier liable for prosecution. These fines range in size and the numbers escalate rapidly, as these violations and resulting fines illustrate:

  • Knowing falsification of records: $12,135
  • Out-of-service order: failure to cease operations: $26,126
  • Violation of hazardous materials or safety permitting regulations: $78, 376
  • Same, resulting in death, serious injury, or destruction of property: $182,877

Conclusion

Attention to detail is an important skill for truck drivers because it is necessary to jot down on-duty activities other than driving. Truck log books are expected to account for each 24-hour period, including the time and place of any change in status such as sleeping in the berth or stopping to eat and refuel.

To avoid these penalties mentioned above — or worse, having a commercial license revoked or suspended — carriers are well-advised to make themselves familiar with DOT rules and follow them rigorously.

Ajaero Tony Martins