With a court date looming in mid-September, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) said recently that the federal government’s excuses for mandating electronic logging devices (ELDs) are weak and fail to justify violating the Fourth Amendment rights of professional truck drivers. The group wants the court to throw out the federal mandate that is scheduled to take effect in December 2017.

OOIDA made this and other remarks in preparation for a September 13 court date related to its lawsuit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The Association filed a reply brief on Aug. 12 with the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in response to arguments made by FMCSA back in June of this year.

FMCSA had announced the final rule in December 2015 that mandates the use of electronic logbooks for all interstate commerce in trucks that are model year 2000 and newer. OOIDA filed its intent to legally challenge on the next day, following up with the lawsuit filed in March 2016.

Commercial truck drivers are restricted to a limited number of working and driving hours under current regulations. The FMCSA’s mandate requires that truck drivers use ELDs to track their driving and non-driving activities even though such devices can only track movement and location of a vehicle. OOIDA’s lawsuit states that requiring electronic monitoring devices on commercial vehicles does not advance safety, is arbitrary and capricious and violates Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The Association says the mandate fails to comply with a congressional statute requiring ELDs to accurately and automatically record changes in drivers’ duty status. ELDs can only track vehicle movement and must rely on drivers to manually input changes in duty status. Therefore, OOIDA contends the mandated devices are no more reliable than paper logbooks for recording hours of service compliance.

On the issue of searches and seizures, OOIDA said the Supreme Court has previously found that prolonged use of a warrantless GPS tracking device on a vehicle is clearly a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

OOIDA has previously challenged a similar mandate in the courts. In August 2011, the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit vacated a proposed electronic logbook rule based on the argument of harassment of drivers. 

“The agency hasn’t provided proof of their claims that this mandate would improve highway safety,” said Jim Johnston, OOIDA president and chief executive officer. “They didn’t even try to compare the safety records of trucking companies that use ELDs and those that do not. There is simply no justification for the costs, burdens and privacy infringements associated with this mandate.”