When do I have to fill out logbooks?

Posted on May 30, 2007 

trukgirl3.jpgDear Eric: Do I have to fill out logbooks?

Answer: The regulations state that you must complete a record of duty status (aka a logbook) every day, unless if you:

1) stay within a 100 air mile radius from your office, and 2) return to the office within 12 hours.

If you do that, your driver may record his time on a time card, time sheet, any thing that captures the time started, time finished, and the total number of hours worked that day. In the event the driver does not meet those requirements one day, then for that day, he must complete a logsheet. Logbooks are generally available at truckstops, or online from www.jjkeller.com.  If you are a non-CDL driver, there are numerous exceptions that apply instead of the 100 air mile rule.


Eric Arnold is a Former Enforcement Agent with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and a leading expert on USDOT compliance for small businesses. Do you have a question for Eric Arnold? Email him at eric@arnoldsafety.com.

Arnold Safety simplifies D.O.T. Compliance for commercial vehicle operators. Get Eric Arnold’s USDOT Compliance Guide, DVD, & Regulations at ArnoldSafety.Com.

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58 Responses to “When do I have to fill out logbooks?”

  1. Dwight on August 16th, 2007 6:56 am

    So what are the exceptions that apply to a non-CDL driver?

    We have no vehicles or combinations that require a CDL, very very rarely go beyond a 100 mile radius and hardly ever exceed a 12 hour work day of which maybe 4 hours would be driving.

  2. Arnold on August 16th, 2007 7:17 am

    If you are driving a CMV with a GVWR of 26,000 lbs. and under (ie a non-CDL vehicle), and stay within 150 miles of your office, you do not need to fill out a log book. Instead, you can record your time by showing a driver’s time started, time finished, and the total number of hours for the day. This can be a time sheet, time clock, or any other type of document which has the time started, time finished, and total number of hours for the day.

  3. Rick Weidig on August 16th, 2007 8:18 am

    Eric, I am the marketing manager for our company, therefore, I drive quite a bit, however, normally less than 100 miles total distance from our facility. I am on salary and therefore, do not punch a time clock or keep track of my time. Normally, I only work up to 8 hours per day. What type of records do I need to keep? Pick-up I normally drive is not DOT. 1/2 Ton Chevy.; do not tow trailers. What if during that day however, I do get into another DOT vehicle and drive to and from a job site?

    Rick Weidig

  4. Eric Arnold on August 16th, 2007 4:27 pm

    Rick: When you are driving the 1/2 ton Chevy, it is an unregulated vehicle under 10,000 lbs., so you don’t need any sort of time records. However, if you get into a regulated vehicle, you will then need the time you start work, the time you finish work, and the total number of hours worked that day. Furthermore, you will need that information for all work performed in the previous 7 days, even if that work was done in the 1/2 ton Chevy, or just working in the office for that matter. DOT wants to be able to see that you were not over the 70 hours in 8 day rule on the day you drove the subject vehicle. If you drive vehicles over 10,000 lbs. GVWR at all, I’d get in the habit of recording the time started work, time finished work, and total hours worked that day.

  5. Stephanie on August 16th, 2007 4:45 pm

    Our company is an oil/gas well service company consisting of 3 rigs rated 75,000 GVW, non-highway carrier crane. The rigs are mostly off road/county roads but occasionally a rig may have to access the highway for a mile or two. One of the rigs was pulled over by the Highway Patrol due to the fact there was no DOT # shown on the rig. The Highway Patrol Officer stated we are required to register and get the DOT # even if we stay with in 100 air mile radius from the office and classified as a non-highway vehicle. As for the required log book, the CDL employee driving the rig to the location may be driving for only 10 to 30 minutes (mostly on dirt roads) but could be on location sometimes for 12 – 15 hours then drive the rig home. Are they still required to keep a log book for this short of time and distance driving the rig?
    Thank you

  6. Eric Arnold on August 17th, 2007 6:29 am

    Stephanie: even though you stay within 100 miles, and only drive on the public highway for very short periods of time, you still need a logbook in your example. Your driver is not reporting back to the office within 12 hours, and therefore does not qualify for the “time-card” exemption.

  7. Jeffery on November 22nd, 2007 2:06 pm

    I too am in construction and there are times when I am on a job for 15 to 18 hours, how does a person go about logging this?

  8. Eric Arnold on November 24th, 2007 5:18 am


    Do you drive a CDL vehicle? If so, when you are on the job 15-18 hours a day, you need to fill out a logbook. Anything over 12 hours requires a logbook. However, if you are driving a smaller vehicle, such as a big pickup truck pulling a trailer, a logbook is not required, provided you stay within 150 miles of your office, even if you work 18 hours.

    Remember, regardless of whether or not you need to log, you may only work 14 hours following a 10 hour off-duty period. Depending on what you drive, and where you go, you may be allowed to work up to 16 hours once or twice a week.

  9. Bethany on December 18th, 2007 1:01 pm

    If the driver qualifies for the time-card exemption, which most of our employees do, do we as a company need to maintain a copy of their time-card in the employees’ DOT file or is it acceptable to have large gaps between logbook entries because those days the employee was exempt?

  10. Eric Arnold on December 19th, 2007 4:51 pm

    No, you must have a time record for each day the driver works. Time started, time stopped, total number of hours that day.

  11. James on January 9th, 2008 6:52 pm

    What about a tow truck?
    I have a rollback & I buy junk cars to crushed….What type of records are needed?
    I do not own a junk yard, just buy & sell

  12. Andy on January 9th, 2008 7:46 pm

    I was pulled over by D.O.T. over this past summer, and was told I need to have truck inspection, maintenance log book and time sheets. My truck GVW is 11,000lbs, and the trailer is 10,000lbs. I had gone to a seminar and the instructor had told me I don’t need that stuff. I drive less than 100 miles a day and work about ten. This sounds the same as what you are saying. For safety measures I called a Sargeant from D.O.T. but he said I have to have all of this. So my question is what is correct.

  13. Eric Arnold on January 10th, 2008 9:11 am

    James: do you take your truck across state lines? If you do, you may need for-hire authority. Do you take ownership of the crushed cars, or are you just transporting them for other people? If your truck has a GVWR of over 26,000 lbs., it is a CDL vehicle, and subject to all of the safety regulations.

  14. Eric Arnold on January 10th, 2008 9:15 am

    Andy: Where do you operate? Some states have different regulations than the Federal rules. For example, if you operate wholly within New Jersey, your rig would not be subject to the safety regulations, as vehicles with a GVWR of under 26,001 lbs. are not subject to New Jersey’s regulations. In Pennsylvania, they are. If you go across state lines, vehicles become subject to the safety regs at 10,001 lbs. GVWR.

  15. Charley on February 21st, 2008 5:49 pm

    I live in Colrado and was wondering if the 150 mile limit is counted as the bird flies or is that actual mileage? Is the local limit in all states 150 miles or does it vary by state? Thanks for all the great information you provide.

  16. Eric Arnold on February 22nd, 2008 11:44 am

    Charley: Thank for the compliment; I try. The short answer to your question is: counted as the crow flies or air-miles is the actual term used in the rules. Although the interstate rule is 100 air-miles, not 150. I’m not sure what it is in Colorado without researching it, many states have slightly different rules within their own states as opposed to the rules if you cross state lines.

  17. James Heckman on June 20th, 2010 4:08 pm

    When driving a Frieght liner Sadona with air brakes towing a rv trailer is the driver require to fill out a log book? Is any other state permits required other than the home state?

  18. Eric Arnold on June 28th, 2010 10:29 am

    If you are in commerce, and going more than 150 miles from your office, you need to fill out a logbook. Don’t know about the permits, need more information.

  19. Bob on July 9th, 2011 7:58 am


    I (and a group of others) occassionally drive a 16K GVWR truck for a local non-profit. It is the only truck owned and none of the drivers are full time drivers. It is USDOT registered. Most times it stays within 150 miles of home but occassionally travels out of state and goes “on tour” for 10 days. Do we need to log every trip? Can we maintain a log for the truck or do we need a log book for every driver. I have driven ~20 days in the past year, 7 or which were in a concentrated time, most are every couple of weeks. Thoughts?

  20. Eric Arnold on July 25th, 2011 10:43 pm

    If it’s a non-profit organization, then you are not in commerce. The rules say you have to be in commerce to be subject to the rules. For example, I can rent a 24 foot truck, which is well over 10,001 lbs. to move my household goods across the country. Since it is my own personal stuff, and I am not doing it for a business purpose, it is not in commerce, and therefore, unregulated. Hope that helps.

  21. Kyle on December 29th, 2011 11:53 am

    “This can be a time sheet, time clock, or any other type of document which has the time started, time finished, and total number of hours for the day.”

    Can this information be filled in by the driver directly, does it have to be punched by a time stamp? How do I prove to a DOT auditor that when by driver writes down ’7:30′ that he actually started at 7:30 without some sort or time stamp by a machine or something.

  22. john on January 17th, 2012 10:55 pm

    My safety director says we must log everyday even if we drive less then 100 miles he has stated that we must log even if we drive 5 miles to the company warehouse load the truck and drive back to the parking lot i have a class a cdl there other drivers and myself think this is wrong, who is correct?

  23. Eric Arnold on January 18th, 2012 5:40 am

    Well, the burden of proof is still on them. I know, that’s hard to believe, and if you ask a majority of DOT cops, they will tell you otherwise. Nevertheless, it is true: the DOT must prove your handwritten time is inaccurate. They do this by matching your handwritten time sheets against bills of lading, toll receipts, and fuel receipts, to verify its accuracy.

  24. Eric Arnold on January 18th, 2012 5:46 am

    There is an exception in the rules which says if you stay within 100 air miles of the terminal, and return within 12 hours, you may record only your time started, time finished, and total number of hours that day, instead of a logbook. That being said, an employer reserves the right to make you fill out a logbook, if that’s the way they want it done.

  25. Scott on March 5th, 2012 4:02 pm

    Just to clarify; if I operate within 100 air miles, start and finish at my home terminal within 12 hours I am eligible for the logbook exemption. Does it change if I cross state lines and sill remain within the 100 air mile radius?

    Thank you

  26. Eric Arnold on March 12th, 2012 2:18 pm

    No, state lines do not matter. If you cross a state line, you are still eligible for the timecard exemption.

  27. Phil on May 14th, 2012 3:05 pm

    Dear Eric,
    I work for a non-profit ministry and we have an Isuzu NPR box truck. My question is do we have to have a DOT number?, do we need to use a log book? We recently took it out of state and were told we needed all of the above even though we were hauling donated goods that were donated to us. Our driver ended up getting a DOT number and at another DOT station in another state (N.C.) was made to have a DOT Physical. All of this when the truck doesn’t even require a CDL to drive it. Any help would be appreciated.

  28. Jon on May 21st, 2012 8:37 pm

    I am a class A driver. My construction company asks me to use a time clock to punch in and out daily. Throughout the day, I write down the times that I arrive and depart from the job sites on my time sheet. When need be, I fill out a log book when I leave out of the 100 air miles or go over 12 hour. My question is…is it legal to have two separate ways of loging my time through a logbook and a time sheet that I punch in and out on? Do you also know of the specific law in writing if this is illegal?

  29. Eric Arnold on May 24th, 2012 9:38 am

    Phil: you probably do have to have a DOT number. The rules apply to drivers and vehicles involved in “interstate commerce”. 49 CFR 390.5 defines “interstate commerce” as ‘trade, traffic, or transportation in the United States’. It does not mention compensation or profit, so I would say they will interpret your situation to fall under the rules. It is grey area of the rules, I think you could certainly make a good argument that you are not in commerce, and therefore not subject to their rules. Nevertheless, fighting that fight is almost certainly more trouble than just doing what they want… get the DOT number.

  30. Eric Arnold on May 24th, 2012 9:40 am

    I’m not sure I understand the question. If you punch the clock every day, but still fill out a logbook too, is that legal? Yes, that’s legal. The only difference is, the log needs to match up with the time clock. If your log says you quit at 4pm, but the time clock says you punched out at 6pm, then that’s a false log. Hope that helps.

  31. David Enriquez on July 9th, 2012 9:45 am

    We haul bulk fuel and get paid by the hour. Are we required to show our time on both a log book and a time card or is a log book sufficient enough. Appreciate the feedback. I live in Texas.

  32. Eric Arnold on July 9th, 2012 10:32 am

    You can always show your time on a logbook. If you stay within 100 air miles of the office, and return within 12 hours, you can use a timecard instead of a log.

  33. jmclogistics on July 11th, 2012 2:46 pm

    I have a pickup\trailer combination of 25500lbs and move merchandise for profit. I have us dot and TX dot numbers as well as signage on the truck. I, on occasion, venture beyond the 100 mi radius and return in more than 12 hrs. Are you telling me I am in violation even though I am under the 26k limit… Am I required to stop at scales and commercial check points just like the “BIG BOYS”? Log books, 14hr rules, ECT? Jeeze!?! Maybe I’ll just stay home and let Obama send me my welfare check. Thnx in advance. Very helpful info you have provided.

  34. Eric Arnold on July 30th, 2012 9:26 pm

    If you stay within 150 air miles, and you return to the office each day, you do not need a log. It doesn’t matter if you are back within 12 hours or not. You get to work 14 hours each day. Two days out of 7, you get to work 16 hours. You still need 10 hours off in between shifts. You have to record the time you start work, the time you finish work, and the total number of hours you work on a time sheet or time card. The time sheet does not have to be with you when you drive. You get some extra special breaks on the time card exemption because your vehicle is under 26,000 lbs.

    The scales vary, you have to read the signs. If it says, “ALL COMMERCIAL TRAFFIC”, then that’s you. If it says, “ALL TRUCKS OVER 13T”, then that’s not you. When in doubt, pull in. Don’t sign up for welfare, I can’t afford it.

  35. Josh Hendrickson on May 17th, 2013 11:47 am

    Hello Eric,

    We are contractors for the DOD and do travel more than 100 miles per day from the office. We typically stay within a 12 hour shift and do use time cards. We are also operating government vehicles with government plates. Do we need to maintain a daily driver log for our CDL operators?

  36. Ed on September 20th, 2013 6:37 am

    I have a 1990 International RV that used to be a commercial truck and is now converted to a RV. The vehicle is registered as a RV. I have a goose neck trailer that is 40′ long that I pull with this RV. The entire rig weighs 34,000 lbs. I do not have a DOT number and the vehicle says “not for hire” on the door. I have a class A CDL as many, many, many years ago I use to drive for a living. I now live in the RV and haul my personal automobile and other personal items in the trailer. I do not use RV or trailer for commercial use at all.

    My question is what are the requirements, if any, for me to drive this vehicle legally? Do I need a class A license to drive it? Do I need to keep logs, do I need a DOT number, do I need to stop at weigh stations etc.

    your help is greatly appreciated.

  37. Tim Cummings on October 8th, 2013 9:36 pm

    Im a courier with a CDL B we travel one day out of a week round trip over 150 miles,but not over 12 hrs do we need to use a log book and how do we fill it out

  38. Darren Thompson on October 14th, 2013 9:08 pm

    I work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. I stay within a 100 mile radius of the terminal. I work 72 hours in 6 days, with only 1 day a week off. My company wants me to start punching a clock. After reading the statements above, it appears to me that I would not need to keep a log unless circumstances forced me to work above the 12 hours. If you are punching a clock, and are not salaried, does the company need to pay you by the hour, OR can they continue to pay you by the mile?
    Thank you in advance for your time!

  39. Eric Arnold on November 4th, 2013 7:01 pm

    In your situation, you could either fill out the log, or punch a clock, which captures, time started, time finished, and the total number of hours worked that day. How you are paid is between you and your employer. The safety rules are silent on that issue.

  40. Eric Arnold on November 4th, 2013 7:05 pm

    Based on what you have said, I do not believe you are subject to any rules, including CDL, as you are not in commerce. The rules only apply to those in commerce.

  41. Eric Arnold on November 4th, 2013 7:09 pm

    If you are going further than 150 miles, then for that day, you need a log. They are available at most any truckstop. It’s a grid, with the hours going horizontally across the top, and it has 4 duty status from which you must choose. There are examples on the inside cover of the logbook sometimes.

  42. Christian Kilian on November 18th, 2013 12:16 am

    Hello Eric-

    I am an artist who builds large heavy sculptures that I show at festivals in different parts of the country, almost always over 100 miles from home. I transport them on a 25,500 GVWR crew-cab flatbed and sometimes tow a trailer which I keep under 10,000 GVWR. I am non-CDL. I typically drive with 1-3 other guys, all non-CDL, and we take turns driving. We typically drive in 4 hour shifts. I do not pay these guys to drive with me. We sleep every night in motels.
    Isn’t it true that the text of the law states that drivers must be compelled by their motor carrier to maintain a logbook (because it would be unconstitutional for the federal government to compel such)? In our capacity as drivers, we are not employees of a motor carrier.
    Do I need a DOT number?
    Do I need to maintain a logbook?
    Does each driver need a logbook?

  43. Eric Arnold on January 10th, 2014 8:45 am


    Not sure about your Constitutional question. The Federal government compels me to do all sorts of things. Like pay taxes. And if I don’t pay, they will put me in jail. Otherwise, yes, you and your non-CDL, 25,500 GVWR truck need a DOT number, and each driver needs a logbook. Hope that helps.

  44. Greg Burns on February 11th, 2014 8:03 pm

    I work in the gas/oil fields…I have a class b cdl…but I do not drive anything the company has…I usually work 15-16 hours a day…do I need to fill out a logbook even though I dont drive anything

  45. Greg Burns on February 11th, 2014 9:30 pm

    I work in the gas/oil fields…I have a class b cdl…but I do not drive anything the company has…I usually work 15-16 hours a day…do I need to fill out a logbook even though I dont drive anything??

  46. Joe Michael on February 21st, 2014 12:00 pm

    I have a full time employee who is a Class A driver. His main job is shipping and receiving where he does not have anything to do in regards to driving the truck. On the days that he is working in the warehouse and not driving (usually about 6 months of the year) does he need to fill out a log book?

  47. Jenny on March 11th, 2014 9:14 am

    We are a recycling company that swaps trailers at our various customers locally. The drivers never go more than 100 miles one way away from our yard, but occasionally work more than 12 hours a day. They come back to our yard several times in the day to drop the full trailer they have picked up, and pickup an empty to take to the next company. Are they required to fill out a logbook if they go over 12 hours?

  48. Eric Arnold on April 12th, 2014 3:58 pm

    Yes. If your drivers are on time sheets, because they do not exceed the 100 air mile radius from your yard, you still must fill out the logs for the days they exceed 12 hours.

  49. Eric Arnold on April 12th, 2014 4:12 pm

    If I understand the question, your employee has a CDL license, but does not drive. Does he need a logbook? If he doesn’t drive at all, no, he would not need to keep track of his time.

  50. John on May 1st, 2014 1:51 pm

    I have non CDL drivers driving trucks with special equipment in tow that are under 26,001 lbs
    they have medical cards do they need log books filled out 7 days in advance ? And when they are not towing their trucks weigh in around 11,500 do they need log books ?

  51. John on May 1st, 2014 1:51 pm

    I have non CDL drivers driving trucks with special equipment in tow that are under 26,001 lbs
    they have medical cards do they need log books filled out 7 days in advance ? And when they are not towing their trucks weigh in around 11,500 do they need log books ?

  52. Eric Arnold on May 16th, 2014 10:39 am

    Your drivers would have to fill out logbooks every day, if they cross state lines. The threshold for the regulations is 10,001 lbs. GVWR, and yours is 11,500. There are some exceptions for when logs are not required, but generally speaking, your guys need logbooks.

  53. George on May 30th, 2014 10:45 am

    Are you required to fill out a log book when crossing a state line. I was under the assumption it was only if you went over 100 air miles or 12hours on duty. I work in minnesota and have a CDL. I fill out a trip report to for IFTA purposes, but never a log book.

  54. Perry on June 1st, 2014 1:15 pm

    I have a truck registered at 26000gvw in the state of California. I may cross State line occasionally for hot shots.I have a USDOT, MEDICAL CARD> If I get a State permit where Im going am I ok. THANKS For example California to Arizona. Do I need UCR as well?

  55. Eric Arnold on June 16th, 2014 9:07 am

    Perry: you would need to comply with all the USDOT regulations: logbooks, medicals, driver files, maintenance records, etc., if you go into Arizona. UCR, too. Your vehicle would be over 10,001 lbs. GVWR, which makes you subject to all the rules. You may be subject to CDL and drug and alcohol testing as well, which kicks in at 26,001 lbs. GVWR. You have to count the GVWR of the trailer, too.

  56. Eric Arnold on June 16th, 2014 9:08 am

    George: State lines do not matter for the logbook. You are correct, 100 air miles, or more than 12 hours on-duty require a logbook.

  57. Frank on July 2nd, 2014 9:45 am

    I work for a construction co. and we drive 1 ton pick-ups with work bodies. We normally work more than 100 miles away from our office but we stay out of town. The trucks have DOT #s b/c we occasionally haul trailers that put us over 10,000 lbs. We only haul trailers once every few months but we are told that we need to fill out log books every day, This even applies when we fly to another state and have rental cars. Some drivers haven’t hauled a trailer in 6 months yet they fill out DOT log books every day. Does this sound correct.

  58. Eric Arnold on July 28th, 2014 7:09 am

    Sure, it sounds correct. An employer has the right to keep its time records any way it sees fit. When you are driving those one ton pickups for work, or pulling trailers with smaller pickups, you have to account for your time. The rules have a bunch of exceptions in them, but the bottom-line is the time must be accounted for in some fashion. The easiest way to make sure all time is accounted for is make the drivers fill out a log every day.

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