Who has to fill out log books?

Posted on March 1, 2007 

Q. Who has to fill out log books?

A. If you drive beyond 100 air miles from your terminal, or work more than 12 hours in a shift, you do.  If you drive a non-CDL vehicle, there are numerous exceptions that apply to you, 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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234 Responses to “Who has to fill out log books?”

  1. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 11:16 am

    Cheryl: I apologize for the late reply.
    Medical: yes, he needs one.
    Name on rental truck: if it was rented for under 30 days, he doesn’t need the company name. If it was over 30 days, your company name should have been on the truck.
    Log book: he needed a logbook.
    Beer: Yes, please. But not in a commercial vehicle. Yes, that’s illegal.

  2. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 11:24 am

    No on the CDL. The CDL limit is 26,001 lbs., inclusive of a 10,001 lbs. GVWR trailer. Yes on the logbook. The limit for the rules to apply is 10,001 lbs. GVWR, so your rig would be subject to all the FMCSA rules except CDL licensing and drug/alcohol testing.

  3. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 11:47 am


    I apologize for the late reply. No on the CDL. The CDL limit is 26,001 lbs., inclusive of a 10,001 lbs. GVWR trailer. Yes on the logbook. The limit for the rules to apply is 10,001 lbs. GVWR, so your rig would be subject to all the FMCSA rules except CDL licensing and drug/alcohol testing.

  4. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 12:00 pm

    I apologize for the late reply. If the vehicle is more than 10,001 lbs. GVWR, you need everything except CDL licensing and drug/alcohol testing. Yes you would need a logbook. Each State is different on the scale houses. You need to read the signs leading up to the scale.

  5. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 12:43 pm

    I am not sure. The FMCSA would not be involved as it would be private transportation. They have insurance minimums for for-hire transportation, or the transportation of hazardous materials, but not private transportation. If you are crossing state lines, you would need to comply with all the other FMCSA regulations, though.

  6. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 1:06 pm

    You can take the DOT # off when you are just running with the pick-up truck. However, you are probably going to need to show on-duty, not-driving time for the time spent driving back to get the next RV trailer. It would not be ‘driving’ time, as your truck is unregulated without the RV trailer. However, because the time you are spending driving back is in support of your business, DOT is going to demand you account for that time. If you have a log which says you drove from Indiana to California, and then 2 days later you show back up in Indiana without any time showing how you got there, I think DOT will have a problem with that.

  7. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 1:14 pm

    You bet. The rules are incredibly confusing, and DOT feels no guilt about that whatsoever. My advice to you would be just keep a log for every day. You can keep your time on a time sheet, with the time started, time finished, and total number of hours, if you stay within 100 miles of the job site. However, you cannot use the time sheet when you are moving job sites. You also cannot use the time sheet when you are not back within 12 hours, which is sounds like is fairly often. So, it would be best if you just kept a log every day. If you are going to keep a daily log, keep in mind, they only let you have 70 hours on-duty in any 8 day period. If you’re working 7 days a week, 10 – 14 hours a day, you’re way illegal. Take it easy. Take a day off here and there. You’ll be better for it, and it will help you stay legal.

  8. Eric Arnold on November 9th, 2015 1:26 pm

    Frankly, I’m not sure. FMCSA uses the GVWR as a measure of when the rules apply. As to the question, “is it illegal to exceed the GVWR assigned to a vehicle”, FMCSA doesn’t regulate that. However, the State Police would probably be involved in that, at some point. In other words, if I take your 23,500 GCVWR rig, and load it up to 60,000 lbs., yeah, I imagine the police would pull you over for operating an unsafe vehicle. Not sure if I answered your question or not.

  9. Jaymee Sharp on November 25th, 2015 10:04 am

    Eric, thanks for your help.

    I work for a news organization and have been asked to drive across several states in our uplink truck. it is a van with GVWR less than 10,000 lbs. My questions are;

    1.) CDL? I don’t think I dio, but why not ask while I have your attention.

    2.) Weigh Stations? I am leaving Tennesse, driving through AR, OK, TX, NM, AZ, NV, and CA.

    3.) Log book? I will drive to Las Vegas and work for 14 days (varying hours per day), then drive to CA. I will fly home, then fly back in 2 weeks and drive through the same states, back to TN.

    4.) Medical card?

    Thanks for your help. I just want to stay legal.

  10. Eric Arnold on December 1st, 2015 4:15 pm

    The Federal safety rules apply at 10,001 lbs. GVWR, so the answer to all your questions is “no”.

  11. Tony on December 2nd, 2015 12:58 pm

    I have a question about the following:

    “…. keep in mind, they only let you have 70 hours on-duty in any 8 day period. If you’re working 7 days a week, 10 – 14 hours a day, you’re way illegal. Take it easy. Take a day off here and there…”

    What is considered “on-duty?” Is this actual driving time or total daily work time? We drive 3/4 ton trucks with trailers or box trucks to job sites and then work for 8-10 hours. Can I only work 70 hours in 8 days MAX, including typically only a small portion of it being driving time?

  12. Kathy on December 6th, 2015 4:26 am


    We are from Mass. Do we need a USDOT to haul intrastate for pay over 26,000 lbs? Asphalt within 100 miles.

  13. Vince male on December 7th, 2015 12:02 am

    I drive a yard/spotter truck only leave the yard to get fuel.
    The company main office is in Georgia. We work out if a satellite office in Texas. We work 12 hr days do I need to fill out a log book for working over 12 hrs and were can I find it in the FMCSR. Thanks for your time

  14. JEFF on December 8th, 2015 4:45 pm

    Good afternoon Eric. My business drives dodge 5500 gcvr at 37,500 lbs in the state of PA. I was under the impression that logs only need to be run when my drivers are on runs that take them out side of 100 air miles. If they don’t go out side on the 100 miles radius we keep their time. My driver was just stopped on a LOG run and fined because he didn’t have the last 7 days of logs even though he didn’t leave the 100 mile radius in the last 7 days. is this correct?

  15. Ronnie on December 9th, 2015 3:18 am

    This question partially has to do with logbooks although after reading I’ve decided I will most likely have to fill one out. But I’m looking at getting into hotshot driving for myself (2 years experience oilfield at least half driving crew trucks and hauling tooling and materials before that pulling heavy laden trailers through the ozark mountains long before I had a drivers license) the main body of the question is do I have to be 21 to drive a non cdl comercial vehicle across state lines legally for my own business?

    If so it would be an honestly extremely frustrating setback especially being one of the few 20 year olds to have not only the equipment and start up capital to start my own business but also the necessary experience and job contacts to give it half a shot at working. I’ve already checked in to applications for my dot, mc numbers and forms federal tax id, registering my business, and cargo/liability insurance all of the bureaucratic nonsense, so basically I’m just waiting on solid confirmation that I am allowed to do this (not easy to decipher on your own) before I pull the trigger.

  16. Eric Arnold on January 18th, 2016 8:05 pm

    Tony: I apologize for the late reply. “On-duty” includes all work time. So, all that time on the job-site counts. If you pile up 70 hours of work on the job-site, you can’t drive the CMV anymore (ie, 3/4 truck with trailer) until you get the 34 hour break. However, you would be able to drive the 3/4 ton truck without the trailer, as it very likely would have a GVWR of under 10,001 lbs.

  17. Eric Arnold on January 18th, 2016 8:14 pm

    Kathy: I apologize for the tardy reply. I don’t think you would need the USDOT number, however, you are probably regulated by the State of Massachusetts, and would probably need some kind of number from them.

  18. Eric Arnold on January 18th, 2016 8:18 pm

    If your truck is 26,001 lbs. or more, then you would need a log if you work more than 12 hours. You would be governed by the State of Texas rules, which cover vehicles 26,001 lbs. and up. Logs are found in 49 CFR Part 395. The time card exception is found in 395.1(e). I don’t know where that is found in the Texas code, but it is very likely identical to 395.1(e).

  19. Eric Arnold on January 18th, 2016 8:27 pm

    Jeff: I apologize for the tardy reply. You are correct, if a driver stays within 100 air miles, and returns within 12 hours, he does not need a log. If he would go outside of the 100 air miles, he only needs a log for that day. Question 21 of 395.1 interpretations says:

    “Question 21: When a driver fails to meet the provisions of the 100 air-mile radius exemption (section 395.1(e)), is the driver required to have copies of his/her records of duty status for the previous seven days? Must the driver prepare daily records of duty status for the next seven days?


    The driver must only have in his/her possession a record of duty status for the day he/she does not qualify for the exemption. A driver must begin to prepare the record of duty status for the day immediately after he/she becomes aware that the terms of the exemption cannot be met The record of duty status must cover the entire day, even if the driver has to record retroactively changes in status that occurred between the time that the driver reported for duty and the time in which he/she no longer qualified for the 100 air-mile radius exemption. This is the only way to ensure that a driver does not claim the right to drive 10 hours after leaving his/her exempt status, in addition to the hours already driven under the 100 air-mile exemption.

    The police officer is wrong. Not an uncommon occurrence.

  20. Eric Arnold on January 18th, 2016 8:32 pm

    Ronnie: I apologize for my tardy reply. In fact, my reply is so late, perhaps you have already turned 21, making this answer irrelevant. At any rate, you have to be 21 to drive a non-CDL CMV interstate. That means 10,001 – 26,000 lbs. GVWR. Yes, it is completely stupid, you’re allowed to vote, die for you country, and smoke, but we won’t let you drink, or drive a not-all-that-heavy truck. Sorry.

  21. larry jaynes on January 25th, 2016 11:03 pm

    eric, id like to tell you how awesome i think it is that you do this for people. some of the rules get kind of hazy. i would be more than happy to tip you when you answer my question. :-)

    here goes.

    im a construction superintendant. i am dot cert with card. no cdl.
    the majority of my job doesn’t have much to do with dot. i pull a company trailer every couple of weeks. but i work out of town. and my company likes us to work 7 days a week. i need to know how the 11-14 hour rules and 70/8 rules apply to me. specifically my question is, if i work 70 hours in 7 days, and my company says hey larry, go home tomorrow. do i have to sit for a 34 hour restart even though i have not driven dot miles in 10 days? i do get paid to drive.

  22. Eric Arnold on January 28th, 2016 11:06 am

    Larry: I appreciate hearing how awesome I am. I am married, so I don’t hear it very often. If I understand your question… you are working on a jobsite, and you accumulate 70 hour working, although you have not driven a vehicle subject to DOT rules. You can work over 70 hours, as long as you do not drive a subject vehicle, ie, a 3/4 ton truck pulling a trailer. You can drive a vehicle while you are over your 70 hours, as long as that vehicle is not subject to the rules, ie, a 3/4 ton truck, not pulling a trailer. (Most 3/4 tons are under 10,001 lbs. GVWR). You cannot drive a subject vehicle after you have accumulated 70 hours. You do not have to get a full 34 hours off-duty. However, if you don’t, then your 70 hour clock does not reset back to zero. For example, you work 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, which equals 70. You go off-duty at 10pm Saturday night, and at 4am on Monday morning you are back at it. In that example, that’s only 30 hours off-duty, not 34. So, at 4am Monday morning, you would have 60 hours on-duty, in the previous 7 days, meaning you could work 10 hours on Monday until you hit 70. On Tuesday, you would already be at 70 hour in your previous 7 days, meaning you could not drive a subject vehicle at all.

    You don’t have to have a full 34 hours off-duty, especially if you know you won’t be driving a DOT vehicle any time soon. However, if you think you might, then a full 34 hours off-duty is needed to clear your clock back to zero. I hope that helped. If it did, here are the tip jar instructions. If not, email me… maybe I didn’t understand exactly what your question was:

    1) Go to PayPal.
    2) Log into PayPal. You need a PayPal account. See, this is how you can get out of tipping.
    3) Find the Send Money link. It should be on the first page after you log in.
    4) Enter my email: eric@arnoldsafety.com
    5) Enter the amount!
    6) Choose whether you want the money to come out of your PayPal balance or your banking account.
    7) Hit button “Send Money”
    8) Thank you very much!

  23. Dominic Ingardia on February 15th, 2016 12:25 pm

    Hi I was wondering if I drive a tractor trailer but as a private carrier do I need to keep a log book and do I need to stop in scales going across country? I just bought truck and got a private Dot number just moving my mom out from California

  24. Eric Arnold on February 23rd, 2016 9:09 am

    Errrr… I might need more information. If your tractor-trailer is for strictly personal use, then ‘no’, you would not need logs, or be subject to any rules. However, if you are using the truck to support any sort of business at all, whether you are hauling for-hire, or not, you are subject to the rules.

  25. Paul on March 2nd, 2016 12:34 pm

    We have non CDL commercial vehicles. When do they need to fill out log books? Also, occasionally they do jobs and need to stay overnight. Is a log book required then?

  26. Eric Arnold on March 4th, 2016 9:32 am

    If they drive more than 150 miles from the office, a log is required. A log is also required if he stays overnight (ie: does not report back to the office that day).

  27. Andres Garcia on May 11th, 2016 1:39 am

    Do I have to log on.if I started in the USA.And did my pre trip went dring I travel in to Mexico drove and cross the border back.do i have to loged what I have driven in Mexico those that count with my 14hrs on my log book

  28. Eric Arnold on May 11th, 2016 7:08 am

    Yes, you have to log your time in Mexico.

  29. Eric swallow on June 20th, 2016 8:56 am

    Okay I work local I never work more than 12 hours and i am within 100 flying miles of my home terminal and report back to the yard do I still need logs GM says I have to by law but get payed by the hour and run a time xardy

  30. James Jenkins on June 24th, 2016 11:50 am

    Hi Eric,
    I drive a 26000lb Penske moving truck and I move customer furniture all over 48 states do I need a log book and if so do I put the sleeper birth on the log or not since I sleep in a hotel every night,

  31. Eric Arnold on July 12th, 2016 6:28 am

    You can keep your time on a time sheet, recording the time started, time finished, and the total number of hours worked that day. However, it is an employer’s right to make you fill out a log, if that’s they way they want it done.

  32. Eric Arnold on July 12th, 2016 6:30 am

    Yes, you need a log. When you are sleeping in a motel, you would log that as ‘off-duty’, not sleeper berth. The sleeper berth entry on the log is only for Over The Road trucks which have a sleeper berth attached to the cab of the truck. DOT has some complicated hours of service exceptions for trucks which have sleeper berths. You don’t have a sleeper, so you can’t log your sleeping time as such.

  33. Darrel Long on July 15th, 2016 9:42 am

    Do my employees need to run a log if the GVW of the truck (350 Ford Crew) and trailer(25 ft car Trailer 8800 lbs) is over 10001 lbs. but with in 100 miles of home. Also they will be crossing a state line. What do I need for operating authority, DOT numbers and lettering on pickups 350 Ford , 2500 GMC crew trucks and 3500 Dodge Dually service truck. We are just moving into NJ from Canada and trying to get everything right. I have authority in Canada with our parent company but the US company has a different name.

  34. Eric Arnold on July 26th, 2016 2:36 pm

    If you stay within 100 miles, your drivers don’t need a log if they have a time sheet at the office with the time started, time finished, and total number of hours that day. If you are hauling for-hire across state lines, you need operating authority, which you get from FMCSA.

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