Who has to fill out log books?

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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245 thoughts on “Who has to fill out log books?

  • November 9, 2015 at 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.

  • November 9, 2015 at 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.

  • November 9, 2015 at 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.

  • November 9, 2015 at 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.

  • November 9, 2015 at 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.

  • November 9, 2015 at 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.

  • November 9, 2015 at 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.

  • November 9, 2015 at 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.

  • November 25, 2015 at 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.

  • December 1, 2015 at 4:15 pm

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

  • December 2, 2015 at 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?

  • December 6, 2015 at 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.

  • December 7, 2015 at 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

  • December 8, 2015 at 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?

  • December 9, 2015 at 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.

  • January 18, 2016 at 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.

  • January 18, 2016 at 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.

  • January 18, 2016 at 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).

  • January 18, 2016 at 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.

  • January 18, 2016 at 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.

  • January 25, 2016 at 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.

  • January 28, 2016 at 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!

  • February 15, 2016 at 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

  • February 23, 2016 at 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.

  • March 2, 2016 at 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?

  • March 4, 2016 at 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).

  • May 11, 2016 at 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

  • May 11, 2016 at 7:08 am

    Yes, you have to log your time in Mexico.

  • June 20, 2016 at 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

  • June 24, 2016 at 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,

  • July 12, 2016 at 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.

  • July 12, 2016 at 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.

  • July 15, 2016 at 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.

  • July 26, 2016 at 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.

  • August 10, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Two questions: Can a driver with a Class C or Class B Drivers License pull a trailer if the combined GVWR is less than 26,000lbs? Next question, The driving distance between the two locations is 140 miles. Is the driver required to have daily drivers log? If so how long do you keep them on file?

  • August 18, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    I drive an F350 as a company truck. 11,500 gvw. Intrastate in Texas. According to Texas it does not require a cdl on its own. Usually I stay within 150 air miles and get home within 12 hours. Sometime I don’t. Since it does not require a cdl on it’s own, do I have to keep a logbook when I go past 150 miles or stay overnight?

  • August 22, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    I live in nj and have a rollback GVW 19,500 and I go from Nj to Pa sometimes do I technically need a log book if I drive less than 12 hours a day or under 150miles. Second question have another truck 2016 ram 3500 dually, commercial plates with 4 car trailer GVW 26,000 an under do I need a CDL to drive it am 21. Going to get one but curious for now. Thanks

  • August 23, 2016 at 8:35 am

    That’s 3 questions. Just sayin’. 1) If the combined GVWR is less than 26,000 lbs., then you should need a CDL to drive the rig. You should be able to do it with a Class B or C license, however, when you get into non-CDL vehicles some States have weird State-specific type rules, so you might double-check with your DMV office.

    2) If you are driving 140 miles in one direction, AND the vehicle is a CDL vehicle, you would need a log. If the vehicle is a non-CDL vehicle, you would not need a log. Instead, you could keep the time on a time sheet, with the time started, time finished, and the total number of hours worked that day.

    3) If the have a log, or a time sheet, they must be kept for 6 months in the office.

  • August 23, 2016 at 8:38 am

    It’s my understanding that vehicles under 26,000 lbs. in Texas are unregulated as far as the safety regulations go. So, no, you would not need a log. If you are leaving the state, you could keep your time on a time sheet with time start, time finished, and the total hours for the day. If you go more than 150 air miles in one direction, you would need a log. If you go out of State, that is.

  • August 23, 2016 at 8:42 am

    If you stay within 150 air miles of your office, you don’t need a log. You must fill out a time sheet though, listing the time started, time finished, and total hours. Not sure I understand the 2nd question. Your rig is under 26,001 lbs. GVWR? You have to add the GVWR of the truck to the GVWR of the trailer. If the combined GVWR is over 26,000 lbs., you need a CDL, if the trailer is also over 10,000 lbs. GVWR. Just off the top of my head, without researching it, I think a Dodge 3500 dually, pulling a 4 car trailer would have a combination GVWR in excess of 26,000 lbs., and would be a CDL A rig.

  • October 2, 2016 at 4:50 am

    Buying a 2016 dodge 3/4 ton pickup ,personal use only,sometimes pull my 6200lb 4×4 pulling truck to events. Do I need log book ,I am a truck driver. Can my wife or son drive it legally. She will drive it to work,10 mile round trip. I drive a sentra 80 miles round trip, easier on gas

  • October 27, 2016 at 9:35 am

    John: sorry for the tardy reply, I’ve been very busy lately. I don’t know the answer to your question. Log books are if you are in business. Your 3/4 ton pickup truck pulling the 6200 lb. trailer will be heavy enough to be subject to the rules, if you are crossing state lines. The limit is 10,001 lbs GVWR or weight, whichever is heavier. However, the rules only apply if you are in business. So, whether you need a logbook, or your son can drive it, all depends on whether you are earning money for these ‘events’, or if it is strictly a hobby.

  • September 29, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Dear Eric, we have a Limo service in a small town in Il. we go to O’Hare airport and also out of state to Milwaukee and Madison airports which are 82 miles away. We also do nights out to these cities, our limos are 14 or under passenger, however we do have a limo bus that also is 14 passenger. Can you tell me who has to have a log book. Our drivers that drive the bus have CDL’s even though its not required with 14 passenger. Thank you for your help.

  • October 16, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Linda: I apologize for my tardy reply. The rules say a commercial motor vehicle is a vehicle designed to transport 8 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation. So, those vehicles would be subject to the Federal safety regulations, when going to Wisconsin. When going to the Wisconsin airports, the drivers are allowed to not fill out a log, if they are keeping a time sheet which has 1) time started, 2) time finished, and 3) total hours. They must stay within 100 air miles of your office, and they must be relieved of duty within 12 hours in order to use the time card.

  • October 16, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Thank you so much for your help, it will be passed on so the drivers know what they must do.

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