False log! or: Another name for ‘7.2 miles South of Chaparral, N.M.’

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Updated Apr 23, 2021

Leander Richmond regular readers will recall as the small fleet owner of Eagle Express, based up in Michigan and hauling much farther afield, as on of the fleet’s drivers’ July encounter with a New Mexico State Police officer well attests. The stop was at the roadside just past a scale house that the trucker didn’t enter as emergency personnel appeared to be on the scene, including on the on-ramp. To that driver, the situation “looked like an active police situation,” Richmond wrote in a letter to a New Mexico State Police chief after himself reviewing video of the stop obtained via a FOIA request.

The driver, Richmond added, truly felt he was making a safety call not to try to cross the scale in the moment.

He wouldn’t be the first such driver ticketed for doing so under questionable circumstances — regular readers will recall our own Overdrive Extra blog contributing writer and owner-operator Gary Buchs’ successful fight against a ticket he got for such coming into Illinois from Indiana on U.S. 24 westbound some time back, retold in our “Fighting Tickets” series available via this link.

Yes, Richmond’s driver was not only chased down and stopped past the scale, but he was then held there on the side of the road in an interaction Richmond describes as “appalling and insulting to our driver and our company” in his letter. “What followed was more dangerous, 45 minutes sitting on the shoulder of the [75 mph] road with our driver being belittled, insulted, unnecessarily interrogated and falsely accused of log falsification.”

Richmond made a complaint about the ticket itself before time passed with little in the way of a response and he went online to pay it. To the state’s credit, it had been reviewed and actually reversed, yet that did not end his battle with the state over the driver inspection that occurred along with the stop.

That accusation of log falsification stems from what Richmond says is the inspecting officer’s mistaking a location notification on the ELD that pinpointed his driver’s prior night’s rest period at “7 miles south of Chaparral, N.M.,” to quote his log readout, which Richmond sent to me. The driver told the officer he’d spent the prior evening at his El Paso-based shipper, in Texas.

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Welp, y’all (and apologies to West Texas / N.M. residents who know it already), Chaparral happens to be just due north of El Paso and the Texas/N.M. border. (Sigh …) After the contentious interrogating that went on with the driver, the officer finally realized his mistake, Richmond says, and did not issue a citation for log falsification, but when he filled out the inspection report he still checked the “false log” box — it’s a high-severity violation and, sure enough, remains today on the Eagle Express CSA SMS profile, contributing triple the 7-point weighting to his hours scores given its recency.

What makes it all worse is that the DataQs challenge Richmond filed when he realized it was on his profile went right back to the inspecting officer’s jurisdiction, who claimed the false-log violation was correct. “It infuriates me” that his driver had to go through what he did, Richmond says, also noting that “what makes me madder is that I have to waste my time doing this,” challenging things over and over and arguing the case. “And if I don’t, we eat the violation,” visible on his profile for the next two years if not challenged, “and we don’t deserve it.”

Officers are human like the rest of us, he appreciates, but “by the same token, once you’re handed proof that you screwed up, fix it and the world just keeps on spinning.”

Makes sense to me.