OOIDA in latest legal filing: ELD mandate too costly, too intrusive

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J.J. Keller & Associates’ Encompass system (also pictured at top) can be paired with the company’s specially designed tablet or with operators’ personal Android or iOS devices. Tom Reader, J.J. Keller marketing director, believes the company is well-posit

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has filed a new brief with the federal appeals court overseeing its lawsuit against the federal rule requiring truckers to use electronic logging devices to track their duty status. The association in the Aug. 12 filing again spells out its chief legal arguments against the U.S. DOT’s December 2017-effective electronic logging device mandate.

OOIDA’s 45-page filing with the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest in the ongoing lawsuit brought by OOIDA and two truckers, who are asking the court to strike down the ELD mandate and block it from taking effect.

The brief comes in response to a 60-page filing made in June by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, who defended its mandate against the harsh criticisms leveled by OOIDA in the original March 2016-filed lawsuit.

OOIDA again argues in its latest brief the rule violates truckers’ 4th Amendment protections against illegal search and seizures and does not meet Congress’ requirements for the rule. The group also argues the mandate still opens the door for truckers to be harassed by their employers via the devices and does not stand up to a cost benefit analysis. The costs associated with complying with mandate — especially for small carriers and independent truckers — heavily outweighs the benefits, OOIDA argues.

FMCSA asserted in its June-filed legal defense of the rule that trucking is a “pervasively regulated industry,” thereby meaning truckers’ 4th Amendment rights are not at risk of being violated by the ELD mandate.

OOIDA argues otherwise. “By statute ELDs are intended to serve the ordinary needs of law enforcement. This use is not covered by the pervasively regulated industry exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement,” OOIDA and its legal team argue in their brief. “Motor carriers and drivers are compelled to install ELDs under the threat of forfeiting their ability to stay in business. The encroachment on a driver’s property interest is just as severe whether the physical intrusion is accomplished by surreptitious trespass or under compulsion of law.”

The association harps heavily in its latest filing on the lack of a true cost-benefit analysis of ELD adoption, saying the DOT erred in not providing such.

Moreover, OOIDA claims, the ELD mandate does not meet the requirements set by Congress for the rule, as the devices do not automatically record drivers’ duty status. ELDs only record engine activity, OOIDA argues.

Lastly, OOIDA says the agency did not institute enough safeguards in its December 2015-issued rule to prevent carriers from harassing truckers with ELDs. The same court overseeing OOIDA’s current lawsuit, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, struck down a previous attempt by FMCSA to mandate ELDs because of the lack of protections against driver harassment.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear oral arguments in the case Sept. 13, where it’s expected that OOIDA will further spell out the arguments made in its lawsuit and FMCSA will defend the rule’s merits, its intentions to increase hours compliance and the statutes set by Congress.

Click here to read more on OOIDA’s lawsuit and FMCSA’s defense of the rule.

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