Road Law
When a mile isn’t a mile

By Jeff McConnell & James Mennella, Attorneys at law

The 100 air-mile radius exemption to the normal record of duty status requirement set forth in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) has potential to cause a lot of confusion – and non-compliance if you aren’t careful.

An “air mile,” also known as a “nautical mile,” equals 6,087 feet, while a “statute mile” is 5,280 feet in comparison. When you convert 100 “nautical miles” to the more familiar “statute miles,” you come up with approximately 115 miles. So be certain to double check which scale you are using for determining the distance.

Q. The company I work for uses the 100-mile radius, but that includes crossing state lines. Since I cross state lines, should I be running a logbook?

A. Section 395.1(e) makes no mention of crossing state lines, and in the current guidance from the feds there is nothing that addresses the topic either. Our reading of the rule indicates that, as long as you comply fully with 395.1(e), you shouldn’t need a logbook.

Q. Without a logbook, won’t I have problems from enforcement officials?

A. That is always possible. However, the current guidance from the feds is that a driver that is claiming the exemption is not required to have any documentation (record of duty status) in his or her possession.

Q. Can you simplify how the exemption works?

A. Not sure we can make it simpler, but the exemption can be broken down in two parts: qualification and compliance.

In order to qualify to use the exemption you need the following:

  • You operate within 100 nautical miles of your normal work reporting location;
  • You return to that location and are released within 12 consecutive hours;
  • There are at least 10 consecutive hours (property carrier) or eight consecutive hours (passenger carrier) between each 12 hours on duty; and
  • You cannot violate the provisions of section 395.3 in reference to maximum drive time.

If you qualify to use the exemption, then you must be certain to comply with it. In order to comply, the employer must maintain/retain the true and accurate time records for each employee for six months.

Employers must retain:

  • The time each day the driver reports for duty;
  • The daily total of on-duty hours;
  • The time each day the driver is released from duty; and
  • Comply with 395.8(j)(2) for drivers used for the first time or intermittently.

Q. What happens if I have to drive outside of the 100 air-mile distance?

A. Once you exceed the limits of the exemption or know that you are going to exceed the limits, you must then create a record of duty status for the entire day.

Q. I am an owner-operator and employ myself. Can I use a regular logbook to record my time while using the 100 air-mile exemption?

A. According to the guidance provided by the feds, using the regular record of duty status is not prohibited as long as it contains:

  • Your name;
  • Date;
  • Time you began work;
  • Time you ended work; and
  • Total hours on duty. LL

Send any questions or comments regarding transportation law to: Jeff McConnell and James Mennella, Road Law, 3441 W. Memorial, Suite 4, Oklahoma City, OK 73134; call 405-242-2030, fax 888-588-8983, or email

This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Land Line Magazine or its publisher. Please remember everyone's legal situation is different. Consult with an attorney for specific advice on your situation.