SPECIAL REPORT: U.S. Appeals Court hears HOS arguments Monday

| 11/27/2006

Nov. 28, 2006 - After challenging the current hours-of-service regulations for more than a year, OOIDA will present its oral arguments challenging the regs to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Monday, Dec. 4.

In a typical arrangement for oral arguments before a circuit court panel of judges, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association's legal team will have 10 minutes to present oral arguments. A case filed by Public Citizen also challenging the current regulations has been combined with OOIDA's court challenge. Attorneys for Public Citizen will also have 10 minutes to argue their case.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's attorneys then will have 20 minutes to defend the current regulations in their oral arguments.

It's not uncommon to see attorneys for the petitioners - in this case OOIDA and Public Citizen - to reserve some of their allotted time to argue points raised by others presenting arguments.

OOIDA filed its court challenge of the current regulations after FMCSA officials denied a petition to reconsider the rule.

The Association filed that petition for reconsideration Aug. 29, 2005, asking the agency to reconsider changes to the sleeper-berth exception. In that petition, OOIDA asked for two changes.

Under the current sleeper-berth exception, drivers have to take a minimum of eight consecutive hours off in the sleeper berth, plus at least an additional two hours off duty.

OOIDA sought in its petition to allow team drivers to split sleeper-berth time into something smaller than one consecutive eight-hour stretch and another two-hour break.

The second change OOIDA petitioned for was to allow solo drivers the ability to count the two-hour portion of the sleeper-berth exception as off-duty.

Under the current exception, truckers count two-hour breaks as off-duty time, but it does not stop the 14-hour clock. OOIDA requested these breaks stop the duty clock just as the eight-hour portion of the split does.

The Association's petition for both of these changes was denied by FMCSA. OOIDA followed up the denied petition with the current court challenge of the regulation in January.

Several groups joined the lawsuit on OOIDA's behalf - including the California Trucking Association and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

A second lawsuit challenging the current regulations was filed by Public Citizen. That case was eventually combined with OOIDA's suit by the court.

OOIDA, the interveners and FMCSA have been filing written arguments and various other court-required documents since the suit commenced. The oral arguments will be taken under advisement by the appeals panel and a ruling will be issued at a later date.

- By Jami Jones, senior editor