On December 28, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration granted multiple petitions seeking a declaration that new California rules for drivers’ rest periods and meal breaks are inconsistent with federal regulations governing drivers’ hours of service. DOT concluded that the California rules are (1) inconsistent with federal law, (2) provide no meaningful safety benefits, and (3) burden interstate commerce. Among other concerns, DOT said that the California break requirements created new safety concerns for drivers required to find parking spots for the new rest periods.
California transportation officials and labor advocates may try to challenge the U.S. DOT interpretation in federal court. However, until such challenge is ruled on, motor carriers with interstate operations that include California can continue to use federal rules for drivers’ hours of service, not the more restrictive California requirements.