Safety & Compliance

When Can Driving Time be Considered Off-Duty Time?

This question has to do with what has been termed “personal conveyance.” This is a situation where a driver is using his/her commercial vehicle as a personal vehicle to commute to and from a personal destination.

August 2013, - WebXclusive

by Tom Bray, J.J. Keller & Associates

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One of the requirements is the vehicle must not be “laden.” If you drive a tractor-trailer, this means not even pulling a trailer. (Photo by Evan Lockridge)
One of the requirements is the vehicle must not be “laden.” If you drive a tractor-trailer, this means not even pulling a trailer. (Photo by Evan Lockridge)

Under normal circumstances, all time spent at the controls operating a commercial vehicle must be logged as driving time (on-duty time if the driver is using one of the exceptions that allows the use of time records).

However, what happens with a driver is using his or her commercial vehicle as a personal vehicle to commute to or from a personal destination?

The concept of “off-duty driving time” is not actually in the regulations; however, it is discussed in the interpretations to Part 395. Interpretations are guidances published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to provide a better understanding of the rules.

It can be done if you follow the rules

To be able to log personal conveyance time as off duty, there are several conditions that must be met. These conditions are the same whether a company driver is taking his/her company truck home or an owner-operator is taking his/her truck home (or to another personal destination).

First, you must be relieved of all responsibilities and conduct no on-duty activities. No work for the company is allowed during the personal conveyance. For example, you cannot bring the truck in for maintenance and call the trip personal conveyance.

Second, the trip and destination must be purely personal in nature. Moving to pick up your next load, bringing the truck into the terminal from your last destination, and running to the parts store for parts cannot be considered personal conveyance. You must be commuting to a personal destination, such as home, a restaurant, or a motel, and back.

Third, the vehicle must not be “laden.” In other words, you cannot be carrying any freight during the personal conveyance. If you drive a tractor trailer, this means not even pulling a trailer.

Fourth, you must not be “repositioning” the equipment. If you go from your company’s terminal to home, and then are dispatched to go get a trailer somewhere else, you have repositioned and cannot call the trip personal conveyance.

Fifth, you cannot be using the vehicle as a personal conveyance if you have been placed out of service for an hours-of-service violation.

Finally, the personal conveyance distance needs to be “reasonable.” You are not allowed to travel several hundred miles and call it personal conveyance. One definition of reasonable is, “Could the driver get 8 hours of sleep after arriving at the personal destination if the driver only took 10 hours off?” If the answer is no, then the distance may not be considered reasonable.

The Canadian regulations are a little more specific in this area. A driver in Canada cannot use the commercial vehicle for personal conveyance for more than 75 kilometers per day.

But they’re not paying me!

In certain situations, carriers may tell their drivers or owner-operators that they can just “head for home.” In many cases, when the carrier does this they do not pay the driver or owner-operator for their time or miles.

Does this change the situation? No, it does not. Pay is not a determining factor in whether a driver is on duty or off duty. The driver’s activity is what determines whether the driver should be logging on or off duty. If the driver is not relieved of all responsibilities, does work along the way, has a laden vehicle, or is repositioning equipment, the driver cannot claim the time is personal conveyance and the trip must be logged as on-duty and/or driving.

The only time pay is an issue when it comes to logging is if payroll records can prove that the driver was on duty. An example of this is paying a driver for loading or unloading. If the driver was specifically paid to load or unload, then the driver should have logged the time as on-duty time.

As you can see, there are several conditions that must be met to consider a trip with a commercial vehicle to be “personal conveyance.” The best advice is that when looking at the trip, if you are not sure you can meet one of the requirements, your best bet is to just keep logging the “regular” way.

Thomas Bray is Sr. Editor – Transportation Management for J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc. He spent more than 20 years in the motor carrier industry prior to joining J.J. Keller’s Transport Editorial Team eight years ago. His industry experience ranges from over-the-road driver and trainer to claims manager, lead instructor, and safety director.


  1. 1. Bow Bowman [ August 27, 2013 @ 05:24PM ]

    what about an OO leaving a receiver and is now off duty. He desires to use the truck with a trailer to return home for an extended time off (vacation) the travel to home would be inconvenient to the OO and cost for the airfare or bus ticket and storage of the truck... he would rather take the truck home because it would also be quicker than arranging and obtaining other forms of transportation. It seems labeling the empty trailer as a laden vehicle is unreasonable... if there is no load to reposition to, and there are none known at the time, the vehicle is merely personal conveyance...

  2. 2. Tim Jurco [ August 28, 2013 @ 07:17PM ]

    What if an owner operator, also owns their own trailer? If they are empty, when can that be considered off-duty, if the driver is wishing to return home or get to another destination, for time off.

  3. 3. jab8283 [ August 29, 2013 @ 02:55PM ]

    This is a screwy rule. The plant I work out of is 30 miles from my home. I own my semi-tractor and use it as a personal car to get to and from work everyday just like all commuters. In the mornings I drive to the plant to hook up to loaded trailer at which point I go on duty through my work day. At the end of my shift, I drop the trailer at the plant and bobtail the thirty mile distance back home. The size of my equipment has nothing to do with the definition of personal car. Because I own my truck, I sure in hell ain't leaving it in someone else's driveway or lot. It belongs to me and when I'm not driving it, it better be sitting in my driveway.

  4. 4. John [ August 29, 2013 @ 07:25PM ]

    I think that PC is a good rule to have. Unfortunately, most companies REFUSE to acknowledge it.

  5. 5. Amish Trucker [ September 05, 2013 @ 05:12AM ]

    What if an owner-operator borrows a company truck and is bobtailing to the terminal but forgot his lunch and turns around to go home. Since he eats his lunch during his mandatory 1/2 hour unpaid break would bobtailing to get his lunch, then be an on duty function? What if he then realizes he has already used 70 hours but it has only been 148 hours since the start of his last 34 hour reset? Does he have to stop the truck on the side of the road for 20 hours? What if his lunch is sitting on the counter and there's nobody to put it back in the fridge? Does it make a sound?

  6. 6. Wade [ November 03, 2013 @ 08:38PM ]

    It says no trailer but would camper trailer count. Could he use the truck to pull it to a destination for a weekend getaway. And if you meet these requirements do you have to scale if you come across one

  7. 7. michael l white [ January 31, 2014 @ 07:15PM ]

    Stop by Irving police was not driving CMV, personal car poss of marj/WEED THE same use for health purposes, but a governor/mayor/judge get busted he still holds their position CDL druver/IDENTITY theft victim help. .Whats right political bullying

  8. 8. jerry [ September 01, 2014 @ 02:53PM ]

    Personal Conveyance; will you present a log book for review over the past 7 days or bypass an open scale without permission; all inspections must be logged.

  9. 9. wilson [ December 04, 2014 @ 01:54AM ]

    If you get randomly stop by the dot while on personal conveyance trip to the store how must it be showed on log book

  10. 10. Dave [ January 17, 2015 @ 11:46PM ]

    this interpretation is not entirely correct. In the United States you CAN have an empty trailer while under personal conveyance. The only time this wouldn't be true is if said trailer was the actual freight (New Trailer Delivery) also there is no limit to personal conveyance. You could technically drive coast to coast to go home if you had to.

  11. 11. Jason [ March 26, 2015 @ 10:59PM ]

    T his Is A Gray area nowhere does it state how far you can drive.if your no paid money it is your personal vehicle. To where ever I want to drive.I pay the plates etc would have to still take 10 hrs off interpretation is what your reading into.reasonable travel.yes a dot official in co read law close he stated you can drive home 1000 miles just don't pick up freight along way.but it's always best you log evrrything.non laden means just that no paid freight.....

  12. 12. Jason [ March 26, 2015 @ 11:00PM ]

    Of course lawyers cost money they want you to give up your legal rights.

  13. 13. Cheryl Pollard [ April 22, 2015 @ 02:24PM ]

    What if you drop load and your day is,up... And you follow all rules ... Go to visit brother while in there town .. But your 14 hours are up. ...but you stay until your in berth for 8 hours .. No trl I own Trk.

  14. 14. margot [ May 09, 2015 @ 07:42PM ]

    have ?? hubby was on lunch break on side of freeway and got a ticket for parking in emergency parking.. can we fight this ticket in court? have ben looking threw dot laws much not getting very far....

  15. 15. J dawg [ June 04, 2015 @ 05:49PM ]

    Say you run your 70 hrs out. You are 5-10 miles away from the yard. Can the dispatcher bring his personal vehicle out to you and have you drive his vehicle while he logs in and takes the truck back to yard?

  16. 16. Jodi [ June 12, 2015 @ 06:07AM ]

    I have to drive my rig/day cab from indiana to Jacksonville,FL. I am moving there and have no other way to get my truck to my new job. I will have a 72 hr hunts permit. I should be able to do it in two days. I dont see a problem with me driving off duty. Its only 15 to 16 hrs total trip.

  17. 17. Dennis [ September 11, 2015 @ 09:43AM ]

    I am an RV transporter. My GVWROn the tag is 14000 lbs. My actual empty weight is 9700 lbs. My question is, after I drop my load do I have to log my miles back as driving or on duty? Also, if I drop off in Calgary Alberta amd want to site see back to Oregon through parks and whatever, do I have to log those miles and how?
    Thanks, Dennis

  18. 18. Jaes [ October 09, 2015 @ 12:42PM ]

    Show PC on line 6.

  19. 19. Andrew [ October 16, 2015 @ 11:10AM ]

    This really is a grey area as I was told by DOT that if I don't have a trailer behind me he could care less where I was going. He was an older guy so a younger one might not see it that way.

  20. 20. Josh Carlton [ December 04, 2015 @ 06:05PM ]

    Ive had issues with this stupid crap. There are actually no regulations on pc, just guidances. I myself have spoke with 3 different DOT cops & the FMCSA bout this issue. Its all open to interpretation on the DOT cops parts. As per the rep I spoke with @ the OKC branch office of the FMCSA, its a totallydifferent ballgame. I ran up against my 70 bout 6 months ago. I was 2.5 hours from my home. I was told that even though I was near my 70, I could use the pc to go home, so long as my trk wasnt laden or loaded. The lady @ the FMCSA explained to me that me having a trlr didnt matter as long as it wasnt loaded. I asked if I had to log the drivin time at a later date. Her response was NO. As long as I was at a personal location & wasnt under dispatch, I WOULD NOT HAVE TO LOG THE TRIP.
    Once again, Im gettin my ass chewed again fer using pc after I unloaded at a military base & drove to a truck stop using pc. Last time I checked, we as drivers were allowed to use pc to go to a personal location, such as a safe haven. Last time I checked, a safe haven was a location where we had the neccesary amenities such as a bathroom, and a place to get something to eat. A safe haven can & does fall under a personal location. What gets me is how some of these companies will flatout tell a driver that pc miles are limited to so & so miles. As per the FMCSA, there is no limitation on the mileage.
    And, as per the ladies words @ the FMCSA. The FMCSA dont give a squat how many miles ya drive under pc, you as a driver must show how ya went from location to location. Thats it. There isnt any of this bs bout havin to return to the origional location. As long as the driver isnt under dispatch, planned fer dispatch, & is heading to a personal location, no matter where it may be, or how far it may be. PC is legal to use whether one is a company driver or Owner Op.

  21. 21. Ray Norris [ March 14, 2016 @ 06:09AM ]

    What are the rules regarding logs and driver times when the is not a employed as a professional driver and driving his own personal combination vehicle laden with personal household goods in a personal move farther than 500 miles. The driver has a valid CDL, DOT health cert.
    Thank you

  22. 22. KEN ELRICH [ April 14, 2016 @ 09:38AM ]


  23. 23. kevin [ May 28, 2016 @ 10:04PM ]

    get caught pulling a trailer on off duty driving or get in a wreck see if you don't get a law suit on your ass

  24. 24. James [ August 09, 2016 @ 06:59PM ]

    You can get a law suit on you while on duty driving. So that is irrelevant.

  25. 25. Sherie [ August 10, 2016 @ 01:40PM ]

    I was always told that in order to use PC you
    1) Cannot be attached to a trailer
    2) Once you start you can go from position A to B to C BUT you always have to go back to position A.
    3) Your company sets the time or miles allowed in PC.

  26. 26. Steve Mehal [ October 07, 2016 @ 06:34PM ]

    All I can say is thank God I'm retiring soon!!

  27. 27. Steve Mehal [ October 07, 2016 @ 06:34PM ]

    All I can say is thank God I'm retiring soon!

  28. 28. ken elrich [ October 14, 2016 @ 06:28PM ]

    why are there no answer!

  29. 29. Fred Bowers [ November 17, 2016 @ 02:42AM ]

    This was very useful, thanks.

  30. 30. Virgil [ November 29, 2016 @ 04:42PM ]

    If I run out of hours can I drive my personal car to get home an around

  31. 31. Mike walton [ January 22, 2017 @ 07:49AM ]

    My safety director said that you can go from a truckstop to a customer on off-duty driving that you're supposed to go to the customer then go to off-duty driving then go back to the truckstop take your break then in the morning go back to the customer on off-duty driving and he said that was legal my question is is it legal or not

  32. 32. ron hunter [ January 25, 2017 @ 05:46PM ]

    show me where it says you have to be bobtail, unlaiden =empty no cargo no where does it say bobtail or no trailer, it can not be loaded


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