Intrastate carriers in California can't take advantage of new federal hours of service rule...

Intrastate carriers in California can't take advantage of new federal hours of service rule changes designed to offer more flexibility.

HDT File Graphic

Although changes to federal hours of service rules go into effect Sept. 29 offering more flexibility to trucking, if you operate only in California, you will not be able to use any of the new options, according to the Western States Trucking Association.

While many states adopt federal rules into state law automatically by “reference,” California is a state that does not. All changes to hours of service rules for intrastate trucking operations must go through a regulatory process initiated by the California Highway Patrol.

The association has been told by CHP there is no immediate plan to modify California’s short-haul hours-of-service exception to match the federal exception, so California’s allowable short-haul will remain at 100 air miles/12 hours.

“The association will continue to work with CHP to encourage a rulemaking that aligns/harmonizes the state’s allowable short-haul exception to match the federal, but similar to California still not having an electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, this process is expected to take quite a while,” WSTA said.

If your hours of service are governed by California regulations, you cannot use any of the announced changes in HOS regulations approved at the federal level, WSTA said, and there will be no enforcement leeway by CHP. You risk being cited or even potentially placed out-of-service until coming into compliance with California regulation.

Overview of Difference Between Federal and California HOS Rules

Federal HOS Basics (49 CFR § 395)

California HOS Basics (CCR Title 13, Division 2, Chapter 6.5, Article 3, Section 1212)

11 hours driving 12 hours driving
14 hours total duty window 16 hours total duty window
10 hours off-duty mandatory 10 hours off-duty mandatory
70-hour maximum workweek (8 days)

80-hour maximum workweek (8 days)

34-hour restart provision – general trucking

34-hour restart provision – general trucking

24-hour restart provision – construction trucking 24-hour restart provision – construction trucking
Short-haul exemption – 150 air miles, 14-hour day (effective 9/28/20) Short-haul exemption – 100 air miles, 12-hour day









Switching Between State and Federal HOS rules

When an intrastate carrier must make an out-of-state trip, or haul a load from any port or rail yard, or a load that originated out-of-state that you will be delivering “last mile,” even where the pick-up and final destination is solely in California, you must log federal hours of service, according to the association.

 However, when you complete that federally regulated trip it is important to remember, you remain under the authority of U.S. DOT for the remainder of your 60/70-hour period (i.e. 7-8-day schedule).

This means if you revert to local operations using the short-haul exception to hours-of-service rules, you are using the federal short-haul exception, which does allow the increased flexibility (albeit a shorter workweek, 70 hours max versus 80).

“We’d caution, however, that you include an explanation letter in the vehicle being operated,” WSTA warned, “because oftentimes a driver will not correctly define which HOS rules they are operating under, and if they miscommunicate with roadside law enforcement they will likely be cited.”

For a complete explanation of switching between state and federal hours of service, go online to FMCSA, Section § 390.3: General applicability, Interpretations, Question 24. The pertinent information is towards the end of the explanation under the header “National Policy.”

About the author
Staff Writer

Staff Writer


Our team of enterprising editors brings years of experience covering the fleet industry. We offer a deep understanding of trends and the ever-evolving landscapes we cover in fleet, trucking, and transportation.  

View Bio