The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has broadened a lawsuit challenging Minnesota's controversial truck driver fatigue checklist, and now says the Minnesota State Patrol had no authority to issue citations to drivers of interstate motor carriers prior to Aug. 1.

OOIDA alleges the state police had no authority to issue citations for safety violations to drivers of interstate motor carriers because the state had not adopted safety regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration involving interstate motor carriers and their drivers.

The initial complaint involved a lawsuit OOIDA and two of its members filed against several Minnesota state troopers, claiming that they lacked authority to issue out-of-service orders based on fatigue. The lawsuit charges that drivers were denied their rights to a hearing on the out-of-service orders and that the regulation under which the orders were issued fails both to define fatigue and to establish a standard under which a driver would know when to stop driving. The lawsuit was filed in May.

In its pursuit of the claim, OOIDA found a document showing that Minnesota failed to enact FMCSA's safety rules. After FMCSA made recommendations that Minnesota take steps to adopt those regulations, the state corrected its law on Aug. 1.

"This revelation is astounding," said Jim Johnston, president of OOIDA. "We now know that the problem is even bigger than we had originally thought. Not only did state troopers not have the authority to put drivers out of service based on an outrageous checklist, but they had no authority to put drivers out of service for anything."

The checklist in question included signs of fatigue that most drivers found questionable, including overflowing trash cans, the presence of a pet in the truck, a TV or video game in the sleeper, and dental problems.