ELD Mandate Exemptions

The final ELD mandate was in effect as of 12/16/2019. If you are required to use an ELD device but do not have one installed, you can be liable for hefty fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 per violation! It is important to know if your organization is mandated or exempted from the ELD mandate.

Always consult your DOT officer when determining 100% if you are mandated for ELD. Here are some common ELD exemptions that you can use as a guideline when determining how to outfit your fleet and remain compliant.

trucks eld mandate exemptions

Who is exempt from the ELD mandate? 

If you already file paper logs for your fleet you most likely will need an ELD device. Again, consult your Department of Transportation (DOT) office, but most commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers must comply.

In general, a CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business and is involved in interstate commerce and fits any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more

  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more

  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation

  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation

  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

Source: www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hours-of-service

Common ELD Exemptions:

Operate within 150 Air-Mile Radius:

150 mile radius, the way the crow flies, from your main location you work out of.

Most CDL (Commercial Driver License) drivers do, and some non-(CDL) drivers can also fall under the 150 air mile (short haul) exemption as well.

To qualify, they must:

  • Operate within a 150 air-mile radius of the location where they report to and are released from work.

  • Return to the normal reporting location at the end of each duty tour.

Additionally, they must not:

  • Drive any vehicle that requires a CDL

  • Drive after 14 hours of coming on duty on 5 days of any period of 7 consecutive days

  • Drive after 16 hours of coming on duty on 2 days of any period of 7 consecutive days

Source: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds

Vehicles Manufactured Before 2000

To properly use an Electronic Logging Device, the unit requires the use of the vehicle’s Engine Control Module (ECM) onboard computer.

Although ECMs have been available in several models in the 1990s most vehicles did not have one before the year 2000. Therefore, if a commercial motor vehicle’s engine was manufactured before the year 2000 and lacks an ECM reader, it is exempt from being required to use an ELD.

As is stated on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA)’s website:

However, there may be instances when the model year reflected on the vehicle registration is not the same as the engine model year, most commonly when a vehicle is rebuilt using a “glider kit” or when an engine is swapped from one vehicle to another.

Vehicles with engines predating model year 2000 are also accepted and are not required to have an ELD, even if the VIN number reported on the registration indicates that the CMV is a later model year.

While the driver is not required to possess documentation that confirms the vehicle engine model year, 49 CFR Part 379 Appendix A requires motor carriers to maintain all documentation on motor and engine changes at the principal place of business.”

Source: www.fmcsa.fot.gov/hours-service/elds

Customer’s with a mixed aged fleet find it easier to equip their older non ECM trucks with a GPS tracker and ELD device to keep all their files digital even if it is not required legally.

Driveaway-Towaway Drivers

Any driver transporting a commercial motor vehicle for delivery will be exempt from using ELD. The premise behind it is since they do not own the vehicle and it is listed as a commodity such as a mobile home or RV for example they are not required to equip an Electronic Logging Device for themselves.

Drivers Who Maintain Record of Duty Status (RODS) for 8 Days or Less

Drivers who maintain Record of Duty Status (RODS) for 8 days or fewer in a 30-day rolling period don’t need an ELD. They would need to maintain paper logs, but the ELD itself isn’t legally required.

This includes short-haul drivers who occasionally take longer trips. However, drivers who break the short-haul exception more than 8 times in a 30-day period will need an ELD for the rest of that cycle.

This ELD exemption means that short-haul drivers who mainly operate locally but occasionally but infrequently go on longer trips are exempt from needing an ELD. 

*Customers tend to equip those vehicles with GPS and ELD so they can have all records on that vehicle regardless if they are exempt or not. This helps keeps all the information from the fleet together in one place. 

Short-haul Exception (intrastate, local drivers)

Some (CDL) drivers fall under the short-haul exemption. These drivers report to their home base office and transport loads to a specific location or have multiple deliveries throughout the day but return the truck at the end of the day and go home.

To qualify, drivers must:

  • Operate within a 150 air-mile radius of their normal work reporting location

  • Start and end the day at the same location

  • Be released from work within 12 hours

  • Have at least 10 hours off duty between each 12-hour shift

  • Not drive more than 14 hours

Farm Vehicles

Certain vehicles used for farm operations are exempt from the ELD mandate. This does not mean that ALL farming equipment is exempt, it highlights and applies mainly to the private transportation of commodities such as livestock, supplies or machinery being transported by the farm’s owner, operator, family member or employee.

GPS for farming Equipment


The ELD mandate has changed the landscape of how fleets operate their businesses. Even though some companies can see it as an additional cost, there are many cost benefits when combining your ELD compliance program with a powerful compliant GPS solution to help your organization reduce operational costs, reduce fleet risk and increase revenue.

In order to best outfit your fleet and avoid hefty fines it is recommended you talk with your DOT officer or one of our ELD specialists here at Ascent Fleet Services to determine the best course of action.

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