Eld Exemptions – Electronic Logs Mandate Exemptions

(Last Updated On: March 27, 2024)

Understanding ELD Exemptions: Who Doesn’t Need an ELD?

Important ELD Exemptions Facts

eld exemptions

The ELD mandate which governs the overall trucking industry has some ELD mandate exemptions.  Not all the drivers or every company is pretty much the same as the one next to it. With this in mind, it is also important to note that there is no rule that has a one-size-fits-all solution.

Thus, it is crucial to understand that there is quite a lot of controversy which takes place in the industry about the ELD Mandate. And, another thing that you would have to keep in mind is that there are ELD exemptions that have to be addressed when you have an audit.

Exemptions from the electronic logs mandate include a variety of specifications, and there are drivers and fleets who operate a variety of businesses and older vehicle models.

What are the Electronic Logs Mandate Exemptions?

Now, the important thing that you would have to keep in mind here is the definition of Commercial Motor Vehicle given by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).

Under its regulations, it is regarded as any self-towed vehicle used on an interstate highway as commercial to transport passengers or property.

Now, there are a few different specifications that you would want to abide by.

Here they are – the vehicle has to:

  1. Be designed or to be used for the transportation of more than eight passengers for compensation.
  2. Be designed for the transportation of more than 15 passengers (with the driver included) and it is not used to transport these passengers for compensation;
  3. Have an overall vehicle weight rating or a combination of said rating or gross weight of the vehicle of 10,001 pounds or more than that, depending on the metrics
  4. Be used in the proper transportation of a severe quantity of hazardous materials that require a placard.

Now, if we take this particular definition in mind, the FMCSA has already made quite a few exemptions to the ELD mandate. And this is in consideration of the short-haul drivers and also the age of the vehicles.

Do Small Carriers Need to Comply?

Do Small Carriers Need to Comply

Two studies have indicated that small carriers will be more unwilling to switch to ELDs.

  • A study of more than 400 operators from Transplace discovered that only 33% of small fleet operators (with less than 250 vehicles) had completely installed ELDs. Meanwhile, 38% had “no instant plans to start ELD implementation.”
  • Fisher, Tyson, report In a poll of over 1,000 truck operators released by Land Line magazine on, 84% of truck operators (mostly owners of one to five trucks) had not yet bought or installed ELD.

Again, the ELD rule applies to carriers and drivers that are needed to keep RODS and do not fall into any of the above exceptions.

The Electronic Logs Mandate Exemptions include:

No RODS – Drivers who primarily track their time using timecards are exempt from keeping a Record of Duty Status (RODS). This includes short-haul drivers who operate within a specific radius and stay within certain limitations. However, if a driver exceeds these limitations, an ELD becomes mandatory.

Limited RODS – Drivers who only need to maintain RODS for less than eight days in a 30-day period are exempt from using ELDs.

Drive-away or Tow-away – Drivers operating vehicles solely for drive-away and tow-away purposes are exempt from the ELD mandate.

There are quite a lot of different situations in which an ELD would not require. And this is something quite remarkable, and you would have to take it into account. If you are covered by the ELD mandate exemptions, you can keep on logging your HOS the old-fashioned way.

Additionally, you can run paper logs if you meet any of the following criteria:

Run logs no more than 8 out of any 30-day period: This applies to drivers who occasionally exceed the limitations of other exemptions, like short-haul drivers making a few longer trips in a month.
Are a driveaway-towaway driver: Drivers transporting vehicles solely for delivery purposes, not for commercial purposes, are exempt.
Run short haul with 100 or 150 air mile radius: Drivers operating within a specific radius from their starting point and meeting other limitations qualify for this exemption.
Run certain agricultural operations: Drivers transporting agricultural commodities within a 150-air mile radius of their origin are exempt.
Run oilfield operations or concrete mixers: Drivers operating vehicles specifically for oilfield operations or driving concrete mixers are exempt from the ELD mandate, highlighting the diverse nature of exemptions based on industry-specific requirements. This acknowledges the unique operational contexts of these drivers, ensuring that regulations accommodate the practical aspects of their work. Please consult the FMCSA regulations for details.

Understanding The Eld Exemptions of Vehicles Older Than 2000 Model-Year

trucks older than 2000

While it is evident to the FMCSA that trucks older than the model year 2000 are exempt from using an ELD (although the driver will have to maintain paper logs or use an AOBRD), there are ELD exemptions to the rule.

Trucks not excluded under this electronic logs mandate exemptions:

  • The fleet should use an ELD that does not operate on ECM connectivity if the engine does not support an engine control module (ECM)
  • A vehicle with a glider kit that is newer than 2000, but the model year of the car is older than 2000

The FMCSA makes it possible for a driver without using an ELD on a commercial vehicle older than the 2000 model year. But, the ELD must conform with the technical requirements of the rule and might use alternative sources to acquire or estimate the parameters needed for the vehicle.

Overview of Radius Exception Short-Haul/100 Air-Mile

There are quite some conditions to qualify for the short-haul ELD exemptions from § 395.1(e):

  • Conduct business within a standard work-reporting location 150 air-mile radius for non-CDL drivers and potentially a 100 air-mile radius for CDL drivers. It’s best to consult the FMCSA website for the latest guidance on the radius specific to your driver’s license type.
  • Start and go back to the same place
  • 12 successive duty hours

According to FMCSA requirements, an air mile is equal to 115,08 status miles (185,2 kilometers). It is based on the 6,076 feet (1,852 meters) global nautical mile.

For short-haul drivers, these additional regulations are also applicable, these ELD mandate exemptions also extend to short-haul drivers:

  • Cannot exceed 11 hours of driving time
  • Must log at least ten consecutive hours of time off after shift

If the driver is unable to satisfy these requirements, a logbook for the day will have to complete as the vehicle is regarded as a CMV. Thus, the truck and vehicle are therefore subject to an inspection of the vehicle according to § 396.11 and § 396.13 If they fulfill the requirements of a CMV collectively. Therefore, it will become necessary to fill and store a DVIR (Driver Vehicle Inspection Report).

Before an operation, the previous Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) must review the next time the vehicle or trailer is used. The log records and records of the inspection report must be stored and submitted to law enforcement as well as at the time of a carrier audit.

Understanding 150 Air-mile Radius

The short-haul ELD mandate exemptions also cover several non-CDL drivers. To qualify, drivers must:

  • At the end of each duty trip, return to the usual reporting place
  • Conduct operations within a 150-mile radius of the area to which they report and are discharged from work

Moreover, they should not:

  • Drive any vehicle requiring a CDL
  • Drive on two days of any seven successive days after 16 hours of duty
  • Drive on five days of any period of 7 consecutive days after 14 hours of duty

Could a Small Vehicle qualify as a Commercial Vehicle?

The reply to this issue on electronic logs mandate exemptions linked to the Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) and Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)


GVWR is described as the highest possible vehicle operating weight set by the manufacturer.

And this includes the vehicle itself, e.g.;

  • Body
  • Engine
  • Chassis
  • passenger
  • engine fluids
  • freight weight
  • including driver
  • fuel and accessories

GCWR is the stipulated total weight of the manufacturer for a vehicle towing a trailer. And this includes:

  • the weight of the vehicle
  • and the attached trailer
  • the passengers
  • the driver

Vehicles mostly specialize in delivering various kinds of goods. Semi-trailers could be equipped with different trailers such as box trailers, flatbeds, carriers, tanks as well as other specialized trailers. Examples of vehicles specialized in delivering particular kinds of products are dump trucks and concrete mixers.

It will become a CMV If the vehicle, load, as well as any trailer (including load) GVWR/GCWR you are transporting at a specific time exceeds the 10,001 pounds or higher definition of CMV found in § 390.5. Thus, regulating the vehicle is empty or loaded.

If you discover that your vehicle has now been categorized as a CMV, even when it’s a pickup, the vehicle’s driver should, therefore, act by the hours of service safety standards. Therefore, you must comply with all laws during the time you satisfy the requirements of a CMV, including stopping at roadside inspection stations. Or you are having US Transportation Department (U.S. DOT) on the side of the vehicle.

APA Exceptions

APA Exceptions

An exemption from the ELD directive sought by the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) confirmed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

  • Throughout the Independence Day season, the group asked for the ELD mandate exemptions for APA member companies.
  • The agency confirmed that these companies would continue using paper records for a certain period instead of an ELD.
  • FMCSA determined that the exemption terms and conditions ensure a level of safety equal to, or higher than, the level of protection attained without the exemptions.
  • The agency has added “sufficient” safety ratings to all carriers concerned based on compliance reviews and is therefore not subject to any “impending danger” or other out-of-service orders.
  • For last year’s Independence Day holiday, APA enjoys a comparable exemption.

Exemption Extension Details

Full Compliance

It is clear from the FMCSA that fleets would no longer be required to be using the grandfathered AOBRDs after Dec. 16, 2019.

And, therefore, all drivers and carriers subject to the rule must use self-certified ELDs that are registered with FMCSA.

Important Things to Remember

1. You Have to Obey HOS Guidelines If You Are Exempt from The ELD Mandate

  • The above ELD mandate exemptions specifically relate to the ELD mandate … you will still need to ensure compliance with HOS regulations and maintain simplified records (if necessary).
  • Trying to qualify for any of these ELD exemptions would not necessarily indicate that you are exempt from duty monitoring records.
  • Even commercial vehicle riders with ELD exemptions from the new ELD directive must keep paper logbooks when they are required to do so by law.
  • Therefore, an exemption from the ELD mandate does not constitute an exemption from keeping records of hours of service.

2. You Are Not Prohibited from Using an ELD If You Are Exempt

Indeed, many exempt fleets and owner-operators choose to use ELDs due to the many advantages they enjoy, including:

  • Simplicity
  • Enhanced accuracy
  • Paperwork reduction
  • Resulting in time and cost savings
  • Estimate arrival times for commercial loads
  • The capacity to maintain/improve CSA ratings
  • The ability to monitor vehicle usage and location

Furthermore, it’s safer to get an ELD if there’s a possibility you’re going to run outside of an exemption.

Eld Mandate Exemptions Won’t Last Much Longer

Even though these ELD mandate exemptions now exist, please bear in mind that they won’t permanently exempt your fleet or drivers.

Fairly soon, becoming completely compliant with the Eld Mandate will eventually pay off by drivers of the fleet with better compliance, fewer headaches of compliance, and ultimately better efficiency.

Get an ELD Regardless

That’s the thing – even if they are not mandatory, ELDs do a great job.

And, of course, if you can afford to install them, from a financial and technical perspective, this is certainly something that you are better off trying out.

These are devices that would provide you with a chance to save a substantial amount of time, effort, and money.  An ELD is going to give you access to a lot more data compared to whatever you had before that.

Fleets and owner-operators will enjoy the way their driver is operating the truck and have a direct overview of the performance of the entire fleet. You would be able to capture hard braking, excessive and unnecessary long idling times, and improve the time spent on the road.

And this is going to enable you to reduce the overall cost and spending on fuel as time goes by. ELDs are also going to help you reduce violations for reporting as well as the HOS, which would lower the overall costs.  

Electronic logs for trucks

FAQs on ELD Mandate and Exemptions

What is the ELD mandate?
The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate is a federal regulation requiring commercial motor vehicle operators to use ELDs to record driver hours of service (HOS), ensuring compliance with HOS rules designed to prevent driver fatigue.

Who needs to comply with the ELD mandate?
Most drivers and carriers who are required to maintain Records of Duty Status (RODS) must comply with the ELD mandate. This includes commercial trucks and buses operating in interstate commerce.

Are there any exemptions to the ELD mandate?
Yes, there are several exemptions, including:

  • Vehicles manufactured before 2000.
  • Drivers who maintain RODS for no more than 8 days within a 30-day rolling period.
  • Driveaway-towaway operations if the vehicle being driven is part of the shipment.
  • Short-haul drivers who meet specific criteria related to operating within a 100 or 150 air-mile radius.

What happens if I’m exempt from the ELD mandate but occasionally need to keep RODS?
If you’re exempt but occasionally need to keep RODS more than 8 days in a 30-day period, you must use an ELD for that period. For short-haul exemptions, exceeding the air-mile radius or duty time limits more than 8 times in 30 days requires ELD use.

Can I use paper logs if I’m exempt from the ELD mandate?
Yes, drivers who qualify for an ELD exemption can use paper logs to record their hours of service instead of using an ELD.

Do ELD exemptions apply to drivers in all states?
While the ELD mandate is a federal regulation, exemptions apply universally across the United States. However, drivers should check if their state has additional requirements or regulations.

How do I know if my vehicle is exempt due to its manufacture date?
Vehicles with a manufacture date before the year 2000 are exempt from the ELD mandate. The manufacture date can usually be found on the vehicle’s registration, title, or inside the door frame.

What should I do if my operation status changes and I no longer qualify for an exemption?
If your operation changes and you no longer qualify for an exemption (e.g., you start driving beyond the short-haul radius more frequently), you must comply with the ELD mandate and install an ELD in your vehicle.

Can I switch between being exempt and needing an ELD?
Yes, depending on your operation. If you occasionally exceed the criteria for an exemption, you’ll need to use an ELD during that time. Once you return to operating within the exemption criteria, you can revert to your previous logging method, provided you accurately track these changes.


All these electronic logs mandate exemptions illustrate the clear intent underneath the ELD mandate itself. And that is to ensure the safety of hard-working people driving big trucks for a living and meeting the requirements of DOT truck inspection.

Regardless of whether you qualify for an ELD exemption or not, by using ELD devices, you could still save a great deal of time and money while improving service effectiveness.

Kindly fill out our consultation form and see where we can assist you.

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About the author

Picture of Robert Rigman

Robert Rigman

Former independent OTR trucker that left the road to dedicate his time to research new technology for the transport industry. When the ELD Mandate was approved many questions and daily challenges came up and there was no answer to them. was born from the combination of my passion for trucking and my affinity for research and writing.

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Share what you learned!

About the author

Picture of Robert Rigman

Robert Rigman

Former independent OTR trucker that left the road to dedicate his time to research new technology for the transport industry. When the ELD Mandate was approved many questions and daily challenges came up and there was no answer to them. was born from the combination of my passion for trucking and my affinity for research and writing.

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