New York ceases ELD enforcement in wake of OOIDA lawsuit

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor |1/4/2019


In light of the state of New York’s failure to adopt ELD rules into its own state law, commercial vehicle enforcement of the electronic logging mandate in New York is on hold. The move comes following the filing of a lawsuit by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association to stop enforcement of the mandate.

The lawsuit, filed in January 2018, challenges the state’s enforcement of the electronic logging mandate. At the time of the lawsuit, New York was reporting violations of the ELD mandate to state and federal authorities.

After OOIDA’s suit was filed, the state of New York changed its ELD enforcement policies and that change has been recognized by the court.

The New York Supreme Court filed a decision, order, and judgment issued Dec. 31, 2018, recognizing the state of New York’s “current policy that ‘no tickets or notices of violation are to be issued citing the federal ELD regulations, and no violations of ELD rules are to be cited on the inspection report.’”

The court also recognized that the state’s inspectors “will accept ‘either log books or ELD data’ to establish compliance with (hours of service) requirements.” The decision further acknowledged that state inspectors may “not … examine eRODS or transfer any local data from the ELDs during roadside inspections.”

Effectively, the decision explains that the current policy is that law enforcement can look at paper logs or view the screen on the logging device for record of duty status, but they can’t download or transmit the data. Also, the data may only be used for HOS enforcement, not enforcement of the e-logging mandate.

The class action lawsuit filed by OOIDA challenges the authority under which New York was enforcing the ELD mandate.

Each state receives grant money from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to supplement enforcement efforts. To obtain this federal grant money, states agree to adopt the equivalent of the federal motor carrier safety regulations into their own state law. State enforcement officials may only enforce state law. Those officials are not authorized to enforce the federal regulations directly, the complaint states. Nor may state officials enforce laws that do not exist.

The complaint goes on to point out New York has not adopted anything into state law related to the ELD mandate. Therefore, OOIDA is seeking to halt state enforcement of the rule until it is properly incorporated and to stop the conduct of warrantless inspections of ELD data.

“New York’s policy change advances OOIDA’s mission to protect motor carriers and truckers in the face of the ELD mandate,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s president. “However, the court’s recent order is appealable and does not resolve other issues associated with the ELD mandate. Those issues include the privacy interests of drivers under the law.”

Importantly, the enforcement policy memorandum relied upon by the New York Court is subject to change by state authorities without notice or review by the public. Therefore, the case is ongoing and OOIDA is committed to continue pursuing the rights of truckers under this troublesome mandate, according to Spencer.

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OOIDA’s New York HUT tax lawsuit certified as a class action

9/8/2014

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OOIDA‘s New York HUT tax lawsuit certified as a class action
By Land Line staff

OOIDA’s lawsuit against the state of New York’s Department of Taxation and Finance was certified Sept. 1 as a class action by the state’s Supreme Court, which is the state’s trial court. The lawsuit challenges certain highway taxes as unconstitutional and discriminatory against out-of-state truckers who have paid the taxes in order to do business in New York.

The court found that a class action was appropriate due to the potential number of trucking businesses affected.

OOIDA’s attorneys filed the complaint nearly a year ago in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Albany. The action names the defendants as the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Thomas H. Mattox (individually and in his official capacity as commissioner), along with the State of New York; and Andrew Cuomo (individually and in his official capacity as governor of the State of New York).

Named plaintiffs in the case are OOIDA and OOIDA Members Bryan Spoon dba Spoon Trucking, Steve Bixler, Jack McComb and William “Lewie” Pugh.

The class action lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of taxes that impose $15 for a certificate of registration and a $4 decal charge on all trucks using New York state highways. The taxes are imposed not only on New York-based trucks, which are driven proportionately higher miles in New York, but also on trucks based outside of New York, which are driven mostly in states other than New York.

OOIDA President Jim Johnston says that trucks owned and/or operated outside of New York travel fewer miles on New York highways than trucks owned and/or operated in New York. The imposition of the challenged taxes results in a higher per mile tax rate being imposed on out-of-state trucks.

OOIDA charges that constitutes an undue burden on interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Johnston says that OOIDA’s action asks the court to declare those taxes unconstitutional and therefore invalid and not enforceable. The complaint also asks for injunctive relief, refunds and other appropriate relief on behalf of the plaintiffs.

OOIDA’s legal action will represent a class of all interstate motor carriers who reside and operate trucking equipment primarily outside New York who have paid or will pay the taxes.

Johnston called the certification of the class action a “very positive development.”

– See more at: http://www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryID=27616#.VDhisv50wdU

California nears plan to charge drivers by the mile

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

The California Legislature approved a bill to change how the state raises revenue for transportation work.State senators voted 23-11 to sign off on changes to a bill that would set up a task force to develop a voluntary program to test a new way to get money from highway users.   SB1077 now awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.   Assembly lawmakers already approved it on a 46-26 vote.  

Specifically, the bill would authorize a pilot program in the state to assess the practicality of taxing truckers and other drivers based on vehicle miles traveled in the state. The VMT tax could replace the state’s fuel tax as people are driving vehicles that get better mileage.  Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, says the excise tax is “not a long-term viable funding solution.”   He describes his bill as “a critical first step toward California considering a mileage-based fee” as an alternative to the excise tax on fuels.  Oregon and Washington are testing similar programs.

DeSaulnier has said his proposed pilot program is a reasonable approach to address the impending fiscal cliff for transportation funding.  “We have to look at these kinds of things as Oregon and Washington have in anticipation of this cliff we’re about to go off,” DeSaulnier told Senate lawmakers prior to a floor vote.  The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is on the record as opposing the VMT tax.   The Association sent communication to California lawmakers conveying the concerns of professional truckers.  OOIDA Director of State Legislative Affairs Mike Matousek told lawmakers the Association supports investments into transportation infrastructure.  “However, if additional revenue is needed, increasing the fuel tax is the most equitable and efficient option, so long as the generated revenue is used for its intended purpose,” he said.