GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. – An independent trucking association has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lower court’s ruling upholding a federal mandate that interstate trucks and buses convert to electronic logging devises.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sued federal regulators last year, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to overturn the ELD rule.
The association argued that requiring the use of ELDs violates drivers’ Fourth Amendment right to privacy and protections against illegal search and seizure because it effectively calls for their locations to be tracked in real time.
The association argued that employers could abuse the oversight and harass drivers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which issued the ELD rule, responded to the suit by saying, in essence, that the ends – highway safety — justify the means.
A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled against OOIDA late last year, saying the ELD rule addresses the harassment issue by expressly limiting the scope of information that ELDs should track.
The judges also agreed with FMCSA’s contention that trucking is considered a dangerous and a “pervasively regulated industry” under which the right against unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment doesn’t fully apply.
OOIDA filed a petition earlier this year asking the full Seventh Circuit appeals court to rehear the case, but the court refused, leading the association to request that the Supreme Court review the case.
In its Supreme Court filing, OOIDA alleges that FMCSA failed to meet legal thresholds that would allow it to sidestep search and seizure protections in the Fourth Amendment.
The association claims that the Seventh Circuit ruling allows warrantless searches of millions of drivers without any restrictions on the ways the data collected by the ELDs can be used by any law enforcement agency.
This was the second time OOIDA sued the federal government over an ELD mandate. The first time, in 2011, the association successfully challenged the mandate by arguing that it didn’t take potential driver harassment into account.
Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA, told a trucking publication that at that time, the judges had been concerned about all of the arguments raised, not just harassment.
“In our previous case on this issue, the court ruled based on just one of our arguments – harassment,” Spencer said. “This time, we have again raised several issues that should be taken seriously and we hope to have a full review by the court.”
OOIDA also has been pushing its case against ELDs with the federal government, where Republican lawmakers favor rolling back regulations. However, Congress called for the ELD mandate in 2012 with broad Republican support, so it is unclear where they stand on the issue now.
FMCSA announced the ELD rule Dec. 10, 2015. It is scheduled to become effective on Dec. 18.