Can CDL Drivers Claim Personal Sovereignty Rights?

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Daniel B.'s Comment
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Guy,

Doing a little digging on the net, the number of miles exempted from logging seems to be 100, not 150 miles. If something has changed, where the exemption is now 150 miles, could you give me a citation for that? That would make a huge difference, as google maps seems to say that the **road** miles distance from Roseville, CA to Reno, NV is 115 miles (so air miles should be less). Thanks again for your help.

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Why did you use the example Roseville, CA to Reno, NV? Do you live in Roseville?

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Daniel B, yes, I live and work in Roseville. Actually, I just looked up the latitude and longitude coordinates for both Roseville, CA and Reno, NV on Google. I then went to the NOAA site that gives the distance between the two sets of coordinates, and found there was 83 nautical miles between the two cities. However, I'm sure they'd find a way to nail you for that, so it's best to just do your logbooks, and be done with it.

PS: Watch out for that CHP scale/inspection station at Donner Summit. The cop in the jumpsuit is a first-class butthead. On the other hand, the CHP scale/inspection station between Sac and Fairfield was very polite. When I got the right-arrow to pull over, a cop came out and apologized that the arrow was stuck from the previous truck.

Haha wow man! We are like neighbors. I live in Antelope, off exit 100 on 80. Been here for 21 years now. I used to work at that Lowes on pleasant grove in Roseville for 3 years and at the sams club in Roseville.

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

Jersey Mike's Comment
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Perhaps some of you have heard of car drivers claiming "the common law right to travel", and signing tickets with "without prejudice, all common law rights reserved, no contract" above their signature on the ticket. CDL drivers are,of course, "driving in commerce", so I'm wondering whether or not they can do the sorts of things I mentioned.

In short: No.

The "personal sovereignty" theory has no legal basis. Every court that has dealt with the issue has rejected these contentions, most frequently in the context of tax cases. You may recall actor Wesley Snipes tried this approach to evade federal taxes; he got three years in the slammer.

If you would like to see how much credence a federal appellate court gives to this argument, check out United States v. Schneider (no, not the trucking company), 910 F.2d 1569 (7th Cir. 1990). Courts usually come down hard pretty hard on "sovereign citizen" defendants. To quote influential 7th Circuit Judge Richard Posner in Schneider: "Persons who do not merely violate the law, but flout it, can expect to be punished more severely than persons who do not thus season their criminality with effrontery."

While the idea of asserting personal sovereignty seems attractive when dealing with a seemingly ever increasing percentage of arrogant law enforcement personnel, be careful. Cops around the country have a had a number of run-ins with "sovereign citizens," with some fatalities. (See, e.g., two West Memphis police officers gunned down in 2010.) The word is out among the law enforcement community. Advancing a sovereignty argument with the authorities is unlikely to persuade and could backfire.

Best advice when dealing with law enforcement on the road: stay cool, respectful, and reasonable. You have almost no leverage out there. Better to live to drive another day.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Starcar's Comment
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Having been a LEO...I'll give you my take on it. Be polite, answer truthfully, and look the officer in the eye. Basically, if you flunk the attitude test, you WILL get a ticket, or more.

Eddie F.'s Comment
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Thanks very much, Jersey Mike and Starcar.

There always will be cops who will look to bait or taunt a driver into losing his cool and saying something stupid. When I went through the California Highway patrol scale at Donner Summit, the technician who inspected the truck and my log commented, out of the blue, "I bet you guys would like to get home sooner than later". On the other hand, the Nevada Highway Patrol cop that stopped me was not only polite but even helpful. In the case with the CHP at Donner Summit, I think that the uniform cop at the desk basically told the technician to back off. Fortunately, no ticket in either case.

The Nevada cop did mention that they pay special attention to rental trucks on the road.

A former Contra Costa County (California) sheriff's deputy that I met made a point of telling me to be careful of the CHP - that they had a reputation of being head-busters.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

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