OOIDA asks Supreme Court to review ELD decision

Dive Brief:

  • The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday asking the judicial branch to review its case against electronic logging devices (ELDs), which was denied by the 7th Court of Appeals in October.
  • The Association believes that mandated ELDs violate truckers' Fourth Amendment rights and constitute "warrantless searches" to "uncover evidence of criminal activity," according to a press release.
  • If heard, the high court would review the 7th Circuit Court's decision to uphold the ELD mandate. The OOIDA claims the court's decision is inconsistent with previous rulings by other circuit courts.

Dive Insight:

The OOIDA has fought the ELD mandate on constitutional grounds and lack of evidence for over a decade, but the battle seemed lost in October when the Chicago circuit court upheld the rule. After the ruling, the OOIDA pledged to continue fighting the rule up to the Supreme Court.

Last week's petition is the first step in that process, yet hopes remain dim for the opposition. The Supreme Court receives hundreds of petitions each year, but only hears a fraction of the cases. The OOIDA previously petitioned the 7th Circuit Court to rehear its case with little success.

ELD opponents may have a dash of hope with the new administration, however. President Donald Trump's Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch was recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate, adding another conservative voice to the high court, and one who has "voted vigorously to enforce Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures," George Washington law professor Jeffrey Rosen recently wrote in The Atlantic.  In addition, the administration's deregulatory stance may provide an opening for ELD opponents to make a case for cutting the proposed rule altogether.

At its heart, the battle over mandatory ELDs is tied to cultural and economic implications. The device seeks to accurately track hours driven and replace paper logbooks, which can be easily falsified. Increased compliance with controversial hours of service regulations would increase road safety but diminishes drivers' agency. Some industry professionals fear the rule would also lead to a short-term freight capacity crunch, as non-compliant trucks lag in installing the technology and truckers drive less hours. 

Yet, absent signs of an overturn of the rule, the industry appears ready to adapt by end of 2017. 

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Filed Under: Logistics Technology