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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Does § 390.23 create an exemption from the FMCSRs each and every time the delivery of electricity is interrupted, no matter how isolated or minor the occurrence?

Question 1: Does § 390.23 create an exemption from the FMCSRs each and every time the delivery of electricity is interrupted, no matter how isolated or minor the occurrence?

Guidance: The rule creates an exemption from the FMCSRs when interruptions of electricity are severe enough to trigger a declaration of an emergency by a public official authorized to do so. However, utility service vehicles (USV), as defined in 49 CFR 395.2, are exempt from both Federal and State hours-of-service regulations, see 49 CFR 395.1(n). The USV exemption includes vehicles operated by electrical utilities.

An interruption of electricity that does not produce a declaration by a public official is not an emergency for purposes of § 390.23 and does not exempt a motor carrier or driver from the FMCSRs, except as noted above. A call reporting a downed power line, whether directed to the State police or a public utility company, does not create a declared emergency, although drivers of utility service vehicles can respond to a downed power line without complying with Federal or State hours-of-service regulations.

The authority to declare emergencies has been delegated to different officials in the various States. The FMCSA has not attempted to list these officials. In order to utilize the exemption provided by § 390.23, drivers and motor carriers must therefore ascertain that a declaration of an emergency was made by a State or local official authorized to do so.

Regulatory Topic: Applicability of emergency exception to electrical outages
Published Date: Friday, February 28, 2020
Issued Date: Friday, February 28, 2020