The unanimous decision confirms FMCSA’s authority to review state commercial vehicle rules.
Arlington, Virginia – Today, American Trucking Associations hailed a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upholding the federal preemption of the state of California’s meal and rest break rules as they apply to truck drivers subject to federal hours-of-service regulations.
“The Court’s ruling is a victory for common sense over bureaucracy and the plaintiffs bar,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “When the Department of Transportation preempted California’s rules, it was a victory for highway safety, ensuring that there is one uniform standard for trucking regulations. By upholding DOT’s authority to be the sole regulator of interstate trucking, the Ninth Circuit is preventing states and trial lawyers from creating a costly and inefficient patchwork of competing rules.”
In 2018, after bipartisan efforts to enact a legislative fix failed, ATA petitioned the U.S. Department of Transportation to preempt California’s meal and rest break rule, preventing them from being enforced against interstate truck drivers, noting the rules would force those drivers to comply with two competing sets of hours-of-service rules.
Today’s unanimous ruling by the Ninth Circuit found that not only does the federal government have the authority to review and preempt state safety rules, but the three-judge panel agreed with the DOT’s conclusion that “federal regulations adequately and more appropriately balanced the competing interests between safety and economic burden,” than allowing states to impose a patchwork of competing regulations.
“We hope this ruling sends a strong message to other states that they are not allowed to impose additional regulatory burdens on interstate commerce,” Spear said. “We thank DOT and the Court for upholding the principle that federal regulatory primacy is critical for maintaining safe and efficient transportation.”