Hours of Service

What is the 30-minute Break Rule?

The 30-minute break rule is a part of the larger federal Hours of Service rules that apply to property-carrying commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.  

This post explains the 30-minute break rule, along with when and how it applies.

The 30-minute break rule

The 30-minute break rule says that CMV drivers cannot drive for more than 8 hours in a shift before taking a break of at least 30 consecutive minutes.  

The 8 driving hours do not have to be consecutive during a work shift — they are cumulative driving hours.

What is the purpose of the 30-minute break rule?

The 30-minute break rule is designed to promote alertness by requiring drivers to stop and get out from behind the wheel of the CMV, in order to break up a lengthy driving period.

Must a driver be off-duty during his/her 30-minute break?

No. 

The break requirement can be satisfied by any non-driving period of 30 consecutive minutes or more.  

It means the driver could be on-duty but not driving (e.g., getting fuel, checking the security of the load), off-duty, in his/her sleeper berth, or any combination of these if they are consecutive. 

A good example is a driver that stops for 5 minutes to get coffee, spends 10 minutes answering messages from the carrier, and then goes into the sleeper berth to take a 15-minute power nap.

If a driver only drives about 6-7 hours in a 12-hour shift, does the 30-minute break rule apply?

No. If a driver does not accumulate 8 hours of driving time during a shift, the 30-minute break does not need to be taken.

Companies may, however, have policies in place that require drivers to take a break before accumulating 8 driving hours.