Commercial Truck Drivers are aware of the legal requirement to fill out logbooks accurately. All commercial truck drivers should have been taught in the truck driving training program they completed about the importance of keeping accurate logbooks. Some trucking companies may encourage their drivers to lie about their daily routine and even to keep two logbooks in the truck. Veteran drivers are well aware of the potential consequences of falsifying logbooks. However, new drivers may be swayed by their employer to lie. However, those drivers who choose to lie on their logbooks may face life changing consequences if they are caught.
The majority of accidents which involve heavy trucks are the fault of the driver of the passenger vehicle, not the truck driver. However, if a heavy truck is involved in an accident the Dept. of Transportation will investigate. If the occupants of the passenger vehicle hire an attorney and file a lawsuit, one of the first things their attorney will do is to get copies of the drivers logbooks and trip receipts. If discrepancies are found the driver may face fines, penalties and even jail time.
Even if the truck driver is not at fault, plaintiff’s attorneys have won judgments against the driver and the trucking company based on the fact that at the time the accident occurred the driver didn’t have any legal driving hours available. Therefore, the attorney will argue that the accident could have not occurred if the driver had not been at that specific location at that specific time. This argument usually prevails because the driver should have not even been on the road if he/she didn’t have any legal driving hours available.
Depending upon the severity of the accident the driver could get fines, penalties and even jail time. Trucking companies can also be convicted if proved to be part of a scheme to deliberately falsify logbooks.
Examples of penalties imposed for false logbooks are as follows:
A North Caroling trucking company was sentenced to five years probation, a $35,000 fine and a $400.00 special assessment fee for making false statements to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regarding their drivers’ hours of service.
A California driver was convicted for causing a four-vehicle collision, killing a father and his 13 year old son and seriously injuring six others. He was sentenced for falsifying his log book entries and served jail time. The owners of the trucking company he was employed by were investigated and subsequently ordered to inactivate their DOT numbers, dissolve the company and each pay a $50,000 fine because they were proved to be knowingly aiding and abetting their drivers false log book schemes.
All drivers should be aware that in the event of an accident their logbooks will be inspected. The trucking company’s log books will also be inspected. Other items which will be inspected include EZ Pass, toll receipts, fuel receipts, restaurant receipts and any other receipts to verify if you were where you said you were at the recorded time prior to the accident. These receipts have traceable “time/date stamps” and should always match. If they don’t match you will be held accountable because you are the driver who signed the logbook and verified that the information stated was true and correct.