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What is a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV)?

What is a commercial motor vehicle?The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has brought forward a lot confusion about whether a specific vehicle and/or operation must comply or is exempt. This blog breaks down each hours-of-service (HOS) exemption and outlines who it applies to.

How Do I Know if the Vehicle is a CMV?

The first order of business is to determine whether or not a vehicle that is being operated in the United States is, in fact, a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

A CMV is a motor vehicle or combination of motor vehicles used in commerce to transport passengers or property if the motor vehicle is a:

Truck on the Road

  1. Combination Vehicle (Group A) — having a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more), whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds), whichever is greater; or

  2. Heavy Straight Vehicle (Group B) — having a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 11,794 or more kilograms (26,001 pounds or more), whichever is greater; or

  3. Small Vehicle (Group C) — that does not meet Group A or B requirements but that either: 
    a) Is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver; or
    b) Is of any size and is used in the transportation of hazardous materials as defined in this section.

If the vehicles meets the definition of a CMV, and is not otherwise under a specific exception or waiver, then a motor carrier can either use paper logs, an electronic system to capture hours-of-service, or an AOBRD or ELD-compliant device depending on specific scenarios.

There are additional exceptions to the regulations that are afforded to different types of operations.

What are These Exceptions and Who Can Use Them?

Below is a table that explains all of the different scenarios that create exceptions for the hours-of-service (HOS) regulations in the United States.

Now that the ELD mandate is in place effective December 18, 2017, the following operators of CMVs will remain exempt from the ELD rule making, but will still have to complete paper logs in compliance with the hours-of-service regulations:

  1. Drivers using paper RODS no more than 8 days out of every 30 day period
  2. Driveaway-towaway drivers who transport empty vehicles intended for sale, lease, or repair, as long as the vehicle they are driving is part of the shipment
  3. Drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000


Type of Exception

Conditions That
Must Be Met

100 Air-Mile Radius

Logbook not required

Report and return to work reporting location within 12 consecutive hours

Stay within 100 air-mile radius of work reporting location

Keep time records showing time in, time out, and total number of hours.

150 Air-Mile Radius

16-hour driving windows allowed twice per 7-day period, or after any 34-hour restart

Logbook not required

Vehicle does not require CDL

Report and return to normal work reporting location every day

Stay within 150 air-mile radius of work reporting location

Keep time records showing time in, time out, and total number of hours

Adverse Weather Conditions

Up to 2 additional hours of driving time

Additional driving time must fall within 14-hour driving window

Weather or traffic condition must be unknown at start of run

Agricultural Operations

All hours-of-service regulations

Transporting agricultural commodities or farm supplies

Within 150 air-miles of farm supplies or commodities origin

During a State’s declared planting and harvesting season

Agricultural (Farm Vehicle) Operations: 10,001 Through 26,000lbs

All hours-of-service regulations among others

Agricultural (Farm Vehicle) Operations: 10,001 through 26,000lbs

Agricultural (Farm Vehicle) Operations: 26,001lbs or Greater

All hours-of-service regulations among others

Driven by the owner or operator of a farm or ranch (or by a family member or employee of that person)

Transporting agricultural commodities, livestock, machinery or supplies to or from the farm or ranch

License plate or some other means of identifying it as a farm vehicle to enforcement personnel

Not for-hire

Not transporting hazardous materials requiring placarding

Anywhere in the vehicle’s home State or extending into another State within a 150 air-mile radius (172.6 land miles) of the operator’s farm or ranch


15 hours of driving time

20 hours of duty time

70 hours/7 days or 80 hours/8 days

Driving a commercial motor vehicle in Alaska

Construction Materials and Equipment

24 consecutive hours off duty restarts

60-hour/7 day or 70-hour/8-day limit

Vehicle used to transport construction and pavement materials, construction equipment, and construction maintenance vehicles

To or from active construction site

Stay within 50 air-miles of normal work reporting location

Does not apply to vehicles placecarded for hazardous materials

Driver Salesperson

60-hour/7-day limit

70-hour/8-day limit

Modified 100 air-mile radius logbook provision

Sell goods or services

Stay within 100 miles of work reporting location

No more than half of all working time spent driving

Driving time does not exceed 40 hours in any 7 consecutive days

Emergency Relief

All hours-of-service regulations, among others


Declared national, regional, State, or local emergency

Emergency Driving Conditions

All hours-of-service regulations

Legal run could have been completed if there was not an emergency

Federal Government Operated

All hours-of-service regulations, among others


Fire and Rescue, Emergency Operation (Non-Government)

All hours-of-service regulations, among others


Ground Water Well Drilling

24 consecutive hours off duty restarts

6-hour/7-day or 70-hour/8-day limit

Vehicle used primarily in transportation and operations of a groundwater well drilling rig

Logging Short Stops

Stops of less than 15 minutes can be flagged

Rounding is not addressed

Multiple On-Duty and driving periods in a city can be aggregated

Stops of 8 minutes or more should be logged as 15 minutes

Stops of less than 8 minutes should be flagged

Multiple On-Duty and driving periods in a city can be aggregated 


Logbook not required

Keep time records showing time in, time out, and total number of hours

Local Government Operated

All hours-of-service regulations, among others

**Intrastate exceptions may be different. Check with State enforcement for details

Movie and Television Production

10 hours driving time

15-hour extendable driving window

 8 consecutive hours off duty

Transportation of property or passengers to or from a theatrical or television or motion picture production site

Stay within 100 air-miles or normal work reporting location

Oilfield Operations

24-hour “restart” of 70 hours in 8 days calculations

CMVs used exclusively in transportation of oilfield equipment and servicing field operations gas and oil industry

Accurate time records must be available for inspection

 Oilfield Operations

Waiting time at natural gas or oil well site not counted as On-Duty time


Specially trained drivers operating specially constructed vehicles used to service gas or oil wells

Waiting time must be shown separately on log


Personal Property Occasional Transportation

All hours-of-service regulations

Transportation unrelated to any commercial activity

Propane Winter Heating Fuel; Pipeline Emergencies

All hours-of-service regulations

Emergency conditions as defined in 390.5

Railroad Signal Employees

All hours-of-service regulations

Provisions do not apply to a signal employee, as defined in §395.2, who operates a commercial motor vehicle, is engaged in installing, repairing, or maintaining signal systems, is employed by a railroad carrier or a contractor or subcontractor to a railroad carrier, while regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration

Retail Store Deliveries

All time limits on driving, duty periods, breaks, time off

Only December 10 through December 25

Local deliveries from retail stores and/ or catalog businesses to the ultimate consumer

Stay within 100 air-miles of normal work reporting location


School Bus
(Contractor Operated)

All hours-of-service regulations 

Transportation of school children and/or school personnel from home to school and from school to home 


School Bus 
(Government Operated)

See “Local government operated” entry above



Short-Haul Exception
(16- hour)

*Also see the “100 air-mile radius driver” and “150 air mile radius driver” entries atbeginning of this table

16-hour duty period allowed once per 7-day period, or after any 34- hour restart 

Return to work reporting location that day and for last 5 duty tours

Be released from duty within 16 consecutive hours

Use once every 7 consecutive days or after a 34-hour restart

Does not apply if driver is eligible for the 150 air-mile radius exception (see above)

 State Government Operated


All hours-of-service regulations, among others


**Intrastate exceptions may be different. Check with State enforcement for details.


Tow Truck Responding to Emergency

All hours-of-service regulations, among others

When responding to government request for wrecked/disabled vehicles

Utility Service Vehicles

All hours-of-service regulations

Vehicle being used to repair, maintain, deliver public utility services including electric, gas, water, sanitary sewer, telephone, television cable, or community antenna service

Includes travel to and from activity sites

Operates primarily within service area of utility’s subscribers or consumers

Does not include any new construction activity


Are You Exempt From the ELD Mandate?

If you don’t qualify for one of the exemptions listed above, it’s time for you and your drivers to achieve ELD compliance! BigRoad’s DashLink ELD is the #1 ELD compliance solution. Why? Because simple and affordable.  For a limited time, we’re offering all new customers 3 months free when they purchase a DashLink ELD, paid upfront, on a one-year term. That’s 15 months for the price of 12! Click the button below to get started now.