The Great Log Book Scam
by, 01.28.2009 at 02.57 PM (1265 Views)
THE GREAT LOGBOOK SCAM
The citizens of the United States of America should never have to keep looking back over their shoulders to see what their Government is up to or what it is doing to them. Their government is supposed to be looking after them – not thinking up ways to trick them into doing things they don’t have to do.
It all started back in the 1930s when the first trucking regulations were promulgated. When it came time to write the section for Status of Duty Report (hereinafter called the logbook), the government assembled the craftiest, most conniving, devious, shrewd, cunning gang who ever wrote a law to fool the American public, that has ever operated in Washington.
No, they weren’t crooks, at least not in the usual meaning of the term. They were well-meaning, dedicated men working hard to make the nation’s highways safe for all. In fact, they were so well-meaning, so dedicated, that they were willing to stretch a few points here and there so that the average truck driver on the road would not have the foggiest notion of just what it was that they were up to. What they were up to, was to have all drivers surrender their Fifth Amendment rights without actually saying they had to surrender their Fifth Amendment rights.
First of all, back in the 1930s when all this came about, there were many drivers who were illiterate, could read very few words, indeed. They could barely handle a road map and a few bills of lading. Add to those almost all of the remainder of the drivers who never took the time or made the effort to get a copy of these new regulations and read them from cover to cover to learn just what the government said and how they said it. The government was so sure that they could slip this scam past the drivers…and they were right – they did slip it past them! To this day, very few drivers have ever read and studied the sections covering the logbook from beginning to end, for if they had, there would be no logbook inspection program today. And because of this shortcoming, the government has been able to get away with the scam. Not only, Shame on Them… but, Shame on Us!
A noted federal judge once said that the American people would be astounded to learn that the citizens who fight and challenge the Federal Government fare much better than the citizens who don’t.
Now, let’s see how the government does this and gets away with it.
WHERE THE SCAM IS TO BE FOUND
Back in the 1930s when this all began, it MIGHT have happened this way:
The committee that was assembled to write the regulations was probably gathered in some long, narrow room that no one else happened to be using at the time. They were all seated on the same side of a very long, highly polished, wooden table. Across from them was a blank, white wall – blank except for two words painted on it in fire engine red paint that ran from the floor to the ceiling and from one end to the other. The painted words were:
They were just about to start on the section of the regulations that covers the logbook: 395.8. They were worried; they were concerned. They squirmed in their seats and stared at the wall and the forbidding letters like they were the Commandments chiseled on tablets of stone. These two words demanded every bit as much obedience from them as the original stone tablets that came down the mountainside.
They didn’t like those two words…well, as Americans, they did like those words. It was just that those two words bothered them, greatly. They all ferverently wished the words would just go away. They were going to ruin everything!
What the Committee wanted was to make all truck drivers fill out a logbook so that the law enforcement officers could keep track of all of their activities: driving, sleeping and working. They felt they had to do this so as to make the highways safe, by ensuring that all drivers got the proper amount of rest. But…here were these two words; they were going to wreck all the efforts of this committee. They made suggestions; they argued; they discussed; they sighed and they groaned. But the words would not go away. What to do?
After an entire morning of this, it finally happened – a breakthrough! The clouds parted and the bright sun shone through, majestically. They could almost hear a heavenly chorus.
Way down at the far left end of the table, in the last chair, sat a young man, the least important person in the room. His hair was uncombed; he wore horn-rimmed spectacles, red suspenders, a red bow tie and red socks. His right hand, clutching a No. 2 yellow pencil, shot into the air and began waving frantically.
“Oooh, oooh, I know, I know!”
All the senior members of the committee snapped their heads to the left in unison, two of them getting whiplash. Their mouths all dropped open. They were aghast. Who was that insignificant person sitting way down there on the end? Had someone given him permission to speak? No one knew his name. No one had noticed his entering the room. And now, this bespectacled, red-bow-tied person was claiming to have the answer to the QUESTION…the question that had been bothering all of them for weeks…the question that was blocking all their good work…the question that posed a seemingly insurmountable barricade to all their dedicated, hard work. A crunching hush fell over the entire room. No one spoke. No one could think of anything to say. They continued to stare.
The silence became almost painful – embarrassing. They all felt fidgety, squirmy. Finally, the young man took it upon himself to break the quiet…took it upon himself to lead his people out of the wilderness where they had been slogging and limping along for so many weeks. He would lead them to the promised-land.
‘We’ll just write the regulation in such a way that no one will actually understand it or even suspect what we are up to. We can make all of them think that we are telling them that they must keep a log book. They’ll never know that, if we did do that, it would be a violation of their Fifth Amendment rights.
The entire committee, as one man, gasped! The sharp intake of breaths almost created a small windstorm in the room. Papers fluttered; pencils rolled; the window shades rattled; the Stars and Stripes, standing majestically in one corner, quivered a bit. They looked at the young man as if he had just stepped off the planet Jupiter. They looked at each other, mouths still open. All eyes were as big as saucers, almost popping out of their heads. Then, a tiny light bulb went on behind each of those eyes and suddenly glowed brilliantly. A cunning, angelic smile began to form on each face. He’s got it! By Jove, I think he’s got it. They got it! They were saved!
Then the face at the head of the table frowned a bit.
‘Uh…just how would we do that?’ he asked the young man. All the other heads nodded as one and swiveled left in unison – they wanted to know, too.
‘Well, we can’t make them keep a log book because of the Fifth Amendment; but, we can make the trucking companies do the dirty deed! The companies have no Fifth Amendment protection.’
More gasps; more light bulbs went on; the room was brilliantly lit; the smiles came back. This was getting better and better!
And so, the bright young man was summoned to the head of the table, from whence he revealed everything to his people.
‘You see,’ he began, slowly, as if speaking to a kindergarten class, ‘the whole scam will be in the very first sentence of Section 395.8… right up front where no one will notice. Everyone will just skip over it quickly and, really, never pay any attention to it. We’ll just hide it in the best place possible…right out in plain sight…right under their noses.’
…AND SO IT WAS WRITTEN
§395.8 Driver's record of duty status.
(a) Except for a private motor carrier of passengers (non-business), every motor carrier shall require every driver used by the motor carrier to record his/her duty status for each 24 hour period using the methods prescribed in either paragraphs (a)(1) or (2) of this section.
This is where the entire foundation of the Log Book is laid. This is where the tone
is set for the remainder of the section.
One very important factor must be kept in mind at all times. In the paragraph quoted above, it is the U.S. Government speaking, even though the words are written out. The Government is not saying that it is requiring all drivers to keep a log book. The Government is not talking to any driver at all! The Government is talking directly to the trucking companies, and it is telling the companies that the Government is requiring them to do the dirty work – requiring the companies to require all of their drivers to keep a log book.
Everyone has heard all the horror stories about mass murderers, bank robbers, crooked politicians and corporate executives, etc. getting off scott free – just because someone didn’t dot all the “i”s and cross all the “t”s. This is practically the same thing.
Now then, the companies turn around, having been instructed by the Government, and tell all of their drivers that they are required, by the trucking company, to keep a log book. Once the company says that, it becomes no more than a Company Rule to each driver, just like the other rules a company may issue to its drivers to: call into the office each morning by 9 A.M.; to present each truck to the maintenance department for scheduled maintenance; to get the truck washed once a week; to turn in all bills of lading on time, etc. etc.
None of these Company Rules has the might and force of the U.S. Government behind them. No driver can be ticketed or prosecuted by the Government for breaking or ignoring a Company Rule.
The remainder of the sections in the logbook (395. is directed to the trucking companies, to tell them what the Government wants them to tell their drivers about how to fill out each sheet to show times out of service, rest times, meal times, times of delay or breakdown, etc. Remember, these are not instructions or regulations to you as a driver. Since the Government does not tell you that you must keep a logbook, it cannot tell you how to keep a logbook that you’re not required to have.
ALL LAWS MUST BE OBEYED
It must be absolutely clear to all drivers that they must obey all driving laws regarding speed on the highways, hours of service, maximum hours a driver can work in twenty-four hours, hours of rest, etc. This is to ensure the safety of the truck drivers themselves and all the driving public who share our nation’s highways with them. No one wants to be on a highway with a truck driver who is so fatigued that he keeps nodding off in the driver’s seat and may, at any moment, drive his big rig across the median strip and hit us head on.
This expose of the way the U.S. Government has scammed all the truckers in this country, in no way suggests or implies that any of the legitimate regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations should not be obeyed by all drivers.
This booklet addresses just the fact that no driver is required by the U.S. Government to keep a logbook and thereby unwittingly surrender his Fifth Amendment Rights under the Constitution.
AUDIT THE COMPANY RECORDS
If a driver does decide to keep a log book, but decides not to surrender it to any DOT inspecting officer, he may do so and be perfectly legal. To maintain good relations with his employer, the driver would then fill out the log book sheet in the manner that the company has directed him, (under the Company Rules). The DOT agency would then have to make an appointment with the trucking company and go to the company offices where they would then make an audit of the driver’s log sheets. The company cannot refuse the DOT access to those records because the company does not enjoy the same protection under the Fifth Amendment that the driver does.
Of course, we all know that the very first thing the Government would do, would be to lean on the trucking company – and lean very, very hard. The chips are down now, so the Government people would rather fall on their swords or jump in front of a speeding locomotive than to let a driver get away with this and bring the whole Log Book Inspection Scheme crashing down around their shoulders in a great pile of dust and end the Great Log Book Scam once and for all. But – no trucking company can coerce any driver to surrender his Fifth Amendment rights if that driver does not want to do so. Any company attempting such coercion would lay itself wide open to a very serious legal action from the driver.
DOT HAD TO CALL THE COMPANY
At one inspection point one afternoon, on I-70 a driver refused to surrender his logbook to an Ohio DOT inspector. There were four other drivers in line awaiting their turns. The shift sergeant immediately came over and began huffing and puffing about the refusal. He knew that all the drivers waiting in line could hear him and he didn’t want any of them to think that a driver could refuse to surrender his logbook and get away with it. He threatened the naughty driver with shutting down the entire company fleet of several hundred trucks (a very illegal thing to say!). He would shut down the whole company. Then he said he would call in the Feds and they would get things straighten out in a hurry. He asked the driver if his company knew what he was doing, in refusing to let his logbook be inspected. Then he demanded that the driver call the home office safety supervisor so that the sergeant could talk to him. When he got the safety man on the phone, he explained what was happening and with very subtle threats suggested that the safety man talk to the driver and get him sorted out, pronto. He then handed the phone to the driver. The driver told the safety man that he would call him later on from farther down the road and hung up the phone. The sergeant almost went into orbit.
Now comes the interesting part. Why did the sergeant huff and puff? Why didn’t he just write up a ticket for the naughty driver? Because he knew he couldn’t! Why did the sergeant threaten to shut down the whole company? Why didn’t he just write up a ticket. Because he knew he couldn’t. Why did the sergeant demand to speak to the safety supervisor in the office? Why didn’t he just write a ticket and settle the whole matter himself? Because he knew he had absolutely no authority to do so, no legal leg to stand on. Since when does a DOT inspector need someone else to do his work for him? A DOT officer, when he’s on solid ground, can write a ticket immediately, and handle the entire matter himself, on the spot – he never has to search around for some else to help him out and do the job for him! He absolutely knew that there wasn’t a thing he could do and he was desperately trying to save face in front of the other drivers. He was unsuccessful.
It has also been noticed many times that drivers will refuse to surrender logbooks to DOT inspectors on the grounds that it violates their Fifth Amendment rights. One driver, a retired navy helicopter pilot, always wrote across the front cover of his logbook, “Surrendered Under Protest. Fifth Amendment Rights Are Violated.” He would then hand over the logbook to the officer with many glaring mistakes and omissions on the sheets. Never once did an inspector write him up. They simply pointed out the mistakes to him and returned the logbook. They do not want to go to court with a case involving the Fifth Amendment.
GET STONEWALLED BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT
A driver once decided to ask the Government directly… point blank. Over a span of several years, on a number of different occasions, he would write to the Federal Highway Administration and ask them to cite the exact line, paragraph and section in the Regulations where it specifically stated that the Government required all drivers to keep a logbook.
Some letters were completely ignored. Then he started to send his letters via Certified Letter, Return Receipt Requested. Then he started to get letters from the Government in return because now there was an official record of his letter being sent to them and they could not deny receiving it. However… they would not state exactly where the Regulations required a driver to keep a logbook. They know there is no such regulation, but they cannot admit it.
Then the driver decided to ask his congressman to write the Federal Highway Administration and ask the same question and…wouldn’t you know it…they stonewalled the congressman too! – it would never give him a straight answer.
PROVE ALL OF THIS FOR YOURSELVES
Every driver can prove this for himself.
There are drivers who have been on the road for so long and are such old-timers, they have been fed a steady diet of this logbook scam for so many years that it has really become a part of their subconscious minds, that they simply cannot believe their government could be responsible for these slight-of-hand shenanigans. They have become members of The Flat Earth Society. As you already know, the people of The Flat Earth Society absolutely refuse to believe that the earth is round, no matter what evidence is presented to the contrary. They know, with complete certainty, that the earth cannot be round because they have stood on a small hill and have seen the land stretch out before them in a flat plain. They are much like the people who refuse to believe that the Nazis operated concentration camps where millions of people were imprisoned, gassed and cremated. Anything else is pure propaganda, pictures, testimony and all.
These drivers are just as certain that all drivers are required to keep logbooks because DOT inspectors have told them so. They can now write to the Federal Government themselves and learn the Truth.
The proof is not in what the Government says in its answer… the proof is found in what the Government does not say.
Here is the address to write:
U.S. Department of Transportation
400 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20590
Insist that they quote chapter and verse just where the Regulations state that the Federal Government requires a driver to keep a log book. Be prepared for the old, fast, McGuffey Shuffle.