The Commercial Vehicle Safety Administration’s Out of Service criteriais a document every patrol officer and driver should be intimately familiar with. Of particular note is the section on Fatigue. It currently states “When so fatigued that the driver of a commercial motor vehicle should not continue the trip based on reasonable, articulable suspicion… Declare the driver out-of service until no longer fatigued.”
Until April 1st, that used to read “…based on reasonable doubt.” This legal hurdle of “beyond a reasonable doubt” is the foundation for our courts in America. That one little phrase is the difference between a free society of the people, for the people, and a police state where no evidence is needed to prove guilt.
The revision was not only unpopular, but by omitting the phrase “reasonable doubt,” it also infringed on the 4th amendment rights of drivers. Under the revised rules, a police officer could declare a driver out of service and issue a citation without having any proof that the driver was in fact fatigued. No tests needed to be performed, no questions asked. If they looked tired, you could just slap them with a citation and go on your way.
While some law enforcement officers certainly capitalized on this opportunity, many officers showed us that they really are there supporting us and looking out for our rights. The entire Minnesota State Patrol spoke up a few weeks ago, asking the CSVA to revert to the old rules.
Well, the outcry over the revised Out of Service criteria has finally been heard. The CVSA has just announced that they are reverting to the old system based on “reasonable doubt.” This is a hugely important change. Not only does it keep drivers on the road to be able to get the most out of their day, it saves their jobs. A citation like this can seem harmless, but having too many is exactly the sort of thing that can get a driver fired.