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California Meal and Rest Break Rules Are Preempted by Federal Law for Property-Carrying Truck Drivers

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) recently ruled that California’s meal and rest break rules are preempted by the Motor Carrier Safety Act (“MCSA”), 49 U.S.C. § 31141, as applied to property-carrying commercial motor vehicle drivers covered by the FMCSA’s hours of service regulations. The MCSA proscribes certain requirements for commercial motor vehicles operating in interstate commerce, including specific daily driving limits and a required 30-minute, off duty break no later than eight hours after coming on duty. The FMCSA found that California’s meal and rest break requirements, which require a 30-minute, off duty meal period no later than the end of the employee’s fifth hour of work and off duty 10-minute rest break every four hours, provided no additional safety benefit beyond the benefit already provided by the MCSA regulations, were incompatible with the MCSA regulations, and placed an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce. Therefore, the FMCSA found that the California meal and rest break rules are preempted by federal law.