NY: Requirement of electronic logging devices of hours trucks are driven is reasonable under NY Const.

Electronic logging devices required under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration adopted in New York survive a facial challenge. “We hold that the warrantless inspections authorized by the regulations fall within the administrative search exception to the warrant requirement and do not constitute unreasonable searches and seizures under article I, § 12 of the State Constitution.” Hours of operation of a truck have been pervasively regulated for safety reasons. Matter of Owner Operator Indep. Drivers Ass’n, Inc. v. N.Y. State Dep’t of Transp., 2023 NY Slip Op 03184, 2023 N.Y. LEXIS 911 (June 13, 2023):

However, as this Court explained in People v Keta, the heightened level of protection against unreasonable searches contained in New York’s Constitution requires courts to examine whether the regulatory scheme authorizing the search is merely a pretext “‘to give the police an expedient means of enforcing penal sanctions'” (79 NY2d at 498). Keta involved the constitutionality of Vehicle and Traffic Law § 415—a (5) (a), which “authorize[d] the police to conduct random warrantless searches of vehicle dismantling businesses to determine whether such businesses [were] trafficking in stolen automobile parts” (id. at 492). Although the U.S. Supreme Court had held previously in People v Burger (482 U.S. 691, 107 S. Ct. 2636, 96 L. Ed. 2d 601 [1987]) that the statute did not violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, we concluded that the statute failed to meet the “exception to the warrant and probable cause requirements embodied in article I, § 12” of our State’s Constitution (Keta, 79 NY2d at 499).

We reasoned as follows:

“While a precise and all-encompassing definition of what constitutes a ‘pervasive’ regulatory scheme is not possible, such minimal regulatory requirements as the obligations to register with the government, to pay a fee and to maintain certain prescribed books and records are not, in themselves, sufficient. Indeed, in modern society, many trades and businesses are subject to licensing, bookkeeping and other similar regulatory measures. If the existence of such relatively nonintrusive obligations were sufficient, few businesses would escape being labeled “closely regulated,” and warrantless, suspicionless general inspections of commercial premises would become the rule rather than the exception” (id. at 499).

Unlike the regulatory scheme at issue in Keta, which instituted bookkeeping obligations for the pretextual purpose of uncovering “automobile theft” (79 NY2d at 500), the ELD rule is a refinement of this State’s decades-long regulation of commercial vehicle drivers’ hours of service. It is designed to respond to widespread and longstanding falsification of records and errors under the old system of using paper records to document hours of service. Consequently, the ELD rule is encompassed within the long tradition of pervasive governmental regulation of the commercial trucking industry whose purpose is to ensure the safety of motorists traveling on our public highways.

This entry was posted in Administrative search, State constitution. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.