OOIDA argues in New York’s Highest Court: ELDs violate privacy protections under State Constitution.

Judges question the need for location data.

On May 17, 2023, attorneys for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Inc. (OOIDA) and three of its operator members argued to the New York Court of Appeals—the state’s highest court—that ELDs violate operators’ privacy rights protected by the New York State Constitution. In OOIDA et al. v. NY State Dep’t of Transportation et al., CullenLaw’s Charles R. Stinson explained that the New York Constitution provides greater privacy protections than those afforded by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. For that reason, OOIDA’s counsel said the state can’t track operators’ HOS compliance with ELDs unless it first gets a warrant or enacts procedures that protect drivers’ privacy.

Privacy in New York

The New York Court of Appeals has declared on several occasions that Article 1, Section 12 of the New York Constitution goes beyond the Fourth Amendment when it comes to protecting against government intrusions on individuals’ privacy. The Court of Appeals has also left no doubt that, in the areas of (1) GPS tracking and (2) warrantless regulatory inspections, New York’s Constitution is more demanding than the Fourth Amendment. Because ELDs enable the government to use warrantless GPS tracking to keep tabs on drivers’ conduct, the New York Constitution’s substantial privacy protections weigh heavily on the legality of ELDs in New York.

OOIDA’s New York ELD Challenge

OOIDA has challenged New York’s adoption of the ELD mandate into state law. As in other states, New York state roadside inspectors are only legally authorized to enforcing New York law, not federal law. OOIDA based its claims primarily on the substantial privacy protections afforded by the New York state constitution—specifically Article 1, Section 12—noting that the state must adopt procedures (or secure warrants) to protect operators’ privacy before using GPS to monitor their hours of service. OOIDA made clear to the court that commercial trucks are much more than mere business premises, and HOS monitoring is much more invasive than typical regulatory requirements. Indeed, trucks frequently serve as a trucker’s home away from home, and HOS rules are specifically designed to monitor a driver’s activity and physical condition.

These features of the trucking industry and ELDs mean that ELD monitoring cannot be completed without a warrant as is the case in typical administrative inspection schemes. But the trial court and the intermediate appellate court rejected OOIDA’s claims and granted the government’s motion to dismiss. Those courts accepted DOT’s argument that the state doesn’t need a warrant to use GPS to track drivers’ hours of service because interstate trucking is a pervasively regulated industry, and the ELD rules sufficiently protect drivers’ privacy interests.

OOIDA continued to advance truckers’ privacy interests to the state’s highest court, stressing that the demands of interstate trucking require truckers to give up time away from home and families and convert truckers’ “business premises” into homes and personal vehicles. In September 2022, the Court of Appeals granted review and the briefing proceeded.

During oral argument, the judges of the Court were particularly focused on the reason or reasons the state needs to collect the location information that ELDs record, and how that information might be used by the state. Mr. Stinson responded that the judges had highlighted one of the more problematic aspects of the statute that requires truckers to install ELDs: the law does not specify how the location information is necessary or how it may be used by the state.

The case has been submitted and is awaiting decision from the court.

For more information, please contact info@cullenlaw.com

The briefs filed in this case are available for review:



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