Who Enforces Daylight Saving Time?

Old-fashioned alarm clock in a field of flowers.
Spring Ahead, Fall Back.

Does anyone actually enforce daylight saving time?

Well, sure. If you forget to set your clock ahead in the spring and accidentally show up to work an hour late, your boss might have a few choice words about remembering daylight saving time the next time it comes around.

But does any agency or entity actually have the responsibility to regulate daylight saving time across the United States? Believe it or not, yes. It's the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Uniform Time Act of 1966 and later amendments to the daylight saving time law state that the Department of Transportation is "authorized and directed to foster and promote widespread and uniform adoption and observance of the same standard of time within and throughout each such standard time zone."

The department's general counsel describes that authority as "ensuring that jurisdictions observing daylight saving time begin and end on the same date."

So what happens if a rogue state wants to, say, create its own version of daylight saving time? Not gonna happen.

For any violations of the daylight saving time rules, the U.S. Code allows the secretary of transportation to "apply to the district court of the United States for the district in which such violation occurs for the enforcement of this section; and such court shall have jurisdiction to enforce obedience thereto by writ of injunction or by other process, mandatory or otherwise, restraining against further violations of this section and enjoining obedience thereto."

However, the transportation secretary also has the authority to grant exceptions to states whose legislatures request them.

Currently, two states and four territories have received waivers to opt-out of observing Daylight Saving Time and the legislatures of several other states from Alaska to Texas to Florida have at least considered doing so.

Especially in the so-called “hot weather states,” proponents of opting out of Daylight Saving Time argue that doing so helps reduce the effects of the economic and health consequences that come with longer day lengths — including increases is traffic accidents, heart attacks, workplace injuries, crime, and overall energy consumption — while improving residents’ quality of life during dark fall and winter months. 

Opponents of Daylight Saving Time contend that its negative side effects were made even more damaging in 2005 when President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, part of which extended the annual duration of Daylight Saving Time by four weeks.


Since 1968, most of Arizona has not observed Daylight Saving Time. The Arizona legislature reasoned that the desert state already gets enough year-round sunshine and the reduction in temperatures during waking hours justifies opting out of DST by reducing energy costs and conserving natural resources devoted to power generation.

While most of Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time, the 27,000 square mile Navajo Nation, which covers a large swath of the northeastern corner of the state, still “springs ahead and falls back” every year, because parts of it extend into Utah and New Mexico, which still use Daylight Saving Time.


Hawaii opted out of the Uniform Time Act in 1967. Hawaii’s proximity to the equator makes Daylight Saving Time unnecessary since the sun rises and sets on Hawaii around the same time each day.

Based on the same equatorial location as Hawaii, Daylight Saving Time is not observed in the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Most States Now Want to End the DST Switch

As of April 2020, 32 states had proposed legislation to make daylight saving permanent to save more sunshine year-round, while eight other states had passed bills to keep an extra hour of sleep by not “springing forward” every March. However, such changes must be approved by Congress, which has remained reluctant to spend time changing time.

The states proposing to make DST permanent are in agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s contention that more sunshine saves energy while reducing traffic accidents and crime. Also, they argue that people’s natural circadian body rhythms won’t be thrown off kilter by switching into and out of DST every March and November.

On March 11, 2019, Florida's Republican U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, along with Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Florida, re-introduced the Sunshine Protection Act, which would make DST permanent nationwide. Later the same day, President Donald Trump added his support to making DST permanent. “Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!” the president said in a tweet. 

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Murse, Tom. "Who Enforces Daylight Saving Time?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/who-enforces-daylight-saving-time-3321062. Murse, Tom. (2020, August 27). Who Enforces Daylight Saving Time? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/who-enforces-daylight-saving-time-3321062 Murse, Tom. "Who Enforces Daylight Saving Time?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/who-enforces-daylight-saving-time-3321062 (accessed June 5, 2023).