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DOT Vehicle Inspection: What You Need to Know

Mar 02, 2023
DOT Inspections
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Commercial truck drivers often get pulled over by state troopers for a sudden, unexpected inspection. Failing these inspections may result in losing operation rights until violations have been addressed and documented. Understand what happens when you have a DOT vehicle inspection and how you can avoid failing one.

What Happens During a DOT Vehicle Inspection?

The Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) all have a hand in how DOT vehicle inspections occur. The CVSA established a six-level North American Standard Inspection program that sets standards for different types of truck inspections. State troopers may perform any of the six inspections, making it crucial that commercial truck drivers know what to expect with each.

Level One

During a level one inspection, an officer inspects every part of a commercial truck to ensure that all parts function as they should. They’ll check lighting, brakes, cargo securement, and more, along with talking to the driver to check for potential drug or alcohol use.

Level Two

These inspections require officers to only walk around and inspect the exterior of the commercial truck, then ensure the driver has the proper paperwork and licenses.

Level Three

A level three DOT vehicle inspection actually focuses on the driver. The officer may request documentation from the driver, including driver vehicle inspection reports and record of duty status. The officer may also do a time examination, requesting access to the driver’s electronic logging device.

Level Four

Officers use level four inspections to check one specific feature of the vehicle or driver documentation, usually to identify violation trends.

Level Five

Level five inspections consist of an examination to ensure compliance, usually performed at the truck company and without the driver present.

Level Six

This specific inspection for radioactive shipments allows an officer to check that the driver and carrier have followed the proper procedures for transporting hazardous materials.

Outcomes of a Vehicle Inspection

A successful vehicle inspection requires no action on the driver’s part, but if the officer finds small violations, they may allow the driver to go on their way with warnings. However, sometimes the violations are so extreme that the driver may be put out of service until they can address and fix their violations.

How to Avoid DOT Inspection Failures

You can avoid failing a DOT inspection by using these tips:

  • Stay up to date on changes in inspection procedures.
  • Perform regular self-inspections.
  • Keep the interior and exterior as clean as possible.

In addition, trucking companies and individual truckers can implement maintenance programs to catch broken or damaged equipment before an inspecting officer does.

Prepare for DOT Vehicle Inspections with Proper Permits Through FMCA Filings

A significant part of most DOT vehicle inspections involves showing your documentation to the inspecting state trooper. With FMCA Filings, you can ensure you maintain the necessary permits to keep your commercial trucking business on the road. Contact us today to learn more about how we can keep you compliant with DOT and FMCSA regulations.

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