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Can You Refuse a DOT Inspection?

Written by Nick Webster

Published on Dec. 11, 2023, 4:07 p.m.


“Can you refuse a DOT inspection?” is a very important question asked by drivers and carriers in the trucking industry. The answer is yes; you can refuse to take part in a DOT inspection. But major repercussions will likely occur when you say you will not comply with the inspection. What will most likely happen is written below. Visit Level 1 DOT Inspection.

What Happens Once I Refuse a DOT Inspection?

The officer will explain the inspection process to you, including instructions for hand signals, paperwork, and the proper use of safety equipment. Refusing to assist with a DOT inspection can have severe consequences for your company—it could result in multiple out-of-service orders against their CVSA score, which will cause insurance premiums to increase. You must understand this information before deciding whether or not to comply. Read here about Starting a Trucking Company Correctly.

If you do not cooperate by allowing the inspector to complete the inspection, all lights, brakes, steering components, and more will be marked as violations or out of service. This means that until every violation is addressed and fixed, you won't be able to drive your truck. If you are caught driving with an unaddressed OOS order, it could result in a substantial fine both for you and your company per day of driving without fixing the issue. That's a major reason to take care of any OOS orders before hitting the road. Read about Texas DOT Numbers and USDOT Numbers. Learn here How to Prepare for a Compliance DOT Audit.

Officers are not allowed to operate your CMV for you if you refuse to do so. This is a liability risk, and the officer could be held responsible for any damage caused to your truck, or previous damage that they may get blamed for during an inspection. There are certain exceptional circumstances under which an inspector can operate the CMV (brake, lights, etc.), but this does not occur during regular roadside inspections. You must visit the link.

What Are DOT Inspections?

To help ensure our roads are safe, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) performs rigorous inspections on commercial motor vehicles and their parts to ensure everything is in working order. Truck drivers must understand the different inspection levels and what violations they may encounter to prepare themselves and their equipment better. You can learn more about DOT inspections right here on our website, so you're never caught off guard! What is a DOT Audit?

What Happens During a Standard DOT Truck Inspection?

Here is what happens at an average DOT truck inspection anywhere in the country:

  • An overall visual inspection of the truck and its components, such as tires, brakes, horns, lights, and mirrors.
  • Checks for proper operation of airbrakes and antilock braking systems.
  • Examination of the vehicle frame for cracks or damage.
  • Inspect cargo securement equipment and devices to ensure all loads are properly secured.
  • Verify that the truck carries valid registration documents and an up-to-date medical card from a certified doctor.
  • Measurement of exhaust emissions to ensure they are within acceptable standards set by law.
  • Reviewing driver logbooks to ensure compliance with HOS regulations. Visit DOT Regulations.
  • Auditing of the driver’s credentials. How To Request the DOT PIN Number?

Other Than DOT Officers, Who Has the Authority To Conduct Inspections?

Each state’s Department of Transportation officials work together with other groups and organizations to ensure that commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) comply with applicable laws and regulations. These DOT-approved entities collaborate closely to carry out safety inspections and make sure carriers and drivers are held accountable:

What Takes Place After DOT Inspections?

If the official finds that no violations have been committed, a CVSA decal will be affixed to the vehicle. This decal is valid for up to three months and proves that both the driver and equipment have passed inspection. As long as this decal remains visible on the commercial motor vehicle, it should not be subject to further review unless there are signs of an issue.

If an officer finds something violating regulations but not so severe that it would be placed Out-of-Service, the vehicle can still continue to operate. However, the violations will still count against the carrier (or potentially the driver) and may affect CSA scores. The repairs must be made within 15 days of the inspection, and a report must be signed by the carrier and sent to FMCSA confirming all repairs were completed on time. Complying with these requirements promptly is critical to maintain your safety rating. Visit the DOT Authority Package, which contains tips to prepare for 2022 DOT Week filings in minutes.

If a vehicle or driver is placed Out of Service (OOS), it means that they have committed a severe violation that poses a risk to other road users. Until all violations have been rectified and recorded, the vehicle or driver cannot resume operations. Therefore, an OOS status should be taken seriously and addressed promptly to ensure the safety of everyone on the roads. Sound safety practices are essential for keeping drivers and vehicles compliant with regulations. Taking action now will help you avoid costly penalties in the future! How do you get an Oregon Trip And Fuel Permit?

What Are the Most Common DOT Inspection Violations?

A driver or commercial motor vehicle (CMV) can be placed out of service if any violations are found. This means another driver needs to come and take over the truck. To avoid putting your vehicles in violation, it is crucial to stay up-to-date with the most common violations and maintain the necessary documentation on hand. If a breach occurs, you can repair it onsite or tow it away. Must visit FMCSA Hours of Service Suspended topics.

Knowing these common violations can help drivers and carriers keep their vehicles in compliance, so no one gets put OOS unexpectedly. Common offenses committed by drivers include:

  • Logging violations, such as failing to record required hours of service
  • not possessing or having an expired medical card
  • holding an invalid or expired driver’s license
  • not wearing a seat belt
  • exceeding the federally mandated Hours of Service (HOS) laws. Importance of The FMCSA 30-Minute Break Rule.

Violations of CMV regulations can be costly and destructive to the safety of other drivers. Common infractions include:

  • lights that are not functioning
  • tires with tread depths below 2/32 of an inch
  • leaks in oil, grease, transmission fluid, or fuel
  • a lack of current annual inspection on file
  • improperly loaded cargo
  • discharged or unsecured fire extinguishers

How Can I Prepare for DOT Inspections?

Both drivers and carriers must prepare for DOT inspections ahead of time. This can help ensure the inspection process runs smoothly and is completed promptly. To get ready, make sure to:

  • clean your equipment inside and out
  • create an effective preventive maintenance program to keep vehicles in good operating condition
  • conduct pre-, en route- and post-trip inspections to check for any issues,
  • display your company name and USDOT number clearly on the truck
  • familiarize yourself with inspection protocols
  • secure all shipments appropriately. Commissioners add to the CDL program.

With these steps taken care of beforehand, DOT inspections will typically take less than an hour when done correctly. Also, take a look at the Drug and Alcohol Program policy. What is DOT Clearinghouse Enforcement?

What Is the CVSA International Road Check?

During the 72 hours of intensive truck inspections, officers from the DOT and state troopers stop and examine hundreds of drivers and their vehicles for any violations. This event is all about promoting commercial driver and CMV operation safety. Since it was started, over 1.5 million roadside checks have been conducted throughout North America. The CVSA strives to ensure that all road users adhere to safety regulations while traveling. Through this tight enforcement period, they hope to improve overall road safety. You will need driver qualification files filed out by all employees who drive for you working. Also, take a look at what IRP or Apportioned Registration is.

Key Points: Can I Refuse DOT Inspections?

  • Yes, you can refuse DOT inspections—but serious consequences will occur.
  • Refusal could result in multiple out-of-service orders against their CVSA score.
  • Your insurance premiums will increase.
  • The vehicle will be marked as OOS: out of service.
  • You and your carrier will each receive fines and penalties.
  • There's a strong chance that you will lose your job.
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