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Can I challenge the results of an FMCSA inspection?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducts periodic roadside inspections of commercial trucks and buses to ensure public safety. Any violation on your record with the FMCSA can have a negative impact on your career as well as single you out for further intervention from the agency’s Compliance, Safety & Accountability (CSA) program. What if you want to challenge the result of an FMCSA inspection? We’ll explain.

You can challenge the results of an FMCSA inspection.

Perhaps an inspector wrote you a violation for an issue with your truck that you feel is unwarranted. You could have also received a citation for something that you feel certain isn’t required under FMCSA regulation. These are just two examples of reasons why a commercial driver may want to challenge FMCSA inspection results. The FMCSA expects challenges and has established a system called DataQs to assist drivers in filing a complaint.

The first step in using the DataQs system is to request a formal review of your inspection report by stating in writing that you don’t agree with its findings. You can also challenge data you feel to be incomplete or incorrect that the FMCSA obtained from state and federal sources.

To make the best use of your time, make sure that the violation you want to challenge is legitimate. For example, you don’t have much to argue about if you received a violation for a broken taillight and fixed it as soon as you could. The violation occurred, you handled it appropriately, and you will inspect your vehicle more carefully in the future. On the other hand, a discrepancy with logbook recording can be more subjective. The inspector may have misinterpreted the data or misunderstood the current guidelines regarding recording.

What to expect with a successful or unsuccessful outcome to your FMCSA inspection challenge.

After you enter your information into the DataQs system, it goes to the FMCSA for further review. The reviewer will contact the safety inspector who recorded your violation and ask for additional information to help understand his or her perspective. If the reviewer agrees with you that the violation was in error, the agency will remove it from your record and it will have no impact on your CSA score. However, the violation will stand if the reviewer agrees with the safety inspector after having heard more details from each of you.

Currently, the FMCSA doesn’t place limits on how many times a commercial driver or trucking company can file complaints using the DataQs system. Even so, you might want to reserve using it for violations or citations you truly feel are unjust. Challenging everything just because you can attracts unwanted attention from the FMCSA.

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