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What driver violations are Red Flag violations and what do they mean?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, performs inspections to ensure that both vehicles and drivers are complying with specific established standards. When drivers or vehicles are out of compliance with any of these standards, a violation will be recorded. Some of these violations are more serious than others and may have more severe consequences. We’ll explain what red flag violations are and what they mean.

What are red flag violations?

Red Flag Violations are the most serious violations an investigator can record during an FMCSA inspection. FMCSA inspectors will always look for these violations. At this time, there are 12 violations that fall into the “Red Flag” category. These violations include:

1. Operating an out-of-service vehicle.

2. Driving while declared out-of-service.

3. Being in possession of alcohol, using alcohol or being under the influence of alcohol within four hours of beginning an on-duty shift.

4. Driver use of drugs or possession of drugs.

5. Driving a commercial vehicle while disqualified (391.15).

6. Disqualification of the driver from operating a commercial vehicle.

7. Driver operating a vehicle type for which he or she lacks a valid license.

8. Unqualified driver.

9. Operating a commercial vehicle with the wrong CDL group.

10. Operating a commercial vehicle without a valid CDL license.

11. Operating a commercial vehicle with more than one driver’s license.

12. Driving a commercial vehicle while disqualified (383.51).

What are the consequences of a red flag violation?

The consequences of these violations vary based on the type of violation, as well as other factors. Consequences may affect the driver and/or the motor carrier who employs the driver. Some of these violations may result in immediate action. For example, if a driver is found to lack the proper license during an inspection, he or she must immediately stop operating the vehicle until the proper license is acquired.

Red Flag violations also affect the motor carrier in other ways. For example, all of these violations count toward one of the FMCSA’s Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASIC). These violations raise the motor carrier’s percentile rank within the category in question. If the motor carrier exceeds a specific percentile threshold, it will trigger an FMCSA intervention.

Avoiding red flag violations.

Because the consequences of these violations can be serious and detrimental for both drivers and motor carriers, it is important to avoid these issues as much as possible. To avoid Red Flag violations, drivers should abide by all of the standards established by the FMCSA at all times. Drivers should only operate vehicles with the proper, valid licensure, and the use of alcohol and drugs close to on-duty hours must be strictly avoided.

Motor carriers can protect themselves from Red Flag violations by performing due diligence when hiring new drivers. Motor carriers should be cautious about hiring drivers who have a history of violations, especially those in the “Red Flag” category. Motor carriers should also keep watch over their drivers to ensure ongoing compliance.

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