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Friday, April 05 2019
When a DOT Inspector Examines Your Truck

ORLANDO, Fla. —For those not yet veterans on the road driving commercial vehicles, some changes will become evident at the time of getting pulled over.

As a non-commercial vehicle driver, the primary cause of a roadside inspection is because an officer has spotted a reason to pull a driver over. As with any vehicle on the road, the most common reason for being pulled over is speeding, but other infractions, such as running stop lights/signs, or having a headlight/taillight out will also prompt an officer to take action.

When you are the driver of a truck or commercial vehicle, one that weighs more than 10,000 pounds it must undergo annual DOT inspections, and officers don’t need a reason to pull over a commercial motor vehicle driver. As a matter of fact, they will often pull a driver over specifically to conduct an inspection.

There are six primary levels of DOT inspections, and these may be conducted anywhere by a qualified DOT inspector or state police officer.

Level I. Full

Level II. Walk-Around

Level III. Driver Only

Level IV. Special Study

Level V. Terminal

Level VI. Radioactive Materials

When drivers receive Out-of-Service (OOS) violations, they cannot resume driving until the breach has been corrected. Depending on the type of violation, this can cause serious delays in a carrier’s operations.

A Level I inspection typically takes between 45-60 minutes to complete, and the DOT inspector looks at important documents like:

  • Operator's commercial driver’s license
  • Medical certificate from the required annual DOT physical exam
  • Hours of service records
  • Medical card or waiver, if applicable

The inspector will also check for any drugs/alcohol, and vehicle’s seat belt, exhaust system, turn signals, tail lamps, headlamps, steering wheel, wheels and rims, and fuel system.

On Level II, inspectors will examine everything in the level I inspection with the exception of the parts that involve the inspector getting under the commercial motor vehicle. It takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Level III inspection usually takes about 15 minutes for the inspector to take an in-depth look at the vehicle operator's driver's license, the required medical certification, work hours log, and driver’s signed vehicle inspection reports. 

The Level IV inspection refers to a one-time examination conducted to take a closer look at a particular feature of the vehicle. This is usually done to invalidate a previous claim about the vehicle — in order to support or refute a study or suspected trend.

A Level V inspection can be conducted at any location and includes everything in level I regarding the vehicle — but without a driver present.

Level VI inspection is used for certain radiological shipments. Select radiological shipments only comprise highway route controlled quantities set forth by DOT's title 49 section 173.403.

The Level VII inspection will typically take up to 60 minutes to complete.

A special nuclear symbol decal has been developed for vehicles meeting the Level VI inspection criteria. It is attached to the CMV at the point of origin of the shipment and removed at the point of destination. This nuclear symbol is only valid for only one trip.

A good way to prepare for inspection is to do a walk-around inspection before and after every trip in that same vehicle. Including tire checks, lights testing and checking for cracks in the windows which even when too small, can cause trouble later on during the trip.

Stay safe and be always ready to pass inspections with flying colors!

Posted by: AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

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