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The Top DOT Violations of 2021 (So Far)
6 mins read

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) just released its violation data for the first part of 2021, and the results are cause for alarm: Nearly 94% of reviews performed so far this year have resulted in violations.

Close to 8% of these were for acute violations, which require immediate corrective action. Meanwhile, almost 20% were for critical violations, which, as far as the FMCSA is concerned, are a sign of poor safety control management.

In either case, it means significant fines, and Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scores can take a hit. What’s more, carriers have to spend the time, energy, and money to take corrective action.

The key to remain compliant and avoid violations is to always be audit ready. This is more important than ever, as offsite audits are up more than 400%—and, compared with the several weeks’ time period of traditional audits, carriers must now submit all of their records within 48 hours, and in a digital format.

While the ideal goal is to have a violation-free record, below are several acute and critical violations that you definitely want to avoid.

Top Violations of 2021

#1: Allowing a driver to operate with a suspended or revoked CDL

This has been the top violation for the last five years, in 2021 so far accounting for 30.56% of acute violations. The average fine for this infraction is $8,991.

It’s simply common sense to not allow drivers with suspended or revoked CDLs behind the wheel. However, sometimes suspensions or revocations occur without you knowing it—and oftentimes far too late. While carriers are required to run annual motor vehicle reports (MVRs) on their drivers, the best practice is to regularly monitor your drivers’ records with an automated MVR monitoring program. These systems constantly keep track of your drivers’ motor vehicle records and alerts you instantly when new information—bad and good alike—is detected.

Failing to implement an alcohol and/or drug testing program, Failing to randomly test for drugs and/or alcohol and Using a driver who has tested positive for a drug

These have all been top acute violations for several years in a row, together accounting for 37.79% of all acute violations so far this year. Average fine amounts for noncompliant drug testing programs average more than $9,000. Meanwhile, fines for keeping a driver who has tested positive for a drug on the road can range between $3,268 to $6,536 (depending on the number of offenses).

 Per federal requirement, carriers must perform pre-employment drug tests, random tests, and post-accident, reasonable suspicion, and follow-up tests. A compliant DOT drug and alcohol testing program is a must, and a partner like Foley can manage this on your behalf to meet requirements and ensure the safety of your drivers and other motorists on the road.

And if a driver has tested positive for drugs or alcohol? They must be removed from duty immediately. Failure to do so could endanger them, other motorists, and your business—and land you with hefty fines.

Allowing a driver with more than one CDL to drive a CMV

The average fine for this violation is $8,378. Although states are supposed to perform checks of the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) prior to issuing a new license to ensure that they don’t hold licenses elsewhere, adherence can vary state-to-state, and reports sometimes don’t yield all necessary information.

To protect yourself, it’s best to perform pre-employment checks of the CDLIS yourself—and then regularly for all employees. Partnering with a DOT background check provider can help ensure that your drivers are compliant without adding yet another administrative duty to your already full docket.

 Keeping fraudulent records, Failing to keep inquiries into driving records in Driver Qualification (DQ) files, and Failing to keep minimum records of inspection and maintenance

Proper recordkeeping is a must—and now with the shift to offsite audits, carriers are expected to have a digital recordkeeping system in place. Those listed above are just three of the numerous recordkeeping-related violations that carriers can be guilty of. To start, don’t intentionally falsify files—it will catch up with you. Be diligent when it comes to maintaining your fleet and documenting all inspections and maintenance. And consider partnering with a company like Foley that manages and updates many of your records for you to help you remain compliant.

Partner with Foley

As a motor carrier, safety is priority one for your company. Being safe and compliant is critical to protecting your drivers, your fleet, your business, and other motorists on the roads.

But no doubt, it can be difficult to keep up with the FMCSA’s many regulatory requirements—especially as they continually adjust and add to them. And those listed above are just some of the violations that motor carriers can be guilty of.

Foley offers numerous compliance products to help keep you compliant. To find out more, contact us today!

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