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Top Five FMCSA Audit Violations of 2023 & How to Avoid Them
Mariah Barr
8 mins read

MVR monitoring, DOT drug testing & driver file management programs all play a big part in preventing these FMCSA violations.

According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) safety investigation summary report, 94% of safety investigations performed so far this year have resulted in violations.

The top five acute violations (severe enough that they require immediate corrective action) of 2023 are:

  1. Allowing a driver to operate with a suspended or revoked CDL
  2. Failing to implement an alcohol and/or drug testing program
  3. Failing to randomly test for drugs and/or alcohol
  4. Using a driver who has tested positive for a drug
  5. Allowing a driver with more than one CDL to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV)

Committing any of these violations can mean paying significant fines, and carriers’ Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) scores can take a hit. See why these scores hold so much weight in our related article: Compliance Review: CSA Scores

The key to remaining compliant and avoiding violations is to always be audit-ready. This is more important than ever, as offsite audits have increased by 400% over the past few years. Your chances of being called for a safety investigation are likely higher than ever.

While your goal should be to maintain a completely violation-free record, below are some steps you can take to avoid the most common acute violations of 2023.

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

This has been the top violation for the last five years. It has accounted for 36% of acute violations in 2023.

You may be thinking, why would anyone take the risk of letting a driver with a compromised CDL continue to drive for them?

Sometimes CDL suspensions or revocations occur without employers knowing – and oftentimes, it’s far too late when they find out.

Even though companies like yours are required to run annual motor vehicle reports (MVRs) on their drivers, it’s a better idea to regularly monitor your drivers’ records with an automated MVR monitoring program so suspensions or revocations like this don’t pop up.

Foley’s MVR Monitor constantly keeps track of your drivers’ records and instantly alerts you when violations are detected. That way, you don’t end up committing the above violation and putting yourself at risk of paying hefty fines or being put out of service.

#2. Failing to implement an alcohol and/or drug testing program

#3. Failing to randomly test for drugs and/or alcohol

#4. Using a driver who has tested positive for a drug

These have all been top acute violations for several years, together accounting for over 37% of all acute violations so far this year. Fines for non-compliant drug testing programs average more than $8,000.

To meet federal regulations, employers 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 like Foley’s can manage all these tests and ensure they’re scheduled when they need to be. You won’t have to worry about meeting compliance requirements or ensuring the safety of your drivers and other drivers on the road.

It's also a good idea to invest in a DOT drug testing program ahead of potential hair follicle drug test changes on the horizon. The FMCSA hasn't officially announced anything, but it could soon be a comparable option to the current urine drug test requirement.

What if one of your drivers tests positive for drugs or alcohol? Then they must be removed from duty immediately. Failure to do so could endanger them, other motorists, and your business – and leave you with hefty fines to pay. It’s not worth the risk.

#5. Allowing a driver with more than one CDL to drive a CMV

This may not seem like a big deal, but it is in the eyes of the FMCSA. In September, a motor carrier based in North Carolina was fined $4,300 for committing this violation.

Although the state responsible for issuing a driver’s CDL is supposed to perform a check of the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) before issuing the new license to ensure that they don’t hold licenses elsewhere, compliance with this can vary from state to state, and the resulting reposts don’t always provide a crystal-clear look into a driver’s licensing history.

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 long list of responsibilities.

BONUS! #6. Keeping fraudulent records

Organized and up-to-date DOT recordkeeping is a must – and now with the shift to offsite audits, officers may expect carriers like you to have a digital recordkeeping system in place.

No matter how much of a pinch you may find yourself in if you’re contacted for an offsite audit and you’re nowhere near prepared to present your compliance files, do not try to make up for it by falsifying them. It WILL catch up with you!

Instead, stay diligent when it comes to maintaining your driver qualification files and documenting all vehicle inspections and maintenance. If it all feels like too much – and trust us, we get it – 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 to Avoid the Top FMCSA Audit Violations

Keeping up with ever-changing FMCSA regulations and making sure your company is audit-ready can be tough on your own. The last thing you need is an audit that results in violations, which can negatively impact your CSA score, empty your wallet, and tarnish your hard-earned business reputation!

The violations listed above are just some of the many offenses that motor carriers can be guilty of. But you don’t have to follow the same path, especially when you have Foley to back you up.

Foley’s MVR MonitorDOT drug and alcohol testing, and DOT background check programs all work together to help keep you compliant. We can also manage your driver qualification files to keep your recordkeeping on track. 

You can find out how prepared your company is for a compliance review by taking our audit risk quiz!

See how easy it can be to get out of your next audit violation-free. Fill out the form below or request a FREE Foley software demo today!

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