Questions about Inspections, Operating in
Bad Weather & More Answered by Law
Enforcement Officials (as of March 2011)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.
These interpretations were made on February 12, 2011
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Submit your questions to www.askthelaw.org
ANNUAL INSPECTIONS FOR CMV’S
Q: Can a repair shop just buy annual inspection forms and then just start doing inspections? Could that make me be out of compliance? Thank you – Nancy in Illinois
A: Provided by Jim Brokaw, formerly a Staff Sergeant with Nebraska State Patrol, Carrier Enforcement Div, Lincoln, NB: 49 CFR 396.17 states it’s the responsibility of the motor carrier (you) to inspect, or cause to be inspected, all of the CMVs you control. However, anyone can buy the inspection forms and do inspections, whether they’re qualified or not. 49 CFR 396.19 makes it your responsibility as the motor carrier to ensure that the person performing your inspections is qualified. In lieu of self-inspections, you can have a commercial garage or other similar commercial business perform the inspection as your agent, provided they have facilities appropriate for commercial vehicle inspections and employ qualified inspectors, as required by 396.19. You must have access to their inspector’s qualifications should you ever be asked by the USDOT. Since the FMCSA will not endorse or certify any products or private businesses, any claim of USDOT or FMCSA approval or certification should be questioned.
HOLDING ON TO OLD LOGBOOKS
Q: How long should I keep my old logbooks? – Keith in Maryland
A: Provided by Sgt. Pete Camm, California Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Section, Sacramento, CA:It depends on what you are using the logbooks for, besides keeping track of hours of service. If your CMV is registered pursuant to the International Registration Plan (IRP) and/or registered under the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) and you are keeping track of mileage ran in each state (jurisdiction) in your logbook, you will need to keep them for years. Statutorily, the State of California may audit for a period up to three years. Therefore, a California-based operator is required to maintain records for about five years. Since California’s mileage reporting period is from July 1 of one year to June 30 of the next, a driver submitting mileage for the 2011 IRP registration year would submit mileage accrued from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010 – up to an 18-month delay. You should check with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) online at www.mva.maryland.gov to find out how many years they can audit.
A HARSH LEVEL 1 INSPECTION
Q: I have been a car hauler for seven years with the same company. I was recently pulled in for a Level 1 inspection and received several citations by an overly ambitious and very unhappy officer. In total, I received eight non-out-of-service violations and nine out-of-service violations! The officer also worded the violations in such a way as to increase the severity. I am an owner operator and I need to feed my family. Can I dispute the Level 1 or try to lower the violations, or is it all set in stone? Thanks – Steve in California
A: Provided by the newest member of our team, Officer Amy Bachelor, California Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Section, Sacramento, CA: The FMCSA has developed the DataQs system as an electronic means for filing concerns about Federal and State data. After registering with DataQs, you can file a challenge to violations listed on any inspection conducted in the last 24 months. Be sure to provide supporting documents when making a challenge. The FMCSA will automatically forward the concern to the appropriate state office for resolution. You can register with the DataQs system online at https://dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov.
DEFYING A “STATE OF EMERGENCY”
Q: When a state issues a “State of Emergency” what happens if a driver is caught violating the order? Thanks – Rick in Pennsylvania
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, Texas: A lot is going to depend on what the State of Emergency is issued for. If a state issues a State of Emergency warning drivers that it is unsafe to operate a motor vehicle due to weather conditions, then any operator caught running in that area could be subject to being issued a citation – especially if they are involved in a crash.
~ The Ask The Law™ programs are an ongoing educational effort between Ol’ Blue, USA™ and commercial law enforcement agencies. Founded in 1986, Ol’ Blue, USA is a non-profit organization dedicated to highway safety education and to improving relations between the motoring public, law enforcement and commercial drivers. “Ask The Law” is a registered trademark of Ol’ Blue, USA. This column is copyrighted by Ol’ Blue, USA. Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice. These interpretations were made on 02/12/11.