Questions about Level 1 Inspections, Flashing Headlights & More Answered by Law Enforcement Officials (as of March 2015)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.
These interpretations were made on February 12, 2015.
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TWO INSPECTIONS WITHIN 48 HOURS
Q: I’ve been told a Level 1 Inspection will last 90 days. However, I received a Level 1 and two days later received another, even though I showed the officer my first inspection showing CA 26710VC prior to inspection. The second officer then issued a “Notice to Correct” for the exact same violation and issued another exact same DVER and a CVSA sticker. I don’t see the point in identical inspections 48 hours apart, except for the fact that my CSA Driver BASIC profile is nicked triple for the second inspection violation within 12 months. What is your take? Help me to understand. Thanks – Tim in California
A: Provided by Sgt. Pete Camm (Ret.), California Highway Patrol, Sacramento, CA: A couple of things are going on. First, a Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) decal is generally valid for 90 days. Commercial vehicle enforcement facilities with large volumes of traffic may not stop a CMV displaying a CVSA sticker for a year, but others might. Nevertheless, CVSA decals become invalid as soon as a mechanical defect exists – they are not a “Kings X.” Second, minor defects such as cracked windshields, empty or expired fire extinguishers, missing triangle(s), etc. do not prevent the issuance of a decal. Relevant CVSA policy is copied and pasted as follows: “In general, vehicles displaying a valid CVSA decal are not subject to re-inspection. However, if an obvious defect is noticed on a vehicle with a current CVSA decal, nothing prevents a party from re-inspecting that CMV. If re-inspection of a vehicle displaying a valid CVSA decal discloses maintenance inconsistent with the minimum inspection criteria, the CVSA decal must be removed. However, if the defects found are repaired at the scene, the CVSA decal does not have to be removed. In those instances where a complete re-inspection is performed and defects were absent or corrected at the scene, a new CVSA decal should be applied.” Finally, 26710 of the California Vehicle Code mandates a defective windshield or back window to be repaired or replaced within 48 hours. “26710. It is unlawful to operate any motor vehicle upon a highway when the windshield or rear window is in such a defective condition as to impair the driver’s vision either to the front or rear. In the event any windshield or rear window fails to comply with this code the officer making the inspection shall direct the driver to make the windshield and rear window conform to the requirements of this code within 48 hours. The officer may also arrest the driver and give him notice to appear and further require the driver or the owner of the vehicle to produce in court satisfactory evidence that the windshield or rear window has been made to conform to the requirements.”
FLASHING LIGHTS AT ONCOMING CMV’S
Q: I was recently pulled over in a CMV for flashing my headlights at an oncoming CMV to warn him that there was a local city cop watching traffic ahead. I was pulled over by a KHP at a time when headlights were not needed and told that it was illegal to flash my headlights. I always thought it was a common courtesy to do so? Thank you – Adam in Kansas
A: Provided by Jim Brokaw, formerly a Staff Sergeant, Nebraska State Patrol, Carrier Enforcement Division, Lincoln, NE: It varies from state to state as to whether flashing your headlights is illegal, but you will find that 49 CFR 393.24(a) requires headlights on commercial vehicles to be steady burning. So, it could be construed, that headlights that flash would be a violation of the federal safety regulations. Now I have a question for you: from my past experience in law enforcement, I found the truly professional drivers always drove within the limits of the law. So, why would it be necessary to warn someone who isn’t violating the law that there is an officer ahead? If you were to look at it from the officer’s point of view, what you consider to be a common courtesy actually interferes with him/her trying to do the job we pay him/her to do. The people you end up warning are the very same ones the officers need to be talking to!
PERSONAL USE OF A CMV ON A LAYOVER
Q: When a driver is on a layover in a daycab tractor at a hotel, how far can that driver go in the tractor when on that layover to get to a restaurant without going into violation? Thanks – Mark in Maine
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX: In the interpretation found in Part 395.8, Question 26, it does not give a specific distance, other than mentioning a short distance from the driver’s en-route lodging. Try to stay within a reasonable distance from your lodging location.
~ The Ask The Law™ programs are an ongoing educational effort between Ol’ Blue, USA™ and commercial law enforcement agencies. 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 February 12, 2015.