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Understanding roadside inspection reports



If you or your commercial driver have been stopped for a roadside inspection, it’s likely you’ve received a Driver/Vehicle Examination Report (DVER), also known as a roadside inspection report. These DVERs are standardized reports prepared by law enforcement following a commercial vehicle and/or driver inspection, which detail the level of inspection performed and any violations discovered. The reports are important for many reasons, so we will break them down line by line in this article.


Download our annotated sample DVER below and follow along!

Annotated Sample DVER
.pdf
Download PDF • 205KB

What types of inspections generate DVERs?


Section 396.9 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) authorizes “special agents” of the FMCSA (including certain state law enforcement agencies) to conduct inspections of commercial vehicles and drivers in operation. The same regulation provides that such inspections are to be documented on DVERs, copies of which are to be provided to the driver and to the motor carrier for whom he or she is operating.



The FMCSA has adopted by reference the North American Out of Service Criteria published by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), which dictate the types of more serious violations that will render drivers and/or their equipment “out-of-service.” If an OOS violation is discovered during a roadside inspection and noted on a DVER, the driver and/or vehicle will be prohibited from continuing to operate unless and until the OOS condition is rectified.


CVSA recognizes eight “levels” of inspections. The most common are:

  • Level I - North American Standard Inspection. Level I inspections are also known as full inspections and involve a thorough review of the driver’s credentials & license, medical card, hours of service, and drug/alcohol compliance, along with a full inspection of the equipment and hazmat compliance (as applicable).

  • Level II – Walk Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection. Level II inspections are slightly more cursory than Level I but still involve a review of both the driver and the equipment.

  • Level III – Driver/Credential/Administrative Inspection. Level III inspections involve reviews of only the driver (e.g., credentials, license, med card, hours of service), as well as the motor carrier’s registration status. They do not involve an inspection of the equipment.

  • Level V – Vehicle-Only Inspection. Level V inspections involve a review of the equipment only, not the driver.

DVERs typically indicate the level of inspection conducted near the top of the page.



What information is included on a DVER?


DVERs contain several different sections, each with their own unique information. Starting at the top, most DVERs detail the agency that conducted the inspection, a unique identification number for the report itself, the level of inspection performed, and the date/time it was conducted.




Next, the DVER typically lists information about the motor carrier under whose USDOT number the driver/equipment is operating, and also whose account any violations will be placed. This section also provides details about the driver operating the vehicle (if any).



The DVER goes on to list the location of the inspection and to provide information about the shipment at hand, including its origination and destination points and bill of lading number (if any). This latter information is important to help the officer ascertain whether the driver/equipment is engaged in interstate and/or intrastate commerce and, thus, subject to federal and/or state safety regulations.



The report then lists details about the vehicles (power unit and trailer, as applicable) being operated at the time of the inspection, including license plate numbers, VINs, and vehicle weights. These weights are important for determining whether the vehicles are regulated as commercial vehicles and what rules apply. This section may also include brake adjustment levels, if the officer inspected the brakes.



The next section of the DVER is the most critical. It lists any regulatory violations discovered by the officer. If there are violations, the first two columns will identify the regulation(s) that have been violated. The next column identifies whether the violation applies to the driver or the equipment, and if the latter, which unit (e.g., power unit or trailing unit). Then, the report identifies whether the violation renders the driver or vehicle out-of-service or not.



Next, the report identifies whether the driver was issued a state citation for the violation listed. Notably, state citations are unique from DVERs. It is within the officer’s discretion whether to issue a citation for any of the violations listed. Citations implicate the state court system, meaning if a citation is issued, the driver (or sometimes his/her carrier) may need to adjudicate it through the applicable state court system, which may involve appearing before a judge or paying a fine. If no citation is issued, the violations are considered “warnings,” though they will very likely still impact the motor carrier’s CSA scores. For this reason, it’s critical that motor carriers carefully review all violations listed on a DVER and swiftly address them.


The report goes on to describe the nature of the violation in a description column.


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Each DVER concludes with information about the officer who conducted the inspection, any additional notes the officer wishes to include, and a space for motor carriers to certify that they have corrected any violations listed on the report. This certification is an important part of the roadside inspection process. Section 396.9 of the FMCSRs provides that drivers must transmit a copy of the DVER to the carrier as soon as possible (not to exceed 24 hours), and then the carrier must review the report and adequately address any violations listed therein. The regulation goes on to say that “within 15 days following the date of the inspection, the carrier must certify that all violations have been corrected by signing the report and then return the signed report “to the issuing agency at the address indicated on the form.” Failing to certify the corrections and returning the form can lead to problems in an audit and even civil penalties.



Carriers must retain copies of all DVERs for at least 12 months from the date of the inspection.


How do violations listed on a DVER impact drivers and motor carriers?


Violations listed on a DVER are uploaded to the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) and associated with the USDOT number of the operating carrier and the license number of the commercial driver, as applicable.


Any violation type that falls under the FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) methodology is added to the operating motor carrier’s SMS account and weighs on its SMS BASIC scores. As discussed in another article, SMS is the system used by the FMCSA to prioritize motor carriers for investigation and enforcement, and is also used by other stakeholders such as commercial insurers for purposes of assessing the carrier’s safety and compliance.


As noted, driver violations are associated with the driver who incurred the violation and placed on the driver’s Preemployment Screening Program (PSP) account. The PSP is a system administered by FMCSA and used by some carriers to vet prospective new drivers. This is a voluntary system, meaning some carriers do not use it. However, those that do can run PSP reports on potential new hires to see what types of violations and crashes they have incurred over the past 3 years for violations and 5 years for crashes. In another article, we describe the PSP in greater detail and how drivers can improve their PSP reports.


How can drivers and carriers challenge violations on DVERs?


Drivers and/or motor carriers can challenge the veracity of any violations (and the preventability of certain crashes) via the FMCSA’s DataQs system. This is a fairly user-friendly, online system that is available to carriers, drivers, and the general public. Once a user creates a free account, they can challenge violations by referencing the DVER report number and the violation(s) they wish to challenge. From there, they can include their narrative response to the violation and attach any evidence that supports their case. We address the DataQs system and provide tips for successful appeals in another article.


How do you obtain a missing inspection report?


DVERs are provided to drivers immediately after the inspection, and it is their responsibility to provide a copy to their carrier ASAP. That said, carriers and drivers can request copies of the reports via the DataQs system.


Conclusion

DVERs are an important part of regulated trucking. Drivers and carriers should ensure they understand how to interpret them and, more importantly, swiftly address any issues identified in them. Violations listed on roadside inspection reports can seriously impact a carrier's CSA scores and other safety metrics, as well as a driver's PSP report. If you need assistance in this regard, please feel free to contact us.


About Trucksafe Consulting, LLC: Trucksafe Consulting is a full-service DOT regulatory compliance consulting and training service. We help carriers develop, implement, and improve their safety programs, through personalized services, industry-leading training, and a library of educational content. Trucksafe also hosts a monthly live show on its various social media channels called Trucksafe LIVE! to discuss hot-button issues impacting highway transportation. Trucksafe is owned and operated by Brandon Wiseman and Jerad Childress, transportation attorneys who have assisted some of the nation’s leading fleets to develop and maintain cutting-edge safety programs. You can learn more about Trucksafe online at www.trucksafe.com and by following Trucksafe on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


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