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My "End Of The Year List" Article

J. Bradley Klepper
Attorney at Law

Between online shopping and pretending to work, I have been busy surfing the internet this month. Let’s be honest, nobody (except truck drivers) really works that hard in December. With that being said, one thing I have noticed is that a lot of sites have their “year in review” type article. As you all know, I am fundamentally lazy and not above jumping on a current trend!

Accordingly, I thought I would do a list of the most often asked DataQ questions I have received over the past year. Because I am a giver, I am also including the answer! So without further ado, here are the top questions I received about DataQ challenges.

How long are the points from an inspection record on the safety score for a driver as opposed to a carrier?

  • For a driver, the points resulting from an inspection report show on the record for 3 years. The points resulting from the inspections of any drivers operating under a carrier’s USDOT# is 2 years.
DataQ challenges are a long and drawn-out process.
  • While this can be true, a lot comes down to the reviewing agency. Once a challenge is filed it can take anywhere from a few days to a few months for a decision to be made depending on how many challenges are needing to be reviewed.
I received a citation and didn’t receive an inspection. Will there be points on my safety record?
  • If you did not receive an inspection, there would not be any points on your safety score from the citation. You can always ensure that there was not an inspection by pulling a copy of your PSP report. We have seen inspections not given to the driver at the time of the stop, rarely, but it does happen.
What does a DataQ challenge do exactly and why do I need to do one?
  • DataQ challenges help keep as many points as possible off your safety score. The lower your score, the better. Your safety record helps you with employability, training opportunities, and keeping your insurance rates lower.
Will the points on my safety score be there for the rest of my time as a CMV driver?
  • No, the points on your safety score are only there for three years.
Why is my company saying I have 21 points for my 7 point violation?
  • The points on the safety score are multiplied by three for the first year from the date of the inspection would be 21. The second year from the date of inspection they would drop to 14 points. The final year, they are at 7 points. After three full years, the points are no longer on your safety score.
The truck I’m driving and the cargo I’m hauling at the time of an inspection is less than 26,001 lbs. so this shouldn’t count against myself or my carrier since I’m not at the weight of a CMV.
  • What determines whether or not a truck and trailer are considered a CMV is not the combined weight at the time of the inspection. It is the gross vehicle weight rating (the GVWR) that determines whether or not a vehicle is considered a CMV or not. Anything with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs. or higher is considered a CMV regardless of the weight at the time of the inspection.
My citation that I received is associated with a violation on my inspection report that I received at the time of this inspection and was dismissed or amended. These points are adjusted on my safety score automatically, right?
  • Unfortunately, they do not. Reviewing agencies vary from state to state and typically are not part of the court system. As such, to ensure that the appropriate change is made, a DataQ challenge must be done and a copy of the court records submitted so that the state agency in charge of making the changes for this to happen.
I received a dismissal or amendment on my citation that is associated with my inspection report, but the reviewing agency would not offer relief. Can they do this?
  • Yes, they can choose to not offer relief for dismissals or amendments that are made in court. Typically these fall under very specific situations and will vary from state to state if it happens. The most common reason given is a fine being paid or a diversion period being granted in exchange for a dismissal.
My carrier uses a third-party safety score reporting program and it’s shows points on my score that were removed by a DataQ challenge or points are not only counted once per the stacking rule. Can they use these?
  • Yes, the company you work for can use a third-party safety score reporting program. They should already be aware that these may not reflect the correct points. If they have any questions regarding your score, a PSP report from the FMCSA can be pulled for $10 which will reflect the most recent status of your safety score.
There are violations on my inspection report that are not mine, they are my co-drivers violations. How can I be sure they are not on my safety score?
  • The best way to ensure that the violations are not reporting to you is to pull your PSP report. There will be a notation on the violations that are not counting against your record stating as such. If there is not, it is best to do a DataQ challenge to ensure that these violations are reported correctly.
What is the best kind of documentation I can submit with a DataQ challenge for an inspection with no associated citations?
  • Documentation that has proved helpful in formulating strong challenges included, but are not limited to: copies of logbook pages for violations relating to record of duty status violations, speed readouts for speeding violations, call records for cellphone violations, proof of valid periodic inspection at the time of the stop for violations relating to periodic inspections, and copies of the CDL and medical cards for license violations
Can I submit photos or videos with my DataQ challenge?
  • Absolutely! Keep in mind that this kind of documentation must be time and date-stamped. Photos and videos can be an excellent way of showing that violations were not present at the time of an inspection.
I was involved in a crash incident and don’t feel this should count against my record. What can I do?
  • The good news is that a DataQ challenge can be done for these as long as they occurred on or after August 1, 2019. Crashes prior to this are not eligible to be challenged at this time. These review do require that a copy of the original crash report be submitted alongside these challenges. Time and date stamped videos have proven to be helpful in these challenges.

I was just informed that the reviewing agency has offered relief on my safety score regarding my inspection report. Why aren’t the changes showing?
  • The FMCSA refreshes their database to show changes once a month. As such, depending on the time of the month that the results are received, it could take a month for these changes to show. If you need a verification that the change has been made, the reviewing agency does send emails with the results of the challenge that can be presented as verification.
My DataQ challenge was denied. Can it be filed a second time? What about another time after that?
  • Yes, it can be filed a second time. However, it is best to submit stronger evidence with this challenge or documentation that you may not have had access to before the first challenge. Any challenges after a second challenge vary from state to state. Some states have an appeal process and others do not. Be sure to check with the reviewing agency if you want to continue further than a second challenge.
Can I challenge all the inspections that are on my PSP report?
  • Absolutely! You can challenge any inspections that are showing on your inspection report. We recommend filing DataQ challenges for any inspections that you feel were issued with incorrect violations as this gives you a greater chance at lowering the points on your safety score. You never know if the reviewing agency will offer relief if you don’t file a challenge and we have seen violations with no citations removed in the past.
On a side note, I’m sure many of you are already aware, but 3G cellular connectivity is being sunsetted and will no longer work which could cause ELD devices utilizing a 3G network to no longer function and upgraded devices would need to be used. AT&T is the earliest one on the list with its sunset date being February 22, 2022 and Verizon being the last on December 31, 2022.

Brad Klepper, Esq. is President of Interstate Trucker Ltd., a law firm entirely dedicated to legal defense of the nation's commercial drivers. Interstate Trucker represents truck drivers throughout the forty-eight (48) states on both moving and non-moving violations. Brad is also Executive Vice President & General Counsel of Drivers Legal Plan, which allows member drivers access to his firm’s services at greatly discounted rates. Brad spent almost a decade with the largest law firm in Oklahoma where his practice included extensive experience in transactional law, business defense litigation, and intellectual property. In addition, Brad is a licensed architect and serves as General Counsel to the Oklahoma Board of Architects, Landscape Architects and Interior Designers. Brad has dedicated much of his time to DataQs challenges, which are challenges posed to the FMCSA for CSA incidents, to examine data and reports filed by law enforcement.

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