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Getting Due Process from the FMCSA
As seen in American Trucker.
You just got hit with bad news: a notice of claim has come in from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) or state Department of Transportation (DOT) office seeking civil penalties/fines for violations of safety regulations.
Or one of those agencies has announced that your recent safety measurement system (SMS) scores have earned you a “focused assessment” or a full on-site compliance review. The target of the audit may be hours-of-service (HOS) compliance, equipment inspection documents, driver qualification files, drug/alcohol screening results, or all of the above.
Or, worse yet, a recent safety audit resulted in a proposed downgrading of your safety rating to “conditional,” which will cost you business, or to “unsatisfactory,” which will shut you down.
You are convinced that the alleged violations are unrepresentative of your actual safety performance, and you want to fight the charges. You assume that somewhere, somehow, there must be a way to get a fair hearing on the penalties or the rating downgrade from an independent, impartial arbiter who is not acting as judge, jury and prosecutor for FMCSA all at the same time.
Well, maybe … or maybe not. It all depends on the particulars of the charges, on what issues you want to raise, and on the time and resources you are willing to invest in challenging the agency.
To learn more about how motor carriers can dispute safety audit results they believe are inaccurate and unfair, click here.