DOT Audit Requirements
Finally, you are your own boss. You received your Department of Transportation (DOT) authority, your rig is fueled and the highway awaits. You are ready to embark on your path to prosperity as an owner-operator and entrepreneur. All you need is an open road and loads to haul, right?
Trucking is a highly regulated industry, as you have probably already realized. But fall out of compliance with DOT and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) rules, and you may come to a dead stop as surely as if you’d cracked a piston. But unlike an engine that can be repaired, a compliance violation can be much more disabling, leading to suspension or even loss of your license and – possibly – your livelihood.
The rules are complex, but TBS recently launched a comprehensive compliance service to help you successfully navigate the process, including passing your New Entrant DOT Audit.
DOT Requirements for Owner-Operators:
Compile a driver qualification (DQ) file
Have a written hiring policy
Create a controlled substance policy
Have a statement of on-duty hours
As an owner-operator you’re your own boss. No literally. You are both the employer and employee in the eyes of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. That means that as the owner of your trucking business, you need to keep up-to-date documentation on your sole employee: you. There are specific documents you should have on hand during an audit including your driver qualification file, work history, and more.
DEVELOP A HIRING POLICY
As an owner, you need to create a written hiring policy. This policy should outline requirements for employment and even outline driver’s professional and personal history that may disqualify him. This can include minimum work experience and even criminal record. Make sure that you, as a driver, can qualify under the policy you write!
CREATE A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE POLICY AND PROCEDURES
All companies must create a written drug and alcohol policy containing procedures to handle policy violations. The policy should include who will be tested (even if you’re the sole person in your operation), statement on what behavior is prohibited, what your company’s testing procedure is, and the consequences for violating the company policy and procedures.
STATEMENT OF ON-DUTY HOURS
ELD mandates were first published in 2015 and the first deadline to comply was December 2017. Like it or not, these devices will stick around and you’ll need to have them in your trucks. There are some exceptions to the ELD: trucks with engines made before the year 2000 do not require an ELD to be installed. If you are exempt from the ELD mandate you will still need to produce six months worth of daily driver log or timesheet (known as Hours of Duty) during a DOT audit. In addition to that, the DOT may check logs by comparing them against fuel receipts, bills of lading (BOL), and other documents to double check your logs. Bottomline: keep your logs up-to-date.
SOME FINAL TIPS
You should review the FMCSA website regularly to make sure you’re current on all requirements. If you lease onto a carrier, then that carrier is responsible for DQ reviews and your compliance. If you hire drivers, you are responsible for their compliance. Make sure your drivers’ records and DQ files are clean and up-to-date when you hire them – and keep them that way.
Don’t risk a fine or suspension because you’re “too busy” to fill out paperwork. In many cases, one compliance violation is all it takes for you to get a suspension. Your CDL and Authority is your license to earn a living. Keep compliant, and keep driving. If you need help, the folks at Truckers Bookkeeping Service are here to help. Contact us today to learn about our comprehensive compliance package.
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1 (800) 207-7661
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