A DOT inspection is an inspection conducted by the Department of Transportation to ensure that all the CMV parts and accessories are safe to use, in good condition, and working properly.
Level I: North American Standard Inspection
The most comprehensive of the inspections, the North American Standard includes a thorough inspection of both the vehicle and driver. Drivers can expect the inspector to check all documents, as well as undergo a search for things like alcohol, drugs, and hazardous materials.
Drivers should have the following documents on hand:
✔Driver's daily log and Hours of Service
✔Driver and Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR)
The following vehicle parts should be ready for a check-up:
✔ Brake systems and tires
✔ Coupling devices
✔ Exhaust system and fuel system
✔ Emergency exits and/or electrical cables
✔ Headlamps, stop lamps, brake lamps, and tail lamps
✔ Safe loading
✔ Securement of cargo
✔ Steering mechanism
✔ Turn signals
✔ Wheels, rims, and hubcaps
✔ Windshield wipers
Level II: Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection
The only major difference between a Level I inspection and a Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection is that a DOT inspector conducting the latter will check only those items that can be inspected without physically getting under the vehicle. This means the Level II inspection is typically less exhaustive than the Level I, but vehicles should still be in good shape and drivers should ensure all documents are in order.
Level III: Driver-Only Inspection
A Level III inspection is limited to a driver’s
credentials and will include a thorough inspection of
✔ Record of Duty Status (RODS)
✔ Driver’s license
✔ HAZMAT requirements
✔ Medical card and waiver
✔ Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) certificate
✔ Vehicle Inspection Report
✔ HM/DG requirements
✔ HOS documentation
✔ Seat belt
✔ Alcohol or drug use
Level IV: Special Inspections
The Level IV inspection includes a one-time examination of a specific vehicle feature. This inspection level is typically carried out on a trend the Department of Transportation wants to conduct further research on; for example, the DOT may choose to focus on a common violation from a previous year’s inspection in order to track improvement over time.
Level V: Vehicle-Only Inspection
A Level V inspection is equivalent to a Level I inspection, but is conducted without the driver present. This type of inspection typically occurs after an arrest or incident, when a driver is already away from the vehicle—whether that’s in the hospital or in-transit to a police station.
Level VI: Enhanced NAS Inspection for Radioactive Shipments
The Enhanced NAS Inspection was created for any motor carrier traveling with Highway Route Controlled Quantities (HRCQ) or radioactive materials. The inspection includes the same requirements as a North American Standard, but also includes an assessment of:
✔ Radiological shipments
✔ Radiological requirements
✔ Enhanced out of service criteria
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