Surprise, Surprise, Surprise. Someone from the DOT is at your office door looking for a manager. DOT audits may be unannounced. A recent DOT publication said, “As planned, the safety inspection caught the owner . . . off guard.”
Requested records need to be produced upon DOT request. Willfully obstructing FMSCA’s access to records needed to determine the company’s safety compliance is illegal. Making any intentional false statements to the DOT is illegal, too.
The DOT regulations “prohibit a motor carrier, its agents, officers, representatives, or employees from making, or causing to be made, a fraudulent or intentionally false statement on any required document or record, to include driver’s records of duty status.” There are serious implications for not following the DOT rules.
What’s the best approach? There is simply no right way to do the wrong thing. Make a good faith attempt at limiting risk through compliance. Maintain a system of checks and balances. The wrong steps early-on can lead to later difficulties.
Finally, if audited by the DOT, don’t sign anything that you doesn’t seem right.
Black Flag Bandits
If you are just starting up, beware of phone calls from unethical false flag or black flag telemarketers who claim to represent the US DOT or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) or claim to have a “special in” with the DOT. One firm says, “We are a full service operation for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration,” implying that one is talking directly with the DOT.
Others may claim they can “design bold strategies to defeat federal safety inspections,” or that their specialty is “polishing” or sanitizing documents and records to avoid DOT “red flags.”
As the old saying goes, trust but verify. Make an effort to identify and know who you are telephonically discussing your critical business matters with.