The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has released its results from its 2021 violation report. This report shows some concerning data regarding the safety of our roads. Out of 100 carriers, less than six of them passed an audit by the Department of Transportation (DOT) without a violation — which means that more than 94% of carriers are excusing unsafe driving practices and procedures. These carriers received six violations on average.

Half the battle of passing a DOT audit without a violation is preparedness. Many of these violations could have been avoided if drivers understood what areas would be audited and how they should comply. Documentation is key.

With that in mind, here is a good place to start — take a look at the top violations for carriers in 2021 and think about how you can make a change to avoid these violations.


Top Violations Reported by the FMCSA in 2021

#1: Allowing drivers to operate with a suspended or revoked CDL:

This is a serious offense. All carriers know that drivers cannot drive with a CDL that is suspended or revoked. As a result, carriers must regularly check their drivers’ records to verify their CDL statuses. Carriers are only required to do a motor vehicle report once a year. If a driver gets suspended right after that report was run, they could be driving without the proper licensing for months. In many cases, carriers may not realize that a license has been suspended or revoked until it’s too late.

The best way for carriers to prevent this is by implementing a CDL monitoring program. With a program in place, your drivers’ records will be verified on an ongoing basis, and you’ll be notified when a change is detected.

This top violation accounted for 30.63% of all acute violations. The average fine amount was $8,991.

#2 and #3: Failing to implement an alcohol and/or drug testing program (random testing program):

The second and third violations are associated with failing to implement a drug and/or drug testing program. Under the regulations, all carriers must have an updated DOT drug and alcohol program, which includes tests for pre-employment, post-accident, reasonable suspicion, follow-up, and random.

To avoid getting fined, the best thing to do is to set up a DOT-compliant drug and alcohol testing program. Carriers can work with third-party vendors who will facilitate the program to ensure that all drivers are meeting the requirements. 

Together, these violations accounted for 35.67% of all violations in 2021. The average fine amount was $8,361.

#4: Allowing a driver to have more than one CDL:

A driver is only allowed to have one CDL. Before a driver can be dispatched, the carrier must check their motor vehicle records from all states that the driver previously resided in. A request must be sent to every state the driver held a license or permit in over the last three years. Each state is to check to make sure that the driver does not hold a current CDL before issuing a new license. Getting accurate and timely information back from the state is not always the case. As a result, carriers should work with a DOT background check provider to verify that their drivers only hold one CDL when employing the driver. On average, this fine costs about $8,378.


Categorizing Violations

When reporting, the FMCSA classifies each violation as either “acute” or “critical.” Acute violations are so serious that they require immediate action; whereas, critical violations are a sign of poor safety control management. All four of these top violations fall within the acute category and require immediate corrective action.

In 2020, the top violations coincide with this year’s results as well…

Acute Violations

  • Failing to implement an alcohol and/or drug testing program
  • Allowing a driver to operate with a suspended or revoked CDL
  • Failing to implement a random controlled substance or alcohol testing program
  • Allowing a driver to have more than one CDL
  • Failing to randomly test for drugs and/or alcohol

Critical Violations

  • Not using the appropriate method to record hours of services
  • False report of driver’s record of duty status
  • Inquiries into employment records are not kept in the driver qualification file
  • Using a CMV not periodically inspected
  • Using a driver before receiving a pre-employment result


Closing Thoughts

As a carrier, it’s important to keep your drivers and trucks ready for a DOT audit at any time. You must fully understand the law and regulations required to have a compliant fleet. It’s not only about driving safely, but also about providing the proper documentation. To stay on top of regulations, regularly review your company policies and continue to enforce disciplinary actions when violations happen. If you’re looking for a carrier who enforces and practices safety every day, reach out to Liquid Trucking today. To learn more about us, please call us at 844-GO-TANKS!