What is DOT Looking For? A Complete Checklist for Truckers

Many truckers cringe when they hear the acronym DOT (Department of Transportation), which is why we’ve compiled a complete checklist for truck drivers and owner-operators to avoid any DOT surprises on the road.

What Does DOT Look For?

DOT has tons of regulations and laws and knowing them will keep you out of trouble and on the road. Here’s a checklist of what they are looking for: 

  • You are at least 18, or 21 if you are crossing state lines.
  • No active suspensions/ Valid Driver’s License
  • You have a valid medical examiner’s certificate
  • Your driving log is up to date
  • Valid license plate
  • You have not driven over sixty hours for the week, and you have taken thirty-minute break every eight hours
  • There is valid insurance
  • Tire depth and safety
  • You have a spare tire
  • Hazmat Certifications and paperwork if hauling Hazmat material
  • You are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, prescription or illegal
  • No evidence of alcohol or drug use (beer cans, drug paraphernalia, burn marks, odors, etc.)
  • Secured cargo
  • A manifest or other document showing your cargo, and your cargo matches up with it
  • No evidence of Bondo or other repairs
  • No leaks of coolant, oil, etc.
  • Safety check of: 
    • Seatbelts
    • Blinkers
    • Windshield Wipers
    • Fuel System
    • Steering Wheel
    • Brake lights
    • Brakes
    • 5th Wheel and all hookups
    • Hoses
    • Subframe
    • Reflector Strips
    • DOT Number
    • Steering Arm
    • Sleeping Cabin
    • Bearings Popping (indicates bad bearings)
    • Headlights
  • Your Endorsement
  • Vehicle Inspection Report

What Happens If I Have a DOT Violation?

Depending on your violation, you will be looking at fines, losing your license, and possibly  jail time. The violations will stay on your driving record for two to three years. Fines range from a few hundred dollars to over a hundred thousand dollars. In addition to DOT penalties, your employer might have their own set of rules/regulations/punishments for DOT Violations. Violations can also harm future employment opportunities. 

What Are Some Tips to Prepare for DOT Inspections?

Although long and probably unwelcome, there are things you can do to make your DOT inspection go a little smoother and a little faster. 

  • Organize all your documents (driver’s license, insurance card, drivers log, vehicle inspection report, medical card, and any waivers you might have, and any Hazmat documents all together and in one place. The inspector will appreciate your organization and thoughtfulness
  • Perform daily checks and monthly preventative maintenance on your truck
  • Remember the inspector is doing his or her job. Stay friendly and positive. If you are in a bad mood or being uncooperative, the inspector will not be happy
  • Keep an accurate log of your service hours and breaks

At REY Logistics, we are always glad to help our owner-operators with advice, inspections, regulations, paperwork or with any unforeseen circumstances. Join our 100% owner operated OTR group today and let us handle the headache so you can keep driving (read: EARNING)! We offer virtual orientation – call us today and be on the road in 48 hours. Our unparalleled 24/7 dispatcher support is always here for you! Call 215-330-2256

6 Steps to Become a Successful Owner-Operator

Becoming a successful owner-operator is a rewarding career, but not without its challenges. For those with the drive, it’s important...

What’s Better? Being a Company Driver or a Truck Owner-Operator?

Do you love driving? Are you a good business person? Then being a trucking owner-operator can be an excellent choice...

6 Trucker Movies for the Holiday Season

It’s the time of year to gather with family. A movie night makes for a classic way to spend time...