By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor www.landlinemag.com
The way FMCSA reports driver violations to the mega database that feeds data to the Pre-Employment Screening Program and Comprehensive, Safety, Accountability enforcement program is changing.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will publish a notice on Monday, Dec. 2, that outlines the way violations will be reported to the Motor Carrier Management Information System, or MCMIS.
That database supplies the roadside inspection and violation data to the PSP and the CSA program. The PSP program provides listings of all driver roadside inspection violations and crash reports to prospective employers. CSA scores and weights violations to determine motor carrier and driver compliance in various categories. The motor carrier rankings are public, but the driver ratings are used internally at FMCSA for enforcement only.
Drivers and motor carriers currently have the option to contest violation data in MCMIS. The challenges, called DataQ, are submitted to FMCSA and routed back to the originating law enforcement agency.
Before the changes outlined in the notice, if a driver were to be found not guilty or have a citation dismissed in court, there was no policy in place to have the corresponding violation removed from MCMIS. That led to inconsistencies in how challenges were handled state to state.
With the announced changes, challenged violations that have a corresponding citation that is either dismissed or given a “not guilty” verdict will have the challenged violation removed.
Citations that are dismissed by a court but have fines or court fees assessed will be reported as convictions to the system.
If the court convicts the driver of a charge different from the original citation, the original corresponding violation will remain in MCMIS. There will be a note added to the violation that the legal challenge “Resulted in conviction of a different charge.” In the PSP program, the violation will also remain with a similar notation of being convicted of a different charge. For the purposes of CSA, the severity weight, or points, associated with the violation will be reduced to the lowest value of either the original violation or the newly convicted corresponding violation.
The notice says the changes will only apply to inspections on or after the implementation date of the policy.
After Monday, the public will have 30 days to comment on the prospective application of the changes. All comments should include Docket No. FMCSA-2013-0457. Comments can be submitted:
•By fax at 202-493-2251;
•By mail to Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20590; or
•By hand at the same address listed above.