Midwest DOT Compliance
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Frequently Asked Questions

NOTE: These questions and answers are general restatements of the Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Always consult applicable regulations and state law specific to your situation.

Q:         What does "GVWR" mean?      

A:         GVWR means Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. GVWR is the rating applied by a vehicle manufacturer, and represents the maximum total weight of vehicle, cargo, people, fuel, and other fluids together. 

Q:         How is GVWR used?

A:         The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is one method used to determine whether a vehicle is subject to regulation. 

Q:         I'm confused. I've heard some people say that a GVWR of 10,001 lbs. or more makes a vehicle subject to the regulations, others say 26,001 lbs. Can you help clear this up?

A:         Vehicles with a GVWR of 10,001 lbs. or more used as part of a business (including a non-profit organization) are considered commercial motor vehicles for purposes of most of the safety regulations. This applies to:

·      Single vehicles (trucks and vans)

·      Passenger carrying vehicles with more than 15 passengers including the driver and passenger carrying vehicles equipped for 15 passengers, including the driver.

·      Combinations of vehicles (such as a truck pulling a trailer or other equipment). At 26,001 lb. and above GVWR, additional requirements also apply (Commercial Driver's License and Drug and Alcohol Testing).

·      Vehicles that carry hazardous materials for a business purpose are considered commercial regardless of GVWR. 

Q:         I've never heard of these regulations before. Are they new?

A:         No. The safety regulations at the 10,001 lb. GVWR level have been in the Federal Regulations for decades.

Q:         My truck (or truck & trailer) that I use for my business has a GVWR of 10,001 lb. or more. Do I need a medical examiner's certificate?

A:         Yes. The medical qualification and exam requirements apply. You may download the medical exam form here http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration-licensing/print-forms/print-forms.htm 

Q:         My truck (or truck & trailer) that I use for my business has a GVWR of 10,001 lb. or more. Do I need a US DOT Number?

A:         Yes. The power unit must be identified with the name of the company and the US DOT Number. If you cross state lines, or otherwise carry interstate freight (such as air freight) the US DOT Number comes from the Federal DOT. If you operate solely within your home state, and are an intrastate carrier, you may be required to apply for a state specific U.S. DOT number which may be obtained from the FMCSA or your state department of revenue.

·      Online Federal DOT Number Application http://li-public.fmcsa.dot.gov/LIVIEW/PKG_REGISTRATION.prc_option

·      Or download the forms from here http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration-licensing/print-forms/print-forms.htm

Q:         My truck (or truck and trailer) that I use for my business has a GVWR of 10,001 lb. or more. What hours-of-service limits apply?

A:            These are the HOS requirements for property carrying CMVs.  Passenger carrier rules differ slightly and intrastate carriers may have some exemptions.

1. The driver may drive up to 11 hours, after having 10 consecutive hours off duty.

2. The driver must go off-duty after 14 hours, after having 10 consecutive hours off duty (all time counts against this 14-hour limit).

3. For a company that has vehicles operating every day, the driver may not exceed a total of 70 hours on duty time in the current 8-day period. For a company that does not operate every day, the limit is 60 hours on duty in the current 7-day period.

4. Drivers utilizing time records may drive up to 11 hours if they return to their work reporting location within 12 hours. 

Q:         What are the commonly violated regulations?

A:         For vehicles and combinations with GVWR of 10,001 lbs. or more:

1. Vehicle identification (Name and US DOT Number)

2. No medical exam certificate

3. Using a radar detector (radar detectors are prohibited)

4. No fire extinguisher

5. No stopped vehicle warning devices (reflective triangles)

6. Driver did not do a pre-trip inspection (need not be written)

7. Driver exceeded hours-of-service limits

8. No time records kept on driver

9. No annual mechanical inspection of vehicle

10. No post-trip inspection (must be in writing and is not required to be carried on board the vehicle)

11. Trailers not equipped with required brakes, lights, and reflectors. 

Q:         Does my trailer have to have brakes?

A:         Yes, if the gross weight of the trailer (weight of trailer and load) is over 3,000 lbs.

Q:         What brakes are required?

A:         Operative service brakes on all wheels, a parking brake system, an emergency brake system, and a breakaway braking system. The parking and emergency systems can be combined. 

Q:         Are surge brakes legal?

A:         Surge brakes are not legal in interstate commerce. For vehicles that stay intrastate, please refer to the state’s public safety rules.

 Q:         Can I use a radar detector?

A:         No. Radar detectors are prohibited in commercial vehicles 10,001 lbs. or above. 

Q:         What kinds of regulations are there about alcoholic beverages?

A:         These regulations apply to all commercial vehicles, 10,001 lbs. or more:

1. The driver may not have any alcoholic beverage (including so called "non-alcoholic" beer) anywhere on the vehicle or combination. There are exceptions if the beverages are part of the legitimate manifested cargo, and for bus and limousine passengers.

2. The driver may not operate the vehicle with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system.

3. The driver may not consume alcohol within 4 hours of reporting to work.

A driver who violates these regulations will be shut down for 24 hours. The vehicle may be impounded. 

Q:         My truck has air brakes, but a GVWR of under 26,001 lbs. Do I need a Commercial Driver's License?

A:         No, unless the vehicle is used to transport hazardous materials that require placards. Air brakes alone do not invoke the CDL requirement. However, the National Transportation Safety Board http://www.ntsb.gov/pressrel/2006/060207a.htm) advises that you should train the driver in the differences between hydraulic and air brakes. 

Q:         Once a driver is required to have a CDL, what else applies?

A:         Drivers who are required to hold a Commercial Drivers License are also subject to the Alcohol and Controlled Substance (drug) Testing Requirements of 49 CFR Part 382.  

Q:         Do I need to stop at a weigh station?

A:         If the vehicle or combination is 10,001 lbs. GVWR or actual gross weight or over, you must pull into all open weight and inspection stations. Signs, lighted arrows, or enforcement personnel will guide you. 

Q:         Where can I get more information about the Motor Carrier Safety Regulations?

A:         The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a Regulatory Guidance section on their website http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/fmcsr/fmcsrguide.asp?section_type=A

Information about the Hazardous Materials Regulations can be found at the US DOT Hazardous Materials safety homepage http://hazmat.dot.gov

NOTE: These Questions and Answers are general restatements of the Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Always consult applicable regulations and state law specific to your situation.

Midwest DOT Compliance can be instrumental in helping you understand these regulations and in setting up a compliance system with all the required forms and files.  Call or email for a complementary evaluation 708-263-6192 or info@MidwestDOTCompliance.com.


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