By Jeff McConnell & James Mennella
attorneys at law
In this issue, we take a look at the slippery side of the Data Quality Challenge in CSA 2010 and the Pre-employment Screening Program. Bear in mind that CSA 2010 is intended to help the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration improve its “enforcement” operations. The PSP is designed to assist motor carriers in screening drivers before they hire them.
We can’t cover here all the basics about how the program works, but you can look at dataqs.fmcsa.dot.gov for the details. However, some of our most recent questions have to deal with filing a DataQ challenge and the odds that it will help in the long run.
Q: Why should I use the DataQ challenge?
A: The purpose of the DataQ challenge is to ensure that the quality of the data being recorded is accurate and consistent. As a carrier or commercial driver, you want to make sure the data being recorded against you and potentially used against you for enforcement is absolutely correct. Make sure you review and enter challenges into the system any time the information listed on your CSA 2010 carrier profile or your pre-employment screening profile is not accurate.
Q: What happens when I challenge the data?
A: Once your challenge is entered, it’s forwarded to the proper organization (state or FMCSA) for review/resolution. However, just because a challenge is filed doesn’t mean the data will be corrected to your satisfaction. Additional supporting documentation may be required or the challenge may be closed with no action being taken depending on what is determined during the review.
Q: Do you have an example of “no action” being taken by the state/FMCSA?
A: Yes, an example of “no action” being taken is a refusal to correct or update the original information that was allocated to your CSA 2010 or PSP report after you received a ticket but were found not guilty or you pleaded guilty to an amended charge.
For example, let’s assume you were given a ticket for Speeding 65/55, pleaded not guilty, went to the court, and were found not guilty. Regardless of being found not guilty of the original charge, your CSA 2010 report still says Speeding 65/55.
Even if you file a DataQ challenge to have that information expunged from your CSA 2010 or PSP report, the state/FMCSA may decide to simply leave the original information as is – i.e., take “no action.”
We are aware that at least one state, Indiana, is modifying data to accurately reflect the outcome of any court challenge to a citation.
Many complain that the system looks at only one slice of time for data-gathering purposes. So if the officer “throws the book at you” and issues numerous citations, you are essentially “guilty” per the inspection report for CSA 2010 purposes. Essentially, the entire system is just a history of violations and has nothing to do with actual convictions on your motor vehicle record.
The bottom line, for CSA 2010 report purposes, is that simply being charged or issued a ticket is the only requirement necessary for that violation to be allocated to your CSA 2010 report. The warning or ticket could have been totally fabricated by the officer. It simply doesn’t matter.
In our opinion, this total disregard for due process is, of course, contrary to how our criminal justice system works. But the FMCSA is, for now, hiding behind the erroneous fact that it only issues civil or monetary penalties so the due process safeguards we’re used to in the U.S. criminal justice system simply don’t apply.
Q: Where is my “due process” in this mess?
A: That is a great question and one that we think will be challenged early in this program. Our best recommendation at the outset is to try to correct the data with any final disposition you receive in a court proceeding. As we said before, the data may not be corrected for whatever reason and no action may be taken.
You won’t have access to the legal system until late in the enforcement stage of CSA 2010 when an actual Notice of Violation or a Notice of Claim is issued for civil penalties. LL
Send any questions or comments regarding transportation law to:
Jeff McConnell and
James Mennella, Road Law, 3441 W. Memorial, Suite 4, Oklahoma City,
OK 73134, call 405-242-2030,
fax 405-242-2040, or e-mail